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Well, it’s Sunday evening, and if you’re like me, you just spent about six hours planted in front of Fox watching the Super Bowl. From a sad, geriatric performance by John Fogerty to a sad, geriatric performance by Paul McCartney, this telecast was all about one thing: securely covered breasts. Yes, you might say the presence of such old timers as Charlie Daniels, George Bush, and Bill Clinton might significantly reduce the risk of a nip-slip redux, but I might argue that if a wardrobe malfunction were to occur through some strange act of fate, it would be about ten times uglier than Janet Jackson’s supple titty. So let’s wind back the clock and take a tour through the sanitized and sterilized Super Bowl coverage.We begin early. Way early. Paul McCartney shows up at the Fox Sports desk to ham it up with Jim Brown (aka “JB”), Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, and reigning marshmallow man of suck, Terry Bradshaw. We once again revisit that wonderful moment last year when Bradshaw drunkenly sang a self-directed medley of Beatles hits with Sir Paul McCartney. The moment was idiotic then but has now aged nicely into a generally stinky moment of pop culture poop. Amazingly, all the Fox staffers recall nostalgically how electric the duet was. If by “electric” they mean they tried to stick a wet finger into a power socket, then yes, it was.
Later – or perhaps earlier (everything’s a bit hazy) – a whorish weather woman ascends to a small stage to introduce a musical act. The trampy lady with the probable yeast infection turns out to be Jillian Barberie, still grasping for reasons to be included on the next edition of Hollywood Squares. She summons out John Fogerty, an aging rockstar who appears to have been dragged away from his engagement at the Buffalo Bill Casino in Primm, Nevada. With a charming boufant, John Fogerty sings some of his classics while a crowd of young executives from Federal Express and Monster.com stand around morosely. Par-tay!
Peppered amongst the musical numbers are interviews with Terrell Owens (broken foot, blah blah blah), Donovan McNabb (Chunky Soup, blah blah blah), and Tom Brady (I’m All American, blah blah blah). George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton show up to unwisely give Terry Bradshaw some false sense of journalistic legitimacy. Luckily, Harvard grad JB doles out most of the questions to his Eli rivals (that means they’re from Yale) while Bradshaw gets drunk off of Jack Daniels and paint thinner in the corner. Bill Clinton looks emaciated (bypass surgery? psshh. whatever), and the entire scene takes on a surreal quality as the two former world leaders discuss tsunami relief while holding Fox Sports microphones.
Just as the conversation turns light again, killjoy JB rolls tape of the silliest patriotic ode in quite some time: a full reading of the Declaration of Independence by various random figures in politics and football. Yes, as long as we’re still reeling from Jilian Barberie’s Pulitzer Prize winning interview with John Fogerty (“You’ve been inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame. That’s like the Super Bowl for musicians!”), we might as well have a little reminder course on our forefather’s contributions. Cut to various political figures as well as Bill Cowher, Michael Strahan, Marshall Faulk, James Brown, and the dynamic duo of… Jack Kemp and Warrick Dunn? Huh? What IS this? After five minutes of somber reading, Fox then assembles a little skit with the Founding Fathers bantering at the end of the document. Hey John Hancock, why you writing so big? Oh, so old George across the pond can read it!
Wow, that’s rich! This entire scene — and segment — ends with the actors, I mean, forefathers, raising their arms triumphantly and proclaiming “Huzzah!” Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly how it went down. Thanks Fox!
JB returns to the screen and actually asks the former Presidents to comment on the bit. Both crawl their way out of the corner without laughing before JB eventually ushers the politicos off camera in favor of more “shenanigans”.
After a commercial break, JB announces that the theme of tonight is building bridges. Wow, that’s amazingly vague. And since when do Super Bowls have themes? I think next year’s theme should be an Under the Water Dance or maybe Pimps and Ho’s. Nevertheless, JB somehow manages to draw a link between building bridges and Gretchen Wilson, who’s the next palatable-to-Middle-America musical act to take the stage.
Amazingly, Katie from Road Rules hops on the Super Bowl stage and begins singing. Oh wait, that’s actually Gretchen Wilson. We can’t hear her voice because the audio department has unwisely decided to keep the microphone off. This is most likely a gaffe, but I like to think of it as a passive aggressive message from the sound crew. Gretchen prances around in a Muzikmafia Jersey which means that she’s either endorsing an artist group or she’s sadly misinformed on which teams are playing this evening. Turns out it’s the former, and I’m instantly mad that I’ve taken the time to look up Muzikmafia (it’s a country music group. So why the urban spelling? Shut up, Muzikmafia). Gretchen croons away, singing the line “I’m here for the party!” I wonder if she’s looking for the fat and ugly party.
