The Champions episode 1 review

Introduction of judges and rules

Terry Crews is the new host for at least this version of AGT, and the second he walks out onto the stage and breathes, he is instantly a better host than anything Tyra Banks. I’m sorry you’ll have to miss out on all my biting, sarcastic Tyra remarks, though. The same four judges return from the summer, and that’s fine. Simon, Howie, Mel B, and Heidi have solid chemistry and will do the trick.

Apparently there will be ten acts with only two moving on. That makes sense. It’s a tournament of champions, and no champion wants to be a loser. This way only the best of the best move on. But I don’t like the way they’re choosing them. The judges will have one golden buzzer each night, and the second finalist will be chosen by some nebulous panel of superfans from every state. These aren’t live shows, so I’m not really sure what’s happening with that or what the point is. Feels like we’re not probably never going to get the top two from each night, but that’s sorta the AGT modus operandi. Alas. I’m guessing we get five semifinals with two finalists chosen from each, then ten superchamps in the finals. Makes sense.

Alright, let’s get to tonight’s talents.

Bianca Ryan

Wow, that is quite the way to kick off a tournament of champions! Bianca is an incredible story. She won the entire show in the first season at age 11, but that was a long time ago. Since then, she’s had to overcome paralyzed vocal cords just to be able to talk, let alone sing and sing on a stage like this. I was worried at first as Bianca started “Say Something” in a pretty safe range, but holy cow that range just kept expanding and expanding. She crushed it. Just knocked it out of the park. Bianca hit every note and key change, and all the more impressive considering she literally had to relearn how to sing. If this is how this champions show is going to go, we’re in for a treat. (Narrator: it wasn’t).

The Clairvoyants

I never liked this act and was not excited to see them back again. It’s the same act every time, and it’s exactly that — an act. It’s There’s no secret knowledge or clairvoyance, nor magic. It’s hidden cameras and mics in ears and green screens. Notice how the girl doing all the shocking reveals has nice long hair covering her one ear? And how the video words are fuzzy and only visual? This is a tired act. It’s all accents and show, and America deserves better.

Sara and Hero

Give me a break. This? THIS?? I mean, sure, I guess someone has to lose. I never like the animal acts, and this wasn’t even a good one. It’s all Sara’s story, and her story feels more sad than heartwarming to me. But you know what’s fun? Have you ever seen Garfield Minus Garfield? Someone redid every Garfield cartoon without the eponymous cat, so instead it’s just a really sad Jon Arbuckle living a lonely life. Watch Sara and Hero and imagine there’s no dog at all. You’ll feel bad, but at least it’s entertaining now. The good news is Hero ended up in the suitcase so he’s ready to head back home.

Uzeyer Novruzov

It’s the ladder guy! Uzeyer is mesmerizing, a dangerous Charlie Chaplain. His balancing ability is incredible, and he has great showmanship too. But that short ladder disappeared so quickly. Good on Uzeyer for getting safely to the top of the big ladder this time, the thing that knocked him out (almost literally) last time when he fell, but the short ladder was more entertaining. I’m not sure there’s a whole show here, but Uzeyer is terrific.

Vicki Barbolak

Ugh. Trailer Nasty is back, presumably for Simon and Simon alone. I never liked Vicki the first time. Her personality is fun. Her jokes are not. I rarely cracked a smile in her act the first time around and probably enjoyed this act better than any of hers in the past, and I agree with the judges that she had more confidence this time, but I’ve still seen enough.

Alex Magala

This dude is NUTS. Okay, there is no way I’d let Simon touch the sword buried two-thirds of the way down my throat. But it just kept getting more ridiculous from there. Next up Alex did a flip and bent in half with a sword inside of him. He’s lucky it stayed there. But the show just kept going on, and the finale was just absurd. Sword inside him, Alex climbed a pole 20+ feet into the air, turned upside down with the hilt headed straight into the ground, and dropped full speed as AGT cut to commercial!! Not cool, AGT. I screamed, and so did everyone in the audience. As AGT returned from commercial, AGT caught himself mere inches from the ground. Wow! Now that is how you do a danger act. Alex already won Russia’s Got Talent and performed in the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony, so dude has already already made it, but he’s a serious threat to move on here.

Justice Crew

I never really understand how “America’s” Got Talent brings in acts from all over the world to compete, but the concept does seem very American. Justice Crew won Australia’s Got Talent season 4. They’re basically a boy band. Better dancers than singers but not particularly memorable at either, and the editing was poor. They better hope America’s panel is composed of only teenage girls.

Susan Boyle

So apparently Susan Boyle didn’t win Britain’s Got Talent. Who knew? Still, she seems like the icon of the America’s Got Talent world, so you had to know she was getting the golden buzzer here. Disappointing, nonetheless. Susan is a lovely-singing odd-looking woman, and that’s what we got, but it was a bit sleepy and Bianca Ryan is the better singer. Wild horses wouldn’t have made me put Susan Boyle through and that’s the show’s flaw, but they were never doing an AGT champions show and then voting out Susan Boyle immediately.

Sofie Dossi

Sofie is a contortionist I loved the first time around, but I’m a bit surprised she’s back on a show of this magnitude. I have to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed. Sofie’s act left me wanting more. The contortion and balancing at the beginning was terrific but brief. The balancing on the ring and spinning was cool… just the act suddenly ended. I agree with Mel B, I missed what she did before. To me the most impressive thing here is Sofie keeping her abilities and balance after three years of teenage growth, along with her ability to get herself spinning that fast and then stand there without barfing afterward.

Preacher Lawson

I LOVE Preacher Lawson. He’s just a funny, funny dude. I was so excited to see him back on the show, maybe more than anyone else tonight. Preacher should have his own TV show or Netflix special. He has the personality, the jokes, and the timing, and you can see it just in how he jokes with the judges. That’s always a dead giveaway for me with comedians. Preacher’s got the Eddie Murphy voice and the Jim Carrey body humor. Great self awareness, relevant jokes, great use of the crowd and judges, perfect timing. That was a flawless set and performance. America needs more Preacher Lawson. Wakanda forever. I’m happy Vicki got to be here to witness real comedy.

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