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Ah, summertime. The glorious months traditionally thought to be a television wasteland, after all of the good shows have had their finales, are no longer so. Well, actually, it is still a wasteland, but at least it’s an entertaining one. At least during summer we have no question about the quality of the programming; we just accept that it’s going to be beyond ridiculous. And thus: “America’s Got Talent.”Truthfully I had never seen the show before. It was one of the few TV shows outside of my pop culture realm of knowledge, so I had no idea what to expect. I know it was recapped last summer, so I’ll try to do it justice. I found out the hard way that the premiere episode was a two-hour extravaganza of ridiculosity, so this is gonna be a long recap, but just go with me on this one… we’ll get through it together. Going into it I had some predictions of what we might see. I placed my bets on a few singers, a few dancers, maybe a yodeler, possibly some armpit musicians, and definitely some crazy outfits all around. I’m just not sure how they expect to take it outside of the audition process, since obviously the point of all of this is to showcase the talentLESS of America.
In the beginning, the mystery host tells us that last summer, an 11-year-old won the competition. Really? Eleven-year-old? This could be interesting. After a tasty montage of what we have to look forward to this season, including New Yorker cowboys and tap dancers that all seem to look like Abigail Breslin, we finally get to meet our judges. (Well, I get to meet them, you get to see them once again.) I know you must have missed them. I mean, look at this lineup. You know that they of all people would know talent.
The HOFF??? Mystery Host describes him as one of America’s greatest entertainment legends. Yeah. This is legendary alright.
He is so Botoxed and his eyes and skin are so lifted that I imagine he wakes up in the morning and waxes his face on. He looks like Madame Tussaud’s very own celebrity Frankenstein monster.
Then there’s some dude whom I’ve never heard of, but is apparently is a news editor. Well, that’s not bad. He’s not such a crazy person to have as a host. I’m betting that he’ll be the meanest one, since he’s the least-known and therefore must overcompensate by making a name for himself by being an asshole. (Hello Simon Cowell!)
Last but not least, we’ve got the most talented of all: Sharon Osborne? How did she rise to power as a celebrity, really? What has she ever done except marry a psychotic rock star and scold her kids in a kittenish voice?
We finally get to see who our host is. OHHHHHH! It’s Springer! Whaddya know. Yet another person totally qualified to show us the wide range of talent present in this great nation. The first auditions are held in Dallas, Texas. Where better to kick off our salute to America’s amazingly gifted peoples than in Texas, the home state of our brave (and talented) president. Literally thousands of people have shown up for these auditions. I can’t help but wonder what the hell kind of amazing abilities people think they’re so blessed with. I mean, I can palm the floor without bending my knees, but that doesn’t mean I should be on TV (perhaps it just means I should bitch about TV instead).
The first person to kick us off is a man who looks not unlike the guy who played Ramathorn in “Super Troopers,” but in about twenty years and three thousand beers. He’s pretty creepy in his white robe outfit and deep voice, sort of like if Barry White and Inspector Gadget had a sick love child.
He sings “Don’tcha.” Seriously, the first act is a Pussycat Dolls tribute?!?! I was soooo destined to recap this show. Actually, he doesn’t even really sing the lyrics, he kind of just drifts in and out of the song, but we all know that with that robe, the singing isn’t really the main event, now is it? Before long, he turns around and, to the shrieking cries of the audience and the horror of the judges, whips off the robe and prances around in little more than a tie and poorly fitting pants. Sexy to the MAX!
Unsurprisingly, the judges don’t give him long on the stage, but I think we can all agree that it’s a fantastic way to start the season. Piers inquires as to whether this gentleman has much success with the ladies with this sort of getup, and with no hesitation whatsoever, our Creepy Robe Dude replies, “YEAH.” As though Piers had just asked him whether he likes ice cream. Like, natch! They vote him down, and Hasselhoff declares that he DOESN’T wish his boyfriend was that hot. Which leads me to ponder, what would the Hoff’s boyfriend look like (if he wasn’t as straight as he hurriedly explains)?
Next up are the Duttons, a family of, like, fifteen, and they’re from the fine town of Branson, Missourri. No fucking kidding. I have been to Branson, my friends, and although it’s lovely, it’s like the Vegas of the Midwest: a strip of tacky attractions, but, you know, with morals and family values and stuff. These good folks have come all the way from there to “welcome the audience into their hearts” and will do so by playin’ the fiddle. Honestly though, if they happen to win this competition, they’ll get about $3 each.
