If American Inventor is going to become the next American Idol, it needs to take some speed. Because while the first episode had plenty of drama and invention presentations, it also had the pacing of a legless burro. Seriously, like every person to appear before the judges had a sad story, and we had to watch them walk down the hall, and then down the hall, and stand in front of the room. And then we had to watch everyone cry and speak slowly while weepy music played in the background and then pack up their stuff and walk out again.
It was about a 30-minute show stretched out over two hours and thus was painfully boring, which is tragic because there was some great TV. Besides the occasional judge spats, the show ended with a 14-year-old inventor being rejected by the panel. Perhaps one of the most charismatic teenagers to appear on reality TV in years, inventor Kyle told them, “I’m a kid, and you really need a kid. I mean, it’s just good TV.” But two of the four judges said no, and he cried, his dreams crushed. The tears weren’t coming from Idol-style delusion but from genuine disappointment.
Perhaps the most interesting moment, however, involved some classic reality TV whoring. One-hit wonders Evan and Jaron showed up as contestants to pitch a two-level bowl, which had space for seeds, pits, and shells underneath a serving dish.
Unlike Chris Wylde’s pseudonymous appearance on American Idol 3, they didn’t hide their identity; one of their friends? band members? actually announced to the judges that they were “they’re famous musicians, Evan and Jaron … do your hit song!” And they did, singing a few lines of “Crazy For This Girl.”
How sad is it that you have to go on a reality show to make America remember who you are? Three of the judges voted to send them to the next round, but one wasn’t buying it. “It’s a hustle. A cheap hustle,” judge Doug Hall said.
The funny part was that later, the judges said no to a woman who’d developed a DVD to teach kids social skills, and fought about that decision during a break. Mary Lou Quinlan offered her rationale, saying, “It was a huge thing we talked about from the beginning, people will use this program just for PR. We said that as a big issue from the beginning. Sorry, Doug, you forgot.”
While Doug voted for the DVD woman, Mary Lou actually voted for Evan and Jaron, who in the post-interview confessional, confirmed that they were using the show just for PR: “We’re going to be huge. We’re going to be famous again, America.”
In other words, screw the invention, we’ll be famous because once we appear on the show, people will buy our record and visit our web site, and the media will write about us, and even those people who write about our shameless publicity whoring will be giving us even more publicity.