Free America's Got Talent Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on America's Got Talent sent straight to your email? Join hundreds of other AGT fans who subscribe to Pure AGT for FREE!

6 Things Wrong With the Judge Cuts and Golden Buzzer Format of America’s Got Talent

1. The Episodes Take Up too Much Time

The “Judge Cuts” edition of the round held between auditions and the live shows has only been a thing since Season 10. Before that, they had “Vegas Week” to choose the acts to perform in the live rounds, hich from what I remembered only took up one or two episodes, allowing the live episodes to start much earlier in the season. Judge Cuts runs for FOUR WEEKS, leaving a lot less time for live episodes. Which leads us to the next point….

2. Only 28 Acts Are Sent Through

Looking at the number on its own, 28 acts for the live shows doesn’t actually sound that bad, especially when you add in Wildcards and Golden Buzzers to get 36. After all, that’s way more than the top 10 or 12 most commonly seen on reality competition shows. But when you realize the old format resulted in 48 acts performing live (a number that was cut down presumably because they currently air a MONTH’s worth of Judge Cuts episodes) it’s disappointing to think about the potential lost. To put things in perspective, a 48-act live show pool in AGT‘s current format would mean an extra Quarter-Final episode, and maybe an extra Semi-Final as well. Yes, we would probably lose more acts per episode, but it would also give the audience more choice in who made it far and allow for more variety in the acts that we were able to vote on. Which brings me to…

3. The “Luck of the Draw” Nature Makes it Very Imbalanced in Terms of Quality Control

The Vegas Week format of cutting the number of acts down allowed the judges to look at all of the acts at once, and craft a live show group from the best of each category of performance (singers, dancers, magicians, daredevils, etc.). Judge Cuts splits 80 acts into four groups who the judges only compare to each other. This might actually make sense if they put similar acts together to be judged against each other, but in all three seasons we’ve seen the Judge Cuts round, there have been singers, magicians, and dancers in pretty much every group. Since it’s seemingly randomized, there are usually some episodes with overall stronger acts than others. Since they choose 7/20 from each show instead of any 28/80 of those competing in the round, we often see mediocre acts from a weak episode move forward while stronger acts from a competitive episode get cut. The “heats” format is reasonable when it comes to the live shows, since they cant have an episode with 30+ acts for the audience to vote on, but there has to be a better way to select acts than putting them into what seem to be randomized groups. There is one thing that could have made this worth it, but…

4. The Editing Makes the Judge Cuts Episode Have Little to No Suspense

This is perhaps the biggest problem I have with the Judge Cuts format, and it’s especially frustrating because it could be easily fixed. Each episode has about an hour and a half of content (plus commercials). Each act is given 90 seconds to perform for the judges, which with 20 acts is a grand total of 30 minutes worth of performances. The other hour of time could be used for judge comments, behind-the-scenes footage, and results. Instead, we get to see about 9/20 performances in full, about half of which have backstory packages longer than the act itself. Meanwhile, the rest of the acts get relegated to montages, and regular viewers can quickly figure out that anyone who suffers this fate is definitely not advancing. That’s why it’s laughable at the end when they show an act who got the “full package” next to someone who barely showed up in a montage and expect us to be on the edge of our seats in suspense. This is pointless since as I said before they could easily fit all 20 performances into this episode, and the packages we see for acts in the Judge Cuts are usually very similar to what we’re shown in the live shows anyway. I know they want us to get invested in the acts, but I think the majority of viewers come for the talent and would be happy to sacrifice package time to see more of the actual performances. But maybe they want us to get caught up in the backstories and drama of it all so we don’t notice they’re sending through…

5. So. Many Singers.

Kind of a sub-topic of #3, but since the acts aren’t judged based on “best of the genre” anymore, the favoritism from the judges when it comes to the types of acts we see move forward becomes very obvious. Every Season 12 Judge Cuts episode saw multiple singers advance, but two of them had zero magic acts moving forward. I guess it’s supposed to be a “quality over quantity” thing, but even regardless of my opinion that quite a few of this year’s singers are pretty mediocre, this is still supposed to be a variety show. Presumably 18/36 acts in the live shows involving singing, a handful involving magic, and only one with comedy creates a clear imbalance. And speaking of imbalance…

6. The Golden Buzzer Has Basically Been Rendered Pointless

Man, I thought 5/9 Golden Buzzers used on singers in Season 11 was excessive, but in Season 12 a whopping 8/9 of the Golden Buzzers are singing acts, including every single one used by a judge. I can forgive the guest judges for it because it’s their first time seeing the acts and most of them probably don’t know as much about the show as the main judges, but the regulars should know better. They know perfectly well that most of the acts they chose would be very likely to make it to the live shows anyway. For instance, Simon used his this season on Mandy Harvey, who would clearly have made it to the live shows even if she’d had to endure the Judge Cuts round. Same with Mel using hers on Darci. Both those judges used their GB’s on shoo-ins and we later saw them begging other judges to change their votes to ensure acts they were passionate about advanced. I’d really like to see the Golden Buzzer be used on performances that a judge may feel passionate about that not all the others agree on. It can be their power to veto the disagreement of the others and make some bold choices about acts that might not be universally loved. I think Simon using his on Sara & Hero, who he clearly vouched for throughout the cutting process, would have been really interesting and a cause for discussion among fans. Heck, Mel could have used hers on Dancing Pumpkin Man! The audience might not have been happy about it, but it’d be a chance for the judges to show their affinity for a performer they feel has potential to improve, or even a “joke” act they just have a special place in their heart for.

Do you agree on the issues I mentioned or have any others to share?

