'America's Got Talent' recap: The Great Debate

In the opening moments of Lost’s fifth season finale, two bearded men — one in white, the other black — are sitting on the beach, cryptically (…it’s Lost) debating the significance of a ship spotted just offshore. ”They come, fight. They destroy; they corrupt. It always ends the same,” says the man in black. His opponent grins at him. “It only ends once,” Jacob says. “Anything before that…is just progress.” Then they go back to staring at the ocean until January 2010, when Lost returns for its sixth and final season. (!!)

Besides satisfying my desire to somehow plug Doc Jensen’s favorite show in these AGT recaps (I’m sorry!), I think the above exchange could easily fit overtop another philosophical debate we saw tonight. Substitute Piers Morgan for Jacob and David Hasselhoff for “the man in black,” and you’ve got a fair re-creation of their struggle to make sense of illusionist Joseph Constantine’s act.

”This show is about giving people a break,” said Morgan, reactingto the contestant’s story of personal and financial struggle. “It’s aboutgiving people with dreams a chance to achieve them.” The Hoff took hismind off the bevy of PYTs in tonight’s auditions and countered that no, theshow is about talent. “We’relooking for something we haven’t seen before.” One judge tired of all theposturing, the average performances; another who believes in the show as apowerful tool for change. Sharon? Sharon?

Ultimately Constantine was ushered into the next round, butthe judges’ deliberation — most particularly Hasselhoff’s — made forprobably this season’s most interesting moment yet. Finally, we see them deliberating over something, carefully considering what they’ve just seen. Whether the illusionistadvances beyond the next round is irrelevant. What’s significant is the way this moment got at the show’s central question, and one we raised last week: just what is America’s Got Talent all about?

There’s plenty of room to discuss that in the comments section below, but before we all get our doctorate in Judge Behavioral Studies let’s try to lighten things up. AGT University offers a wide variety of fun electives, including:

Undeniable Adorableness 101 – Whether your viewing pleasure is spastic dogs or rousing dance numbers, we’ve got you covered! Forget about those navel-gazing existential dilemmas for a second and turn off your brain — simply BE — as you smile, smile, smile. (May not be taken more than once per term.)

“Didn’t Your Friends Tell You?”: Dreams and Delusions – “According to the audience I did terrible, but the audience can’t determine my life.” “You didn’t like it? I mean, that’s just like your opinion, man.” “I cannot sing when everybody is so loud.” Common refrains, all. But what is at the root of these frustrations with a world they never made? This course aims to open wide the myths we all accept…and force the proverbial playing cards back in each of our mouths*. (Open only to first years and transfers.)

* Homework assignment, PopWatchers: could someone make an animated gif of Marty the magician’s card trick? That was great.

Is David Hasselhoff Drinking Today? (1982-2009) – This one-credit course meets bi-weekly to watch film of “The Hoff” and assess his depicted level of sobriety. Due to its relative ease, the course will only be offered to those who did not place into the more advanced ”Did Nick Cannon Just Imitate The Contestant Again?”

… And so much more! But now’s the time to polish your arguments, folks, and share them in our makeshift recitation below. (Just imagine me in a tweed jacket with elbow patches.) THEN, come back next Wednesday morning to discuss what’s being touted as America’s “Susan Boyle moment”… See you next week!

Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • kbsgranny

    I think Nick Cannon is a useless waste of time. What surpose does he serve? Anyone can act and look stupid.

  • Linda

    I think AGT should be about the talent which a quotient of the cute factor. What is fabulous, is when some truly unknown person gets a chance to perform on the stage and has an amazing God given talent. I thought that was what AI (American Idol) was supposed to be about. But most of the final contestants on AI are professional singers, at least on some level. I think AGT can fill that void. Non-professionals with a built in amazing talent or passion. The tap dancing moms/sisters (Fab-5) were terrific!

  • Stephanie T.

    How about the wrong show for that talent category? There are a few people who auditioned that belonged somewhere else but not on AGT. For example that General Tom Thumb guy. He’s annoying, yet should be a children’s theater actor or children’s cable show host. BTW: speaking as a children’s librarian, YES we are actually trained to be that annoying because young kids and parents like that sh-it. I turn it off when I am not doing a preschool program.

