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TV Review: American Inventor – The Premiere

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Image hosted by Photobucket.comA reality show from Simon Cowell? With inventions by average Americans as the premise? How could I not tune in?

However, this first two hour premiere, aired on Thursday 3/16/06 on ABC, was boring, if not an outright disappointment. Which is not to say the series or its premise is a wash. At least, not yet.

ABC hypes the show as follows:

American Inventor, an exciting series from Simon Cowell and the producers of American Idol about the biggest search ever for America’s best new invention, premieres with a two-hour special, Thursday, March 16, from 8:00-10:00 p.m., ET, and moves to 9:00 p.m., ET on Thursdays thereafter.

American Inventor, the embodiment of the ultimate American dream, will uncover the hottest new product and make one struggling inventor’s dream come true. With one million dollars at stake, American Inventor will celebrate the best in homespun American ingenuity.

The winners of the greatest invention will received a million dollar prize. In addition, they will receive marketing and promoting advice as well as have their invention mass produced.

I must say I was totally unimpressed with the inventions that made it through to the next round, but I suppose a little tweak here, a little tweak there, a cute presentation, perhaps a Power Point display, will make the invention in question more appealing.

As a public service, I will offer some fine suggestions on inventions needed and an example of my own fine invention.

For now, let’s talk about the show.

The series follows the pattern of Fox’s mighty American Idol in that for now only the preliminary culling of the nutty to the possible is being aired. This could be the show’s first big mistake.

American Idol didn’t begin this practice until after the competition was well established. I can’t imagine what an average viewer would think had they tuned in to those early AI editions to see singers with little talent serenading the world off-key and to the derision of the judges. This could have killed the competition before it gained a foothold with the public. American Inventor’s decision to start their very first show with this rather stark beginning could turn off the public too soon.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comOh, and about those judges. What a weird bunch. The weirdest being Doug Hall, supposedly a major inventor in his own right. I’m thinking Hall is crafted after Simon Cowell, meant to be the curmudgeon of the quartet, expected to pan every invention before him.

The other judges include Ed Evangelista, Mary Lou Quinlan, and Peter Jones Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Judge. Their qualifications include marketing, advertising and in the case of Quinlan, vaunted arbiter of “what women want”. Like American Idol, the judges will filter all through to the final round and eventually the American public will make their choice.

As for the “inventions” presented by hopeful inventors during this premier, of course some were crazy, meant more to amuse than be practical or anywhere near finalist material. We had a “bladder buddy” contraption that allows, I’m not making this up, one to pee in public. Along the same lines there was a waterless gel contraption that affixes to toilet paper holders that one may clean their hands while sitting on the toilet. Or clean other places as the inventor claims this thing is perfect for people with hemorrhoids.

Inventions moved on to the next round didn’t greatly impress me either. One was a bicycle with a seat built right into the handlebars. Another was a completely edible snow globe. One that I thought had potential was a portable gym.

There’s also the required angst for such shows as lifelong dreams are smashed and invented works of art are derided. A young boy invents and air conditioner for dogs and he’s sent away amidst tears and heartbreak.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comOn to a public service for future inventors. Beginning with the two greatest inventions ever, the wireless TV remote and the microwave oven. Let these great wonders be your benchmark for future inventions.

We move on to a great invention of mine own. Sure, I avoided the prototype thing and the hassle of patents. Still I used ordinary household objects to solve a great domestic problem. One is the “cat feeding box” that sprung from having a passel of cats that were too old to jump. Which is important because their food had been placed in a communal bowl on top of a table. This kept the resident dogs out of the cat food until the elder cats couldn’t make the jump then we had to put the food on the floor. At which point, as any dog-owner can imagine, the dogs handily finished off all food in the communal cat bowl leaving felines hungry.

I took a resin planter, a perfectly square thing with four sides and a bottom having solid “walls” but with an open top for placement of the plant within. I tipped this thing over sideways so that the hole for the plant was on the side and allowing for entry of hungry cats. The communal food bowl was placed inside this thing and the entire resin planter than shoved into a corner with only a small space on the side to allow entry. Cats have no problem squeezing into this thing to get at the food but the dogs, heh, can only sit alongside and lament the cat food bowl, so close but yet so far. As for the cats, since only one can fit inside at a time they all wait patiently for their turn inside the resin planter, until the time they can eat in privacy and quiet with no fighting with co-cats as when the communal bowl was left out and unprotected.

I freely give any would-be American inventor permission to fine-tune this thing. Cat lovers with pet dogs will love you to death.

Still not convinced? Okay, here’s a list of things that need inventing, all provided as a public service.

  • Let’s come up with something better than those paper bags that hold all-purpose flour, eh? How about something a little more sturdy, perhaps with a spout? Working with those flimsy bags is a guarantee to a flour-dusted surround with each use.
  • Nail polishing! Doing one’s own nails is a real pain in that one hand will always look sloppy as the right-handed try to polish that same hand with the left hand not as agile as the one used all the time. How about some device that one can “dip” the nails in a polish and boom, the nail is perfect. Sure there would have to be a way to get excess polish off skin and such but that’s part of the joy of inventing!
  • How about a decent tray to carry food? An affair large enough to carry plates on top, a recessed place for the drink. Under the tray-top, how about a drawer type of device that can be opened when food is removed from the tray top, then can be flipped open to access utensils, condiments and other food stuff to enjoy the meal being carried.
  • There’s a world of potential in umbrellas. How about a flashlight built into an umbrella’s handle for better travel during dark rain storms? And a sturdy latch on which to hang one’s purse while the thing is opened. Go wild and build in a portable radio on the thing.
  • Packaged fondant easily purchased at the grocery. For I too would like to decorate cakes handily with but a gentle covering of the edible candy-like frosting but I am stuck with only the spreadable stuff while Food Network chefs create mighty dessert creations with the fondant they get from …where?
  • Finally, someone really needs to invent a combination mixer, food processor and blender that is in one package. This will take some time but for me, dragging out three heavy items depending on the preparation required is a pain. While I’m willing to have one big appliance item take up my precious counter space I don’t wish to have the entire top filled with appliances that I might need.

    So here I am doing my bit for great American inventors of the morrow. For while I might not be of a mind to actually invent these things, I know what is needed and will happily share.

    For now, as a gadget lover and ever on the search for the one item that will boom, with the flick of a switch make my life ever simpler, I am intrigued by this new reality series and intend to tune in again.

    Rating for this series below.

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  • About pat fish

    • sr

      Patfish, I Invented the odorless cat litter box. After many years of putting up with my wife’s de-clawed, fat as a pig, vomiting all over the house, foul smelling, and litter gravel like river rocks all over the floor I knew what to do.
      Cleaned the litter box with the best stink-off spray I could find. Cleaned up the river rocks, and put the big fat stinken cat in a pet crate and carted his fat ass off to the our local humane society. Gave them the clean litter box.
      This is how I invented the oderless cat litter box. This was 3 months ago and Heaven is wonderful.

    • http://patfish.blogspot.com/ Pat Fish

      sr….well I’m laughing.

      Are you still married?

    • sr

      Yes Maman, Im still married. 26yrs amd many more to come. Glad your laughing and have a great Friday.

    • melinda

      This show was terribly boring both at the premier and the next week. All the hype is just that hype. Not a winner, won’t be wasting anymore time on American Inventor.