With the surge in family entertainment shows right now, the timing of Little Big Shots is ripe for Seven right now.
Shane Jacobson is master of ceremonies in this adaptation of a talent format devised by Ellen de Generes and US host Steve Harvey. In a complete backflip from a crowded, cookie-cutter genre, this series promises no prize, no judges and no eliminations. And it still got picked up.
Without such jeopardy, it sort of begs the question, can such a show still manage to entertain? The answer is yes if you have scoured the globe for kids as brazenly talented as this bunch.
The Australian edition includes keenly-talented locals with international kids who have presumably appeared on other editions. Impressively producers Warners Bros. have flown them to Australia, rather than simply edit them in with our own. With at least 1 guardian to accompany them, that’s a hefty production price tag …..but I digress.
Jacobson gets a standing ovation from a highly-charged audience simply for stepping onto the big red stage (I’m not sure why). But our first act, a 5 year old shearer named Charlie will prove dexterous with a pair of clippers and live sheep wrangling. His chat with Jacobson is lengthy (detailing how mum dropped a phone down the toilet) before the stage spins lazy-Susan-style with several woolly animals for demonstration.
While Jacobson tries to prompt Charlie to warble Click Go the Shears, the 5 year old insists “I’m not singing it!” Yes, this is not too far removed from Kids Say The Darndest Things, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Talented kids continue. 12 year old dancer Akshat from India (pictured) is even more forward with his answers, strutting his self-trained moves across the stage to much applause. The real insight comes from learning that he used to practise at 4 in the morning because as an overweight child, he could do so alone without being judged. Defiantly, he declares, “I say to all the children in the world, fat people can dance.”
6 year old power tumbler Alexa from Australia would give a young Nadia Comăneci (for those who remember) a run for her money. Her multiple flips at such a young age, is the stuff of real standing ovations.
There’s also 12 year old snooker national champ Jayden, who took up the sport when his mum and dad went to the pub one night. The rest is history, if not a few future world championships.
7 year old Brazilian drummer Eduarda is as brash as her ample music skills and shows no sign of being camera shy. I’m not quite sure Led Zeppelin would be happy to have Black Dog reinterpreted quite the same way, nor how appropriate the lyrics are but the audience didn’t seem to care.
My favourite was 12 Jianyu from China whose speed at solving Rubik’s Cube borders on illegal. When he manages to solve three cubes at once (including one with his toes), his ability shows just how poorly we mere adults use our brain capacity. It takes a split-screen just to keep up with him. Frankly I’d even give a round of applause to the junior interpreters that appeared.
Jacobson fits comfortably as genial host with plenty of rapport, and the casting crew gets a big tick. Such a pity then that Warner Bros has over-produced the show feeling the need to sweeten the audio with laughs at the end of every second sentence. It’s not necessary, a little more faith in the characters would be welcome.
There will also be those who feel that every talented kid masks a ‘stage-mom’ who has monkey-trained them into annoying brats, and Little Big Shots will do little to erase that thinking.
But for those happy for some old-fashioned entertainment with kids far too talented for their shoe size, this hits a sweet spot.
Little Big Shots premieres soon on Seven.