August 15, 2017 I Written By

I’m obssessed with the entertainment industry, especially offbeat and nerdy things as well as those that involve live performance. The only thing I love more than geeking out over the things that entertain me is sharing in my excitement with others who share the same passions. America may have talent, but Canada has an up-and-coming blogger who is ready to take the internet by storm!

America’s Got Talent Season 12 Wildcard Possibilities

So how did everyone like last night’s Judge Cuts? It was another pretty controversial episode, but for different reasons than last week. I’ll save that topic for another post though, because there’s been a lot of talk about potential Wildcards in the AGT community and I wanted to take a look at who might have a realistic shot at being one of them, even though the factors I’m looking at might not end up even mattering in some cases, as I seem to recall one or two of the choices from last season seeming pretty random……

“Wildcards” are acts that have already been eliminated that are chosen to fill the remaining spot in the appear in the live shows. Much like last season, there will be three of these that will appear in the Quarter-Finals. Or maybe four. This is kin of an awkward situation, but it depends on whether the dearly departed Brandon Rogers was chosen as one of the seven in his Judge Cuts group. If he was, they’ll most likely replace him with another act, hence the potential fourth Wildcard spot. There will also be one more Wildcard later on in the season; an act that is eliminated in the Quarter-Finals but brought back for the Semi-Finals.

This’ll be like the Power Rankings I did last week, except this time it’ll be starting with who’s most likely to be one of the Quarter-Finals Wildcards and going down from there. Also I won’t be including every single act eliminated in Judge Cuts so far, only the ones I think have a good shot at actually being brought back.

1. Bello Nock: His elimination was pretty surprising to myself and many others last night; after delivering on his promise to be shot out of a canon and showing versatility between his first and second performances, he still doesn’t advance? I think if he had been in one of the first two Judge Cuts groups he would have easily advanced (another issue to discuss at a later date) but keep in mind that the Judge Cuts episodes were filmed before any of the initial auditions had even aired on TV. The editors knew he’d been cut when they put together the TV version of his first audition, and the way they’ve been editing him since then screams “Wildcard storyline”. His entire audition being aired, his full Judge Cuts performance being shown, and the fact that the AGT social media has put up extra bonus clips of him online (something that’s usually reserved for advancing acts) make it very obvious they’re setting him up for a triumphant return in the Quarter-Finals. I will be legitimately shocked if we don’t see him again in the next few weeks.

2. Tom London: Like Bello, Tom got a full edit in both the auditions and Judge Cuts rounds, and many were surprised and disappointed to learn he’d been eliminated (even though the show actually did a good job of explaining why Eric was kept around and he wasn’t). They seem to be more tough than usual on the magicians this season, but then again, I feel like we’re seeing the same tricks from multiple performers, so I guess I understand the fatigue the judges might be feeling. Anyway, it seems quite a few people are clamoring for Tom’s return to AGT, and because of this campaign I think he might have a decent shot depending on how many magician’s we’re left with once Judge Cuts are over next week.

3. Daniel Ferguson: Tell me if this strikes you as familiar: a quirky guy auditions for AGT with a fairly unique act which ends up going viral online. He then returns for Judge Cuts and is called up at the end alongside a stand-up comedian, then gets eliminated and is visibly emotional about it. Once this airs on TV, his fans on YouTube rally for him to return as a Wildcard. What I’m trying to say here is I think Daniel might be this season’s Steven Brundage (if the name doesn’t ring a bell, think of Rubic’s Cube magic tricks). One notable difference between the two is that Steven’s full Judge Cuts act was televised, while Daniel’s was montaged (which is also the reason I have Tom above him on here). That’s kind of a bad sign, but I’m pretty sure at least one of last season’s Wildcards was also montaged in the second round, so I don’t think it totally rules him out to return. Still, Daniel might be facing a bit of an uphill battle for a Wildcard spot, so if you’re a fan, make sure to let AGT and the judges know. (I’m really pulling for this one in particular to happen, if you couldn’t tell. :P)

4. Jeki Yoo: Color me surprised that he didn’t make it through last night after being the only one of his kind to escape the magic montage! The judges seemed to like him, and the audience did too, so I think he has a shot at coming back. I still think Tom is more likely though because there was more of an outcry when he got cut than when Jeki did.

5. Jay Jay Phillips: This may seem kind of random, especially since he was another act whose Judge Cuts performance got montaged. But surprisingly, I saw a lot of people expressing major disappointment in his elimination and he’d certainly be a change of pace from some of the other acts, so I’m not enitrely ruling him out.

6. Dancing Pumpkin Man: He’s on here because there’s a fan campaign for him to return, but I don’t think they’d being him back over most of the others who also have quite a few people pulling for them. Also, I’m not sure how many more sassy dance acts Simon can take now that both Mirror Image and Oscar are in the live shows. 😛

7. Harrison Greenbaum: I doubt it’ll actually happen for him, but I suppose it’s worth noting that I did see some disappointment from fans after his elimination, and there’s a chance they might want to bring on another stand-up comedian since as of right now Preacher is the only one left and I don’t think there are any more in next week’s lineup.

Keep in mind there’s still next week to consider, even though we don’t know the results yet. The one name that’s jumping out at me right now in that lineup is Merrick Hanna, who went viral after doing the robot dance in the first week of auditions. Judging by who else he’s up against, I’d say he has a pretty good chance of making it through, but if he doesn’t I’d say his chances of being a Wildcard are just as good if not better than the current top three on this list.

Do you think I missed anyone? Let me know and I’ll see you again real soon!

August 2, 2017 I Written By

I’m obssessed with the entertainment industry, especially offbeat and nerdy things as well as those that involve live performance. The only thing I love more than geeking out over the things that entertain me is sharing in my excitement with others who share the same passions. America may have talent, but Canada has an up-and-coming blogger who is ready to take the internet by storm!