On June 22, 2014, NBC promised an extra-special Sunday broadcast of America’s Got Talent, during which two attempts at a world record would be made.
The first record attempt came from a veteran of America’s Got Talent: Professor Splash from Season 6, who had previously set the world record on AGT for the highest high dive into shallow water.
During the live segment, Splash attempted to set a separate record for the highest jump into a shallow flaming pool. Before the dive, he alluded to a prior performance where his foot caught a mounted camera and caused him to plummet head first. This turned out to be prophetic, as Splash also fell head first instead of belly-flopping as intended. Fortunately, he caught himself and was able to land on his back. A representative from Guinness World Records later confirmed that he had set a new record.
The next attempt at a world record came from a new face to AGT, Aaron “The Human Spring” Evans, who attempted to leap over three speeding cars in a row. Evans completed the stunt successfully, but did not do so within the amount of time necessary to break the record.
Beyond this, AGT did not at all differentiate much from its usual format. In fact, it was very much a return to form.
Howie Mandel is back to his old ways. Any hopes that he may have finally elevated his standards, or at least abandoned his mission to force America to watch acts that are clearly terrible, were dashed when Juan Carlos, a rollerskating hairdresser in a skin-tight outfit, took to the stage and repeatedly shook his fanny at the audience.
Mandel promptly found himself out of his seat and unable to stop talking about how much he loved it, and after a sufficient amount of pestering, fellow judges Mel B. and Heidi Klum both voted to put him through as well.
Later, Mandel cited a need for “million dollar acts” and voted no against the One Voice Children’s Choir, and later still voted yes (this time alone) to a man who put spiders on his face.
America’s Got Talent is not liable to suffer in the long run, as, once again, they still attract high caliber and original talents which cannot be found anywhere else. Though it may be with some sense of irony that the first act to advance who illustrates such is a reality TV veteran: the mentalist Mike Super, the winner of the single-season NBC competition Phenomenon.
For his act, Super, ever versatile, had Heidi Klum hold a glass pitcher inside a plexiglass barrier, which he claimed would help his spiritual companion, Desmond, demonstrate his presence. After telling the audience to focus their energy, the pitcher shattered.
These are the kinds of acts that AGT’s success is built on. But if anyone out there (as my son and I were tempted to do) shut off their television in disgust after Howie Mandel muscled Juan Carlos through, they would have missed out on even more amazing talent.
Fans of fresh and original talent, and those who enjoy trying to pick out the top contenders in advance, would have missed out on seeing siblings Emil and Dariel use a pair of cellos to cover “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.
Fans of the touching and inspiration would have missed the “better late than never” story of Frank the Singer, a seventy-four-year-old man with the voice of Sinatra, but who never tried until now because of a stutter and a lack of confidence.
And for the “this could only happen on AGT” fans, there was Grennan the Green Monster, an eight-year-old knife thrower.
America’s Got Talent has always been, and will continue to be, one of the most diverse, exciting and all-around appealing reality TV competitions in America. But it still deserves better. Or, if nothing else, it deserves a judge of talent who is actually looking for talent.