And then suddenly, we were watching something like The Superman Basketball Gymnastics. Of DEATH. There were men doing running flips on trampolines, doing the scariest slam-dunks ever, and going through BURNING RINGS OF FIRE. FIRE! IT WAS AWESOME, OKAY? THEY SHOULD STOP THE SHOW RIGHT NOW AND JUST HAVE THEM WIN.
But then Mom insisted on watching the next act, and all of a sudden it became amazingly at least 50% watchable, so I stayed for the whole two hours. Being delighted and/or mocking at will. I almost promise you do not even need to have seen the show to enjoy the rest of post.
First, some general observations:
-The judges/host used to be why I couldn't stand this show; I always felt that the producers just said "who are the most horrible people in the universe that we could get together?" and picked their cast accordingly. But turns out that ditching Jerry Springer for the far more attractive and personable Nick Cannon was not only a thousand-percent improvement, but it had the curious bonus effect of reminding me that actually, Piers Morgan is pretty awesome. And with a 50% positive streak in place, Sharon Osbourne doesn't seem so bad, so now only "The Hoff" (seriously?) sticks out like an awful judge.
-Speaking of which...I'm sorry, and people think Paula Abdul is dumb? Has David Hasselhoff said anything, ever, that was coherent, interesting, worthwhile, and/or not completely pointless? Because he makes Randy look ultra-relevant and in the know by comparison. When David talks, it's like I'm hearing Boomhauer. Just this mumbling stream of "Dang ol' y'all talkin' bout dang ol' stuff, man, cool. I tell you what."
-Wow. Is this show a little bit obsessed with explosions and fireworks, or what?
-And do they have a whole army of background dancers, possibly kept in a backlot cage, that they just whip out in the semifinals whenever an act needs some extra pep that the explosions won't cover?
On to the Acts!
(I made up most of the names, because I could only remember a few. Trust me, you'll be able to tell which ones. Also, weirdly, the odd-numbered acts were awesome and the even-numbered ones sucked.)
1. You think you know my position on the trampoline-flipping acrobats? Yeah, you're right, but you should also know that I literally talked about them after every act. I repeated the word "fire" a lot. At one point during their spot, I think I was staring at the TV with my jaw hanging open, dazed, thinking about how much money I would pay to see this for real.
3 votes, my max for the night.
2. The Texas Tenors
Could they be any more boring? Also, at one point, somebody said something about how now they're "the frontrunner to win."
Me: Seriously? You JUST saw guys LEAPING THROUGH FIRE.
Mom: I'm starting to get a little worried about your pyromania.
3. Husband and Wife Dance Partners
I loved them! I mean, I pretty much love all dancers, but even though you look at them and see "schlubby guy who definitely doesn't look graceful," they somehow turn it into this amazing routine of dance/acrobatics. It defies physics. It's mesmerizing. I need to to see more of this. 2 votes.
4. Magician Dude
The performance: See, I think this routine was supposed to be a tribute to his daughter, yet he had slutty assistants the whole time, so it backfired horribly. Have a lemonade stand - with a prostitute hidden underneath for your high-end clientele! Then one comes out in pigtails and clutching a pink blanket - I guess she's supposed to be the daughter? She jumps into his arms and it looks more like a disturbing Lolita fantasy.
And then! There's the "Girls Club," kinda like a treehouse, but then he pulls down a shade so all you can see are dancing silhouettes and BOY, IT LOOKS A LOT LIKE A STRIP CLUB ALL OF A SUDDEN. I got so absorbed in all the ways it was awful, I completely forgot that he was supposed to be doing illusions. I didn't even notice any of them. Magic fail!
Finally, the slutty assistants go away, and out comes his real-life daughter, adorably clutching three dolls. So either there was some type of symbolism happening before, or, she's a witch and trapped those hussies forever in doll form so they'd leave her dad alone.
The review: Piers was completely right about everything in his critique, especially with the pacing being weird and "Far Away" being A TERRIBLE SONG FOR A MAGIC ACT, and it just generally sucking at this stage of the the competition. At the same time, I felt horrible for the daughter, standing right there, and upset to the point of tears.
Because I do get it from her point of view, that they worked on this sweet storyline and she was really proud of being part of it, and it hurts hearing it get trashed to kingdom come. That would have been me. I would have had her exact reaction, down to the letter. And she looked extra pitiful, and even younger than she was, having to stand there holding onto the dolls.
Zero pity votes from me, though. I've got better places to spend them. Like the next duo...
