Watching: Time for the Deep Cuts

A show for your inner tinkerer.

By Margaret Lyons

Dear Watchers,

I liked this explanation of why time feels so weird in 2020. As with everything interesting, the answer is “a bunch of reasons!” But it’s fun to take quizzes and think about the fallibility of memory, even just for a little while. Or wait — was that a long while?

It’s Wednesday, and we’ll be back with more on Friday. Be safe.


I’m pretty sure I’ve watched everything

A scene from Season 3 of “Make48.”Make48


When to watch: Now, free on the PBS website or app, or on Amazon Prime Video

“Make48” is sort of like a scrappier “Shark Tank,” with a little “Making It,” “The Amazing Race” and “Mythbusters” in the mix. It’s a 48-hour invention challenge — the prompt varies by season — after which contestants present their prototypes to a panel of judges. The top three inventions go through more rounds of refining, and then the products launch. I’ll tell you now that some of the inventions are hilariously bad, but some are terrific, and lots more are at least intriguing.


In Season 1, competitors invent household items; in Season 2, they develop outdoor entertainment products (excluding grilling and pet stuff); and in Season 3, the college season, teams turn their attention to emergency preparedness. Every team meets with attorneys and advisers who provide a thorough yet impassioned overview of patents, trademarks and copyrights.

In each season, Episode 5 is always the presentation episode — and if you wanted to just watch that one installment, you can certainly have a fine time doing so. That’s what I did, which just made me curious about the origins of these tchotchkes and what their futures might hold. Then I wound up watching many, many more episodes. (Season 1 is 8 episodes; Seasons 2 and 3 are 10 each.)

Because there is so much reality TV and so much self-broadcasting, people have gotten really good at being on camera, and it’s one reason many unscripted shows ring hollow — they’re pretending a performance isn’t a performance, but we can tell it is, and that dissonance is insulting. For better or worse, “Make48” sometimes feels like less of an act than other shows, which can create a sense of camaraderie but means occasional cringey moments are more harrowing. It also makes the slicker, more heavily produced segments seem out of place.

If you have ever heard the infomercial refrain of “there’s gotta be a better way!” and thought “I mean, to be fair, there does got to be a better way…,” or if you have ever spent more than 45 seconds thinking about 3-D printing, or if three paragraphs ago you thought “finally, a show where intellectual property lawyers get a moment to shine,” watch this.



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