Tuesday, September 4, 2012

America's Got Talent SemiFinal #2

There's one week left, America!  We've still got twelve acts to go, and once again, only three can move on to next week's final on America's Got Talent! This is very, very important, America, and we must not forget, so they will remind us several times over the course of the show.  Of course, just like last week, the judges keep forgetting this and they will be urging us to vote for more acts than can possibly go through.  The judges told us tonight that this was the best semifinal ever in the history of entertainment.  That's high praise for a lineup that didn't include an Earth Harp, and I think there were too many wobbly acts to deserve that accolade, but some of the acts were pretty sensational. 

The Judge's panel continues its war of cheesy hand gestures, as Howey does a ridiculous point, and Sharon pulls out her little heart standby, and Howard flaps and sweeps in his attempts to make fun of the other two.

All That is the first group up.  This clogging group is only here because Sharon has a fetish for them, and they've advanced at the expense of better acts.  However, to their credit, they realized that they've got to do something remarkable to stay alive in the competition, so they've pulled out a new trick; tonight they perform half their dance routine with their shoes on fire.  OK, that's new.  Then they dance in water, presumably to put out the fire.  Well, that's new, too.  They've even thrown in a soloist. They've got the audience on their feet, and Sharon is very appreciative of their leather pants. I am slightly appreciative that they tried to do something different, and I think they definitely did the very best they could possibly have done - but they are... a clogging act, and they are buried in the First Slot of Death.  Bye, guys.  Thanks for all eye candy.  I guess.

Sebastien el Charro del Orro and his mariachi band are next.   The preview shows him being a really adorable kid, and his mama is rightfully very proud of him.  I have an unreasonable amount of affection for this kid, and I literally screamed when he got through to the semis, but Sebastien was a wild card, and he's singing on borrowed time.  His glory notes are still enough to send shivers down my spine, but he's a little wobbly on some of the middle notes, and about halfway through I realize that he's just a little too young and not quite a remarkable enough prodigy to get through this tough competition.  Although I do think he's better than All That, and several other acts tonight. Howard blasts his sour notes and praises his showmanship as a ten year old.  Sharon hopes that America will vote for him.  She's now asked us to vote for the first two acts in a group of twelves.  Sharon is either not very good at math, or she has no faith in the next ten acts still to come.

The Magic of Puck advanced by not being an abysmal mess during the horrific Youtube show, but the judges question whether he can do a bigger and more impressive act. I'm going to give the guy his due.  He tries.  Last time, he made a handkerchief dance for us, and it was kind of cute.  This time, he levitates a lady in the air.  That's... only the second or third time we've seen that trick this season.  The trick is clean, well-done, and quite seamless.  He stepped it up and showed that he can do a very conventional magic trick every bit as well as anybody else can.  He's workmanlike and not particularly original, but he'll get more work.  He's not moving on, and the judges don't even try to convince us that he should, although Howie weakly suggests that if we really, really want to send a magic act to the finale, it might as well be Puck.

Clint Carvalho and His Extreme Parrots is another one of those acts that managed to survive the bloodbath that was the horrible Youtube show. Today, Clint has very good control over his parrot.  Kitty dances for us, mails a letter, flies through some hoops, and steals a 7 Up from Sharon Osbourne.  He's a great circus act.  He's going to make a fine living at Renaissance fairs and the like; this is a very good version of something I've not only seen before, but seen often.  He's not moving on.

Jacob Williams is next.  He's made a name for himself by being geeky and awkward and hysterically funny, but tonight.... he's geeky and awkward and completely out of funny material.  It's very, very painful to watch.   All of a sudden, we realize the difference between a talented beginner like Jacob and a polished, capable pro like Tom Cotter.  I just hope he hasn't just lived his worst nightmare, because he's the weakest act of the night. Howard nailed it - Jacob was nervous and genuinely not very confident.  It's all really... awkward.

Shanice and Maurice Hayes are back for another round of father/daughter bonding, and Shanice lets us know that they've been getting better gigs since they appeared on America's Got Talent.  Well, I am glad to see that they have gotten something tangible out of this. Maurice comes out, beginning the song from one side of the stage, and then Shanice joins him from the other side.  They have a gospel choir backing them and they sound great as they take us to church.  The judges think Maurice is hogging too much spotlight from his charismatic daughter;  Howie wants to kick dad off the stage altogether. So far, it's easily the best act of the evening, but that's not saying much.

All Wheel Sports promises that they are going to be terribly dangerous and exciting as they cycle in the dark.  They jump on trampolines and somersault on bicycles and one guy falls - and that's it.  They are done.  They've made at least one really bad mistake in a big, frenetic, messy performance that is too disorganized to focus on properly, and they've got to be done now.  As Howard points out, there is no one great, interesting moment.  Howie asks us to vote for them. 

The judges said this was the best semifinal in the history of entertainment.  So far, I am not feeling it, and we are over halfway through. Nobody is wowing me yet.I think last week was better.

