9:09pm PT by Jean Bentley
'The World's Best' Premiere Features Singers, Martial Artists, Escape Artists and More
CBS debuted its brand-new talent competition, The World's Best, following the matchup between the L.A. Rams and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. The alternative series, from reality giants Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell, features contestants from around the world competing for the title of The World's Best. Hosted by James Corden, the competition is judged by more than 50 international judges from 38 countries and anchored by the main panel of Drew Barrymore, RuPaul Charles and Faith Hill.
Following the Patriots' Super Bowl win — a historic sixth for quarterback Tom Brady — the series cut to Corden congratulating the team as he introduced the show, its American judges and the "Wall of the World," a.k.a. the international experts who also vote on the acts (including singers, fighters, stuntwomen, ballerinas, karate experts and other professionals from around the world).
After the first act, Corden outlined how the show will work: The Audition Round is first, where the Wall of the World decide who makes it through to the Battle Round. The American judges can give up to 50 points each, and the Wall of the World experts can give one point each. To move on to the next round, competitors need 75 points each. The top 24 acts move on to compete for the title and a $1 million prize.
Here's how each act did:
Act: Kukkiwon, a group of Taekwondo masters
Country: South Korea
After a choreographed routine that featured men and women demonstrating impressive skill as they broke boards more than 15 feet high (held by their fellow group members atop one another's shoulders), the group assembled on stage (along with a translator) as Corden attempted to break a board of his own (he did, after one failed attempt).
Reaction: "My heart wanted to jump out of my chest. So thrilling! So much skill," raved RuPaul. "There just wasn't a beat missed," said Barrymore. Added Hill, "It was like a ballet. One of the greatest things I have ever seen in my life." The show's "martial arts expert," IFC fighter Anderson Silva, thanked the team but did not provide a more substantial critique.
American Judges Score: 48 from Barrymore, 48 from RuPaul and 50 from Hill, for a combined average of 49
Wall of the World Score: Though the votes were revealed in an excruciatingly slow manner (as typical for a reality competition), all 50 voted them through.
Act: TNT Boys, a trio of singing preteens
An opening package revealed that the boys met while participating in a singing competition in their home country, and a video of them singing together went viral. Wearing blue and black suits, the trio inspired many slack-jawed reactions amongst all of the judges. (The unison "thank you's" after each critique inspired plenty of "awwwws," too.)
Reaction: "You have some serious attitude," complimented Hill. "I have a soft spot for kids. I was a kid performer but I have kids now," Barrymore said. "I have one thing to say: Shantay, you stay," said RuPaul. Dennis Jauch, a German choreographer who worked with Beyonce, said he wouldn't be surprised if Queen B asked the kids to join her on her next tour.
American Judges Score: 50 from Barrymore and Hill, 48 from RuPaul, for a combined average of 49
Wall of the World Score: All 50 judges voted them through, though the votes were revealed much quicker than before.
Act: Space Cowboy, sword swallower
This performance artist first swallowed a long piece of neon that had a microphone attached to it, so the audience would "hear my gag reflex opening, my internals working, and my heart beating. Enjoy," he told the crowd before a large "DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME" chyron filled the bottom of the screen. It sounded exactly as promised, and the judges all seemed horrified (and maybe a little impressed). He next swallowed a sword attached to a barbell that held two kegs, weighing in at 132 pounds, and though a pre-commercial tease made it seem like he dropped the barbell while swallowing the sword, it was actually after he'd already removed the sword. He then revealed that he'd broken his first Guinness World Record in 2008, when he swallowed 17 swords at the same time. After he had magnets surgically implanted into his chest under the skin, which Barrymore refused to touch when he showed her up close, he did swallow 29 swords at once. Later, he promised if he moved forward everything he'd do would be different.
Reaction: Asked RuPaul, "You know that scared the heck out of us, right?" Said Scottish magician Stuart Macleod, "It was sick, it was disgusting, it was violent, and I loved every minute of it."
American Judges Score: 33 from Hill, 38 from RuPaul, and 25 from Barrymore for an average of 32
Wall of the World Score: Another excruciatingly slow rollout with a less-happy ending, resulting in just 25 people voting yes for a total of 57, meaning he wouldn't move on.
Act: Enkh Erdene, singer
The singer was introduced via both a video package and a live interview with Corden (via a translator). He's from a small village and studying to be an engineer, and doesn't speak English at all. But when it was time to go on, Erdene sang a faithful rendition of George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning."
Reaction: "You blew me away, and I'm the biggest George Strait fan," said Hill. "Amarillo by morning, Hollywood tonight" said RuPaul. "These are the mind-blowing moments we're all hoping for," said Barrymore. "I was gobsmacked," said South African singer Lira.
American Judges Score: 50 from Barrymore, 48 from RuPaul and 45 from Hill, for a combined average of 48
Wall of the World Score: Forty-nine out of 50 voted for him to move on (with the exception of Israeli choreographer Kobi Rozenfeld), resulting in a total of 97.
Act: Manami Ito, violinist
A violinist who began playing when she was 7 years old, she quit after a serious car accident at age 20 in which she lost her right arm. But she began playing again after her mother requested her to do so, and she brought Hill (and a few of the international judges) to tears during her performance.
Reaction: "Nothing's stronger than the human spirit," said Hill. "Not only are you talented, but your perspective on life is something that the world definitely needs," said Barrymore. "It really made me proud to witness your grace and your way of overcoming adversity," said RuPaul. Japanese theater producer Makoto Deguchi was still in tears when he complimented Ito. Nigerian actress Kate Henshaw told Ito she was an inspiration.
American Judges Score: 40 from Hill, 39 from RuPaul and a 42 from Barrymore, for an average of 40
Wall of the World Score: 46 voted her through, for a total of 86
Act: Matt Johnson, underwater escape artist
Country: Great Britain
The underwater escape artist warned, "What I do is very, very real and very, very dangerous" in his opening package. He began doing underwater escapes to understand what happens when his brother has a seizure and can't breathe. After jumping into a small water tank, he padlocked a chain around his neck and then was handcuffed and padlocked inside. He picked the locks on the handcuffs, then the padlock around his neck. He'd hoped to complete the challenge in a minute and a half, but the time limit passed — and a giant "To be continued" came on the screen. Want to find out if he gets out? CBS would like viewers to tune in to the show's Wednesday premiere (at 8 p.m. for two weeks before moving to 9 p.m.) to find out.