Cowell and Bella are joined by Travis Pastrana for the latest expansion of the “America’s Got Talent” empire with a one month emphasis on danger and adrenaline and nearly killing yourself for entertainment.
We’ve already seen “The Champions,” so it’s time for another “America’s Got Talent” spin-off, and this time it’s all about going to the “Extreme.”
Honestly, we applaud the idea behind this because over all these years, we’ve seen great stunt and “danger” acts fall just short of winning to singers and dancers and more traditional entertainment fare. With this new format, those acts take center stage, and one of them is guaranteed to win, because that’s all that’s here.
With only four weeks in the season, it’s going to be a quick run for “AGTX,” but one that’s already had an injury that was severe enough to shut down production back in October. Part of what makes the show “Extreme” is the fact that it’s filming outdoors.
A lot of the “AGT” stunt acts have taken their show outdoors, but by starting there, it allows for bigger and bolder presentations. It also allows for more danger and a bigger chance of something going wrong, as what happened with Jonathan Goodwin.
The stuntman was finally released from the hospital after he was sandwiched between two cars during a stunt gone horribly wrong just one day before this “AGTX” premiere, per People, and on his birthday. He was in for four months!
Goodwin was 70 feet in the air in a straitjacket and was supposed to free himself, falling onto an air mattress. Instead, the timing was off, he was hit by the cars, which then burst into flames, and missed the mattress upon his fall, hitting his head on the ground.
Per a report by TMZ, Goodwin suffered “multiple” broken bones in his legs, as well as cuts and burns “all over his face.” It is unclear of “AGTX” will address the horrific accident on the show or not. It was not acknowledged in this first episode.
The structure of this new series is a little different, too, with such a shortened season. The first round sees contestants competing in front of the judges, while the second has them trying to score votes from “superfans” from across the country. Then, it’s on to the finale.
And to prove just how “Extreme” this new series is, Terry Crews dressed up in leather, because nothing is more “Extreme” than leather pants around fire! In his defense, though, Terry looks great in most anything, and he was definitely pulling off this look, too.
Just for giggles, we got a bonus segment where Terry, Simon Cowell and new judges Travis Pastrana and Nikki Bella hit up a NASCAR track, but it wasn’t what we might have expected. Nikki tweaked the cars a bit, with Terry calling them not NASCARs, but “Nasty Cars.”
There was a tricked-out bathtub, bumper car, recliner and … hula hoop? They were all emblazoned with Texas Motor Speedway, which makes them pretty legit. They also looked like they’d be a lot of fun to drive.
Simon saddled up in the bathtub, with Terry taking the bumper car, Nikki getting the recliner and Travis excited to try and figure out the giant wheel you sit inside of to try and drive. It was a wild race with stalled vehicles, near misses, multiple leaders and a photo finish!
Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Nikki Bella, Travis Pastrana, and Simon Cowell. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I’m gonna rank them from worst to first to see how my favorites do as the season progresses.
(farthest female football throw into a target) Jenna set herself a very tight margin of victory by attempting to break her own world record for longest football throw into a target. The problem with this particular choice is if she misses, it could cost her the chance to move on. We’re not sure if there was a “safer” option she could have chosen that would still show off her skills without such a colossal chance of failure, but we applaud her “go big or go home” mentality. Her current record is 90 feet, and she was pushing for 91, so even that felt a little underwhelming. And then, she wasn’t able to pull it off, missing five times in a row. You could tell she was getting embarrassed and frustrated. It just wasn’t meant to be as she missed ten or so in a row.
(homegrown extreme stunts) A trio of daredevils who’ve been performing stupid and dangerous stunts on YouTube since they were kids, amassing a solid following, they said this was their biggest and most dangerous acts. The act includes Lego, mousetraps, a trampoline, skimboard and setting one of the boys on fire. When they cited “Jackass” as an inspiration, well, that sums up their anything goes attitude! Unfortunately, the act was a bit of a mixed bag for us. The guy who set his cape on fire and jumped in a kiddie pool to put it out was just meh. The guy who jumped onto mousetraps and Lego was fully clothed and covered so that was just meh, too. Skimboarding across a pool of fire was probably the only compelling part of the act as that, at least, looked exciting. But overall, while the guys themselves are a lot of fun, the act didn’t do it for us. Nikki and Simon shared our reservations, but their personalities carried them through.
(extreme parkour & freerunning) Aaron’s act involved him jumping over three moving cars coming directly at him at 30 miles per hour. The problem for us with this act is that after the first one, which was incredible to watch, it just got repetitive as he did the same thing two more times. Now, if he’d had the second and third cars both coming at him spaced out where he jumped them both, that would have been an escalation to get excited about. While we get that there was danger with each run, they were also identical in nature and even best possible outcome with no arc or climax to the routine.
Aaron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham
(ramp drop into 40ft front flip) “I can’t ride a bike or a skateboard, but life gave me a different set of wheels,” Aaron said, explaining how he wound up adapting wheelchair to BMZ and skateboard stunts. Tonight, he set himself up to fly down a very high ramp and jump into a flip before landing. To really get a sense of it, the judges opted for a different perspective, joining Terry and Aaron at the top of the ramp. Kudos to Simon and Nikki for stepping out of their comfort zones, as both admitted to being afraid of heights.
After missing the landing on the first try, landing on his knees and then his chest, Aaron really wanted to go again. “I gotta get it,” he insisted. “I’ve come this far.” On the second shot, he landed it beautifully, and seeing it happen in slow motion showed just how precise he has to get everything to nail this landing on wheels. It really was impressive, but that first miss does have to count against him the slightest bit. Still, we’d pass him through as his video showed a lot more diversity, too, in the types of stunts he can do from his chair.
Results: Nikki’s Golden Buzzer
(90ft launch through ring of fire) David’s father set a Guinness World Record for longest human cannonball, and he said that record has not left the family since. And David’s daughter Chloe is hot on his heels, ready to follow in his footsteps. For “AGTX,” he’s looking to do the steepest shot of his career — and ever, according to David — through a ring of fire. With a perfect buildup, including last second adjustments for wind, David really did put on a show with an incredible high shot perfectly centered through that ring of fire, and even a great flip after the first bounce off the net that caught him. That’s how you blow people away. It was beautifully executed.
(aerial drone show) Like a cross between “AGT” and “Shark Tank,” these guys are here to show off five years of work designing this new type of drone light show. What they’re hoping for is to win the prize money to be able to expand their business, hire more engineers and create this new form of entertainment that can be used worldwide at various events. It’s a bold idea and we love that they’re stretching even what kind of talent fits on this iteration of “AGT.” The idea is to do something like fireworks but with precision, and with geographic images, a map of the U.S. and even the “AGT” logo, they pretty much proved the limitless potential of this. 3-D images, 2-D, and the ability to do animation, movement. It’s definitely cutting edge and incredible.
Results: Simon’s Golden Buzzer
(street motocross) Without dirt in Queens, NY, Leeky mastered his dirtbike on the pavement, and it was this that he brought to the “AGTX” arena. Let’s just say it was a masterful control and balance as he weaved through traffic on one wheel, dancing and jumping on the seat of his bike. He has an epic lean back where he almost touches the pavement, his feet almost touched at another point and he even rode across standing on the seat, arms outstretched at high speed. It was a great showcase of danger, agility, balance and control and just the kind of act you want to see in a show like this. Travis confirmed it was a stock bike with no modifications, which made the whole thing even more mind-blowing!
“America’s Got Talent” continues for the next three Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.