Even Philo T. Wouldn’t Watch

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Still, some of the inventions have been pretty clever, and I suspect it will get much better once we get past the open casting calls.

That was my prediction, two months ago, about American Inventor. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong. Pre-war intelligence wrong.

Part of the problem was we never actually got past the open casting calls. They just kept showing them, every night. Which you might think would be interesting. After all, they had 10,000+ entries. That should give them plenty of material, right? Uh, no. They kept showing the same entries every night.

Hey, look, it’s Toe Jam guy!

Oh, and there’s Bladder Buddy guy again!

Remember wacky Therapy Buddy guy? Good times!

Rinse, repeat. Then we get to the judges narrowing the field to 12. “Great,” you think, “now we’ll get some real insight into what the judges think makes a good invention.” Nope. Instead, we got a couple of minutes of meaningless chatter and fighting amongst the judges so that there is more time for sob stories. And, of course, more open casting calls…

Boy, that Bladder Buddy guy sure was funny, remember?

Anyway, after that, each semifinalist gets $50,000 plus one of the judges as a mentor while they improve their product. “Ok,” you say to yourself, “now we’ll get to see how each inventor develops their product in a unique way. And, on top of that, we’ll get to see their mentor giving useful advice throughout the process.”

Oh, you naive little television watcher, you. Every single one of them did the exact same thing: meaningless focus group, design team, crying fit, product unveiling, wacky test video. And instead of seeing them get advice from experts we saw each get a two minute pep talk (even though, according to Doug Hall, the judges spent a great deal of time with the contestants).

Kudos to whomever at American Inventor found that last copy of 90’s Love Ballad HITS in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. You, sir, got your money’s worth. Now, let’s see what’s next…

Ah, Therapy Buddy guy. Will you never learn?

In the finale we saw… yep, you guessed it: everything we saw in the semifinalist episodes. Plus, the contestants made commercials. Yay! We TiVo viewers are so excited that you made commercials! Bloop-bloop… Oh, sorry, force of habit.

After the finale, America voted on which of the four finalists should win. And, by America, I mean the 18 of us obsessive-compulsives who must finish what we start. The finale was followed a week later by the final finale, which finally finalized the results from the finale. It was an hour long — for no particular reason. There were several long stretches of people standing in silence, waiting for results. This was supposed to be suspenseful. It was not. We also had live remotes in each of the finalists’ home towns where the host talked at the people there. Not with, at. Apparently the earpiece was not such a great American invention. So, we got more stretches of silence — which, ironically, actually were suspenseful. Will he respond, or won’t he? And after all this, the winner is announced and… we gotta go. Yep, they ran out of time — it flew by so quickly, you almost didn’t hear a thing…

Each finalist will continue to get help with their invention, which is cool. Everything else about the show pretty much sucked. They would have to completely revamp it for me to watch next year. Drop all the repeats and show us more of the process, more development. Maybe they will do that. Or, maybe…

Toe Jam guy! Where’ve you been? We missed you!