'American Inventor' Needs Major Tinkering

In one heart-wrenching scene, the judges on the new TV show "American Inventor" kill the American dream of a 14-year-old.

Kyle Myhra designed a dog fan. It hooks onto a car window, blows air into the car and cools your dog cool while you run errands. With braces, pleated khakis and a hand singed on a soldering iron, he fits the mold of a well-oiled inventing machine. The kid is brilliant, really. Single-handedly, he can put an end to dogs suffering from heatstroke. 

And Kyle is business savy. "You need a kid," he told the judges. "It's just good TV."

Plus he's loveable. If he won, Kyle says he'd use the $1 million dollar winnings to buy his parents a really sweet house.

But he's just not show potential, say the judges who are a boring Brit, an inventor with a closet full of tacky Hawaiian shirts, an advertising guru with an accent that belongs on the Sopranos, and a disappointed weeping woman. 

"It's like looking in a mirror," Hawaiian Shirt, whose real name is Doug Hall, says to Kyle. And then he sends the teen home.

Too bad for America and "American Inventor." Kyle was good TV. The show's producers proved the point by giving the dog fan designer five minutes of air time. (The show was developed by Simon Cowell and the producers of "American Idol.")

Meanwhile, "Crafty" Kathy Jacobs and her edible snow globes are going to the next level.

The show premieres tonight on ABC, 8/7C.

According to the show, America doesn't have many good ideas, but it has a lot of crackpots.

Americans invented the space beetle utopia (essentially a condo for cockroaches), clothes for cars, and a hickory-flavored smoking gun. They obsessively invent things that have to do with poop. And Americans prefer to name their inventions Buddy.

Bladder Buddy lets you pee by a bus stop without anyone ever knowing. The trick? You pee while standing in a full-blown body bag that can be custom designed to your liking with floral fabrics and rhinestones.

Walk Buddy is definitely not a stick, says inventor James Berry. It's a wand that wards off mountain lions, bears and muggers and closely resembles a stick.

The lack of brains behind the inventions on the show could stir the nation into a panic.

Hawaiian Shirt warns that we need to reignite the spirit of invention in America, otherwise we'll be working for people in China and India. This show makes outsourcing look like our only solution.

Corey Binns lives in Northern California and writes about science, health, parenting, and social change. In addition to writing for Live Science, she's contributed to publications including Popular Science, TODAY.com, Scholastic, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review as well as others. She's also produced stories for NPR’s Science Friday and Sundance Channel. She studied biology at Brown University and earned a Master's degree in science journalism from NYU. The Association of Health Care Journalists named her a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Journalism Fellow in 2009. She has chased tornadoes and lived to tell the tale.