While Canadian Idol and So You Think You Can Dance Canada are out, Canada’s Got Talent is most definitely in.
After last year’s announcement that So You Think You Can Dance Canada would not be returning for a fifth season, there has been a prevalent national thirst for a new Canadian reality series. While the concept of an original voyeuristic series seems almost foreign in these parts, Canada’s Got Talent is anything but a Northern knock-off.
Although it was inspired by NBC’s America’s Got Talent, the show which debuted on Citytv last night, did its best to establish its own identity while still staying true to the American format.
The winner of the series will receive $100,000, the chance to perform in both a Vegas show and the Citytv New Year’s Bash and a Nissan GTR.
So let’s get to it.
Instead of Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mandel and Piers Morgan/Howard Stern behind our judging table, we have opera singer Measha Brueggergosman (trying saying or spelling that three times), musician Stephan Moccio and comedian Martin Short armed with our X buzzers. The host? Well, forget about Mariah Carey’s husband presenting the acts, we have quirky Breakfast Television personality Dina Pugliese.
As far as talent goes, while I am not saying that the Canadian opening acts were better than the acts found on the American version, I do believe that they stood out for their own reasons. The first episode did exactly what a premiere episode of a talent show should do in terms of introducing the best talent. While American Idol set the precedent of using audition episodes to highlight both good and bad acts equally in an effort to keep things entertaining, the ‘bad’ acts on Canada’s Got Talent were quickly meshed together in a highlight package which was a good decision.
The standout acts included:
– The spectacular Fantasy Circus whose balancing act had me on the edge of my seat
– Terry Im “KRNFX”, a beatboxer whose skills with the microphone even got judge Stephen Mocchio to stand up and start dancing
– Angela Ewtushik and her dog Rally who had the crowd on their side immediately when Rally started to catch Frisbees thrown from any direction
– Broken Dance, a Bollywood dance troupe who put together an incredible choreographed routine that made everything that preceded them seem like a warm-up act
– Volodymyr Martiniuk, a mulleted magician who seemed to make everything he touched float in thin air (including his hair)
– Aygul Memet, a circus performer who effortlessly combined the rotation of four hula hoops around her body while simultaneously twisting herself in spectacular feats of athleticism.
The acts were a multitude of multiculturalism and this was something that I haven’t seen on a Canadian reality show before. Almost all of the performers looked like they had come from a different country and I thought that this was quite representative of Canada today and a major pro.
My criticisms and cons are what they usually are for any talent show. I thought that the judges were quite lenient in their criticism. I attribute this to the idea that they probably thought that pressing X and buzzing the contestant displayed enough of their vitriol.
In addition, I also noticed that a couple of their lines were repeated. “That act just kept building and building” and offering an “emphatic yes” were two that I noticed were said on multiple occasions.
I also wasn’t sure what to make of Dina Pugliese’s first episode as the host either. I thought that intercutting the act just to get a ‘wow’ or an ‘I have never seen that before’ from her was unnecessary. With that being said, I do know it is a technique that is used in all of the Got Talent shows around the world. You can’t discount choosing her as the face of the franchise because it offers immediate bonus coverage of the show on Breakfast Television where Dina will undoubtedly be able to plug the program incessantly. I just wonder when and if she will get any sleep when the live CGT episodes begin.
The bottom line? Canada’s Got Talent is still finding its voice in the television landscape, but the pieces are most definitely there. I used to think that the Canadian Idol judging panel of Jake Gold, Farley Flex, Sass Jordan and Zach Werner were unknown, but eventually they developed a fantastic chemistry that won Canada over. I am sure the CGT trio will as well. Maybe I am just spoiled by America’s Got Talent where the judges can deliver a stinging zinger at anytime. I just don’t see this panel being able to annihilate anyone. Martin Short isn’t our Howard Stern.
Leaving that aside, Canada’s Got Talent is slick, fast-paced and highlighted a range of talent that was completely impressive and unlike any Canadian talent show. It was a lot more than just singing and dancing.
The one thing it did make me realize is that I really miss The Gong Show.
Canada’s Got Talent airs Sundays @ 8 p.m. & Mondays @ 7 p.m. on Citytv