‘The World’s Best’ is a Super Bowl-sized ‘AGT,’ and that’s fine

You had to figure that America wasn’t the only country that’s got talent.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” has become a summer staple of magicians and ventriloquists and big ratings, and now CBS is betting on the wonders of the world to lure you to its own talent extravaganza, “The World’s Best,” which aired its series premiere after the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Giving a new series the best real estate in all of television is a big vote of confidence, and there’s no doubt that “World’s Best” is the kind of broad, generally amicable show that was easy to keep viewers tuned in after the final touchdown.

In many ways, the new series from producer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice”) is “AGT” writ large (and indeed, NBC hustled on a “Champions” version of that show after CBS announced plans for this one). Hosted by James Corden, it features acts from all over the world who compete for a panel of judges – Drew Barrymore, Faith Hill and RuPaul Charles – for the chance to win $1 million. Like “AGT,” it’s a shiny production with dramatic music, acts both weird and amazing and an overly enthusiastic host.

The new wrinkle is “The Wall of the World,” a 50-person panel of “experts” from across the globe, including a theater producer from Japan and a UFC fighter from Brazil. The American judges score each act from 1 to 50, and their scores are averaged. Each approving expert gets one point, and the combined scores are added up, with 75 needed to advance.

Besides the experts and a set that’s eerily reminiscent of the galactic senate in the “Star Wars” prequels, “World’s” is standard reality competition. Some acts were impressive, some were adorable and some were downright disturbing (the neon-light swallowing Space Cowboy can stay out of the competition, thank you very much).

Like any good, schmaltzy reality show, the producers mined every ounce of inspiration and emotion possible from the acts: a violinist, who lost her arm in a car accident and performs with a prosthetic, literally had the word “inspiration” plastered all over her introductory video.


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