Reaction to America's Got Talent

I am an admitted reality TV show junkie.  Some reality programs are superior to others and some are just outright guilty pleasures.  One such example is America's Got Talent.  I feel embarrassed to admit that I watch this show, and I do not know if it makes me feel better or worse seeing that it is still a ratings hit in the United States with popular versions in other countries throughout the world. 

Maybe I would feel less ashamed if the title were grammatically correct -- why couldn't the producers call it America Has Talent?

The general premise of the talent competition is to find an act that could be a big hit show in Las Vegas.  The format rips off the style of American Idol with judges commenting on the performances of a wide range of contestants.  There lies the beauty and the horror of the show!  It is great to see some undiscovered talent -- break dancers, acrobats, magicians, comedians, you name it.  Some people's talents are just pointless and could not sustain a full show, but might delight the curiousity seeker.  Others are just plain silly and would be better suited for The Gong Show (and the buzzers on America's Got Talent are reminiscent of the gong from the old show hosted by Chuck Barris).

The judges range from entertaining to annoying.  Sharon Osbourne is brilliant (and much better than singer Brandy who was the original judge).  Piers Morgan is mean.  Howie Mandel is new to the show, but I've always liked him.  Will he make us forget the cheesy-awesomeness of David Hasselhoff?

The current host is Nick Cannon, who adds great energy, charm, and humor to the program -- a much better fit than former host Jerry Springer, or even the original host Regis Philbin.

So far, the only winner from America's Got Talent who has had a bonafide hit Vegas show is Terry Fator, the excellent ventriloquist who also sings, does impressions, and is genuinely funny.  I would pay to see his act.  The other winners so far have not become instant stars -- opera singer Neal E. Boyd was a nice choice but raises the question if traditional opera work as a show in Vegas.  Country singer Kevin Skinner seemed to be a sentimental pick, but he still does not seem to have the makings of a superstar.  And the first season's winner, 11-year-old Bianca Ryan, is a cute kid, but seeing her perform does not instill in me a sense of watching a phenom, like Michael Jackson in his youth, or other child prodigies of the past. 

I think children should be barred from the competition unless they are truly remarkable, equal to or surpassing the finest adult performers. Otherwise, they turn the show into amateur hour, or worse, an explotation of their unrefined talents.  Also, they should limit the number of singers who make it to the finals -- there are other talents much more entertaining to watch, but those acts usually seem to be kicked off early for some reason and we end up with a string of b-rate singers, turning America's Got Talent into a poor-man's version of American Idol.

But there is enough fun in the show that makes me tune in every episode.  Sometimes I feel like I'm at a state fair watching a carnival act.