5. Tony & Rory
"OMG OMG OMG THAT IS THE CUTEST DOG EVER LOOK AT IT HE IS SO BEAUTIFUL I LOVE THEM EVEN MORE THAN FIRE."
Then they actually did their routine, and it was amazing. I mean, really annoying how the dog kept yapping - it sounded so wound up and overstrung, there were times I was afraid he'd get so overexcited he'd either refuse to give up a disc or bite the owner's hand - but the way he bounced across two backs like so many stepping stones was amazing. Not even stepping stones - he was like a frog hopping across lily pads, high-speed all the way.
I am easily enchanted by animal acts, shut up. He was a truly adorable dog, though. Crazy skill level involved with disc catching, and superb training not to randomly veer off course or get scared by the giant stage and noise levels. And I liked his happy panting and wilingness to be held like a sack of feed for several minutes afterward. 3 votes! Probably would have been 2, but then I worried that people wouldn't vote for an animal act as much. Even though it is the best. By default.
6. "Voices of Glory"
I saw a little bit of them in a previous week. So when I saw them again, I was going to go watch paint dry, but I fell asleep before I could do that.
7. 5 Tap Dancing Sisters
This is another one of those acts where I just gazed in rapture. Maybe some jealousy. Mostly just admiration and total awe at the speed, the way it worked with the music, the complicated movements (both in their feet and with props) and the great ways they fanned across the stage and came back together, making use of the performance area. They're not even all that young, but they move like nobody's business. And the crispness, utter precision, and perfect synchrony couldn't have been better. Good show!
2 votes, only because they weren't as cute as the dog and there's pretty much nothing that equals doing 10-foot flips on a trampoline.
8. Grandma Lee, "comedienne"
She just...wasn't funny. At all. (maybe a little bit at the very beginning, all "Cut the crap!" and "I know you want my body...get in line. Behind Piers and the Hoff") She was sort of dirty, but not in a rip-roaringly hysterical way? More like she referenced the fact that she was old and yet still made allusions to sex, LOL! ...right. And the rest of her act was just boring. Besides, watching her afterwards is uncomfortable; she looks scared of the stage, like she's not sure what she's doing there and is terrified that any second they'll change their minds and decide she's no longer funny.
9. Dancing Boy
"High School Musical? Really?"
I do kind of love that he (oopsies!) blabbed about Secret Producer Influence - probably got a cuff on the head for that. Don't think I didn't see how Nick slipped a disclaimer in there about how the acts have final say over their performances! I love children; they don't know the unspoken rules of show business. Anyway, in general, I agree with Piers saying he came to this show too early.
10. The Ex-Chicken Catcher!
God, he was boring too. That's partly because I just have a rule about not liking any of the singers on this show, ever, for taking time away from acts that are high-energy and fun. It's also partly because authentic country music, without the welcome influence of pop, is awful. How I am supposed to hear "a good singing voice" over that is beyond me. I don't think much of Susan Boyle either.
Two things I took away from his bio, though: one, one of the judges said they "almost forgot" that he used to be a chicken boy or whatever. *explodes* I DON'T KNOW HOW, BECAUSE THE COMMERCIALS MENTIONED IT EVERY FIVE MINUTES. Also it was repeated, I think, 14 or so times in the five minutes prior to his coming on stage. If I didn't know better I'd think he was coming on stage to chase turkeys, having graduated from chickens.
And two, I like how there was a supportive sign from Hicksville proudly declaring "Your as good as our chicken." Your. Just in case you were suspicious that Hicksville's reputation was too much of a stereotype.
-DRUMLINE. It has been driving me nuts trying to figure out why I know who Nick Cannon is; thank you random tap dancer! DRUMLINE. THAT IS WHY. I have not seen it, but I've seen the 19,052 (approximate number) of previews featured on various cable channels that reran it a million times.
-Halfway through, a commercial ran for Abilify, our favorite prescription med in the history of the world. Cue hysterical laughter every time they proudly repeat the name. I wanted to vote for it as one of the best acts. I mean, what other kind of depression drug can cheer you up without even having to take it?
-I even remembered to vote tonight! I don't remember to vote for the FOX shows. It's so much easier when you are limited to 10 and don't feel like you should be chained to the phone for 20+ minutes on end to feel like you've made a difference.
-Secretly, I think mocking the magic act was my favorite part of the night.
-I am never watching this again. It was strictly a 1-time deal, okay?