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 Amazon.com. 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.”

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