Welcome to the premiere episode recap for American Inventor! Brought to you by the ever-acerbic Simon Cowell, this little gem promises to show us some of America's very best entrepreneurs and their creations, all hoping to make the big bucks. Some of them, anyway. Some of these "inventions" are questionable at best. The first show is presented in a very American Idol-ish format: we get the same outrageous auditions, snippy judges, and pissed-off contestants that make the AI auditions so much darned fun. Well, without all that godawful singing.
Meet the Judges
First up is Ed Evangelista. Besides having the name that is the most fun to say, his specialty is creating ad campaigns for companies such as Rolex, Smirnoff, and The Diamond Trading Company. I guess Wal-Mart isn't going to make this guy's list. A pleasant enough fellow, complete with New Yawk accent.
Next we have Mary Lou Quinlan, a dead ringer for Catherine O'Hara, in my opinion. Remember the mom in Beetlejuice? Anyway, Mary Lou is founder and CEO of Just Ask a Woman, a marketing company geared towards - you guessed it - women. Don't let the big blue eyes and sweet demeanor fool you. Piss this one off and she'll rip you a new one. Just ask this guy:
Doug Hall, who reminds me of Ralph Wiggum all grown up, without the finger in his nose. He's an engineer, and seems quite proud of that fact. Seeming to enjoy being contrary to the other judges, Hall is also founder and CEO of the Eureka Ranch in Cincinnati, member of MENSA, author of a bestselling book, and member of Overachievers Anonymous.
Last but not least, we have the incredibly tall Peter Jones. A highly successful businessman hailing from the UK, he founded the telecommunications giant Phones International Group. Jones is the co-creator and executive producer of the show but will also serve as a judge, presumably to break up the fights between Doug and Mary Lou.
Inspector Gadget Would Be Proud
Some of the inventions were well received by the judges. Some, well...not so much. Let's take a look at a few of them:
Edible Snow Globes - a do-it-yourself craft kit that you can eat. You can make your own tiny gingerbread houses or whatnot and encase them in a snowglobe shell. Maybe if you're really creative you can make a whole little city in there. The judges pass Dolly Parton Jr. on through.
Power Scooper 2000 - really, it's just a big shovel with a bag attached at the end of the hollow handle, making it easier to fill up sandbags and such. Adding "2000" to the name gave it just enough of a cool factor to pass on to the next round.
Tandem bike - not sure what the official name of this one was, but it was a new twist on tandem bikes. A set of pedals was attached to the front wheel, enabling someone to ride on the handlebars and help drive the bike. Looked a bit awkward, but might be good for preventing lazy little brothers everywhere from getting a free ride.
Tree Trimmer - a new, improved version of the old trimmer that used a rope to operate the blade, complete with goofy Wizard of Oz presentation. The judges all approve, except for Doug. The guy in the tree costume is not amused.
The Pit Port - brought to us by the singing brothers Evan and Jarod, who really ought to stick to singing. The Pit Port keeps your pistachio nut shells (and whatever else) hidden from view underneath a bowl. For times when a plain old cup just ain't good enough.
Lock and Load Weights - a very energetic and hyper man presents the judges with a nifty set of exercise weights and pulleys, supposedly very easy to change around and keep that workout going. After a teary-eyed story, the judges give him the thumbs-up.
Solar-powered cooler - a nice idea in theory, if not in reality. Complete with cell-phone jack and something that looked like a radio attached. Not sure if the solar panels help keep it cool or not, but it could probably be of some use to boaters or campers.
Honorable mention - the Bad Kids DVD. A nice product, but the judges dismissed it for being "finished" already. All she needs is someone to market it, and you'll soon be seeing it on QVC. Also, the kid with the Dog Fan. Another nice idea in theory, but not very practical. He doesn't take losing very well, and his cuteness wears off quickly. So much for good TV.
Now, for the things that made you go "what the hell?":
The Bladder Buddy - presented by a very scary man, this is basically a garment bag with a cup inside. For those who can't make it to the bathroom, or are just too high-classed to go pee in a bush somewhere.
Space Beetle Utopia - yes, it's a playground for roaches. Because they get bored, too...why should those damned hamsters have all the fun? Perhaps this would appeal to fans of Joe's Apartment.
Car Clothes - for dressing up that rust-bucket or robbing banks. Who needs a nice paint job when you can just throw some cheesy cover on your car and hope it doesn't blow off on the highway? I don't think Pimp My Ride will be calling.
Fresh End - when toilet paper just doesn't do the trick, try Fresh End. Somehow I don't think smearing this goop on your nether regions will appeal to many people, and the red-faced judges unanimously agree.
Smoking Gun - I suppose this was meant to add smoke flavoring to food, or fumigate Sparky when he has a bad case of fleas. Banjo music plays, and crazy hermit guy gets the thumbs-down.
Beddie Pouch - this is a great example of how not to go about getting a patent. This woman was ripped off by a shady company, and was none too pleased to hear that her "invention" already existed. Kiss that twelve grand goodbye.
Walk Buddy - no, it's not a stick. It's a wand, dammit! Not only does it spray mace and ward off those pesky bears and mountain lions, but it also has an optional GPS unit and Sirius radio receiver. Well, maybe if it actually worked. Stick guy is outta there.
And the Ugly....
Taking the honor for stupidest invention of the night is the Tizzy Tube. Junior throwing a fit? Just stick him in this inflatable tube so that he's totally immobile! If his brother acts up too, well, just pop him in a tube also and they can bop each other around! Call it child abuse or rewarding bad behavior - either way, the judges were horrified. With the exception of Doug, of course. While the other judges dial the number for Child Protection Services, the "therapist" who invented the Tube slinks out of the room, wondering what went wrong. Perhaps if she had marketed it as a outdoor toy instead of a disciplinary device?
Finally, we are treated to a montage of applicants against the strange white light background with angelic music playing in the background. Actually, as out of place and weird as it is, it's one of the funniest parts of the show. Hopefully the producers will lay off the cheesy sob stories from now on and show us more of the actual inventions, because I haven't seen anything that's going to change the world yet. Maybe they're saving the good stuff for later. Yeah, that's it.
Coming soon to a shopping channel near you....firstname.lastname@example.org