Discovery the mother of 'Invention'


October 01, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

Boy, just what we need: goggles with tiny television screens on the inside and earphone plugs for direct transmission of sound, allowing viewers to totally tune out their surroundings and truly focus in on "Wheel of Fortune" -- or whatever.

The device is in the works, according to "Invention," the magazine show devoted to ingenuity making its season premiere tonight on The Discovery Channel (at 9 o'clock).

Looking a lot like a fat pair of ski goggles, the personalized TV is called the "Gogglevox" and its English inventor, Willy Johnson, describes it as "like being in your own personal cinema, quite mind boggling."

The story is a good example of what makes this series, produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution, a diverting show.

The first segment tonight, for example, features cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist who is trying to produce a "hyperinstrument," in which electronics enhance not only the sound of Ma's cello but emphasize his technique, too.

More replacement of human skill with machines? Not so, says inventor Tod Machover, who contends "it's important to have an artist of Yo-Yo Ma's capability . . . to allow that skill to add an extra dimension to the instrument."

And a final piece tonight notes the award earlier this year of U.S. patent number 5 million. For what? A genetically modified germ intended to turn garbage into methanol fuel that can be burned in automobiles.

A MINI-QUIZ -- Media Monitor couldn't let the cable debut of "The

Dick Van Dyke Show" (now seen nightly at 9 on Nick at Nite) slip by without a short trivia quiz on perhaps the funniest sitcom ever:

1. What was Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) Petrie's maiden name? (Easy.)

2. Who was originally slated to be head comedy writer on the show, and what part did he eventually end up playing?

3. Richard Deacon was producer Mel Cooley, and had played an equally fuddy-duddy part on an earlier popular series. What was it?

4. Some future stars appeared in guest roles on the show. Who played the robber who held up Laura and Rob at comb-point in an elevator?

And now some answers:

1. Laura was Laura Meehan, whom Rob (Van Dyke) met at a USO show.

2. In the pilot, creator Carl Reiner originally played Rob, and Barbara Britton was Laura. Reiner, of course, became TV show star Alan Brady, Rob's boss, on the 1961-66 series.

3. Deacon was Fred Rutherford, Lumpy's father on the 1957-63 "Leave It to Beaver."

4. Caustic comic Don Rickles was the criminal, who later reprised the part in an episode in which Rob accidentally got locked up as a fellow prison inmate.

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