Super Bowl XXXVIII: The Aftermath
Before the game, we decided it was nice that CBS has ditched those oversized microphone headsets that make the pregame show panelists look like drive-thru attendants at your local fast-food restaurant. ("Coming up: an up-close-and-personal look at the New England Patriots Tom Brady... thank you and drive through to the first window.") But Jim Nantz looked like they've implanted his headset into his right cheek.
Meanwhile, Dick Enberg made a "football Frankenstein" by assembling the best body parts of individual NFL players while wearing a doctor's coat and laughing maniacally -- so cliché and so degrading for Enberg. And so typical for Super Bowl pre-game shows.
But then CBS actually devoted a few minutes of the Super Bowl Today pre-game show to a sketch from Comedy Central's (Viacom synergy!) Crank Yankers featuring Jimmy Kimmel (unsynergistic confusion!) placing a crank call to the Giants' Michael Strahan, offering him a lucrative endorsement deal for a product targeted at "fatties like you, Michael." As synergy goes, it wasn't bad. It was funny. Which is more than we could say for poor Dick Enberg.
But our minds reeled considering the spirited discussions pregame performers Toby Keith and Willie Nelson must have been having in the green room.
Nelson: Yeah, I'm a Dennis Kucinich supporter myself.
Keith: Go back to Commieland, you un-American hippie.
THE BAD ADS
Up until that flurry of scoring at the end of the first half, we were going to say that the only thing more limp and listless than the Panthers' offense was the quality of the ads for this year's Super Bowl. Then again, nothing is as limp and listless as this year's Super Bowl ads.
Bland movie ads. That lackluster Pepsi-Apple effort. Bud Light's continuing fascination with anuses. (Guess that explains the beer's taste.) These are the sorts of things you would expect from a preseason Jaguars-Saints came, not for the showcase event of the year.
It took all of one ad for us to get our first crotch-trauma ad of the game, in an advertisement for Bud Light. (Dog bite on crotch, if you're scoring at home.) Following it up was another Bud Light ad featuring horse flatulence. Offensive? No. But also not funny, and that's a crime. And then there was the Budweiser ad featuring a hideously shrill woman yelling at an off-duty referee. Anheuser-Bush, turn in your ad agency's credentials.
Beyond lousy beer ads, another theme of this year's Super Bowl was impotence. (Does lousy beer cause impotence? You be the judge!) Apparently NFL fans have some serious penis problems. In any event, we're not sure quite what the Levitra Challenge is, but if the commercials are anything to go by, it apparently involves going to your doctor's office and throwing footballs through a tire. Miss the tire, and we think maybe your penis falls off. Also, Mike Ditka thinks all of baseball is impotent. ("Baseball needs Levitra!" cries Iron Mike.) Don't show your face around a Cubs game ever again.
And we don't know what Cialis is, but anything that encourages old people to sit outside naked scares the crap out of us. And that disclaimer! "Erections lasting longer than four hours, though rare, require immediate medical attention." One mention of naughty candy-stripers, and we've got our first pornographic ad!
Which is apparently what Canadians got during the game, according to TeeVee contributor Doug Sheppard, who wrote: "So, Canada has different ads than the U.S. broadcast of the Super Bowl. How different? This year, very different... The blonde says 'Wow, I love your lip gloss.' The brunette says, 'Here, I'll put some on for you.' The three guys watch the hot girl-on-girl makeout action in the middle of the dance floor. And the world gets out the red marker and notes on its calendar that February 1, 2004, was the day that onscreen hot girl-on-girl makeout action officially became a way to sell Labatt Blue."
Sometimes, it saddens us how America has lost its way. All our mighty American beer companies give us is flatulent horses and creepy talking chimps.
By the way, who do you suppose was the most intelligent person on the set of that Pizza Hut commercial, Jessica Simpson or the sock puppets? And we don't want to give away the ending to that new "Alamo" movie, but here's our advice: don't get too attached to any of the American characters.
THE GOOD ADS
Boy, they were few and far between.
The ad of the day was the ad for the NFL Network, featuring numerous NFL luminaries singing "Tomorrow," from Annie. Really funny, although we're suckers for show tunes.
We liked the FedEx ad featuring the nasty alien creature poorly posing as an office drone.
We enjoyed the Staples ad featuring a godfather-like office supplies guy, who ends up being menaced by a guy from The Sopranos.
Um. Hmm. We liked the chicken wings we had. That counts for something, right?
Nothing happened for the first 27 minutes of the game. Nothing, that is, except lies from Phil Simms and Greg Gumbel.
"It's not exciting, but it's a lot of fun to watch," said one. Not really a ringing endorsement of the Super Bowl's entertainment value. And it's never a good sign when the announcers are going to the ol' "This is like a boxing match, with the fighters jockeying for position" metaphor.
"Greg, it's an ugly football game," said Simms. And the CBS ad sales team winced!
But, then, Phil Simms also had some words for CBS's entertainment programs, namely Survivor: All Stars. "The minute one of those guys starts taking off his clothes, I say vote him out of there. I'm not looking at those nasty bodies." Squeaky wheel wants the grease, Phil.
THE HALFTIME SHOW
How to top this year's halftime show? Two words: Donkey show.
You know, it's not every day that the NFL puts out a press release during the Super Bowl, decrying the halftime show. But that's what happened this year. "We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced Halftime show," said NFL Executive Vice President Joe Browne. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the show. It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime."
Think maybe Jessica Simpson's "Choose to Party!" line -- thereby invalidating everything previously said about encouraging people to participate in our democratic process -- had something to do with it?
We understand we're not the heppest hep-cats in the room, but could somebody please explain to us what exactly a bunch of cheerleaders surrounding P. Diddy and chanting "Oh, Diddy you're so fine" has to do with exercising your right to vote? Unless there's some Ban-P.-Diddy-from-the-Halftime-Show ballot initiative that we don't know about.
And if we're Jessica Simpson -- the supposed top-secret super-surprise addition to the halftime show -- we'd be upset that the show's other surprise guest, Janet Jackson's boob, got more camera time than we did.
During the show, Nelly informed us that it was getting "Hot in Herre," which we're pretty sure is a song that's a couple years old. Kid Rock came out and did both "Bawitdaba" and "Cowboy." And in the absence of a better idea, P. Diddy did Toni Basil's "Mickey." And Janet Jackson did "Rhythm Nation."
This is how the NFL gets the young, hip viewers? By putting on a halftime show composed of the hits of yesteryear? The hippest part of the show was the marching band.
This is how the NFL statement should have read: "We at the NFL thought the singers would perform a song that was recorded within the last year. Also, we specifically asked Janet Jackson to show both boobs, not just one. And who fucking invited Justin Timberlake? Not Paul Tagliabue, that's for goodamn sure."
Down to the wire. Back-and-forth scoring. A last-second Vinateri field goal, just like two years ago. Just as Phil predicted, it's a Super Bowl for the Ages.
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