Whether you’re a home tinkerer yourself or you just enjoy watching a parade of delusional people with their whacked-out “inventions,” this is the show for you. In case you missed last year’s series, this is the show where a panel of judges are looking for America’s next big invention, with the winner getting a million dollar prize to help get their product out there. With a new panel of judges (George Foreman, Pat Croce, Sara Blakely, and Peter Jones) and new host Nick Smith, we start out in Los Angeles and San Francisco with the hopes of finding the next big thing for us to spend our money on. Let’s see what they’ve come up with....
Strapping It On
Starting the show off with a whimper is insurance salesman Jamshid Hatami, aka James Bond. Or so he says. I much prefer Sean Connery, myself. Anyhow, “Mr. Bond” has spent 4 years and $15K on his Head Gear, basically a baseball cap with straps that connect to various points around your body. Why, you might ask? Well, its purpose is to hold your head straight. I always use my neck for such things, but what do I know. He’s even created a strapped headband for the ladies who don’t want to muss their hair. Sorry, man. We women have enough damn strappy things we have to wear. The judges laugh, and Jamshid gets four resounding no votes.
Kim Douglas is next, and presents the judges with her Arf Bag. It’s for carsick dogs, in case you didn’t figure that out. It looks like a muzzle with a disposable bag on the end, and the doggie modeling the contraption looks miserable, like he might arf at any minute. I give her points for the cute name, but…no. Peter tells her that she’s invented something that didn’t need to be invented, and she gets four no votes, also. It’s not looking good tonight, folks.
Want Some Sauce With That?
Richard Dessert Jr. and Sr. present the next doodad: a Fire Escape Suit. You’re supposed to put this on in case of a fire in your home, with the suit allowing you to pass through the heat and flames unharmed. Hmm. I’m thinking this might be a good thing, until I actually see it. It’s pretty much a huge foil pouch with a visor that you slide over your head. Just the thing you want to put on when there’s a fire in your house - a human roasting bag. And the judges give it a big thumbs down.
A nervous Debi Solomon and her Auto Bib are next, and this one actually looks somewhat useful. It’s a disposable travel bib you can keep in your car and stick onto the front of your shirt to prevent those lovely splatters of ketchup from staining your clothes. She tells the judges that over 51% of people in this country eat several times a week in their cars, and I believe it. I do it all. the. time. Hey, when you’ve only got 30 minutes for lunch, you have no choice but to scarf that cheeseburger down while you drive. George must be a sloppy eater like me, and says he wants one. Sara and Pat also give it a yes, making Debi the first one to get passed through. She’s also our first crier, a hallmark of this series, apparently.
Fanning The Funk
And here comes or first toilet-related invention of the night: The Pot Sniffer by Gary Severen. It’s a little filter/fan device that hangs off the side of the toilet bowl, supposedly filtering the funk out of the air before it has a chance to waft throughout the house. George thinks it would be awesome for parties, but the other judges poo-poo it and vote no. Peter tells Gary not to quit his day job.
The first silly montage of the evening features Mr. Foreman, the resident yes man. George seems to like almost every invention that passes through. I think he’s just too darn nice to shoot down people’s hopes. We see George giving the thumbs up to an umbrella with speakers, a thighmaster ripoff, nose plugs, sponge gloves, eyelash spatulas, and a contraption that makes artifical wind for flags. Uh huh.
Back to the regular stuff. Rayfil Wong presents the Sober Key, a straw-like device that you blow on after a night of partying that will let you know if you’re safe to drive. Nice, expect that this technology already exists! The goofy presentation didn’t help, either. Everyone gives it a no except George, who likes everything.
Ten year old Anthony Moebest is next, with his diaper/wipe combo pack. He’s so nervous he feels like throwing up (perhaps he should try an Arf Bag?) but he does well out there all on his own. Unfortunately, his idea isn’t really an invention in the way that this show is looking for, and he’s turned down by everyone but George. The boy is visibly upset, and George walks him out to meet his mom, giving him encouragement to keep on trying. Aww. I can't snark on a crying kid. There should be an age limit for this show!
Cycles For Psychos
A rather scary man by the name of Steven Cousineau shows his A-Cycle to the judges, and I have a hard time understanding what he’s trying to do. He’s basically made spinner hubcaps for bicycles, and it looks as stupid as it sounds. I’m not sure if it was meant to make it more visible or what, but it isn’t working. Even George shoots it down, but….Steven won’t leave. He just stands there, icily staring at the judges in disbelief. I half expect him to pull out a weapon or something with that serial killer stare. He finally gets an escort out of the building, protesting all the while that he’s not going to flip out on anyone. Yeah, famous last words. Go away. Go far, far away.
Bridget Camarena is going to change the world, she says, with her $11K biodegradable paper toilet inserts. Mmm-hmm. These toilet-training aids have cutesy pictures on them that turn vibrant colors when peed upon. Yeah, you read that right. Peter asks what happens with a “poo.” I’m thinking that they just turn brown, Peter. Bridget tries to explain that these are for the beginning stages of potty-training, and apparently won’t work for number twos. Four thumbs down on this one. And I can’t believe Peter said “poo.”
More things Peter didn’t like: an indoor camping simulator kit, a scrolling car sign for kidnap victims (?!), and an engine that supposedly runs on salt water. Except, it really didn’t.
Everything Is NOT Alright
Here’s one I can’t believe: Therapy Buddy guy is back. Yep, weepy Richard Kopelle is back with those creepy “Everything is going to be alright” schmoo-like dolls. They’ve become a national phenomenon, he says! Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t seen a single one of these on store shelves. And I shop a lot. But, whatever. Richard pitches them yet again, saying the judges last year didn’t give him a chance. He’s even named two of them after Peter and Simon (Cowell), and has a baby version of the Buddy. And if that’s not bad enough, they actually put him through to the next round this time, with Peter being the lone dissenter. Cue the victorious Rocky-like music as Richard dances out of the building. This was totally a set-up. Had to be.
Rounding out tonight’s show is Greg Chavez, firefighter and father of six. Greg has come up with the Guardian Angel, a fire protection system for Christmas trees. Hey, now this has promise! Dressed in his firefighter’s suit for effect, he shows the judges a video of a Christmas tree catching fire in a house. It goes up like a torch. Scary. His invention consists of a wrapped “package” that sits under the tree, filled with water. A tube leads to the angel decoration at the top of the tree, with the intent of spraying water down the branches if the temperature reaches a certain point. He admits that it needs a bit more engineering to make it perfect, but the idea is there. And it’s a good one, as it gets enthusiastic yes votes from everyone but Pat. On to the next round goes the Guardian Angel.
Finally, that’s it for tonight’s show. A few good ideas and a whole lot of nutcases. Isn’t that always how it is with these audition shows? Don’t miss next week’s madness, as we pick through more of what California has to offer. I hope they’re just sandbagging and saving a lot of the really good stuff for later.
What would you like to see invented? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org