Out of nowhere, Charlie Daniels shows up to do a little retro “Devil Went Down to Georgia” action. I’m all for Charlie Daniels, but how exactly is this building a bridge? It’s become patently obvious that the only bridge going up today is one headed away from MTV.
Just when we think this pre-show — or kickoff special or whatever you want to call it — has become so damn lilly white that we might just slit our necks with an Amy Grant CD, the organizers toss in a little spice. Yes, time to roll out the Black Eyed Peas and Earth, Wind, and Fire. Translation: “And now something for the black people that won’t scare the white people. Actually, this is really just for the white people again.” Meanwhile, Maude in Iowa feels safe.
Before the Peas can take the stage though, we cut to commercial again. Anheuser Busch tells us that they’ve been telling adults to drink responsibly for years, and more so, they’ve been attacking underage drinking. Now it’s the parents responsibility to control themselves and their family. Whoa, did Anheuser Busch just PA me? Because the message of that commercial was pretty much “Look, we’ve done all we can do. It’s not our fault that you’re such bad people.”
We return to the Black Eyed Peas who serve as our last great hope for a nip-slip. Alas, Fergie is all buttoned up, and the performance goes off with the sort of poppy glee that Wal-Mart aspires for in its urban marketing campaigns. At the end of the performance, one of the Peas gives a shout out to the tsunami and all the people who died in it. Word up! Tsunami in the hizzouse!
Next up, JB tells us to prepare for America The Beautiful. Uh oh. My Josh Groban radar is going off like gangbusters. Please say it ain’t so. Luckily, my fears are short lived as we are greeted by… Will Smith? Is he going to joke-rap through this song? And hey — his movie “Hitch” is opening this week, right? Man, seeing him on the Super Bowl makes me realize I should really catch that movie.
Turns out Will Smith is merely on field to plug his new CD, uh, I mean, introduce Alicia Keys who will be singing with a chorus of blind and deaf children. Wow, this is mildly exploitative, and not just because these kids are dressed like employees of Southwest Airlines. I feel like Fox watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and said “Oh, so you take two deaf parents and a blind/autistic kid and think you can beat us? Well, we’re going to take fifty blind kids and fifty deaf kids and we’re going to make them SING! And if you’re not crying, we’re gonna kill their parents!”
With the the Alicia Keys awkwardness finally over, Joe Buck bellows over the loudspeaker, “Please direct your attention to the video screen.” Wait, are there going to be safety instructions because I do NOT see an exit aisle. However, instead of a comely American Airlines employee, we get… Michael Chiklis. That wouldn’t have been my first guess, but let’s hear what The Commish has to say. Turns out not much. He just babbles on about how great the Patriots are. Moments later, Will Smith pops up again. Did I mention his movie “Hitch” is coming out this week? Smith introduces Philadelphia with some flowery prose, noting that “Philly has always been known for its tenacious D.” At this point, the montage cuts to black and white archival footage of some Eagles game during what appeared to be Prohibition. Honestly, you can’t be feeling too confident as a team when your own introductory montage can do little else but compare you to a bunch of skinny white men running around in leather caps.
Soon after this, Michael Douglas is welcomed to the field. Great. Another random celebrity. Who’s next? Zsa Zsa Gabor? Bob Uecker? Anyway, Michael Douglas talks a bunch about World War II. Later, he becomes imperiled by an obsessed yet sexy female. Actually no, that doesn’t happen. Instead, he announces “The Greatest Generation!” and a royal fanfare blares out. Amazingly, Donald Trump does not appear out of thin air.
Michael Douglas introduces various WWII veterans such as the Tuskegee Airmen and the Band of Brothers guys. Also present: the sexy WAVEs ladies struttin’ their stuff. Grrrrowwwwl. Ultimately, an armed forces choir sings the national anthem, which means at least one washed up, cheesy pop star is out of a gig this year (I’m looking at you Bryan Adams, Rick Springfield, and Shania Twain).
We cut away to a commercial where Charles Woodson, Jevon Walker, and Shaun Alexander gather around the TV to watch American Idol. Wow. That’s amazingly emasculating.
