AGT returns strong with judge sword fight, dancers in the dark, Nick Cannon nonsense

America’s Got Talent returned for its sixth season last night, and came back strong, both in terms of content and viewers. Ratings were up 17 percent among people ages 18-49 and 21 percent overall, and the show brought its high energy and sense of fun to summer competition TV, which, along with So You Think You Can Dance, is so much better than the spring pair of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

The premiere featured auditions from both ridiculous and impressive acts, and too much of Nick Cannon, again. As usual, someone who’s producing the series thinks we want to constantly see Nick Cannon backstage either reacting awkwardly or, worse, doing some shitty imitation of what he is seeing on stage. Nick Cannon is actually a great host and interviewer, so I really, really wish they’d stop this nonsense, but clearly someone is infatuated with those cutaways.

The show ended with a dance group called Illuminate that was reminiscent of last year’s group Fighting Gravity in that it takes place in the dark and involves impressive choreography and seems like a strong contender to win the prize and be a headlining act in Las Vegas, but most likely will just entertain us until it is eventually beaten by a mediocre singer. Choreographed by a dancer and software engineer, it managed to be unique despite the similarities, and Piers Morgan called it “probably the single most exciting audition I’ve ever seen on the show.

Watch that here, preceded by an audition that ends with Piers and Howie Mandel sword fighting. With actual swords.

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