ABC’s American Inventor debuts tonight

ABC’s American Inventor, which will either be the next American Idol or the next copycat failure, debuts tonight at 8 p.m. ET.

After 12 finalists are selected by judges, America will vote for the winner, who will receive $1 million and have his or her product sold on And the show’s first five hours will be auditions. Simon admits that this format borrows heavily from FOX’s talent search. “It’s got the flavor of the kind of shows I’ve been involved with, which is about giving normal people the opportunity, and the lunacy that follows,” he told USA TODAY.

Reviews are mixed. The Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan says it’s “dreadful,” “the worst unscripted outing to hit the airwaves in many a moon.” The Detroit Free Press’ Mike Duffy says it’s a “cheesy carnival,” while The Hollywood Reporter’s Ray Richmond calls it “humiliating.”

American Inventor [ABC]
Get your Bladder Buddy here, on Cowell’s ‘Inventor’ [USA TODAY]
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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.