They play some mean bluegrass. One guy tap dances as though his legs have a mind of their own, and at one point they even play their instruments behind their backs. I will give this to them, it takes real talent. And real practice. That’s what Midwestern folks do: they’re tough and they have a good work ethic. Andy Williams would be proud. But when the fourteen little tots come runnin’ out, I think they might be better suited for the Moon River Theater. Actually, it brings to mind this picture my friend sent me:
Piers thinks so too, and suggests that they pare down the group to just as many as they need. Seems reasonable. The Hoff scoffs at this (oh man, am I gonna have fun with his name this season), and insists that they don’t change a thing. “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! DON’ LISSSSENNNN!” he hollers belligerently.
After a bit of ballyhooing from the audience and Jerry Springer bringing a baby out on stage, Hasselhoff slurs, “A’ight. Let’s VOTE!” Someone get that guy another whiskey, and make it a double!
Despite Piers’ best attempts, they get through to the next level: actual Vegas! I can only imagine what kind of sinful fun they’ll get themselves into there.
Our next performer is an Elvis impersonator. Wow, we’re gonna get all sorts on this show, aren’t we? Alright, I’ll cut the crap because he wasn’t that interesting: he totally believes he’s awesome, but no one else does, and he is booed immediately. He had no chance in hell.
Next is a sweet young lady named Megan, who looks just like that chick from “Heroes.” She boasts that she has a very unique talent and that not many women do it, but that it requires she use her hands and mouth… AT THE SAME TIME! Oh Lordy, what the hell is she gonna do onstage? I’m guessing that since she’s from Beaumont, Texas it won’t be salacious acts her introduction leads us to believe.
Well, her talent is ventriloquism. Dammit! What a saucy wench.
She (and her hideous, scary little friends) sing “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” (gee, I hope I spelled that right!) from “Mary Poppins” and I have to admit it takes a lot of coordination. But it’s terribly corny and Piers agrees with me (I have a feeling he and I are totally on the same impatiently bitchy wavelength). Indeed, he remarks that her act would be better suited for a children’s audience, which is definitely true. That’s my man right there. Hoff, on the other hand, says she was “really charming.” Yeah, I bet. Just like that old millionaire found Anna Nicole “charming.” Moving on.
We get to see the widespread influence that young whatsername from last season has had on America’s youth, or more specifically, America’s 10-12-year-old girls. This girl, Erica, thinks she can cash in on that success.
She is bratty and standoffish and pretends like she’s better than everyone else. She’s like that girl that you hate in grade school because she steals your slap bracelet and then years later you find out it was just because she was painfully insecure like everyone else.
Hasselhoff is just hilarious because he takes this fake, almost patronizingly stern voice with every kid who gets up there, this fatherly demanding voice that just makes you want to do your best. Incidentally it also always includes a sort of Southern accent, as though perhaps we’re on a farm and he’s trusting us to round up them thar chickens. Oooh! You know what it’s like? It’s like the prosecutor from “My Cousin Vinny.”
So yeah, the kid doesn’t totally suck, but she’s not that great. I mean, let’s be real here, she’s far better than I would have been at age 12. Okay, far better than I even am now. I’m no songbird, folks, I’ll admit that right now. But she just… you know… wasn’t… special. I feel so mean writing that about a child, because it takes serious guts to get up there and do that, but honestly it wasn’t grand.
I feel less bad about being judgmental when Piers completely crushes her soul with his critique. “Bianca Ryan looked like you. She was charming. She was modest. She was SUPER talented. And you are everything she isn’t.” Oh JESUS. That is the coldest shit I could imagine saying to a little girl who just put her heart out there for everyone to see (it gets better later though, don’t worry).
After some horrified looks from the audience and Sharon’s motherly encouragement, the Hoff tells her that she’s trying to be Bette Midler and she should just be a little girl. As weird as he is, he does make her smile and I think repairs the few shreds of dignity she may have remaining.
After the break we hear about an assortment of peoples’ day jobs and we land upon a fellow named Mr. Bill, who absolutely lives up to his name.
