Tonight is a night of second chances. Acts that blew it or just didn't get by for one reason or another are back tonight for a second shot at relative glory. Each judge gets four acts to bring back, and I'd be willing to be most of them are from that last quarterfinals show. I'd forgotten how much I despise Howie and his Twitter handle.
The first act, Spencer Horsman, belongs to Howard. He's backstage being locked up in a metal suit. How many times can you escape? He'd better do it in front of us this time. Ooh, he's escaping from a tank of wet cement! I like that. It also has a steampunk theme, so that's fun. I used to be pretty jazzed on this act, but I feel like there's only so many times we can watch Spencer's dad control his 90-second murder. It was still exciting, though! Howard notes that Spencer brought a real sense of danger, and we don't fast-forward through the act.
Sharon's pick is up next, and it's "All That!" but without her stipulations. She wanted them shirtless, in leather. The best they offered was a butt shake for the audience. I do think their silhouette video dance was pretty cool, though, and one of them ripped his shirt off at the end, revealing why they didn't all do the whole thing shirtless. Sharon loved it, Howie liked it but thought it couldn't compare to someone almost dying. That's fair, I suppose. Howard doesn't think it will be enough tonight.
Howie's first pick is Jarrett & Raja, a magician and concert pianist. They were booed the last time they hit the stage, and it was just cruel and awful. Tonight they are offering a new giant illusion. They locked the pianist up in a box and wrote "FRAGILE" on it, then lifted the box up and exploded it. But where was Raja and the piano? In the audience! I like when they can move a concert piano. That, to me, is impressive, because I have watched a group of men struggle to move one of those up some stairs in movies. Howie stood up with delight in himself, Howard criticized Howie's earrings, and Sharon thought it was a job well done.
Jake Wesley Rogers is back to choose a better song, per Sharon. I could do without very many singers this season, but he's pretty darling. This time he chose "Edge of Glory," which was probably another mediocre choice. At least he wore a cute little suit this time. Sharon was proud of him, she loved the outfit and the band. Howie thought it was good, but this is not the year for a singer it's for something else finally. Howard didn't feel the passion, and neither did I.
Cristin Sandu had one of the biggest disappointments of the Quarter-finals. Howie felt bad for him, so Cristin gets another chance to stack metal ovals on top of each other and try to balance on them. How many times do I have to get nervous watching this? He balanced for a while this time, and then everything lit on fire below him. It made me very, very nervous. Eventually, like all things balanced delicately, he fell. Cristin got very upset, which embarrassed me for him even more than the fall. Nick Cannon rushed on stage and asked him if he was OK, and I really thought Nick was about to get punched. The judges all encouraged him, partly because they were afraid.
Howard's next pick is Todd Oliver. Really? He must really believe that Todd can write better material. I'm not sure I have the same faith. Oh no, Howard recommended that Todd make it topical, and so it's a presidental thing. And yet, the jokes are still awful. It's like, yes, we get it, dogs sniff each other's butts. Not entirely solid material. Howard thanked Todd Oliver for writing a topical act as he suggested. Sharon loved it because there's a dog up there. Howie agreed with his fellow judges. Irving looked like he had just taken a sedative and THAT I liked very much.
I'm glad Sharon chose to bring back the Bandbaz Brothers. I don't understand why they were eliminated immediately in Las Vegas. That didn't make sense. These guys BALANCE ON EACH OTHER'S HEADS. Their grandpa's cousin DIED doing what they're doing tonight. Omfg. I'm already nervous. They can't do this to me. They balanced sword edge to sword edge, with the swords in their mouths! YOU GUYS! I can't. A much better balancing act than Cristin Sandu, in my opinion. The judges thought it was great.
Sebastien "El Charro de Oro" is back because of Howie, and someone told him to play up this "I'm in love with Sharon" bit. Did you ever think you'd hear a mariachi version of "New York, New York" in your life? I was hoping I wouldn't. I don't know that this was an improvement on the original recipe. The judges applauded his risk, but I'm not in the mood for this type of risk. Howard noted that Sebastien was a little flat and he was TRUE. I like the way Sebastien responded, too, with more poise and maturity than Cristin Sandu.
Yay! Horse is back! It's hilarious, I don't care. It will never be more, at its core, than a guy's buddies kicking him in the nuts and loving it. "Horse, you're no Steven Spielberg, just get kicked in the nuts," Howard recommends. So they're going back to their roots. They hit him with a golf club, then a tire from up high, then he jumped on some bars, and swung into a bar, and his buddies did other painful things. I don't think they should have had mics on, because they're still just goofing around. Then he jumped from up high onto a 2 x 4. Hahahaha. Yes. As a present to Howard for bringing him back, Horse invited Howard to hit him in the nuts with a tennis ball bazooka. I loved it even more after that. Howard continued to hit Horse in the balls with a tennis ball bazooka as Nick ran off the numbers. I will never cease to be entertained by that in spite of my better judgement.
Sharon's fourth and final pick is Lindsey Norton. She's so cheerful, but I'm glad she took some time off from flipping and rolling around. What does Gabby Douglas think of this? She probably doesn't watch. Lindsey is doing more of an acro routine again , and bringing out the pyrotechnics. I think this routine might be less interesting and energetic. I'd prefer to see more dancing than contortion at this stage in the game. The judges worry Lindsey might not make it through in a night of such immense talent, or whatever it is. What kind of a world is this when someone so young and darling and fresh is up against a guy getting kicked in the nuts for your votes?
Howie's final pick is Andrew de Leon, who was a favorite from the auditions who blew it in Las Vegas. Much to my delight, he's singing a Spanish, operatic version of "Unbreak My Heart." It was outright strange. The audience, blinded by the thrill of seeing Andrew back in the competition, rose to their feet. The judges over-praised it and Sharon thought he could win the whole thing. Aghhhhh what.
The last act, Howard's pick, is Ben Blaque, and he, like everyone else, will almost kill himself for one of those last four spots. I mean Jesus, a crossbow act. He "expected to make it farther" in the competition. So this time he will shoot himself blindfolded. Devin's looking good, and safe. Most of this act is Ben setting up the crossbows in real time, and the way he's flourishing makes me not trust it. These are still dangerous, but they're little mini-crossbows. I'm still nervous.I don't like that bag on his head, or that he's shooting based on sound? I get uncomfortable. But it was accurate, and the apple got shot and Ben didn't. Pretty cool. The judges oohed and ahhed appropriately.
(images courtesy of NBC)