So I watched American Inventor last night and the beginning was so bad I actually switched over to the awful movie Gigli with Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. The first inventor up had a long rubber coat into which you can relieve yourself without anyone seeing it--just in case you get caught out in public. Of course, you have to carry this long rubber coat with you all the time. And the Space Beetles concept, whatever it was, was nutty. So was the car "suit" that you changed depending on destination (beach, work, party).

But I returned, gave American Inventor another chance, and got caught up in it. True, the four judges never reveal their criteria for successful innovation and they don't wait to compare one invention with another to determine their choices and this is not good.

The naked exploitation of emotion on the show is not good either. One of the judges'criteria for giving a thumbs-up to an invention was the emotion of the inventor. Whoever had a great story appeared to have better chance of getting the "yeses." And the judges were often obnoxious in an attempt to generate false conflict and emotion.

And yet, by the end of the program, I was agreeing with most of the choices of the judges. And there were a number of serious inventions that were really good. That big shovel that put sand directly into sandbags was cool. The bike with separate handle bars for kids riding on the handle bars was cool.

In the end, the emotion was good too. The inventors, winners and losers all, were passionate about their inventions. And I liked that.

I think American Inventor is a first step toward public open-source innovation, however icky it may be. I'd like to see all the losers and winners up online as well to make up my own mind.

So despite my misgivings, I give American Inventor a "yes" and hope the judges learn to act as a team instead of a bunch of elbows-out Fox TV show screamers.

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