Thursday, August 7, 2014

NBC's "America's Got Talent": second week of quarter-finals (8/5/14, 8/6/14)

"America's Got Talent" continues to dominate the summer TV ratings, but I've found this year's crop of contestants to be weaker than usual. The best ones are up to the standards of past seasons; there just aren't as many I'd put in that category. Many others are derivative of past acts, without the "wow" factor.

One greedy curious programming decision that NBC has made this season is the addition of a one-hour "Cutdown" episode on Wednesday evenings just before the results show. As far as I can tell, this is a recap of the two-hour Tuesday night performance show. It makes me wonder if I should skip the performance show and just watch the recap, which is the performances minus the backstory/filler that pads the Tuesday night show. It would mean that I wouldn't get to participate in the voting, but I rarely do that anyway.

Anyway, I thought there were only two stand-out acts this week, Mat Franco (the magician) and Aerial Animation, both of which advanced.

Franco's trick was executed well, although I didn't find it as baffling as his earlier tricks.

It'll be interesting to see how Smoothini (also a close-up magician) does; apparently he was deemed so good at his audition that he passed straight through without having to compete in Las Vegas, so it's been a long time since he had any screen time. I'm a sucker for magic tricks, so I tend to favor the magicians on this show, but for some reason, not a single one has come close to winning.

Aerial Animation is the woman who (mostly) hangs from a sash in the air, moving in synch with images projected on the screen behind her.

It's a similar act to last year's winner, Kenichi Ebini, but swapping the aerial acrobatics for Ebini's ground-based martial arts-like moves.

The rest of the performances were a bunch of singers and dancers, including rollerblade dancer Juan Carlos (whose audition set to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Were Made for Walking" was amusing but whose advancing past Las Vegas was a travesty), plus trick rope cowboy Loop Rawlins. I enjoyed Rawlins' act and wouldn't have minded seeing him advance over any of the singers who did (Emily West, who advanced last week, is this season's best singer by far, anyway), but there is a kind of repetitiveness to his act, so I can see why he didn't move on.

Oh, I almost forgot that this week also had "comic" Derik Santos. He's got a weird, shy/dorky act, but he was sadly unfunny this time around. Too bad. In my mind, he does suffer greatly by comparison to Joe Machi on "Last Comic Standing," who also has a shy/dorky affect, but whose jokes are hilarious!:

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