America’s Got Talent (Episode 14.01: Auditions, Week 1)

Season 14, Episode 1
Date of airing: May 28, 2019 (NBC)
Nielsen ratings information: TBD

It’s the summer of 2019 and this is a new iteration of my review blog, so I figured I put a bit more reality television on here, as it’s not that faulty as everyone thinks it is. The Bachelor franchise has always been fascinating to me, although the only season I watched to completion was the 2014 season of THE BACHELORETTE. And with BIG BROTHER returning soon, there is even more unscripted television in store for me, keeping me busy during the summer, because I don’t have any friends who could do that in replacement of television. This will be my first season of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, after watching multiple clips of it on YouTube, because besides singing and dancing, which I like to watch on reality television shows, I don’t mind seeing the occasional magic trick or dangerous stunt that could break someone’s neck, like on the German version of WANNA BET…?, which not only brought its host to quit the show months later, but was also the beginning of that show’s end on German television.

The first 82 minutes of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT for me were okay enough to not bore me, although I did ask myself why the producers didn’t just rebrand the show to “World’s Got Talent,” since the show had three acts from Italy, India and Australia. It kind of looks like AMERICA’S GOT TALENT is a little lax with the rules about international performers or contestants, and right now I have no idea if that is a good thing or a bad thing about the show. It’s a good thing, because the producers and judges aren’t just looking straight-up for American talent, which can be boring after a while, but gives an opportunity to the whole world to show what it can do besides voting far-right and polluting it to the ground. It might also be a bad thing, because… don’t Italy, India and Australia have their versions of “Got Talent?”

Sophie sings her own version of “Seventh Grade.”

This is not only my first season of the show, but also Gabrielle Union, Terry Crews and Julianne Hough’s, which is fantastic for me when it comes to Mrs. Union, since I am also watching her on L.A.’s FINEST currently, and that show happened to be majorly fluctuating between solid and bad, which isn’t really good when I just want to watch and enjoy the performance of one of the actors I like seeing their films of. Generally speaking, AMERICA’S GOT TALENT is going through a bit of a retool, now that three of the five main faces of the show have been replaced with new talent, giving it almost a sense of a reboot. But does that even matter on a reality competition show that is essentially a weeks-long audition in front of America?

The first contestant of the season is 60-year-old Greg Morton, who not only looks like he is 40 years old, but is also a voice imitator and can put on a Star Wars show with each of the characters in it. In hindsight, he might have reminded me of Michael Winslow, but there is potential comedy behind Greg’s performance, and chances are this aging man is also a nerd and his future performances will go through more pop culture references, and I am totally here for that. So, is his next number going to be a Star Trek performance? Maybe a little bit of THE WIZARD OF OZ, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The first magician of the season was card manipulator Eric Chen, who was not as focused about making you believe that he can’t think of the card you are holding, but instead changed its color. And then turned them into coins. It was a nice little show, but it was a show that made me think of LED tricks, and with a push of a cleverly hidden button, everything can change its color. Like Eric’s black vest, which changed into blue and red at one point and later to black, with the second changed not being noticed by the audience first. Or, which might actually be the case, the editors of the show manipulated the performance in post production so much that the audience unrealistically recognized the second change of Eric’s vest when Eric was noticing it — which was much later than when the change in color happened). The first singer-songwriter of the season was 15-year-old Sophie Pecona, who personally impressed me right away with her personal songwriting and performance, as well as reminding me of SoKo a lot, which is also a great thing. Besides that, it does not hurt at all when AMERICA’S GOT TALENT has a competitor who works with their own feelings within the performances. For a show like AMERICAN IDOL, Sophia might have gotten through the initial auditions, but it wouldn’t have been enough for the later stages, as Sophia clearly isn’t destined to become a pop star. By the way, she was mentioning the eight views on her YouTube channel — the chances are pretty good those will rise to the millions after the airing of this episode. The first danger stunt of the season was executed by “The Human Fuse” Brian Miser, whose only premise was to get flown through the air while being on fire. He got all the yesses from the judges, but what comes now for him, except a trip to Toledo?

Defying classical gravity.

The first “golden buzzer” of the season was pressed by Gabrielle Union, fittingly during the final act of the episode, which was performed by blind and autistic 22-year-old Kodi Lee. Besides being the “golden buzzer” moment, it was also the first inspirational moment of the season, and a weekly reminder that you can still change your life, even though all the cards are stacked against you. During Kodi’s performance it was quite obvious that the “golden buzzer” will be pushed, as Simon was eyeing it. So, no surprise there when it turned out the judges may have given Gabrielle the moment, just because it was her turn.

As expected, the remainder of the episode had some great acts, some woeful acts, and the usual generic banter between the judges, as well as their words to the contestants about “being yourself,” and never having “seen this before,” although that might be a questionable statement of facts after thirteen years of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT. Simon even put that statement out twice during this episode, which only means he was pleasantly surprised by most of the performances, and still will never ever return to AMERICAN IDOl ever again. Or maybe the man has just aged, and with age comes also respect of anyone who dares to step on a national stage and perform in front of millions.

Simon is deeply worried.

Best part of the show: Sophia’s lyrics reminded me of my own time in school, although I could have never put it into words like she did. Also, it reminded me of Bo Burnham’s film EIGHTH GRADE. Yeah, that’s how realistic and felt her song was.
Worst part of the show: There was the sense of Julianne, being the new judge, unable to press X. During the beginning stages of the episode, she was regularly the last one to press the failing contestant off the stage, but only seconds later, she was drunk on “press X” power. Personally I hate that kind of depiction of a judge’s job on a reality competition television show.
Contestant of the show: Gingzilla impressed me (and apparently the judges) by immediately showing her audience what her show is all about right away. You can be a singer or a dancer or a magician or a stunt performer. But when you come on stage and no one knows what you’re about to do, and then deliver an actual show that is both talented and hilarious, then I can only say that the judges were right when they were seeing an instant Vegas classic.

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