If you’re not a fan of competition TV, you’re probably not a fan of Wednesday night TV, as it’s positively packed with roll-up-your-sleeves, duke-it-out programming, and Wednesday tonight was no exception.
At America’s Got Talent, they’re deep into qualifier elimination territory, and tonight’s round knocked out another nine acts, all determined by viewer voting. (If you’re not happy with the results, you have only yourself to blame if you didn’t cast yours — or maybe the millions of others who did. Such is democracy.) In any event, fans bid adieu to comic Barry Brewer Jr., sword swallower Herwan Legaillard, tap dancer Justin Jackson, brass band MOS, dancers Phil Wright & the Parent Jam, violinist Philip Bowen, singer Summer Rios, magician Trigg Watson and acrobats Warrior Squad. That meant Mzansi Youth Choir and Simon Cowell’s very own Golden Buzzer act, singer Putri Ariani, made it through to the finals. “Both acts so deserved to be in the finals,” said Cowell. “However, I’m gutted for the group that came in third … because they couldn’t have done any more. However, that shows just how good these two who got through are, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Over on Superfan, the competition show in which fans vie to prove they are the ultimate number-one aficionado of that week’s guest celebrity, the big cheese in the spotlight was Cuban-American rapper Pitbull. Competitors battled it out and winnowed down the field through knowledge-based questions, charades-style quizzes, rapid-fire name-that-tune competitions and even lip-synching contests. (Thankfully Pitbull himself performed to offset any nausea viewers might have experienced by seeing players destroy Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho).”) In the end, it was Jessica Zappia of Riverside, Calif. who proved herself the number-one superfan, snagging VIP tickets and backstage passes to a Pitbull concert for her efforts. And while in terms of actual cash value, that’s a little shy of the million-dollar prize at AGT, Zappia’s reaction to winning couldn’t have been more ecstatic if she’d won a million bucks.
Finally, on MasterChef: United Tastes of America, it was overcooked grilled banana-leaf-wrapped red snapper and undercooked salmon and raspberry-pear sauce that proved the undoing — and elimination from competition — of MD, Brynn and Kolby, respectively.
In the outdoor BBQ battle, the instructions were to “make an elevated version of a dish that you would find at any summer BBQ back home,” explained judge Gordon Ramsey. However, contestant and Hawaiian donut queen MD seemed to miss that mark from the get-go, opting for Philipino-inspired seafood that didn’t truly incorporate the use of the grill.
“I appreciate the cultural spin with the banana leaves,” warned a skeptical judge Gordon Ramsey prior to tasting, “but this is a grilling challenge. She should be grilling the fish, not steaming it.”
“She’s probably doing the most complex preparation,” added judge Joe Bastianich. I hope it pays off.”
It didn’t. “Overcooked” was the review from all three judges, and with that, MD was out.
Ironically, it was Colby who just last week had won immunity from the BBQ part of tonight’s competition, but it wasn’t enough to save her during the second half of the culinary smackdown, a double elimination called the Wall in which teams of two players separated by an 8-foot high, 55-foot long wall must prepare dishes that look and taste identical.
Brynn and partner Kolby opted for crispy skin salmon, with parsnip puree, braised fennel and raspberry and pear red wine sauce, but the judges weren’t impressed. “Just bizarre,” said the always blunt and sometimes brutal Ramsey. “These sauces don’t even look like sauce, they look like pureed baby food,” said Bastianich, adding that Kolby’s undercooked salmon “never even saw heat in the center.” “I’m someone who loves salmon a little under,” said judge Aarón Sánchez, “but this is egregious.”
Ouch. And soon they were out.
It’s hard out here for a competitive TV contestant.
America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays on NBC, MasterChef airs Wednesdays on Fox, Superfan airs Wednesdays on CBS.