Let me first of all say that I am happy to be joining Hyperion's Empire. I am even wearing purple to celebrate the occasion. I am a self-confessed fan girl, and love a wide variety of things related to TV. Tonight's premiere TV Warrior post will be reviewing one of the few reality/competition shows that I absolutely adore: "America's Got Talent".
This show has the magic that "American Idol" lost. Take everyday people of VARIOUS ages, backgrounds and talents and give them a stage on which to shine. To me, AGT kind of has elements of vaudeville in it, with the variety of acts and the audience feedback, etc. There is an old school charm that I love when watching this show and I always walk away feeling quite happy that I got to share in these people's stories and talents.
This year's premiere has the addition of Howie Mandel as a judge. I admit, I was disappointed that we lost the 'Hoff last year: how can you not love that hot mess?(I think he and Paula Abdul sometimes shared recipes--if ya know what I mean...) I think after watching tonight's episode, though,the producers made a very good decision with choosing Howie as a judge. He has a very fine tuned eye to talent and he can comment with thoroughness and humor, and he used plenty of both in tonight's premiere.
Tonight's premiere was based in the LA auditions. I admit, there was the good, the bad and the downright freaky-deaky in this episode. It was nice to see Piers, Sharon and Nick again. They have a very nice way of working and interacting-- professional, funny, but not uncomfortable or forced. Howie fit in nicely... even if he couldn't control his buzzer.
I know everybody loves the bad performances... and I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of them; but I am a positive person and will only mention them briefly. Here is the lovely thing about this show-- even though I am going to mention a couple of the bad performances, know that the judges and Nick treated these people with respect. That is something you have to love...
1. Rancess Valentte from Brazil: a newly minted citizen, he had audiences doing the X sway during his rendition of "Dust in the Wind". Bless him.... he tried.
2. No Shade: two guys who want to work it like RuPaul... and can't. Oh, they can dance fairly well, but their singing was what Piers rightfully compared to the wailings of "wounded animals".
3. Evan Burst: a 72 year old dancer, he was cute dancing to James Brown; but it just wasn't enough to get him through to the next round. Leave it to AGT's feel good spirit to turn a lemon into lemonade as Nick goes out and busts some moves with Evan before he leaves the stage for the last time. It's those types of moments that make me love this show.
There were more bad acts, but I say we focus on the positive... and positively freaky. So without further ado, my favorite acts of the night:
1. The first act that they showed tonight were two little boys who called themselves "Future Funk." A nine year old and a FIVE YEAR OLD gettin' all funky with their mad little selves, poppin' and lockin' and break dancing their way to everyone's hearts. Had the audience and the judges eating out of their itsy-bitsy teeny-tiny hands.
2. Swingshift Sideshow: Freaks.Of.Nature. A guy and two--uhm-- ladies (?) who did everything from stapling stuff to their body to impaling their cheek with needles to some funky thing involving a drill and a nose (I closed my eyed for that part-- I DO want to sleep tonight). Nick looked like he wanted to pass out and the judges passed them through (except for Sharon--bless her soul) for the sheer freak factor. Yes... they need to be in Vegas; just don't tell me where.
3. Ring Masters: two dancers who honestly don't have a body joint between them. There was some bending going on that the Karma Sutra didn't even know about. Gumby would have been like, "Dude, I can't do that." Howie loved these guys, Piers did not and was told rather vehemently to shut up. A 2/3 vote for them to pass through.
4. HasPop: a Frenchman (bonjour monsieur...)a mime/dancer/ one helluvan entertainer. His dancing and mime work were things of beauty. He was spot on perfect with tempo changes and use of music (HELLO BARBIE GIRL!) Piers admitted he had never seen anything like that. EVER. Needless to say, he received three "oui" and will be heading to Vegas.
5. I am mentioning this in passing because I disagree with the verdict out of priciple... MariCar (catwoman artist). Leave it to men to get suckered in my a chick in leather and cat ears. I am even a little disappointed in Sharon for passing her through. I guess I know what to wear when I ask for a raise, though. BTW: she painted a picture of a cat woman profile in three pieces while shaking her groove thang. Ooh, aah...
6. Ronith: The worst impersonations on earth, but they were so tasty... Howie was lovin' him some Ronith while Piers called it "Twaddle"...Piers lost that battle.
7. New Directions Choir: This group made me cry. This is a choir comprised of men and women veterans who were previously homeless. They were able to save themselves through the New Directions program. One gentleman, Carlton Griffin, was homeless for 25 years and walked over 20 miles to the New Directions program so he could fix his life. And dammit-- he did. The group was asked what their goal was, and one member explained that they wanted everyone to know that "it is okay for a warrior to seek help". Truer words were never spoken.
This group performed a medley and TORE IT UP... I was brought to tears by the beauty of their performance. The judges and everyone in the audience gave them a standing ovation.They received three yes's and I will be championing their cause all season long.
8. Last but not least-- Michael Grimm: He had a rough life. Grew up poor and ended up being raised by his grandparents. He loves music and wants to give back to his grandparents, who lost everything they had in Katrina. He sang "You Don't Know Me" and by the end of the song, everyone wanted to. He has soul, he has talent.... he has looks (he's a cutie-- fan girls notice these things). He has a real shot this season. We'll keep our eye out for him.
This show has seen everyone from a little girl to a Kentucky chicken farmer win one million dollars and change their lives forever... in a world full of crap, this show has become a lovely respite for many of us. I really do think this season is going to give us some hella good entertainment and I highly recommend it to the Empire.
Til next time...MWAH!