Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Any Given Super Sunday or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Kill Four and a Half Hours Before NBC Premiered the New Special Episode of "The Office"

We'll get to the scene-by-scene breakdown of this Saturday's new "SNL" shortly. But first ...

Are you ready for some football advertising!?!

Every year here at Pop Culture America, I post a minute-by-minute diary of my experience enjoying the Super Bowl, and more importantly, the Super Bowl commercials. This year IS an exception, but I'm gonna do it anyway. All times are Eastern.

12PM to 6PM -- Pre-game. Loads and loads of pre-game. Of the six hours of official pre-game programming that NBC aired in anticipation of the big Steelers-Cardinals clash, approximately none of it was of any use. There was a Matt Lauer talk with the President ("It's gonna get worse before it gets better." Check.) There was a performance by John Legend (not bad). There was more analysis of individual games and players and even plays than the most hardcore fan could stomach (Kurt Warner is old! Ben Roethlisberger was nervous last time! Troy Polamalu has long, lustrous hair! Larry Fitzgerald's father can write!). Wake me when we get to Faith Hill.

6:00 -- Faith Hill's Sunday Night Football song makes me pine for the majestic strains of "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night." Hank Williams, Jr. is a GOD! "The Super Bowl rocks on NBC!" We'll just NB-See about that ...

6:02 -- Steelers kicker Jeff Reed shows off some impressive mad-scientist hair in the locker room.

6:03 -- The announce team pops up. It's Al Michaels and videogame graphic John Madden. He looks so lifelike. Great work by the graphics department.

6:04 -- Have the big ads started yet? There's one that promises that Subway sandwiches won't pop the buttons on your pants. We'll just put THAT to the test.

6:09 -- Team intros. Nice shot of Troy Polamalu's long, lustrous hair.

6:10 -- Ah. Here we go. Now we're into the real ads. I heard about this one. LeBron James dreams of joining the Cleveland Browns. Obviously he didn't watch them play this year.

6:12 -- A kid in a homemade cape inspires some guy to schedule a vacation at Universal Orlando. Yep. They do that.

6:13 -- The first big movie ad of the show is for Duplicity starring Clive Owens and Julia Roberts (she still makes movies?). It looks ... standard.

6:15 -- Connie Payton and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell give the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award to Kurt Warner. Probably for being old. Walter Payton is the greatest football player I ever saw. All due respect to Mr. Warner, but he's not fit to carry Sweetness's spare jock-strap.

6:16 -- Faith Hill is back and she manages to resist the urge to add the line "'Cuz America rocks on NBC!" to "America the Beautiful." Nice self-control.

6:19 -- Jennifer Hudson belts out the National Anthem. Randy thinks she was just "awright." Paula loved her spirit. Simon thinks she's done better.

6:21 -- Another movie ad. G.I. Joe this time. My nerdy little heart just went pitter-pat. Yo Joe!

6:24 -- NBC starts using this showcase to promote its other programs (NBC has other programs?). The gang from the NBC Monday night line-up lip sync to Joe Cocker. It's the most fun I've had watching the cast of "Heroes" in a year and a half.

6:27 -- Jeff Reed's hair rocks on NBC!

6:28 -- General David Petraeus surges forward to toss the coin. He then picked it up and used it to bribe Sunni insurgents to keep the violence down for the next four hours. Cardinals win the toss.

6:28 -- Sideline reporter Andrea Kremer appears and makes an impression on me by not being Pam Oliver.

6:29 -- The kick-off is officially late. Other sideline reporter Alex Flanagan -- who is also strangely not Pam Oliver -- quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald. A literarily inclined football babe? Okay, you have my attention.

6:30 -- Billy Corgan, formerly of Smashing Pumpkins, sings plaintively of his love for Hyundai. Ah, artistic integrity.

6:32 -- Neil Rackers foot strikes the ball and the game is underway. Only four hours until "The Office."

6:37 -- Digital graphic John Madden uses the word "penetration" as much as you possibly can without raising the Parental Guidance V-chip warning level on the show.

6:38 -- Touchdown!

6:38 -- No. Wait. It's under review. And while we're reviewing, enjoy these ads, won't you? Thank you.

6:39 -- A guy gets thrown out a window for suggesting a business cut corners by removing the Bud Light from the conference room. And we wonder why the American financial system is in the toilet.

6:39 -- Ad for Angels and Demons, the sequel to The Davinci Code. It looks just as good as the first one. Make of that what you will.

6:40 -- Jason Statham goes all "Miami Vice" for Audi. Well, it's better than Transporter 3.

6:42 -- No Touchdown! The people watching on television took the score back from the Steelers. So the first points of the game are ...

6:43 -- Jeff "Albert Einstein" Reed boots one through and the Steelers draw first blood. I always wanted to say that.

6:43 -- Will.I.Am screws around with Bob Dylan's "Forever Young" in order to flog some Pepsi. The phrase "culture rape" comes to mind, but that may just be leftover outrage from the opening of a "CSI" I accidentally saw a few weeks back.

6:44 -- Doritos encourages viewers to vandalize their vending machines. How anarchic. Oh, and a guy gets hit in the crotch. How high-brow.

6:47 -- The all-important first penalty of the game is a "Holding" call on Arizona's Mike Gandy. Who had Gandy in the penalty pool?

