"Welcome back to American Inventor," intones host Nick Smith. "The judges saw thousands of inventors in Chicago and New York, but chose only the best as finalists." The producers, however, chose to spend the bulk of their time showing us the worst, the most crazed, and the most clearly deluded people in each city. Also, either a lot of people are inventing urination-related devices, or the editing staff figured visuals of toilets equal television gold. Ain’t reality TV grand?

I’ve invented a spoiler detector. Hey, look, it works!

Dear editing staff: Look, it’s great that you want to get a job cutting the inspirational human-interest filler stories for the next Olympics, but do you mind dialing it back a bit? When you start playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" when a woman with a hard-luck story gets four yeses, you’ve officially gone too far.

Also, one of the folks behind this show must really hate New York, because once again, they took great pains to point out how many crazy people flock to that city. The first New York contestant featured tonight took styling tips from the Unabomber and thought he could change the world by getting men to pee into a funnel so they wouldn’t have to lift the lid of the toilet. And he wasn’t even the worst of them.

No, that title goes to Darrell, a crazed inventor who boasted of having more than 300 ideas — and attempted to unload all of them on the judges. Listen, Darrell, they’re not looking for ideas in bulk — they’re looking for one really good idea. How proclaiming that cancer did not exist in the 1900s — excuse me? — constitutes an invention is beyond me. Your inflatable headband was pretty awful, too.

Second craziest man on the show? George Foreman, who says yes to almost everything, no matter how absurd. George, did they explain that this competition was not about picking the person with the best attitude or the most touching story? Because seriously, you said yes to some really stupid products.

Good ideas
The 6-in-1 brassiere, a backless bra for women who cups overfloweth. The inventor, Elaine, is poised, professional, and wearing the product — which gives the judges and the camera opportunity to ogle her ample assets. Still, it’s a great idea: Any woman with more than an A cup will tell you that backless clothing is fraught with peril. I’d buy it.

The Wingman, a sort of portable dating site. Plug in your characteristics, and it will find others in your immediate area who share your interests. Peter loved it, but I’m thinking it’s not so much an invention as an idea at this point — the inventor doesn’t have an actual product or any software yet.

The Claw, a bike-hanging device that grabs your bike instead of making you wrestle it onto a hook. The claw itself is pretty cool, but what really made it was the presenters — one in a white lab coat, the other in a suit, doing a full-on Popeil-inspired demo. They’d obviously spent some time watching the master at work, and I appreciated that.

The Speaker Vest, which incorporates speakers so the deaf can feel music — sort of the equivalent to headphones for hearing people. Great idea, and the judges love the inventor, but Federally Mandated Snide British judge Peter Jones is concerned about whether this would ever reach a mass market. I have to agree with him. It burns!

Bad ideas

Easy-squeeze ear plugs. "Is your invention a balloon that sticks in the ear?" asks Jones. Yes. Yes it is. Next!

A hands-free flashlight on a flexible tube that you can drape around your neck. Not a bad idea, per se, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already seen something just like that at Home Depot.

You know those big round baby seats you put your kid in when they’re just starting to walk, so they can push themselves around without actually having balance yet? A guy showed one of those for adult roller skaters. Yes, he looked like a dork. Yes, anyone using it would look like a dork. 

Dear god, what were they thinking? Ideas
Apparently, there is a subset of men who find the thought of manually lifting the toilet lid far too taxing. That’s the only way I can explain two separate ease-of-peeing devices — the aforementioned funnel, and a hands-free toilet lid operated by a pedal like a garbage can. Dudes, you don’t even have to sit down to pee. Forgive me if I don’t have much sympathy for your toilet-seat traumas.

A TV remote with a massager attached, so men don’t have to sacrifice channel surfing when their wives want backrubs. "I can’t think of anything less romantic than my man rubbing me down with a remote," says Sarah Blakely. I agree.

In the end, the judges chose the finalists for each city: Elaine Cato’s backless bra from Chicago, and Craig Forest and David Moeller’s bike Claw in New York. I could see both of these products in a store near you. But will they be good enough to win?

Did the judges make the right choice? Would you buy  The Claw? The bra? Or have you been searching for a product that takes the toil out of toilets?

Posted by:Sarah Jersild