He is a bus driver and likes to sing to the kids while driving. Say it with me now: “Awwwww!” He seems quite genial and not even creepy at all. He says his wildest dream is to become a professional performer. What a sweetie! Funny, but MY wildest dream is to be able to fly, crash through walls, and read peoples’ minds all while fighting crime. Maybe this is the wrong show for that, though.
Mr. Bill gets out there and it is fascinating, because I doubt that he has ever been on a stage this large, in front of this many people, and you can actually see the moment that he just commits to it and goes for broke. He sings his damn heart out. His voice is really old-fashioned, but that’s the beauty of it. I was on a road trip last weekend and at one point the only radio station we got was an old standards one. We listened to Fats Waller for two hours. This was kind of like that.
He gets booed, which was so sad and so unnecessary, and even though the judges loved him, they know he won’t win because he doesn’t have the right sound. Oh well. At least he tried.
This leads us right into a piano-driven slomo montage of losers in silly costumes being rejected and booed offstage, including an absolutely lovable band of little boys in newsies outfits and a freaking adorable little girl who CAN tap dance. Piers decimates her heart as well, saying her act was “all a bit SO WHAT.” I’m beginning to think this Piers fellow has a particular affinity for hurting the feelings of children. What a dick!
So up next we’ve got the Human Slinky.
That one’s pretty much one big WTF. It’s just fuckin’ weird. There’s no other word for a giant rainbow slinky that wobbles and wiggles about in time to techno music. Fuckin’ weird just about does it. The Hoff complains that he feels like he’s being attacked by a large intestine, but, you know, it might be good for a kids’ party or something. Yeah, like kids like to feel attacked by giant bodily organs. Fun times!
What better way to follow up on that act with a husband and wife team who look like they just flew in from Bolivia. She’s a gypsy, he doesn’t like to fasten the top four buttons of his shirt. You get the picture. They competed together last year but they didn’t get on. So they went home and fought about it, blaming each other for their failures, and decided the best way to solve the issue would be to compete AGAINST each other this time around. Yes, indeed that is a good resolution. Far better than, say, going to marriage counseling or discussing what’s really bothering you or, hey, just supporting each other in improving your abilities. Alright then, on with the show!
She’s feisty, determined, and a shitty violinist (she actually destroys her strings while playing). He’s calm, collected, and a masterful classical guitar player with enviably long fingernails. You can guess what happened from there.
He got on, she’s out. Go back to the kitchen, woman! What are you thinking, trying to one-up your husband anyway?
The next day some eerie string-based music plays as Piers warns of his impending cranky rudeness. “Too much mediocrity is getting through,” he insists, and I say praise Jesus! Shouldn’t that quote be painted in large block letters in the offices of each programming manager in the country? For Christ’s sake.
Anyhoo, Piers is feeling naughty so y’all better watch out. Who better to come up and audition, then, than an innocent, uncynical child? Preferably one who still believes in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. We skim over a few lame acts, accompanied by Piers’ undying (though well-deserved) scorn, and naturally all the tears that follow one’s heart being broken by a ruthless total stranger. But come on! WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS????
But nobody could have predicted what would happen with 9-year-old Breeze (except anybody who saw the commercials for this show). This little girl with a name more appropriate for a breath mint back-flips out on stage with full makeup and crimped hair. She looks just like my friend Mindee from third grade. She’s wide-eyed and sweet looking, and Piers is about to tear her a new one.
Hasselhoff launches into Rancher-Dad mode, Sharon sips her tea contentedly, and Piers looks unamused. Breeze says that if she won the million bucks, she would buy her mommy a new car. The sound of four million hearts melting simultaneously fills the canyons, hills and valleys of America, and Piers reacts by giving us the classic dick-in-mouth gesture, complete with eye roll.
Breeze does a little dancy-cheerleader routine that, coincidentally enough, looks a lot like the routine I did in dance class when I was in third grade. I sense a running theme here. She does some round-offs, some cartwheels, a lot of clapping, and a lot of lip-synching. It’s no earth-shaker of an act, but, like Bratty Erica, it takes a lot of guts to do something like this at her age (fuck, at ANY age). And hey, in seven years she’ll make a kick-ass cheerleader. She could be in “Bring It On, Part 15.”