Tim Hockenberry got to the semifinals by channeling Joe Cocker.  Howard tells us that singers are going to have a hard time tonight, and I hope he's right.  Tim's trying to channel John Lennon;  he's singing "Imagine." He's emoting in all the right places and if I saw him in a bar I'd be eagerly throwing money in his cup, but I am not jumping up to vote for this;  as Howie points out, he's not very original, and I think I've had just about enough of the parade of mediocre male white singers winning this competition over better acts year after year.  I bet money he sails through, and I hope I am wrong.

The Untouchables, that adorable dance troupe of eight year olds going on twenty, are at it again.  This week, the kids are doing the tango, punctuated with sharp, precise movements and breathtaking technical excellence that is impressive enough... until they pull off a magic trick of their own.  The boys lower a a red tarp to cover the girls for literally only about five seconds, and in that time, the girls have replaced their short silver skirts with red and yellow flowing gowns.  It's a spectacular moment, the first AHA! moment of the night. The crowd reaction is phenomenal.  The ovation goes on and on, and I know we've finally seen something genuinely impressive this evening.  Then one little girl begins weeping with joy and babbling about how happy she is that they danced well, and her little tears are going to get them several hundred thousand more votes.  I would not be at all surprised if they made the finals.

The Olate Dogs have to follow that.   Sharon informs us that she thinks they've got to get through to the final.... they've been saying that too often tonight.  One dog jumps a rope, another jumps a flag, and then three start a conga line. One dog rides a scooter, another does backflips.  And then, in the best trick of the evening, two dogs jump over their somersaulting masters.  That's... pretty cool.  That's a trick I've never seen before.  Sharon begs us to vote for them desperately.  Howard says that we  have to vote them through.  Howie agrees - and calls it the best semifinals ever.  Gee, so far I've seen two sensational acts.  Have they forgotten about last week already?

Lightwire Theater offers us an epic battle between a mountain lion of light and two strange, dinosaur like creatures who, for reasons not entirely clear to me, are fighting each other with light sabers. May the force be with you, kitty.  One effect, in which they created a giant egg that exploded and then hung in the air, was particularly impressive.  As the mountain lion warrior runs his enemies through with his light saber, the dinosaurs turn red and fall.  It looks more impressive than it sounds, and I suspect it looks more impressive in person than it does on TV.  Howie declares that they deserve to be in the final.  Oh, look, another one. The judges declare it a 3 D experience.

David Garibaldi and his CMYK's. close the show. Once again, they are dancing to music as they smear what appears to be random paint on four canvases in the middle of the stage. Usually David's gig is easy to figure out; he tends to paint a picture of the musician he's dancing to, but tonight it's clear they are doing something else.  There's a face emerging on those panels, but whose is it? They turn the panels upside down and reconstruct them on a huge scaffolding; shown finally in the proper order, the random splotches of paint have become the Statue of Liberty. Howard thinks that this group will get through to the final, but he's got a warning for Garibaldi.   He's keeping us waiting too long to see what he's painting.  Howard thinks that could be a problem.  Sharon and Howie want Garibaldi to move forward as well.

So total this up:  the judges have asked us to vote for All That, Sebastien, All Wheel Sports, Tim Hockenberry, the Olate Dogs, Lightwire Theater, and David Garibaldi.  That's seven acts, and there are three slots.  I wonder how that's going to work out.

My rankings:

1. The Untouchables - add a little magic and tears to youth and excellence, and I think you have an unbeatable combination.

2. Lightwire Theater - Giant dinosaurs of light fighting a bobcat with lightsabers!  It's so much better than it sounds!

3. The Olate Dogs - Look, the dogs made a congo line and then jumped as their masters did somersaults.  You just don't see that every day.

4. David Garibaldi and his CMYK's - they are still wonderfully energetic and it's still exciting to see what they are painting, but I think I like Joe Castillo better.  He tells a story all the way through.

After that... the quality drops off dramatically.  It will be slightly criminal if anybody ranked lower than David makes these finals, but one guy might.

5. Tim Hockenberry - He will channel the original singes all night with such passion you forget he's just a cover artist. Saints preserve us from yet another white male singing winner.

The rest of the acts have no chance at all.

6. Shanice and Maurice Hayes - Give your daughter wings, old fella.  She's the star of the show now.

7. Sebastien el Charro del Orro - when the acts start getting ordinary and weak, I get to give higher ranks to my sentimental favorite.

8. All That - OK, it was kind of cool seeing their feet on fire.

9. Magic of Puck - Coming soon to a birthday party near you.  Hey, I will hire him for my kids.  It would be great.

10. Clint Carvalho and His Extreme Parrots - because the Renaissance Festival is the only other place to see an act like this.

11. All Wheel Sports - The most interesting thing was the splat.

12. Jacob Williams - Sweetie, when the jokes don't work, you are heartbreaking.

1 comment:

  1. Last night had too much talent which’s going to make it hard for me to decide which and who I will vote for. It’s good to see everyone is on top of their game and they want to make it to the next round. Americas Got Talent’s one of the best shows on primetime, which is my favorite. I don’t care for commercials, and with the Auto Hop feature this will allow me a way to enhance my TV. I can now skip the commercials if I enable the feature and continue to enjoy my primetime shows. One of my coworkers at Dish showed me how the Auto Hop feature works for commercial skipping. I'm going to be able to save some money on batteries because I no longer need to continually use the fast forward button every ten minutes.