American Inventor – Season 2 Or Not Season 2

Bulb photo by Knu†.  Click for larger image and license info.Update: The winner has been anounced. Click here to find out who won!

As the first season of ABC’s American Inventor approaches it’s close many are wondering about its future.

Despite my initial disappointment after the premier I have to say it’s been enjoyable watching the inventors grow. That’s the bright side, but after suffering through the laborious and repetitive rehashing of some of the inventions that didn’t make it and back-story of the ones that did I still maintain they could do better.

A different format

Imagine this for a moment. Season 2 begins like season 1. The format for the search is the same and I’m sure more, better, and worse inventions will show up. Yes, the search should be a freak show that even your local RadioShack would be proud of. Riding the wave of the first season we should be able to get something on the order of a ham radio club to the power of a Star Trek convention on the sketch-o-meter.

Week 1: Those chosen in the initial search will refine their pitches and products within their own means and present again. Cut several.

Week 2: Continuing competitors will be given a modest sum and/or the availability of some professional help to improve their products or, in the case of more elaborate products show how the product could be improved and taken to market. Cut several more.

Week 3: A change of pace. Small teams are formed, given a modest budget, and each team must improve an existing product for, say, the kitchen. Cut the weakest team.

Week 4: Again, improve an existing invention. Now individuals compete to improve an existing product for the office. Cut several.

Week 5: High speed invention. Individuals must invent and present a brand new product, including researching the market space and confirming that the invention does not already exist.

Week 6: Advance new inventions. Groups are formed and must choose one of their individual inventions from the previous week to improve.

Week 7: Create a commercial for your initial invention.

And so on… You get the idea. This combination would not only highlight the American inventor’s ideas, but also their skills and teamwork. Yes, there is great value to fully developing an invention, but a professional inventor must be able to work individually or on a team. They must be able to step back from one task to tackle another.

So will there be a season 2? Hard to tell. ABC has a little blurb about casting for next season, but interestingly it links to I wonder if ABC is trying to decouple the American Inventor web content from their network site with the idea of unloading the show on another network. has the following, very tentative announcement regarding auditions for season 2:


If we head out on a second search, we want to make sure you don’t miss out. Sign up now and we’ll contact you when we’re getting ready to hit the road again.

The competition is open individuals or teams of inventors.

The product must be something that can be mass produced and sold in a retail outlet.

You can come with a sketch, a prototype or even just an idea.

Meanwhile all we can do is hope season 2 is more content than recap.

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American Inventor – A Poor Showing

Update: The winner has been anounced. Click here to find out who won!

As I sit here watching the debut of ABCs American Inventor I am completely underwhelmed. The best of these showings are a weak mashup of existing products. E.g. the solar powered cooler. Whoopee. Other inventions do have a limited market, but I see very little here which will change how people live.

The highlight of the program is the fashions of Doug Hall, the only actual inventor on the judge’s panel. He also seems like the only one with any interest in the actual inventions. While the other judges are investors and executives, Doug is the complete package. He has made a career out of inventing not in a limited market space, but working with corporations to advance their innovation. He is an active lecturer and a published author.

Most inspiring is a 14 year old boy who has come up with an air-conditioner for the car window so you can leave your dog in the car on a hot day. He didn’t make it, but his resolution to work harder and come back with more means to me we will hear more from him in the future. He is the American Inventor. Despite rejection he received some great advice from Doug. I failed to catch his name but I do hope he continues on.

From what I’ve gathered about the show, twelve inventors will be given $50,000 each to advance their invention. America will choose a winner (although I’m not exactly sure how, probably phone voting) and that winner will receive one million dollars. A heafty sum, but why should a single invention be the measure of the next great American inventor? The show is “American Inventor”, not “American Invention”. A great inventor should be able to broaden their scope to address new challenges, new needs, and new market spaces.

What if these inventors were forced to compete in different areas? Household items, transportation, electronics, office technology, entertainment, the list could go on. At this point I’m truly afraid that the nut bowl with hidden shell discard and the branch cutter (which seems to be just a branch cutter, yes, both of these moved on to round 2) may just win this competition. I hate to say it but the edible snow globe was the most innovative invention I saw tonight. Hell, it’s better than those stupid chocolate fountains that doned the shelves of every retailer this past holiday season.

So I’ll tune in to American Inventor again, but I’m really hoping for more. In the meantime I’ll stick to Make Magazine and the Makezine Blog for my invention fix.

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