At the end of her performance, The Hoff says, “We have to be honest, but we’ll be nice. Piers?” Heehee. What a lovable galoof. Breeze looks scared shitless but ready to take the heat. Piers tells her he thinks she is just doing this because her mother pushed her into this and she is being forced to live out someone else’s dreams. He says all kinds of deep stuff to her and, surprisingly for a nine-year-old, she peers at him pensively, thoughtfully, as though composing a great comeback to use as soon as they bring back the volume on her mic.
The judges go back and forth for a bit, Sharon chastising Piers for being such a jerkoff and The Hoff trying desperately to make everyone laugh at the situation. Finally Piers asks if her mom is around. Breeze musters up all the bravery in her little body and declares protectively, “Yes. And she DIDN’T push me.
“SHE HELPED ME.”
Oh God almighty, I want to scream for this little girl. That is just fucking awesome.
Mom comes out, they all get into a screaming match (I mean hey, Jerry Springer is the host after all), and after some back and forth, Sharon screams about how terrible it all is, throws her cue cards in the air (how will she come up with snappy things to say now??) and defiantly walks offstage.
“Well, I’ve lost my judges here. Now it’s called ‘America’s Got Hasselhoff!’” says… well, you know. For all his seemingly drunken banter, at least he’s pretty funny. And nice. Sharon is striding silently to her dressing room (discreetly marked “S.O.”) and brings out her full Osborne-ness by throwing a tantrum, ripping off her fake eyelashes and retreating into her room. Piers waits outside, berating her as pathetic. Now THIS is entertainment!!
Might I just say how much I love seeing the crew? Those guys never get enough attention for the shit they put up with. After some “producers” convince the judges to come back on stage, we rejoin the audience and by this time, the entire theatre is chanting, “HASSELHOFF! HASSELHOFF! HASSELHOFF!” Okay, now everything’s gotten outta control! Somebody please intervene!
The judges come back and Piers insists, “I don’t like upsetting kids.” HA! To that I say HA! good sir! You LOVE to upset them! I think he likes hurting people in general. We might as well call him Agent Mike Doyle.
Sharon then says that althoughBreeze is not ready for the competition, she is “definitely very supple.” Wha-HUH? Did I hear that correctly? If anybody can chime in here and let me know if that’s a common thing to say, I would love it because that just seems a little weird to call a nine-year-old supple. Eww. Get it off my page.
After filling the drama quotient for the evening, we get back to our usual antics and I’m wondering if we will ever see some actual talent on this godforsaken show. As if on cue, on come a girl group called Southern Girl. Going by their actual names – Angela, Misty and Nekoya (or something) sound like strippers, but seeing them interact they look like they could be kind of fun. They’ve got a little Destiny’s Child in them.
When they perform, they truly do sound amazing. They are like En Vogue, Destiny’s Child, and SWV all rolled into one. God, remember SWV? I totally used to love them. Anyway, no question about it, they’re off to VEGAS, baby!
Best teaser line of the century: “Still to come, The Hoff gets HASSLED!” That one had me rolling on the floor.
During this commercial break we get tantalized by what will be some truly great shows (“Bionic Woman”) and truly awful shows (“Age of Love”) coming up. After that, we come back and they glaze over the totally awful, but entertaining performances of the evening that I kind of want to see more of.
But we are treated to the dance stylings of one Tom Zempke, who has an impressive mustache (though not the most impressive I’ve ever seen) and who is sweating bullets, which is not good for the shiny synthetic fabric he’s wearing. He promises that we will see something nobody’s ever seen before. Well, this should be good.
What he does is sort of like… well, the only way to describe it is like what your weird uncle does when he’s drunk on Christmas. Or something. I mean, you know, depending on what your family is like. It’s like, kicking and jutting out your hands furiously while murmuring some inaudible lyrics over “Disco Inferno.” Yeah, really.
Anyway, after the judges appropriately bash him, Springer asks him what he’s gonna do next, and he replies, “Well, I’m gonna get dressed up and go out and meet some ladies.” Excuse me, GOING to get dressed up?
Some mediocre girl with a sob story comes out and The Hoff is soooo transparent. Whenever a moderately good-looking girl comes out, he shamelessly molests them with his eyes. This is what my friend Kerri would call “Eye Sex.”
So next is a fine young gentleman named Brandon.
