Doug was wrong. This isn't American Inventor anymore, it is American Sob Story. I tuned in to the finals hoping to see the best creations move forward, based on their marketability and widespread usefulness. What do I get instead? A whole lotta crying. I mean, a lot. More crying than all of the makeover shows combined. It seems that a product's benefits are secondary to it's creator's sob story in this show. Basically, the person who can wring the most tears from the judges wins. So, with my griping out of the way, let's see who was chosen and who got sent home...
How Not To Market Your Product 101
We start off with a montage of inventions that didn't make it past the auditions, just to remind us exactly why they didn't make it. The Bladder Buddy, the Dog Exercise Wheel, the Star Dial, the tacky two-liter soda fish aquarium, the Foot Washer, and of course the Perfect Pet Petter, perfect only for traumatizing your dog. Once that silliness is out of the way, the judges tell the fifty finalists that they will have only 60 seconds to make their case and tell them why their invention should be chosen. Doug wants to know how their creation will change the world, while Mary Lou asks what exactly is it about their idea that says you are the American Inventor. Ed just tells them that this is their last 60 seconds to make their pitch, and Peter says to be passionate and give it your all.
The finalists begin their pitches, and let me tell you - they're terrible. Instead of talking up their product and telling the judges how great it is, the majority of presenters give a clueless, whiny spiel. Such as:
"I really really really really, REALLY want this!"
"If you pick me I swear I'll do anything you want me to do!"
"I need you guys. I can't do this by myself!"
"Greetings from Planet Septon."
Unbelievable. The judges are disgusted, to say the least. Doug complains that nobody is stepping up and that they just don't get it. Mary Lou shakes her head while Ed just looks like he's getting a headache. The four judges worry that they won't even be able to pick 24 out of this group (hey, you guys chose them in the first place!) and this leads Doug to rant in front of the finalists, jumping up and down, telling the shocked group that "You've got to sell me! This is for a million dollars!" Finally, they do decide on the 24 that will move on to the next round, and they bring them into the room in groups to give them the good news or to send them packing.
And Then There Were Twelve
Now it's time for the remaining 24 to
grovelgive one last personal plea in front of the judges. I guess the first two times weren't enough. First up is The Headliner (cue sad music), and she tells the judges about her alopecia and something about eyelashes falling like "spiders on paper." She cries, and Peter says he felt her journey.
Next is the EZ-X Portable Gym. The corrections officer starts the waterworks within 5 seconds, but Doug is irritated and wants to know if people will really use the gym. Peter wishes that he had another product to present to them because he likes his passion, but apparently not his invention. Not a good sign.
The UN-brella is up next, and the presenter takes no time to start the crying. She claims to have lost her job and run out of unemployment, and Mary Lou asks her if her family is worried about her. Ed says that "some people are rising, and some people are falling."
Erik is next with the Receiver's Training Pole. Not content to just tell them about his upcoming possible job loss, he tells the Fantastic Four that his house is in foreclosure, and he just doesn't care. I'm sure his mortgage company is glad to hear that. At least he doesn't cry.
Up next is the Video Gift Box. I don't recall seeing this one before, but it looks like a jewelry box with the top of a cell phone in it. The man claims it's just a prototype, and that he needs the money to make it work. No crying here, either.
The Solar Power Rock and Roller is shown next. This is the solar powered cooler from the earlier audition show, and one of my favorites. No sob stories, and the man just tells the judges that he'll do whatever is needed to make them money.
Next is the Sackmaster 2000, a nifty hollowed-out shovel for making sandbags without help. Probably not something everyone will need, but definitely useful for those of us in hurricane-prone areas. Again, no crying.
The Word Ace is our next finalist, and he makes up for the lack of sad stories in the previous contestants. He tells us that he was born to a teen mom and saw his hopes for playing in the NBA dashed. At least he still has his job. After he leaves, Ed says picking the final 12 wil be brutal. Actually, it's more like bwu-tel with his accent.
