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2005 Superbowl Wrap-up
February 7, 2005
by Michael Walls

Okay, since I mouthed off last week about the NFL and Fox catering to the non-football fans by simplifying the game with over-the-top graphics, outrageous advertisements and poorly produced halftime shows – I guess I need to comment on the overall packaging of this year’s Super Bowl extravaganza.

To my surprise, the main things that stuck in my mind were the commercials and the halftime show. Maybe I was paying too much attention (usually, I use the commercial breaks and the halftime show to make trips to the bathroom or fridge), but it’s more likely the fact that the Super Bowl game itself was a borefest – lacking in creative play calling, exciting highlight moments or even a sense of suspense.

We can thank that brainiac Bill Belichick for the lack of creativity in plays. He may be the former defensive coordinator to Bill Parcells, but he certainly didn’t pick up any tips of “how-to-keep-the-game-interesting” with unexpected or risky calls or trick plays. Belichick’s got about as much personality as an IBM server, and has the uncanny ability to know exactly what play to call at what moment. Boooor-ing...

But even with a near perfect Tom Brady (no INTs) and a stifling defense, we still didn’t get to see anything even closely resembling an exciting highlight. The best play of the game came with under 2 minutes remaining as Donovan McNabb finally threw a ball further than 5 yards by airing it out thirty yards down to Greg Lewis for a touchdown. Too bad he waited until they already lost the game to try something gutsy.

As far as suspense – the minute Tedy Bruschi intercepted McNabb in the middle of the 4th quarter (which was more of a bad throw by McNabb than anything fancy by Bruschi) we all knew this game was over.

So for once, this year’s Super Bowl needs to thank the marketing-powers-that-be for keeping the entertainment level up.

It’s amazing what a difference it makes when you get musical artists with some talent to perform. Kids nowadays (I can’t believe I just said “kids nowadays”) really don’t have a clue as to what the words “musician” or “artist” means. Do Justin Timberlake or Janet Jackson even play musical instruments? I don’t even think they’re considered musicians or artists – rather they’re referred to as “entertainers”. Big difference.

Paul McCartney may be old and wrinkled and not much to look at anymore, but he certainly doesn’t have to resort to baring a star-burst nipple brooch to get anyone’s attention. And he showed the world what it means to ROCK. No fancy costume (or costume changes), no dance routines, no slutty backup dancers, and no lip-synching. Just a left-handed bass guitar, a piano and some timeless classic tunes that everybody knows – young or old. I can’t think of any other artist that could get 80,000 people to sing a cappella together as McCartney did with – “na-na-na, naa, heeey Jude…”

Kudos to the team that produced this show – showing MTV the difference between “class” and “trash”.

The same could be said for the advertising approach this year as well. While last year was absolutely a low point for the NFL and the Super Bowl, catering to the low class and tastelessness of the viewing public – this year most of the advertisers took a higher road and went with traditional serious ads or genuine laughs.

I say “most” because as always, there’s a knucklehead in the bunch. This year’s “go-for-the-obvious” controversial ad was from GoDaddy.com. Hey, I’m a red-blooded male, and I appreciate (and enjoy) gratuitous buxomness as much as the next guy. But when I’m sitting on the couch at 7pm with my 4-year old son watching a sporting event, I don’t want him to see some trashy commercial of a woman feeling herself up. Yeah, it was funny, I chuckled (I don’t know what they were selling), but couldn’t we run this commercial later in the broadcast, maybe after all the kids were in bed? Poor scheduling on the part of Fox. Especially considering the rest of the ads were fun and clean.

Topping my list of funniest commercials was FedEx’s “top-10 list of things you need in a Super Bowl ad” featuring Burt Reynolds, a dancing bear and a groin kick.

Budweiser had it’s usual funny moments, including the “skydiver” commercial. A skydive instructor tosses a six-pack of Bud out the door in order to entice a reluctant skydiver to chase it, only to have the pilot jump out after it, sans parachute.

While not roll-off-the-couch funny, CareerBuilder.com did a good job depicting many people’s perception that they work with a bunch of monkeys, as an office filled with corporate monkeys makes a guy’s life miserable.

Other commercials from advertisers like Lays’ Potato Chips and Pepsi featuring washed-up entertainers like MC Hammer and P. Diddy proved mildly entertaining, while Anheuser-Busch went for the emotional approach, saluting our troops.

So while I’m still not a fan of the on-field graphics (which, by the way, was on-and-off throughout the game – to a point where when I expected a big arrow to show me the down and yards-to-go, it didn’t appear), I was fairly pleased with the quality of the peripheral entertainment.

Now if we can only get a Super Bowl game that entertains us as much as the commercials.

(Michael Walls is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine and does not know the name of the actress in the GoDaddy.com commercial, so stop asking him.)

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