9:00 p.m.: Live from my couch, it’s America’s Got Talent! We’ve finally made it to Sin City, where the slot machines chime in a glorious symphony to welcome our contestants for a two-hour special. And I’m staying glued to my set — no matter how bad things get — to make sure that what happens in Vegas ends up on the Internet. Like Shequida (embedded below, and discussed a little later in this column.)
9:06 Host Jerry Springer says this is the toughest test of the contestants’ lives, and the biggest prize in entertainment history. Leave it to AGT to reach ridiculous new heights (or lows?) of hyperbole and faux-suspense — with slo-mo shots, heartbeat sound effects, and even a smoke machine running as the judges take their seats.
9:09 The judges sit in a luxury suite and decide to cut half of the performers before the semifinals even begin. I’m sure it was a difficult process. One in which Sharon cried over every cut, and The Hoff continuously lobbied on behalf of girls in short skirts.
9:12 The contestants are divided into four groups, two of which will be eliminated. Cue thirty seconds of loud, pounding music as the Hoff clenches his jaw and looks defiantly into the sky before telling the first group they’re staying. Group B is out, and we bid farewell to such memorable acts as those girls with feathers in their hair, and that group with the satin shirts.
9:14 Group D gets to stay as well. Which means we’ll be seeing more of the Ozzy impersonator. Yay?
9:17 Who doesn’t dream of lying on a bed of nails andhave flaming cinderblocks balanced on their chests?
9:22 Dan Meyer attempts to swallow curved sword. My stomach hits the buzzer.
9:23 Meyer proves that the sword can cut a cucumber. Yes, the sword is real, and oh my god, it’s on fire.
9:28 The impersonators take the stage, and Tina, Britney and Ozzyare all here. They’re also all very shiny. This is Vegas, baby!
9:30 Why is the Britney impersonator doing a version of the pop tart’sfamously terrible VMA performance? I mean he’s better than Brit was,but still, this does not bode well.
9:39 Onto a big group of magicians and their tricks. I’msorry, not tricks, illusions. The first performer, David Martin, messesup and tries to play it off as part of the act. Even if he pulled it off, it doesn’t make amends for all the purple snakes that diedto make his trenchcoat.
9:47 Let us not speak of the children’s variety acts!
9:49 Jerry has been surprisingly absent from thisepisode, only showing up to hug the contestants and tell them thatthey’re great people. He hasn’t really been missed by this viewer.
9:55 “There’s just so many of them,” says Sharon, alarmed at the number of contestants. Why yes, did you not notice you held six weeks of auditions?
9:59 The cuts are all happening so quickly, I can barely keep track of who’s going home, and who still has a chance at the biggest prize in entertainment history.
10:00 America’s Got Talent makes children cry.
10:04 Music acts are up. My ears begin to revolt. The rest of my body joins the protest when I look at the clock and realize there’s almost a whole hour remaining!
10:09 Shequida blends leopard print and neon green in one dress,and sings both male and female parts of an opera piece. Impressive or alarming? Yes!
10:17 It’s time for the younger music performers, and I foreseethis turning into a bad episode of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Or another sob-fest. Either way, I’m nervous. Especially when the first twogirls to sing are flat.
10:20 I’m suffering from an overdose of cuteness as 4-year-old Kaitlyn Maher (performance embedded below) kisses 10-year-old David Militello onthe cheek. All I need are a few lolcats to put me into completediabetic shock.
10:29 My patience is waning. According to Jerry,Daniel Jens faces one of the biggest challenges of his life.Because apparently, a tour in Iraq doesn’t compare to a Piers Morgan critique.
10:32 Jens forgets the words to his song, andthe show gets interesting again. He apologizes to the judges, but it’sthe first unpredictable moment in about an hour. I get my second wind.
10:40 We move onto the female singers, and for some reason every reaction shot is of the Hoff. Hmmm…
10:45 Holly Hardin straddles the line between country singing and melodic mumbling.
10:47 I can’t be snarky about Queen Emily. I just love her too much. So much that I will excuse her aggressive use of sequins.
10:55 As much as I love the little kids, the fact that Maher andMilitello are kept at the expense of far more talented (but older) kids makes me wonder if the show should change its title toAmerica’s Cutest Talent. Hey NBC, your producers are showing!
10:58 David Jens makes it through after forgetting the lyrics. A fitting way to end the night, I feel. I’m countingthe hours until Thursday, when the final forty (I think, there was noway to keep track of how many acts were actually there) are put to whatI’m sure will be the most difficult test of their lives.
What did you think of last night’s show? Any acts that stood out, good or bad? And can you believe this show won’t actually wrap till October?