Our next invention is the Here Comes Niya Doll, and it's creator has spent $130,000 bucks on it's development. This is the doll that speaks three languages, if you recall. She whips out her unemployment stub to show the judges how down on her luck she is. Yes, there was crying.
Next is Kathy with her 101 Cookie & Cake Kits, which the judges seemed to love the first time around. Not this time, however. She makes a comment about gambling, and Peter asks her why they should gamble on her. She tells them only that she believes in her product, and the judges are unimpressed. She waits to cry until she leaves the room.
The Restroom Door Clip is next, and Doug demands to know why they should give her 50 grand to improve a tiny door clip. She tells him that everyone she's talked to wanted one, but Doug isn't satisfied. She tells the host Matt that she only has a tiny product, and feels like the judges wanted something more. Sometimes it's the simple things that sell the best, but the judges don't seem to share my opinion.
A quick clip of the Toner Belt is next, and we don't see much but Doug berating the poor guy as he tries to give his pitch. I wonder who pissed in Doug's cornflakes that morning? His schtick is really getting old.
The Flush Pure is next, and this is another invention I don't recall from the auditions. Maybe I was asleep. Regardless, the judges ask the man what he would do with the money and he replies "Go to Mexico!" Ed gets an attitude and tells him if that's his answer, than he has lost. Alrighty then. At least they don't cry.
The Cookie Stacker is next, and the 13-year-old presenter tries to give his speech but Peter tells him it's basically a plastic container with a shelf in it, and that he has trouble getting serious about it. Once again, aren't these the same four judges who passed these things on to the next round? If you didn't like it before, why did you vote yes? I'm starting to wonder about these four.
Next up is Mark with his Quad Flosser. He flubbed his first presentation but does better on this one. By that I mean he cried, which seems to be a prerequisite for moving on with these judges. It worked, because they are impressed.
Next is the Character Building Buddies, the only thing with a "buddy" in it's name to make it to the finals. The presenter breaks out the tears, but Doug is still not very impressed with the stuffed bears, calling them boring. Peter agrees.
The Mobile Family Plot is up next, and this is another new one to me. He claims to have gotten the idea from Trivial Pursuit. It is a container for holding cremains, but with little compartments to hold several different family member's remains. It's actually a good idea, but the judges seem a little taken aback, with Doug saying it's ahead of it's time. Mary Lou snarkily says "Isn't that what an invention should be?"
The next invention is the Spherical Safety Seat, a round, free-moving child seat. He again tells his sad story of losing his daughter in an accident, unable to finish because of his crying. The judges look on with teary eyes and tell him it's okay.
Last up is the Double Traction Bike, and he gives the judges his teary-eyed story of moving to this country and how broke he is. I like the kid, but I feel like sending him a tube of zit cream. The judges look on with approval.
Well, that's the finalists. Nineteen of them, anyway. What happened to the other five is anyone's guess. I think all of the crying took up too much airtime. Anyway, we get to see the four stooges argue amongst themselves like a bunch of children. Oh, the drama. They choose eleven to move on, but get stuck on the final pick. Doug says he will "stake his reputation" on the one he wants (which we are never shown, by the way) while the other three judges look at him like he's nuts. Since Doug is so adamant about it, and probably because the others are tired of arguing with him, they all agree on the unknown invention.
To an endless loop of "You Raise Me Up," they show the final twelve:
The Sackmaster 2000 - Mark Martinez
The Headliner - Jodi Pliszka
The Toner Belt - Robert Amore
Double Traction Bike - Francisco Patino
Receiver's Training Pole - Erik Thompson
Restroom Door Clip - Sharon Clemens
Word Ace - Edward Hall
Flush Pure - Joseph and Jenny Safuto
Un-brella - Sheryl McDonald
EZ-X Portable Gym - Jerry Wesley
Here Comes Niya Doll - Darla Davenport-Powell
Spherical Safety Seat - Janusz Liberkowski
That's it for this week. Bear with us and tune in next week, when the finalists spend their 50 grand to improve their inventions for a chance at the million bucks. Hopefully, without crying too much.
This week's episode sponsored by Kleenex tissue....firstname.lastname@example.org