America's Got Talent, The Season Premiere

07/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I suppose the big question going into last night's season premiere of NBC's America's Got Talent was: Will Susan Boyle, the famously frumpy runner-up on Britain's Got Talent, make an appearance?

The bubbly, fun and incessantly lively America's Got Talent answered that question right away. "Not yet," although Boyle is now prominently featured in the show's opening credits (NBC's no dummy).

But, no matter, she'll probably make an appearance at some point this season. And, besides, the show, now in its fourth season, holds up on its own pretty darn well.

The format of the show is familiar to just about anyone who's had a pulse the past few years. And it's produced by the team behind American Idol, including that show's Simon Cowell, so it more or less follows the Idol format.

The first few episodes, like last night's, center on auditions.

Those began this season in New York, which at first were disastrous. Talent zipped over to Chicago lickety-split. And, later, Seattle. But, back to New York, the show wrapped up with the premiere's most touching sob story.

The people auditioning last night fell on the usual spectrum of bad to good, like a dance team from Chicago and The Voices of Glory, three siblings who sang "God Bless America."

Most of the fun came from the, well, less-than-spectacular, clueless talent.

Debbie Victor, a middle-aged woman from California, boasted of her talent, only to scare off the audience with her animal impressions.

And a dance duo from New York, who dance with fire, quite literally went up in flames.

Much of the fun on America's Got Talent comes from the juiced-up audience - both the live audience and the pumped-up soundtrack version of one. They scream and shout and boo and hiss.

It's all a bit insane, but in a fun way.

And judges David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan are all good sports and a lot of fun to watch. Where American Idol judges can be cruel, Talent's judging trio is usually kind. And they don't suppress their emotions - they cry, they shout and they jump in their air.

In these times of economic woes, job losses and chaos breaking out around the world, America's Got Talent last night proved once again that it's a pretty good antidote to the country's woes.