Saturday, July 26, 2014
America’s Got Circus, Too: TV Loves the Daredevil Factor ... Johnny Pugh Straws ‘Em in Jersey .. and More.... It's All on the Inside!
Circus rings may be toughening up these circus-ballet ridden days, getting more down and gritty, a little more edgy in the air – closer to the old sawdust scene when horses and high flyers ruled the rings.
I’ve been away from America’s Got Talent TV show for a few seasons. Checking back in, driven to see how Christian Stoinev does, I was cheered to see acts of daring-do wowing the judges, causing Howie Mandel and others to spill out two hot words in rapid succession, their faces wide awake with the awe factor:
“I love the athleticism and the danger,” declared Howie. Ah, yes DANGER.
The tanbark may be turning — no, make that trending, to keep my purist tendencies relevant — back to reality circus. Remember reality circus? Before acrobatic-ballet and the stagey crowd discovered an art form needing to be saved. Before the nagging invasion of tell-tale mechanics, or, as they now call them, "lunges.” Even more precious is the term "tethering," ho ho.
Item: Nik Wallenda scales Niagara Falls, tethered safely to a sterile wire walk, and TV commentators take note. So do viewers. You can’t fool a populist crowd, tuned in not for another BBC drama, but for a little circus. Guess what. Next time Nik walks the wire, down there near Grand Canyon country, he’s doing it the bold old fashioned way. Now he’s got real respect. Now, he’s got real talent.
Item: Down San Jose way, they’re charging foolish reality-TV type people big money, and making them sign no-fault forms, in order to be chased by a stampeding heard of reality bulls. Yes, believe it or not, now the spectators are becoming the show. Do we have here a deep yearning for something real, as in dangerous?
Item: Every year, Johnny Pugh can’t stop ending his show with the cannon toss. Might that be because Johnny knows the power of a basic circus thrill through the air?
As I’ve said before (excuse me for crowing), you can take the circus out of the circus, but it will find other, more receptive venues and keep on doing what it does best, which is exactly what Mandel said in three big words. Elements of danger stalk what they call extreme sports (I think), and the various "gladiator" programs. I don’t watch any of them because I want my spectacle straight through, without the endless commercials and sidebar stories. Back at the Roman Coliseum, heck, we weren’t bombarded with all that commercial nonsense.
BIG TOP BITS: On America’s Got Talent the other night, Stoinev made as much a spectacle of his beefcake factor (all of television seems headed for a nude beach) as he did his acrobatic moves in spiffy collaboration with that terrifically talented little dog of his. I’d like to someday see his entire act — no, just the one he does in the ring — yes, I’m laughing inside, couldn’t resist ... Hold your breath and let’s try to hope it’s true: Cole Bros. Cicus strawing the crowds in Garfield, NJ, per Circus Report’s Paul Gutheil. Same crowded result in Ridgefield, and without sponsors, too. Long live Johnny! ... Carson and Barnes, from the CR review, seems big on dance this year ...Kelly Miller, true to it-happens-when-it-happens, has a lovely new tent, which rose mid season. What else? Circus Vargas is not far from me at the moment, but with temperatures honoring the global warming argument, do I really want to sit in a dark oven-hot tent, bringing to mind my fainting spell paranoia (never happened) while suffering the same heat under the old Circus Chimera top? I think not. Too much reality for me, thank you.
OFF THE LOT, ACROSS THE STREET AT THE BUS STOP: Hey, what did you think of Cleveland going nuts over the return of a prodigal basketball star? Not my sport, but story warms the heart. I’m a flaky fair weather Oakland A’s fan, fearing, rightly I fear, that they will once again fade out down the final stretch. ... So hot out here in California, I feel guilty running water thought my little fountain on the balcony. One day, it might get me arrested. One day, we might be bathing out of buckets of rationed water; I learned how on the Wallace show ... So, I watched all the movies nominated last year for Best Picture. What a lousy lot. Made me appreciate TV even more (now I'm watching, finally, Big Bang Theory, and love it). I only liked the one with Judy Dench, and another called Her – great flick about a guy having an affair with OS in his computer, she is virtualy reality. Scary and brilliant, a truly remarkable film, check it out ... Mike Wallace, what humor that guy has! Other night on Larry King, King asked about how life is treating him these days, answered Mike “Any day on this side of the grass is a great day.”... Can you beat that? ... Oh, there’s my bus .... I think .... ah .....Yeah,that’s it! See you later!