Finally, we come upon the coin toss which is executed by a little kid named Tyler. Teddy Bruschi pats the boy on his head as if he were a cute little dog. “Me Teddy. Me like Tyler!” Moments later, when New England loses the coin toss, Teddy Bruschi grabs Tyler by the hair and flings him into the stands. He’s a very temperamental guy.
The game begins and a few minutes in, we hear a loud engine noise. Is that a UFO hovering over us? No, it’s just Fox introducing Philly’s offensive line, which is obviously as good a time as any to employ as many visual and sound effects as possible. Good to see Fox hasn’t quite built that bridge to understatement yet.
The first quarter goes by without incident. The only noteworthy moment comes during a cutaway shot when a dolphin bearing a football in its mouth pokes its head out of a tank and lingers extra long and extra close to the camera. The image is so bizarre that Joe Buck has to ask “Was that real?” He then adds “Because if it was, I’d like to say that that was a disgusting act by the dolphin, and it’s unfortunate that we had that on our air live. That is disgusting by the dolphin.”
Later in the quarter, the commentators gush over the new “Pylon-cam” which serves seemingly no purpose at all. But to prove its worth to gadgetry-circles, Fox cuts to a shot from the aforementioned pylon-cam, and our minds are blown by an amazingly large image of painted grass. Wow, this DOES make a difference! Yay Pylon-Cam!
The second quarter begins with a shot of Will Smith in his box seat. Hey, you know, I should see that movie, “Hitch”. I think it opens this week… With 9:55 remaining in the first half, L.J. Smith (L.J. stands for Little John. You can make the penis jokes on your own time) hauls in a touchdown for the Philadelphia Eagles. J-Unit erupts into a giddy mess since LJ is one of his favorite players. Meanwhile, we cut to a shot of the Fox logo in a puddle or stream. Where’s the dolphin? What sort of cutaway is this? At this point I’m expecting at least a manatee to come flopping onto the screen. Alas, Fox’s love affair with maritime animals unnaturally wielding footballs seems to have come to an end.
On the field, Tom Brady fumbles, causing a massive pile up. Darwin Walker emerges from the man-heap and trots down the field with the ball. No one seems to notice Walker prancing around and so the refs continue to dig through the pile. The moment could have been very Looney Toons had Walker tapped the ref on the shoulder and presented the ball with a cocky Bugs Bunny attitude, but, alas he did not do that. Huh. It doesn’t seem as funny now, so I’ll just move on.
There’s a break in the action; so the commentators decide to point out some of the high profile guests in attendance. Joe Buck points out former President Bill Clinton and then adds “And here is former President—” The camera cuts away to John Travolta, and I’m momentarily horrified to know that the Battlefield Earth star was once our President. Luckily, I realize Fox made an error and can move on with my life. On the bottom of my screen, Paul McCartney pops up for the umpteenth time. YES, I KNOW! He’s going to be singing at the half time show. Please, just stop.
Meanwhile, Joe Buck decides to take a stand on something. “People say the Super Bowl has become such a corporate event,” he balks. Yeah, whatever gave them that idea? I hope people think long and hard about that during the Ameriquest Mortgage Company Halftime Show.
With 1:10 left on the clock, David Givens catches a touchdown for the Patriots, and we’re all tied up heading into half time. Okay, so let’s get this suckfest over with. Where’s Sir Paul? Oh, but not yet! Before we can see Paul McCartney sing a medley, we have to watch Paul McCartney sing a medley in a random and lengthy montage of concert footage. Seriously, can we bring back Gretchen Wilson?
At long last, an announcer gravely introduces McCartney by saying “Building bridges across time and across the world.” Yeah, um, how exactly does pandering to a specific demographic in the population equate to “building bridges”? Just give it up Fox. The whole “building bridges” thing is more of a stretch than Jilian Barberie’s cooter at this point.
Now, I know Paul McCartney is a musical legend, and I know he’s a great talent. Heck, I’m a big fan of his music. But honestly, this is awful. Paul stands alone on stage for what feels like hours as he chirps through some of his classic hits from The Beatles era. He appears quarantined to some LCD disco floor of suck as this completely antiseptic halftime show motors on. Luckily, a gaggle of middle-aged women in the front row are having a swell time as they prudently dance and temporarily escape from the mundane lives they lead.
Suddenly, Sir Paul decides to get down and dirty. He removes that crazy blazer he’s wearing in a gesture that seems to say “This world is too button up for rock ‘n roll! Now let’s play some adult contemporary music. YEOWWW!!!” He then jumps into a rendition of “Live and Let Die” which, for better or worse, actually does seem to rock. Fireworks do help and give this show a much needed jolt of adrenaline. Meanwhile, somewhere in the waters around the stadium, twelve dolphins have been burnt to death by errant pyrotechnics.
