Reality Check: On 'America's Got Talent,' SensEtion's missteps costly


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Wilkinsburg native Trey Richardson and his three-man, 3-D video mapping dance group, SensEtion, will not be advancing to the semifinals on NBC's "America's Got Talent." The high-tech act failed to garner enough votes from the broadcast audience.

Mr. Richardson, who said he was thrilled to be performing in New York City on the vast stage of Radio City Music Hall, finished the routine holding an American flag he appeared to have "lifted" out of a projection.

But on Tuesday's show, there were technical difficulties almost from the get-go. The lighted strips on another dancer's outfit blinked out almost immediately and didn't return until the final moments of the routine.

"But that's live TV, that's what happens in the moment," said judge Howie Mandel.

The four judges were split in their opinions. Heidi Klum and Howard Stern were not impressed ("I have to be honest, you lost my attention very, very quickly," she said), but Mr. Mandel and Mel B wanted more.

"I think some of it worked and some of it didn't, but I'm rooting for you guys," Mel B said. "Because there's something about you and what you've done that I just think 'yes!' "

• Beechview special makeup effects artist Steve Tolin said part of his strategy on "Face Off" (Syfy, Tuesdays) was not to take a defensive attitude if he believed judges were overly critical of his work.

"But I have got to tell you, as soon as someone criticizes something that you feel you've done a good job on, maybe it's just my nature, but it's impossible for me to not defend something I thought I'd done correctly."

So it was that Mr. Tolin came to loggerheads with the one judge who -- "Ink Master" panel aside -- you never want to argue with: Glenn Hetrick. He became the first artist to be eliminated.

The effect in question was an ogre mask that was clearly not Mr. Tolin's best work. This week's episode was the first in Season 5, and the eight new contestants were shocked to learn that eight veterans had returned to the show.

"Could I have done better? Especially under those circumstances, even your A-class effort is going to be only 70 percent of what you could normally accomplish," Mr. Tolin said.

Mr. Hetrick was harshest in his criticism and said Mr. Tolin made a network of bad decisions. He later explained in a conference call that while the other judges appreciate artists giving backstories to their creations, "You can't talk your way out of bad work ... or if they do something that's technically beautiful but doesn't fit the challenge.

"If we ask you to build a Frankenstein and you give us a vampire, and then tried to explain to us that Frankenstein's a vampire, it's not going to help."

"I have a lot of respect for the judges, but I've seen them get it wrong before," Mr. Tolin said. "And I have never seen them get it this wrong."

"The most important thing to say about this is that this one piece certainly is not a reflection of me on the whole. If you want to learn about me, go to my website (www.tolinfx.com)."

• "Breaking Pointe" (The CW, Mondays) hit an emotional high note when Chartiers Valley grad Allison DeBona decided she DID want to maintain her dance career after getting a promotion to soloist at Ballet West.

Later, she flew to Detroit to tell boyfriend Jonathan that she probably would NOT be quitting and moving to Michigan (at least not immediately). This prompted one fan to tweet that Ms. DeBona, 29, is the "Brett Favre" of dance.

• On "Summer Camp" (USA, Mondays), DuBois native Chuck Lines continues to play nice with the other kids. The self-described "sci-fi nerd" attended a grown-up pajama party and has shown enough geek charm to earn a decent amount of screen time.

The guys team won the color war this week -- involving chain saw art. So Mr. Lines and the other boys were safe for another week.

• "Capture" (The CW, Tuesdays) heated up with the "Blue Devils" team of Eric Praxedes and Shane Steinman continuing to taunt the others. When they were chosen as the hunt team this week, everyone went on high alert. Purple team/parkour experts Erica Madrid and Ryan Ford were the first captured, and Ms. Madrid's hissy fit that followed was the stuff reality producers dream of.

They were voted off later in the show. The Green team of IUP students Kareem Dawson and Antoine Burton were barely seen in the episode, but it's just a matter of time until their names come up.

• If "Duck Dynasty" is your guilty pleasure, then paddle on over to the grand opening of the new Field & Stream outdoor sporting goods store in Cranberry this weekend. Willie Robertson, member of the clan featured on A&E's hit show, will be making an appearance today from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

tvradio

Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.


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