Henning Fog
July 15, 2009 AT 08:30 PM EDT

As some of you pointed out in the comments of last week’s recaps, many of the contestants performing on America’s Got Talent are hardly new to the game. Saucy comedian Grandma Lee just missed the finals of Last Comic Standing in 2004 with many of the sames jokes she told last week. Acrodunk, the basketball-dunking acrobats, already performed on AGT three years ago (during the BRANDY era.) Next week’s episode even touts a repeat singer, returning to the stage after being brutally XXX-ed in her last attempt. Second time’s a charm? There’s no country in the world more invested in second chances than America, and no show more dedicated to honoring that tradition than AGT.

And yet, are we really expected to be entertained by someone already given their “one shot,” their “one opportunity” (this post brought to you by 8 Mile), who is merely trumpeting their same exaggerated act for a second time? Why should viewers be asked to treat the moment like it’s now suddenly something heartwarming and special? Time to put a stop to this ridiculousness, guys. And I say we start with former American Idol contestant Kelli Glover.

As though prompted by an INVISIBLE FORCE (cough producers cough), Sharon asked the young lady to tell the judges something interesting about herself. “I was on season 1 of American Idol,” she replied. “I’ve been dreaming of making it back for six years.” Flags are up! Kelli then launched into a strong rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen,” commanding the stage and eliciting plenty of enthusiasm from the judges. She got her three votes. She advanced to the next round. She fulfilled her “dream.” Success?

“I was so devasted,” Kelli said of the 2002 AI loss. “I didn’t sing for a while after that.” But after her performance, for some reason, David Hasselhoff said, “You didn’t give up,” citing the six years she had spent as a blackjack dealer after losing her AI spot to Jim Verraros. UMM, WHAT? She most definitely DID give up, David, if a loss in 2002 so easily derailed her career aspirations. I’m endlessly put off by this idea that America’s Got Talent — or American Idol, or So You Think You Can Dance — is the normal American’s one golden hope of achieving all his/her performance-related goals, that only by getting another shot at a reality competition can one hope to have his/her talent noticed and validated. Have a little more creativity, America! Think outside the bun! Roll up your sleeves and work harder.

Thankfully, last night’s episode featured three genuinely sweet performances to counteract the troubling Kelli Glover segment. Nine-year-old blues guitarist Tallan Noble Latz wowed the crowd with his poise and technical skill and elicited plenty of love from the judges. It’s unlikely that guitar playing (however skillful) will get him past the next round, but Tallan’s gracious behavior was a breath of fresh air when compared to the kind of kids (and adults, sadly) we’ve seen before. These days, that’s almost a talent in and of itself.

The dancing/gymnastic-ing Platt brothers were equally fun to watch, pulling off some well-choreographed moves in a performance that was weird and engaging at the same time. (They said they were raised on a farm without television, and I believed them!) One hour Vegas show-worthy? We’ll find out in the next round. Capping off the evening were the Spiritual Harmonizers, a group of postal workers diverse in age but harmonious in song. Piers compared their lead singer’s pipes to those of Stevie Wonder, which didn’t feel egregious. Without artifice or histrionics, he — and his mail-sorting buddies — truly connected with the audience. You are what this show [should really be] all about!

So what about it, guys? Am I being as ridiculous as I claim America’s Got Talent‘s “second chances” policy to be? (Probably.) Do you think Ms. Glover has a future in singing? Who might play her Jim Verraros in the next round of competition? This show…

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