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SA's Got Talent Ep 1 – The Kids Are Alright

2009-10-02 08:28

Watching the first episode of this latest addition to the  plethora of TV talent contests in SA makes me realise that we've been eating up scraps. Finally, we're treated to a gourmet meal. 

I'm not talking about the contestants' talent. The difference is more about the quality of the show itself.  There are no contrived, inarticulate hosts (you know who I'm talking about). Rob and Anele have a great rapport, although things are still a little stiff between them. But they'll get there, especially during the live shows. The dynamic pacing, short, hilarious quips from the judges and a great soundtrack totally blew me away. Where are the long, self-absorbed soliloquies and done-to-death cityscape pan shots that we've come to tolerate thanks to all the dreary reality TV contests that came before?

SABC pushed back the release date of this show a while ago, and it seemed as if the broadcaster's financial woes would sound the show's death knell, but  the delay has made space for a production slicker than Randall's tongue.

Speaking of Randall, he seems to have finally taken that pineapple out of his arse. Put a cute (but still talented) kid in front of him and watch the stone-cold meanie actually crack a smile. This was evident when he gave 11-year-old Bradley Hartman a 'yes' for his amazing freestyle dance routine to Chris Brown's "Forever". However, don't expect him to tone down his bile if you're tone deaf. As he said to one aspiring singer: "That board says SA's Got Talent, not SA Does Karaoke!"

Randall's co-judge, Ian Von Memerty is going to need counselling after this show. He's extremely encouraging of peoples' talent, but once again, when it comes to the kids, he's a big softy. When 8-year-old Cleo Filander came out and sang "A Prayer" by Andrea Bocelli, the tears started welling up. It's understandable; Ian's first daughter died in 1998.

And then there’s Shado Twala. She’s the nice, almost fence-sitting judge. But the right amount – or lack – of talent can bring out another side of her. She was genuinely scared of Matse, a singer from Jo'burg who has a seriously skewed view of her vocal abilities. She'll give the "Killing Me Softly" chick from Idols a run for her money...

It's nice to see the judges as personalities, not just puppets spewing supposed 'criticism'. The entire show is very emotionally charged, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. That's what is going to get you to vote.

Everyone seems to be punting the fact that it's showcasing such a diversity of talent. But the most interesting act we saw this week was a troupe of Zulu dancers. They were admittedly very good, but it's not particularly strange or exciting, like say, snake charming or hair styling. Do we box "talent" into singing and dancing? Maybe next week will offer up some real 'diversity' - but the odds are that a singer or dancer will win this competition. Just looking at the results of the British and American versions of the show – think Susan Boyle, Paul Potts, etc – it's almost inevitable. On that note, I'm willing to put my money on a singing, dancing child winning. There's just something magical about a young, small person doing something amazingly talented that makes us all go 'aawww!'

If you missed out on last night's episode, catch the highlights here (see the video block at the bottom of the page).

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