Luckily this dangerously rowdy moment completely dies down as Paul jumps into “Hey Jude.” Hundreds of blue penlights surround McCartney, and I momentarily wonder if he’s been swallowed by a giant sea anemone. Of course, “Hey Jude” turns into a giant singalong of “Na na na”, and just to add to the effect, everyone in the stadium is given a colored card to raise in order to form a human mosaic. What would the cards spell? “USA”? “PEACE”? “PAUL IS HOT”? Neither. The cards all spell out… “Na na na.” Uh, that’s kind of redundant. And stupid.
At least there is some semblance of patriotism as each “Na” is either red, white, or blue. Unfortunately, the words are placed in the wrong order; so we get a blue, white, and red “Na na na”, making the entire scene an unintentional ode to France. Wow, this halftime show is really really dumb.
The third quarter finally gets underway, and after just four minutes, Mike Vrabel snags a touchdown for the Patriots. Later, the camera lingers on a busty Eagles cheerleader happily rooting for her team. We then cut to the Patriots’ cheerleaders which all lend credence to the theory that women from Boston tend to not be, how do you say, attractive.
Brian Westbrook scores a touchdown later in the quarter, and now J-Unit watches as I become a giddy mess (Westbrook is one of my favorites). Meanwhile, Pam Oliver reports that Todd Pinkston has “A case of the cramps!” Sadly, she does not announce this with the British accent it so deserves.
The fourth quarter begins with another Patriots touchdown, this time by Corey Dillon who thankfully does not launch into his Visa commercial bit by droning “Not today… not tomorrow…” Wow, I’m already asleep just thinking about it. Joe Buck and his posse return to the Pylon-cam and discuss its merits yet again. I can’t help thinking there must be better small talk out there. Can’t we bring back the dolphin?
Mastercard reveals this year’s big “priceless” commercial. It’s a bunch of cartoon spokesmen like the Jolly Green Giant eating dinner together. The spot ends with Charlie the Tuna bantering as he brings some dirty dishes to Mr. Clean in the kitchen. Did they just host a dinner party together? I can’t help wondering if these two are in a domestic relationship. I always had a feeling about that Mr. Clean. After all, he does work out a lot, and let’s not overlook his anal-retentive fixation on cleanliness. But Charlie the Tuna? I just thought his beret and thick-rimmed glasses meant he was artistic (or a Moby fan). This is quite a revelation.
As the game winds down, the Patriots tack on three points with a field goal. We also watch footage of Teddy Bruschi running around the field prior to the game with his two little boys. Hearts across America melt as the two kids pounce on their father in a group hug. Sarcasm… dying…. maudlin sentiment… rising… Must… watch… PAX…
Perhaps stirred into action by the loving Bruschi clan, a pair of dolphins jump out of the water in yet another cutaway shot. Unfortunately, the dolphins come bearing no football and are therefore useless to America. They are later mysteriously killed in a fishing net after they threaten to out Charlie the Tuna. Meanwhile, on the field, Greg Lewis scores a touchdown for Philadelphia. Unfortunately for him though, the team took too long in the fourth quarter to make plays (what were they doing anyway? Discussing Paul McCartney’s wonderful halftime show?) and the game ends 24-21, New England.
Afterwards, Terry Bradshaw presents the Vince Lombardi statue to Bob Kraft, the heavily inebriated owner of the Patriots. “The NFL is the great leverlrer” he slurs, trying to make some impromptu inspirational speech. When it is clear this booze hound has nothing to say, Bradshaw interviews Tom Brady and then Deion Branch, who as the Super Bowl MVP won the Cadillac of his choice. Now, I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but here’s what I’m thinking: Lamborghini doors on that Es-co-lade. Sorry, random enthusiasm over The Game.
So all in all, this was a pretty exciting game stuck in a cesspool of Middle America-friendly entertainment. I suppose I shouldn’t be annoyed because after all, without all the filler crap, I’d have nothing to write about. Here’s to next year!
UPDATE: Sadly, I missed The OC Super Bowl skit which aired early in the afternoon. Luckily, KROQ-FM in Los Angeles re-aired it in its entirety this morning. I’m telling you, you haven’t heard awkward until you’ve heard Mischa Barton try to recite lines about Bill Belichick…