What promises to be a wild display of global talent kicks off with an escape artist, sword swallower, singers and host James Corden failing at taekwondo.
With talent hailing from around the globe, there was not a stinker in the bunch, which is just one way this show differentiates itself from "AGT." The other is in how it handles the scoring, which we'll get to in a bit.
What it shares in common with "AGT" is the wild array of talents on display from vocalists to sword swallowers to taekwondo masters to a one-armed violinist. And that was just in this first hour. The promo at the end of the show teases a lot more wild acts to come.
"The Late Late Show" host James Corden double-dips on the network as host of this game show, and while he's charming enough we need him to stop trying to join all the acts. Especially after he nearly broke his foot trying to prove how easy taekwondo is. It's not.
Faith Hill, RuPaul, and Drew Barrymore represent America as the first three judges. The fourth judge is a collective wall of 50 experts from around the world. The American judges score up to 50 points each and their average represents half of the possible score. The Wall of Experts can each add one point a possible total of 100. It takes 75 to move on. Our points, sadly, mean nothing.
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my young life as a dancer, even performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. And I've spent the last seventeen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Faith Hill, RuPaul and Drew Barrymore. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe. Oh, and we're going to rank them worst to first as we do, because we like the drama.
(Sword Swallower, Australia)
"Buy why?" Faith asked when he told her he could now swallow 29 swords thanks to magnets he had embedded in his chest which will keep the blades away from his heart. Much the same could be said of his whole act, based on the panel reactions. This kind of act is very tricky because for some people, no matter how skilled you may be it's too gross or disturbing for them to support it. Despite how impressive it was (and dangerous) we're not sure it was compelling or varied enough to win a show like this.
Our Score: 65
Judges: 32 + Wall: 25 = Total: 57
It's absolutely remarkable that Enkh doesn't speak a word of English and then he busted out George Strait's "Amarillo by Morning" with an almost perfect country accent. And his vocals were so rich and soulful and beautiful, we can only imagine what he could do with it if he understood what he was saying and how to emote the story of the lyrics. This guy is the real deal and what a surprise his audition was. The only thing lacking was that connection, which did make it more like extremely good karaoke. But still, very well done.
Our Score: 80
Judges: 48 + Wall: 49 = Total: 97
(Taekwondo, South Korea)
The series kicked off with a very impressive display of taekwondo mastery and control. There were boards being broken everywhere and from incredible heights. It's one thing to see people breaking boards with their hands and heads and feet, but some of these boards required climbing and flipping. We only saw one missed board but with that much discipline, it was truly remarkable to behold, though some musicality might have elevated it to the next level.
Our Score: 80
Judges: 49 + Wall: 50 = Total: 99
(Escape Artist, Great Britain)
Of course one act was going to have to remain unfinished, but it was pretty obvious that Matt gave us a false expectation that he could only hold his breath for a minute and a half. That was for dramatic effect so people would begin to panic when he went longer than that. We assume he can go notably longer than that, but we still applaud the setup of a death-defying stunt that was deceptively simple, though we're sure there was a trick in there somewhere to help him out. We'll all find out on Wednesday when the show premieres for real and we get to see the end of his act.
We're not quite sure how her bow contraption works, though we suspect the back-and-forth motion is preprogrammed, but it is remarkable what she is able to do with it. String instruments are among the hardest to learn, and you could hear a few squeaks and misfires along the way as she's had to adapt to playing with only one hand. The fingering was on point, but the movement of the bow was all mechanical (and backwards to boot). While it wasn't the best violin playing ever seen, it was still amazing what she could do with her disability and how she came back from losing an arm to find her love in music again is nothing short of inspirational.
Our Score: 85
Judges: 40 + Wall: 46 = Total: 86
The TNT Boys
The richness of vocals in these three young boys is just mind-staggering. And while individually, the young man who came in last had the most polished voice, their harmonies were simply divine. If this is the caliber of talent heading our way on this show, it's going to be hard to imagine anyone not making it through. Were this "America's Got Talent," we'd be predicting victory for them already, they are that professional sounding. It's as if they have decades of training beyond the tender years of their lives.
Our Score: 95
Judges: 49 + Wall: 50 = Total: 99
"The World's Best now shifts to its regular night and time with a two-hour installment on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
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