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Welcome to this week's Inventor recap! This is the first of the semi-finals, for those of you still watching this trainwreck of a show. Tonight is judge Ed Evangelista's time to shine as he mentors three of the finalists and helps them develop their products further. The three inventions he will be working with tonight are the Un-brella, the Receiver’s Training Pole, and the Sackmaster 2000. Let’s see how they did...
It's a Stick on a Vest
Having received the 50 grand, our competitors had four weeks to spend the money and tweak their products for the semi-finals. Ed will walk them through the process, giving them suggestions and helping them through the “strenuous” tests and focus groups. Erik Thompson is up first with his Receiver’s Training Pole, and we are subjected to his sad story yet again. Since it’s been repeated ad nauseum on this show, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say that he grew up in a rough neighborhood and had a tough time of it. Honestly, ABC, I just want to know about the damned invention, not the creator’s sob stories. I don’t care if you grew up in Bill Gates’ house or the ghetto, it has no bearing on the usefulness of your invention to me. Okay, enough ranting, back to the show. Ed’s biggest concern about this one is it’s limited appeal, since only football receivers will make use of it. He tells Erik to listen and be open-minded as he heads off to his first focus group. Erik promptly forgets Ed’s advice as he listens to the first test group trash his product, though. He claims that the group has no clue and heads off to a marketing and design company for help. With the company’s help, his final product is revealed and Erik is overjoyed at how well it came out.
Sheryl McDonald is next with her Un-brella, and she’s lost her job and this is all she has, yadda yadda. Ed tells her that her biggest concern is getting a workable prototype made. Oh, and he doesn’t care for the name, since it sounds “negative.” Sheryl listens in on her focus group, and they are unimpressed with the Un-brella, saying it looks too bulky and awkward. Disappointed, she seeks out a design specialist for help. Sheryl is amazed as she watches her prototype get made, and yes, she cries. Until she sees the final product, that is. The design company didn’t have enough time to make a fully automatic mechanism for the Un-brella, and you must manually close it. Sheryl isn’t pleased.
How Not to Win Over the Judges
Mark Martinez has spent 17 years and $20,000 on the Sackmaster 2000. Yep, seventeen years on a shovel, folks. Ed tells Mark that he should consider a different name (the Sackmaster 3000, perhaps?) and a less toy-like color for his shovel. A strap wouldn’t hurt, either. The focus group is lukewarm on the Sackmaster, and Mark doesn’t care for their alternate suggestions for it, such as picking up leaves. It’s made for saving lives, Mark gripes, as that open-mindedness goes out the window. Mark refuses his design group’s ideas for improvements, saying it’s a complete product, and fires the group. Smooth move, buddy. Even dumber, Mark spends $2500 on himself for suits and a haircut instead of on his product’s development. Dumbass isn’t a strong enough word here. Mark gets a packaging company to make a box for his shovel, and has changed the color to bright yellow. Yeah, because that’s not a toy color.
Mr. Ed's Decision
It’s all up to Ed now, as the inventors must give their final presentations to the judges with their finished products. Erik is first, and shows a clip of a high school team using his Training Pole in practice. It must be amazing, because three days later at the big game, the receivers have miraculously improved. Alrighty then. The judges like him, but are still worried about the limited appeal. Sheryl is next, and her invention has been renamed the In-brella. She shows the judges a clip of people trying it out, and it seems the reactions are mixed. One person liked it, but the other claims it was too heavy and didn’t have enough coverage. It finally broke. The judges aren’t happy, with Peter claiming it’s still too big. Finally, Mark is up next, and he has dropped the “2000" from the name and added a strap at Ed’s suggestion. He brought his Sackmaster to Louisiana to test, pitting a family against a team of pro relief workers. The family wins out, and the Sackmaster gets good reviews from the workers. However, the judges can’t see any real improvements and don’t care for the cheesy strap he has added, and Peter chides him for only spending 20 grand on the final product. The judges discuss, and Ed makes his decision: the Receiver’s Training Pole will advance.
Well, that’s it. The niche product beats out the broken umbrella and the guy with a bad attitude. And as if we haven’t suffered enough, we’re forced to listen to Celine Dion’s “Because You Love Me.” What this song has to do with inventions, I have no idea. Check out the show next week as the Niya doll goes up against the Lock and Load guy and the kid with the bicycle. I know I can’t wait.
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