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America's Got Talent Watch - Quarterfinal #4

Last week was fairly disappointing. Only three of the acts really blew me away, and thankfully, all three advanced… an interestingly enough, not one of them was a singing act. The judges’ decision came down to danger act All Wheel Sports and fusion band Wordspit and the Illest, and I was rather sad to see the former chosen over the latter.

I found it interesting, going into this week, that the producers would choose to put all three of the acts that were deemed so terrific that they didn’t even need to be subjected to the strain of Vegas Week on the same show. I had high hopes for Olate Dogs and William Close, though I maintain that human cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith is simply Professor Splash 2.0. Add to that the fact that there were at least five other acts with the potential to advance, and I felt that this would be the best of the four quarterfinal episodes.

Here are the twelve acts that performed on Monday night, in the order that they performed in.

#1. David “The Bullet” Smith - Look, I can certainly appreciate the danger involved with this kind of act. It’s cool that he changed up the theme a little bit by shooting himself through a field goal from 40 yards out. But seriously… after you’ve seen him do it once, is the second (and third) time really that much more exciting? Only if he were to miss the net, I suppose, and you don’t really want that to happen. (Result: eliminated)

#2. All That! - I’m surprised that it hasn’t been mentioned yet that this all-male clogging group made the Top 10 way back in Season One. They are very very good, totally in synch, and very entertaining. I can’t get as excited about them as I did about the Fab Five – a quintet of clogging soccer moms – from three years ago, but it was very good. On a night like this, though… (Result: eliminated on judges’ decision, but Sharon announced that they will be one of her picks for the Wild Card show)

#3. Ulysses - Is there an audience for a portly guy who sings the theme songs to classic TV shows? Probably. Is that audience in Vegas? No. Branson, Missouri, maybe. When he did the “Love Boat” theme in his audition, it got a smile and a few chuckles. The novelty has worn off, however, and all three of the X’s doled out by the judges went to him. Pity, too, he actually doesn’t have a bad voice. (Result: eliminated)

#4. Joe Castillo - He is, boiled down, just a guy drawing pictures with sand. But make no mistake: he is a MASTER. These aren’t just juvelile scrawls, they are detailed, powerful and moving. He chose to depict a lot of animals that are endangered, including the panda, the lion and the elephant. Simply amazing.(Result: through on viewer votes)

#5. Sebastien “El Charro de Oro” - Can a mariachi band be a headlining act? With this ten-year-old powerhouse at the helm, it’s entirely possible. I’m not kidding, this kid oozes suaveness, professionalism and charisma. His voice is so awesome he barely needs the mike. His rendition of “Besame Mucho” started off slowly but build to a climax and it was awesome. His final flourish, tossing a rose to Sharon, was icing on the cake. (Result: eliminated)

#6. Eric Dittelman - Is mind-reading even possible? If it is, this guy will be at the forefront. He did a spectacular trick that was a play on Howie’s previous gig, “Deal or No Deal”. The margin for error was tremendous, but he pulled it off. This guy NEEDS a show in Vegas.(Result: through on judges’ decision)

#7. William Close - Now THIS is a Vegas show. William, front and center, playing the world’s largest harp, with instrumental and vocal accompaniment flanking him. It was majestic, powerful, and totally awesome. What a great performance.(Result: through on viewer votes)

#8. Unity in Motion - It’s tough for a dance crew to make it to the end, but this group of preteen girls are fantastic at what they do, combining ballet, gymnastics and contortionism. Any other week, they might have had a shot, but not on this night.(Result: eliminated)

#9. Eric & Olivia - She sings, he plays guitar. And in a season where the singers have been weaker than usual, they are quite good. But there’s really nothing flashy or “wow” about them, and on a night like this, that’s bad. They changed up Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” pretty interestingly, but not enough for me to vote for her. (Result: eliminated)

#10. Lindsey Norton - Solo dancers have the toughest time, because it is so hard to command a stage all by yourself. Lindsey is brilliant, professional, adorable, and she’s so limber it’s sick. She’s a better dancer than Turf, but she doesn’t have the mountain of hype that he had. Hopefully when she turns eighteen she can go on So You Think You Can Dance, because Sonya Tayeh would adore her. (Result: eliminated)

#11. Horse - How long can you watch a guy take shot after shot to the ball sack? (Answer: a lot less time than the act actually lasted.) I know the whole Jackass crowd probably loves this shit, but not me. I can only wonder what happens when Horse’s infant child decides to emulate dear old dad. The guy is an insurance claim waiting to happen. (Result: eliminated)

#12. Olate Dogs - I am so relieved that they put this act last, because you just know the producers want them to move on… and rightly so, because this act blows every other animal act that’s ever taken the AGT stage out of the water. How ironic would it be if they won the season, when a dog act won Britain’s Got Talent not long ago? How do you train dogs to do what these pooches do? It’s so amazing I can’t even describe it!(Result: through on viewer votes)

So now all of the acts that made it through Vegas have performed. Forty-eight acts have competed, and sixteen have made it through to the semifinals. Let’s do a roll call:

Musical acts – Edon, William Close, Tim Hockenberry, Maurice & Shanice Hayes

Dance acts – Turf, The Untouchables, The Scott Brothers

Artistic acts – David Garibaldi & his CMYK’s, Joe Castillo, Light Wire Theater

Comedians – Tom Cotter, Jacob Williams

Danger/Acrobatic acts – Donovan & Rebecca, All Wheel Sports

Animal acts – Olate Dogs

Magic acts – Eric Dittelman

Truly a mixed bag, which is awesome. Looking at this lineup, I really can’t pick a winner. I still think Tim Hockenberry has a leg up given the history of this show, but they way the judges are downplaying the singers and hyping everyone else… who knows? One thing’s for sure… the non-singing acts are better than they have ever been.

There will not be any AGT for the next two weeks, due to the Summer Olympics in London. I will be back in three weeks, when twelve acts that had their auditions shown on YouTube will take the stage for the first time. Could there be another Jackie Evancho in this year’s mix? Can’t wait to find out!

See you in three weeks!