One act nearly died right after their first appearance, while another act nearly died live on the show, so there was a lot of redemption-seeking.
For the third week of competition on "America's Got Talent: The Champions," producers matched up two comedians and two magicians.
That's always brutal because it becomes a head-to-head competition, and you could feel that pressure when comedian Tom Cotter performed before Samuel J. Comroe, and illusionist Darcy Oake felt the heat from Jon Dorenbos.
It was definitely a night for wild talent, as Billy and Emily England brought their daredevil roller skate act back, while Ryan Stock & AmberLynn reprised the stunt that almost killed Ryan Stock during a live "AGT" show a few years back.
The first-ever "Britain's Got Talent" winner, opera singer Paul Potts, got to battle vocally with a pre-teen in powerhouse Angelica Hale, while the youngest-ever winner, South Africa's DJ Arch Jr., just wowed everyone at only six years old ... three years after he won!
And then there's Prince Poppycock, one of the most delightfully wonky acts to ever grace any "Got Talent" stage. He brought all his pomp and circumstance and his big voice back to the stage for the first time in years, but could even he stand out among all these champions?
Terry Crews takes over for Tyra Banks as host, but that's not the only change. Instead of getting America involved, we are represented by a group of "super fans" from all 50 states. Each week, they choose one act to carry on and the judges choose the other with their golden buzzer (it's Mel B's tonight). Ten enter, but only two move on.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. Even though it's basically a crap shoot this season, I'm gonna rank them from worst to first to see who emerges as my winner each week.
(singer) Always a hoot on stage, the good Prince came in fourth back in 2010. Like Puddles, the singing clown, he didn't really need the shtick to impress with his vocals, but it proved to be a delightful addition to his character. Oddly enough, while the spectacle was still enjoyable, we didn't love him nearly as much on Lady Gaga as his operatic style. His voice is so much bigger and better than what he gave in this cover. It's sad he stepped away after his first run on "AGT," so we hope he finds that love of performing sparked again here and stays with it.
Billy & Emily England
(roller skate act) In 2017, this sibling duo terrified us with their death-defying spins and twist and turns and we swear Billy was going to whack Emily's head into the ground a thousand times over. What they do is exhilarating to watch, if you can remember to breathe. Unfortunately, while it remains amazing, it was so much of what we saw the last time they were on the show, when we were looking for them to step it up and show us something we've never seen before.
DJ Arch Jr
(deejay) This kid was three years old when he won "South Africa's Got Talent" and now he's had an additional three years to hone his skills. Seriously, three years old!? He is still the youngest-ever winner of any "Got Talent' series and he totally brought it again. The kid has rhythm and style and swag for days and we are still toe-tapping to those beats. And we could see the dollar signs as Simon said he wanted to meet with him after the show. We see a bright future for this adorable tyke.
(comedian) After coming in second to a dog act in 2012, Tom Cotter is back to try and be the first-ever comic to win an "AGT" season. He was the first comic to make it to the finals, so he only needs to place one spot higher. Simon was not feeling it, though, buzzing him in the middle of his act, which was actually pretty sharp. He had a lot of barbs about losing to a dog act and then pretty standard family stuff, but his speedy delivery was infectious. We thought he was doing pretty well, and then the buzzer totally rattled him.
Ryan Stock & AmberLynn
(danger act) Back in 2016, this couple had a major misfire during a stunt where AmberLynn shot a flaming arrow toward Ryan's face, striking him in the neck. So of course they decided to reprise that stunt for their "AGT" return. But first, they had to evoke "American History X" with a terrifying cinder block stunt before Ryan swallowed the tube AmberLynn had to shoot the arrow into. This stunt is crazy, terrifying and wow was it thrilling when they pulled it off. These two are crazy!
Samuel J. Comroe
(comedian) A finalist in the last season of "AGT," Samuel fell short in the end, as all comics seem to do, but he was one of the funnier comedians the show has had, in part because his Tourette's gives him a unique worldview that makes him stand out. He was a little frantic in his delivery, and not as strong as Preacher Lawson a couple of weeks ago, but definitely had a successful set. It's just a shame it was so short as he felt like he was rushing, which betrays his usual laid back style, and was just getting into his groove when it was over.
(illusionist) This 2014 "Britain's Got Talent" finalist brought the judges into his act and legitimately had Heidi floating above Howie and a guy selected randomly from the audience. She started on a board the men were holding and then it was removed and they were holding her with their hands. One by one the hands dropped and even Heidi seemed to have no idea how she was staying up there. It was truly remarkable to watch. Darcy is such a craftsman, he makes it look effortless and so very cool, but Simon's right in that he was missing some pizzazz.
(singer) The 2017 "AGT" runner-up was only nine years old when she first blew us away with the maturity and power of her voice. And wow if she hasn't improved in that short span of time. She was great before, but that was mesmerizing. We could have done without her showing off her range on a song that didn't have as much ("Fight Song") but we get this is a competition and she had to throw out all her weapons. And wow does she have an incredible vocal arsenal. We totally understand Howie giving in and giving her his golden buzzer. Her voice is one of the best to come out of any of these competition shows.
(singer) "Got Talent" royalty, Paul won the first-ever "Britain's" edition with his amazing operatic voice. Seriously, it's like butter. So effortless, so beautiful you can't help but feel something as his voice simply soars. It's amazing to think this voice would have gone unheard were it not for a fateful coin flip and these "Got Talent" shows. What a loss for the world. And it really makes you wonder how many other amazing people are brilliant at something and utterly unknown out there. It's almost tragic to think about the world missing out on such gifts.
(magician) This former Philadelphia Eagle made it to a third place finish on "AGT" in 2016 as a magician (talk about a strong double act). And he was incredible here tonight. Not only was the tic-tac-toe stunt absolutely amazing, considering he played it with Howie seemingly at random, but his stage presence and charisma were infectious. We totally got pumped up just watching him do his thing, and we're ready for him to have his own show. He's as exciting to watch as Penn & Teller, perhaps minus the humor. Seriously, this guy is ready for the big time.
It was already good news for little Angelica Hale thanks to Howie's golden buzzer, so it was just about which act would be joining her in the finals. And, of course, first Terry Crews had to reveal the Top 3 so he could drag out the tension, and torture those who came so very close to moving on.
The first act that soared into the top three was Billy and Emily, who were absolutely stunned. They were followed by Jon Dorenbos and Paul Potts.
It's really hard to argue with these choices, even though we placed Billy and Emily much lower we can acknowledge how amazing what they do is. We just wanted them to do more, but if this is your first time seeing them, it's utterly mind-blowing for sure.
So how did they rank and who moves on?
3rd Place: Jon Dorenbos
2nd Place: Billy & Emily England
1st Place: Paul Potts
It's hard to deny how amazing Paul was in this performance, but it's a travesty that Jon Dorenbos didn't get to represent magicians in the finale. The guy is a born showman and probably would have gotten Howie's buzzer had he performed before Angelica (not taking anything away from her).
They join previous weeks winners, comedian Preacher Lawson, singer Susan Boyle, danger act Deadly Games and singer Cristina Ramos which means we're now over 50 percent singers. Typical.
"America's Got Talent: The Champions" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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