Two hours? Again? Seriously? Fine, let's get on with it.
So in the interest of disclosure, I'll just say that I have a tiny bit more history with this show than LuluBates. I mean, I watched last week's episode. And I saw part of one episode during the first season. And of course I used to watch it all the time back in the seventies, when it was called The Gong Show.
A recap of last week is so hyperkinetically edited that I couldn't get into it even if I wanted to. But after that and the credits, Jerry Springer welcomes us to the continuation of the L.A. auditions. We're reintroduced to the judges -- Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff, who all talk big before taking their seats at the judges' table, like they're not going to be putting through just about everyone we see tonight.
After Jerry gives us the first of what will be many quick glimpses at the freakshow that is the waiting room of this competition, we meet Exhibit A, a 55-year-old "singing fairy." Imagine Stevie Nicks escaping a community theater production of A Midsummer Night's Dream after completely going off her meds, and you have the idea. Except three words into "When You Wish Upon a Star," Piers buzzes her for being horrible, and rightly so. The crowd rises against her as well, then the Hoff buzzes, but of course Sharon lets her finish, just to be mean to everyone involved. Seriously, it's a unanimous no anyway, so I don't know why else she keeps doing that. Can we buzz Sharon and replace her with a judge who knows how to operate a button?
The Singing Fairy unfortunately sets the tone for what follows, which includes an 18-year-old nebbish with a wavering falsetto, a one-man band with instruments he made himself but never learned to play them, and a "Musical Entertainer" named Polina who's dressed like Roberto Begnini and dances clumsily with cymbals and a trombone while her mum plays piano behind her. Even Sharon isn't willing to see that abomination through to its conclusion. The mum is pissed enough (at the judges? At the audience? At the world? Actually, I think it's at her daughter?) to treat Jerry to an annoyed burst of Russian on her way past him in the wings, to which Jerry responds fluently in kind. Perhaps Jerry Springer has a future at the U.N.
There's a montage of backstage people talking about how far they traveled to get here, including a young nomadic Greyhound-surfer and Christian Slater-lookalike named Eli Mattson, who seems pretty determined. He takes up his position onstage behind a keyboard and starts singing and playing Marc Cohn's "Walking in Memphis." He's not spectacular, but he's pretty soulful and good enough that the editors let us hear almost the whole song. The crowd is behind him as well. The judges like him enough to put him through to Vegas unanimously. Afterward, in the judges' lounge, they agree that Eli has what it takes. Can we get back to the freaks? Recapping decent performers is boring.