  • Adam

    Am I the only one not crazy about dog dancing?
    http://tvdonewright.com/2009/07/01/tv-tonight-thursday-june-2nd-2009/

  • Danny

    The judges keep saying that they are looking for someone who could do a one hour show in Vegas. Magicians, comics and singers make sense. That’s who has one hour shows in Vegas. The moms and daughters in curly wigs were cute but an hour show in Vegas???? Really????
    Other dubious candidates: the couple being sensual in a hoop, dog acts (fun to watch but not for an hour), the man who sang to Hasselhoff, older people (and I am one) doing rap and/or breakdancing, and most of the dancing acts (they could do an hour but somebody will be in front of them singing).
    If the show is about finding undiscovered talents that are fun to watch for five minutes then the novelty acts make sense but if it’s about being able to do a long show and make a living at it – well, I don’t seen Bob And His Dog in neon on a sign for the Bellagio.
    Both concepts make sense but the show needs to decide which it is doing and go on from there.

  • Ginny Meyer

    Really my first thought last night was the DH was drunk. He puts through marginal acts for all kinds of sentimental sappy reasons and then he gets on his high horse about this magician, a perfect Las Vegas act. But he voted for those two aging pigs on the twirling hoop who’s whole act was swallowing each others tongue while on stage. I think he was drunk

  • Betty

    I wish someone would tell Piers to find a new rating system for singers. They can’t all be the best he’s ever heard. Having watched him on BGT and now AGT, it’s getting old.

  • jennifer

    the illusionist constantine and his family such a controversy he is amazing i have seen him perform live.NUMEROUS TIMES AND I COULD NEVER GET TIRED. HE ALWAYS BRINGS SOMETHING NEW TO THE STAGE WITH HIGH ENERGY AND PASSION. HE TRUELY LOVES WHAT HE DOES HE DESERVES THIS MORE THAN ANYONE I KNOW. IF AGT TALENT WOULD HAVE SET UP THE PROP PROPERLY MAYBE THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A BIGGER TWIST AND IF THEY WERE 2 USE THEIR ORIGINAL MUSIC AND IF HOFF WOULD OF STOPPED HUFFING AND PUFFING HIGH OFF HAIRSPRAY. MAYBE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC WOULD SEE WHAT TRUELY WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ON STAGE ALSO IF THIS ACT WAS SEEN SO MANY TIME WHICH IS INCORRECT BUY THE JUDGES HOW DID SHE DO A COSTUME CHANGE IN 2 SECONDS IN A BOX PLS ITS A TRUE ILLUSIONIST AT WORK. I CAN NOT EVEN CHANGE MY PANTS THAT FAST AND STILL LOOK THAT GOOD. NE WAYS I KNOW THEY HAVE MANY ILLUSION WE HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE BUT REQUIREMENTS FOR AUDITIONS ARE VERY STRICT AND U MUST PULL WHAT U CAN OUT OF A HAT THEN THEY STILL CHANGE IT ON YOU

  • Joanne Tamayo

    The cream will rise to the top in the end but in the meantime we enjoy ALL the acts. The show is one of the most fun things on TV now. Where else can you see a 62 yr. old dancer, a contortionist, good & bad singers, animal acts and get huge surprises (chicken catcher from KY)? Before the finals some of these talented people will be discovered by others and find jobs. Love the judges too – esp. Piers. Also we enjoy Nick Cannon much more than Jerry Springer.

  • peggym

    We just saw Terry Fator, season two’s winner, in Las Vegas, and he easily filled a hour-plus show with great entertainment. I can’t imagine watching dancing dogs (other than when I took my 5-yr old to Circus Circus)or 5-yr old singers in ruffled dresses and Mary Janes for more than the length of time it takes me to find the remote.

  • Ruth

    Message to the Judges: Stop the pity judging!!! Judge on TALENT. Kari’s medical issue does not make her a great singer, surviving cancer does not make you a great singer, a comatose mother does not make you a great singer. Please, while the backstories are touching, please, please judge based on TALENT or NO TALENT! Thank you.

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