Olate Dogs has been crowned the Season 7 winner of "America's Got Talent," proving that America really likes its backflipping dogs (as well as those who conga and wheelbarrow their way across the stage), more than its brilliantly funny comedians or visionary music-makers or performing painters, sand storytellers or precocious dancers.
I won't pretend not to be disappointed that Tom Cotter, the comedian who claimed second place, didn't take the win. In the finale, riffing alongside Joan Rivers, he proved himself far funnier than the veteran comedienne as he roasted the judges. His jokes were less cutting, but no less sharp -- perfectly calibrated, as they'd been, with remarkable consistency, throughout the competition.
Even after it was revealed Cotter hadn't won the big prize ($1 million and a chance to headline a Las Vegas show, in case you'd forgotten), when others might have wept, he found a way to make us laugh, saying he planned to fall down the stairs and get his own million dollars. See? Funny.
Of course, Cotter won't have to take drastic measures to turn his time on the show into a win. I'm sure his agent is already fielding lots of calls.
In any event, Olate Dogs was certainly worthy of the win. They were impressive, the backflip-doing dogs. And it was heartwarming to see Sharon Osbourne, a fan of animal acts in general and those performing pooches in particular, march up onstage in her fabulous gown on the last night of her long "America's Got Talent" run and embrace the furry winners she'd been rooting for all along.
It was a fitting end for Osbourne's run on the show, and a suitable capper for a season with a particularly varied and robust array of talent.
Amidst performances by acts including Flo Rida, Frankie J, Blue Man Group, Justin Bieber, NE-YO and Green Day and glimpses of memorable eliminated "AGT" contenders such as "grandfather of rap" Burton "Whatcha Gonna Do" Crane and Big Barry (in a bag), we learned first that the Untouchables would leave the competition in sixth place. "Don't be sad, little one," Osbourne told the dance troupe's weeping youngest member. "It's my last show too, so we're both leaving together, hand in hand."
Next to go home, in fifth place, was spiritual sand storyteller Joe Castillo, who thanked the voters and America and said, "God has given me a wonderful opportunity to tell sand stories and I will continue to do that."
Coming in fourth was painter/performance artist David Garibaldi and his CMYK. Garibaldi said his run on the show had been the most amazing journey of his life, and Howard Stern, in turn, told him he'd "electrified our lives."
That left earth harpist William Close, Cotter, and Olate Dogs in the top three, which was not at all unexpected, though it did come as a bit of a surprise when Close, a true judge favorite, was the first of the three to be eliminated. Even Close looked a bit blindsided, but he quickly recovered, graciously saying, "I made it to third place on this amazing stage, and that rocks."
That left Cotter and Olate Dogs -- and you know how that played out. It was the year of the dog. Cotter packed up his jokes and went home, and the praiseworthy performing pups were left to take the final bow (wow).
What do you think? Did the best act win?