He is an arialist, but we don’t get to hear much more of what he says because the women in the audience shriek too loudly every time he opens his mouth. His act consists of raising himself up on elevated bed sheets, wrapping them around his body parts, writhing around and caressing himself with the sheets, sometimes doing some acrobatics. He’s a flying tango dancer, basically. The women go nuts for his nuts.
The judges aren’t into it, but they acknowledge that he has a bright future as a male escort. The next contestant wants to be Stevie Wonder. He plays the keyboard as though he should be performing at a nursing home. He has God-awful vocals. He butchers Wonder. The judges hate him. That’s all you need to know.
After that, the next group is the Jabberwockies, whom you may recognize from every nightmare you’ve ever had. I swear these guys haunt my dreams… and sometimes my waking moments too.
They claim to do some sort of dancing, but I can’t tell because I’m too busy covering my face with my hands and sort of peeking out from between my fingers.
The judges are all over their jocks. “Uh, LOVE IT!” announces Piers. “You know… I, I’ve seen a lot of dancing in my life, you know?” says The Hoff in the beginning of his praise of their work. I wanna get The Hoff for my next party. He’s a frickin’ riot. I suspect it was upon this sentiment that his whole career was built.
We are nearing the end of this monstrous post, I promise. Hang in there kids. Need some juice? An Adderall perhaps? The next group up is Country Bob and his daughter, Tits McGhee.
Their act is rescuing dogs from the pound and making them jump around like circus animals. Piers was unenthralled (surprise!) but Sharon loved it. I was impressed by the fact that the dogs actually STOOD on rope. Stood. On only two legs! That’s some training right there.
Ever wonder what happened to that boy group Hanson? Do you feel a void in your life without their vocal stylings to keep you warm at night? Have no fear, the Rascals are here.
They get their own slo-mo walking-in-unison intro. I have a feeling they’re probably quite popular at school. Or perhaps they just met on the bus on a glee club field trip and decided to take a stab at fame. They hop up on stage and sing an a capella version of “Shout.” With their matching outfits and everything, they are quite well-presented, and I’m sure all of their grandmothers are proud of them. Springer paces backstage hoping for them to make it through and, by a thread, they make it to the next round.
Then comes a wholly different kind of act. Balding Jordan and his adolescent, voice-not-yet-cracked son Nasco emerge to do a… hmm. A sort of acrobatic/gymnastic Euro-dance routine sort of… thing. They’re wearing matching skintight spandex and balancing on each other, in time to intense, cinematic and strange music, and I can’t help but feel kind of wrong watching it. It’s just odd. I wonder if they practice in their, and if they do, what do their neighbors think?
Apparently the judges do not feel funny about this act, and they pass them through straight away.
Next, David and Joel. They move their man-boobs in time to that song from “Deliverance.”
Psssh, like that’s hard. Next!
We’re treated to one last montage of pathetic acts before our final performer. He says his saxophone is a weapon for breaking down barriers. I say anyone who describes their musical instrument as a weapon should be carefully monitored.
He doesn’t look like much of a threat. You know, nicely combed hair, button-down shirt and slacks, Buddy Holly glasses. He looks like Gideon Yago in high school: cute nerd. But as soon as he breaks out that saxophone, watch out! He gets a devlish look in his eye and dances around like he’s possessed by a demon… a Fabulous demon!
He’s light on his feet and energetic, squealing in excitement every now and again. He’s kind of like a gay robot with a twitch. Who can play the sax. Or, more like John Leguizamo on crack. Who can play the sax. He sure is entertaining though. Hell, he’s got my vote. The judges love him too. You’ve gotta see it to understand it.
Well, congratulations. Together we’ve survived the first episode of the season, and together we can conquer the rest of it too! If you’ve actually made it this far into the recap, I commend you. I’m not sure how they expect to equally qualify the talent levels singers and gymnasts and ventriloquists, but I suppose it’s all for America to decide. What did y’all think about this episode? Anybody you wanted to make it through but didn’t? Or didn’t want to make it but did? And what’s with The Hoff, anyway?
Oh wait, before I go. Here are some pics I couldn’t find room for in the recap, but are just to delicious to pass up. Enjoy. See you on the boards!
To whoever stuffed a 40-year-old struggling comedian into a 12-year-old’s body, thanks a lot. Now we’ve got another asshole.