April 20, 2006 11:21 PM by Joe Blackmon
To narrow the final twelve down to the final four, American Inventor is having each judge work with three inventors and then select one inventor to go forward. The first three inventors to face elimination are Erik Thompson, Sheryl McDonald, and Mark Martinez. Judge Ed Evangelista spends time with each inventor, giving them advice on their inventions.
Ed tells Erik that he is concerned about the limited market potential of the Receiver’s Training Pole, Ed tells Cheryl that her Un-brella has a negative name, and Ed tells Mark that the Sackmaster 200 looks like a toy. Each inventor has $50,000 to further develop their product.
All three inventors get some negative feedback from focus groups. Even before Ed Evangelista’s decision is revealed, the show’s editing makes it obvious who is going forward. Erik Thompson faces mounting financial problems at home, but he steadfastly maintains a positive never-say-die attitude. Erik works hard with his designers and makes considerable progress in improving the look of his product. Erik also shows a video demonstrating a real life example of his product improving a receiver’s catching ability.
Sheryl McDonald struggles to make a decision on the design of her product and has to call her life partner for advice. Sheryl’s prototype turns out not to have a working launch mechanism, and it experiences some failures during testing.
Mark Martinez refuses to change anything about the design of his product but the color, and he actually goes as far as to fire his design team. Mark doesn’t feel that he needs to spend all the money on altering his product so he spends $2,500 on himself. Despite the fact that Mark does little to change his Sackmaster, the video test of his product makes a compelling argument for the effectiveness of his product. An average family is actually able to fill more sandbags with the Sackmaster than experienced relief workers are able to fill using the traditional two-man method.
Sheryl McDonald was never really in the race as she failed to adequately prove that her product would work. However, Mark Martinez was correct in believing his product was farther along than the other products, but unfortunately that doesn’t make for compelling TV. Erik Thompson was the only one that delivered both a useful product as well as compelling story, and Erik Thompson earned Ed’s final four spot.