Last night in Los Angeles, my fellow TV critics who have already arrived at the TCA press tour attended a party thrown by the Playboy Channel at Hugh Hefner’s mansion. I sat in Brooklyn and watched America’s Got Talent. Not bitter! Because it meant I had the chance to see possibly the most awkward, degrading product placement I have ever seen on television. And I’ve watched American Idol.
The Smurfs showed up on AGT last night, and judges Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, plus host Nick Cannon, had to pretend to interact with little blue CGI figures in order to promote their new movie. See the above video if you want to see the whole clustersmurf unfold.
The look of pained pretend surprise on Cannon’s face as he announces, “Hey! It’s the Smurfs!” tells you all you need to know; you can practically hear him thinking of his paycheck and telling himself that soon this smurfmare will all be over. Meanwhile, the three judges give off a panoply of reactions: Mandel looks like he’s about to collapse laughing, Osbourne moons as if someone just gave birth to a litter of blue angels on the judges’ desk, and Morgan, bless his hammy heart, delivers the line “We’ll be the judges of that, Nick!” like a dramatic line from an Oscar clip reel.
It didn’t end there, though: the Smurfs re-appeared and were referenced throughout the show, most memorably when Mandel cracked, “I think this is the first time the Smurfs have done live television” and pointed to a soft-serve-ice-cream shaped pile of blue, um, smurfxcrement on the judges’ table. I had not thought it was possible to make the Smurfs more painful to watch, but congratulations, AGT: You indeed have got talent.