Archive for February 27th, 2008

American Inventor

February 27, 2008

American Inventor 

Q: I say, I say, I say… what happens when you cross Dragon’s Den with American Idol and transfer it across the pond, produced in an executive manner by that Simon Cowell fellow and the Peter Jones we know and loathe?
A: You’re left with a pile of stinking shit.

It seems that to make money in American television these days, you only need to take a UK reality show that’s not yet been adapted, stick ‘America’ or ‘USA’ in the title, remove any element that made the show half-watchable in the first place and then stick it up on the box. Our American cousins will get their square eyes slavering over it in huge numbers.

I tuned in to American Inventor hoping it’d be Dragon’s Den transplanted across the Atlantic, but maintaining the basic premise. It was a foolish mistake and I’m sorry.

I was even poised to make notes throughout, the way I used to when I followed the Apprentice, making sure I got everything in. This time my scrawl finishes after a few sentences with the words ‘this is utter, utter shit’.

So where did they go wrong? Let’s bullet-point it, as if we were making a presentation to the Televisual Taste Adjudication Board.

  • Completely unconvincing edits and cutaways, clearly filmed later or before, introduced with no effort whatsoever to cover themselves up.
  • Needless celebrity panellists who had nothing to do with anything and who couldn’t offer expertise even if they had any.
  • Show offs and actors made up the ‘contestants’ rather than bona fide inventors.
  • Streams of transparently manipulative incidental music accompanied ‘whoa! he’s kooky’ contestants, fat contestants, sob story contestants etc…
  • A needless, sentimental montage involving a firefighter dominated the final quarter, inducing a bucket-load of vomit and a laughable denouement.
  • Titles, presentation style and production all complete carbon copies of the X Factor. The two styles (invention pitches / auditions) mix like orange juice and milk.

The panellists are right out of the economy drawer. Apart from Jonesy (who kowtows to the lowest common denominator at every opportunity and is only included to play the ‘cold Brit’ character), we have George Foreman, some woman who invented slimming pants and a bespectacled weirdo without portfolio.

Foreman’s clearly taken a few batterings in his time and, as a result, says yes to everything. The woman’s as thick as two tiny planks and the other bloke sits there contributing nothing.

This time, rather than the investors putting up their own money, they’ve gone and ruined it by offering a fifty grand prize to every idea that gets three ‘yes’es from the panellists. Apart from the cosmetic failures, this is where we really see the problems seep in.

In the UK version, the entrepreneurs put themselves on the line and stump up their own money, putting their reputations on the line. Here, the studio puts up the money, so it degenerates into a charity effort.

The best example of this is the aforementioned firefighter. Affable but terminally thick, he invented a ‘Guardian Angel’. The theory is that it sits atop your Christmas Tree and, should the tree burst into flames, the angel turns into a sprinkler system. For the tree. The stupidity was further compounded when this tit in a uniform pulled out his blueprint – a felt-tip monstrosity a brain-damaged goose could’ve come up with.

Ludicrous? I thought so. But all the judges gave it a ‘yes’, including Peter Jones, who in the UK version would have told the geezer to get himself fucked. But no – he’s in America where firefighters are treated as Gods, rather than the hare-brained, admirably backward part-timers they actually are.

I would go into the other inventions on display but they weren’t even breath-takingly stupid – just boringly and obviously crap and unfunny. An hour of my life gone. A whole hour.

The reason we (or maybe it’s only ‘I’) watch Dragons’ Den is to see the smart but awkward entrepreneurs make tits of themselves or praise and reward someone who’s put a lot of effort into a genius idea. There’s none of that here.

In fact, there’s nothing here apart from a badly repackaged turd of a television programme that should never, ever have been emitted from the anus of television. Avoid at all costs.

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