The America’s Got Talent Season 17 live shows commenced this week, with a new super-sized — and super-rushed — format featuring 55 contestants, instead of the usual 36.

Skipping over the Judges’ Cuts middle round of past seasons, AGT fast-tracked straight to the Qualifiers, with 11 different hopefuls competing each week — and only two contestants from each week moving on to the Sept. 13 finale.

As I had predicted, this week, fan-favorite saxophonist Avery Dixon and a likely industry plant, country singer and established BBR Recordings signing Drake Milligan, made it through based on America’s overnight vote. But America in general wasn’t thrilled with the show’s new format, which resulted in nine other acts immediately going home without the hopes of an instant or judges’ save.

The first five performers to be eliminated during Wednesday’s hour-long live results show were pageant queen-turned-comedienne Lace Larrabee, Ukrainian contortionist Oleksander Yenivatov, Colombian salsa duo Steffany & Yeremy, teen singer/school shooting survivor Ava Swiss, kiddie/dog act Amazing Veranica & Her Incredible Friends, and comedy crooner Ben Lapidus, aka the “More Parmesan” guy.

The judges were probably happy about that last result, but at this point in the broadcast, viewers were already taking to Twitter to complain.

And you know… those viewers made some valid points.

Also swiftly eliminated Wednesday were corporate comedian Don McMillan (who placed third), West African acrobat team Amoukanama, and singing NFL veterans Players Choir.

I agree with the above-mentioned disgruntled viewers that, after 10weeks and 138 successful auditions, to rush the season to the finish line like this — as if Simon Cowell has to catch a plane back to England and just can’t be bothered — is not the smartest move. It leaves little time for voters to get invested, or for any on-the-cusp contestants to improve and evolve.

But, it is what it is. So, get ready to bid farewell to nine more we-hardly-knew-ye contestants next week, as the Qualifiers continue apace.

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