6:49 -- From behind, Troy Polamalu looks like a young Maria Muldaur. From the front, not so much.

6:51 -- Conan O'Brien does an ad for Bud Light that he is assured will only air on Swedish television. Why not Finland? The first funny ad of the game.

6:51 -- Michael Cera and Jack Black appear in Year One, which looks pretty dang funny. But then, I thought Caveman looked like it would be funny.

6:52 -- NBC airs a promo for Bruce Springsteen's half-time appearance. Please play all of Nebraska. Please. please, please.

6:57 -- John Madden admires Ben Roethlisberger. He calls him "Superman." Ah, love.

7:01 -- Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head drive cross country. She's a shrew. Is it just me? With the exception of the Conan spot, everything has seemed mean-spirited so far.

7:02 -- Vin Diesel is back, baby, and Fast and Furious has him! Is that a good thing?

7:03 -- Castrol promotes enslaving monkeys for auto repair. Truly, a disturbing trend.

7:05 -- Will Ferrell and Anna Friel (Chuck!) star in Land of the Lost. There are Paku! And Sleestack! And the ad gets off the best line of the night so far: "Matt Lauer can eat it!"

7:06 -- Doritos can remove women's clothing. And rob ATMs. And transform law enforcement personnel into monkeys. Handy. And mean.

7:06 -- Danica Patrick showers for godaddy.com. There's more at the website. I can't be bothered to check it, though. I'm waiting for the next appearance by Vin Diesel.

7:08 -- A cut scene wherein John Madden uses the phrase "get off" a half-dozen times. Maybe the graphic design team needs to tweak his program.

7:09 -- More violence in the name of Pepsi. Pepsi Max hits people in the head. "I'm good," they all say. The ad isn't.

7:09 -- Pedigree dog food encourages you not to adopt rhinos, ostriches, or warthogs. That sound you hear is the scream of hundreds of stray ostriches being put to sleep.

7:10 -- A Budweiser Clydesdale plays fetch. And doesn't hit anyone in the crotch. Thank heaven for small favors.

7:11 -- John Madden's avatar mentions both "balls" and "rhythm." I'm pretty sure he's talking about football.

7:12 -- Another Budweiser Clydesdale ad features two horses in love. And a circus! Doritos wonders why they don't engage in vandalism.

7:13 -- Star Trek ad. I worry.

7:14 -- Loads of 3-D on the way. Why? I dunno. Beats writing a script.

7:22 -- Precocious jerk David Abernathy may be able to do all kinds of stuff, but he still needs cars.com. I wish he'd go to the physical lot where there's a slight chance that he could get run over.

7:24 -- John Madden describes in loving detail the time Arizona Cardinal Defensive Tackle Darnell Dockett flashed for him.

7:33 -- John Madden details how two linemen are engaged with each other. I wonder where they're registered.

7:34 -- The Hyundai Genesis causes consternation among the boardrooms of car companies in the former Axis powers. Buy bonds!

7:35 -- It's those creepy talking babies from eTrade. Yeegh!

7:38 -- The latest from Pixar is Up. In 3-D. Oh dear. Not you too, Pixar. So disappointing.

7:39 -- Bud Light's drinkability is compared to skiers of varying skill levels. Give Conan another ad!

7:41 -- The Grim Reaper from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life gets his taxes done. I hope he declares the salmon mousse!

7:42 -- A Teleflora ad features abusive talking flowers. Unappealing.

7:43 -- NBC promos Jay Leno's new 10PM show with a #10 race car. Coincidence?

7:45 -- Al Michaels, the announcer who isn't the kingpin of a video game empire, makes an uproarious Somalian pirate joke. In his defense, their murders are a hoot!

7:46 -- Chee-tos encourages attacking one's enemies with murderous flocks of pigeons. Et tu, Chee-tos?

7:51 -- James Harrison's 100-yard interception return is the longest play of any kind in Super Bowl His ... Oh wait. It's under review.

7:56 -- And the play stands! Now I can get excited. Replay makes everything better. And that's the half.

7:57 -- The single most expensive advertisement in history airs. The 3-D Monsters Versus Aliens ad makes the film look pretty darn skippable. Except for the presence of Stephen Colbert voicing the President-- I think -- this is pretty second rate. And Colbert's voice isn't even in 3-D! What the blagnar!?!

7:57 -- Another 3-D ad, this time for Sobe and it's lizards which I guess are supposed to be a big deal. It does have more life to it than the Monsters Versus Aliens ad.

8:00 -- Half-time analysis. Zzzzzzz.

8:04 -- Flight 152 is staffed by rockshow roadies. For some reason, that's supposed to make me switch to Sprint.

8:06 -- Bruce Springsteen admonishes us all to step back from the guacamole dip and wants to know if there's anybody alive out there. If we're not alive, how are we supposed to step back from the guacamole dip?

8:07 -- Bruce and co. open with "10th Avenue Freeze Out." Hey, it's the Max Weinberg 7! LaBamba rocks on NBC!

8:10 -- "Born to Run." The crowd sing-a-long is out of sync.

8:14 -- "Workin' On a Dream." Bruce has the nerve to slip a new one in. Move those units, Boss! Everyone else is advertising. Why not him too?

8:16 -- "Glory Days." The tale of a broken down athlete who can't move his life past his sports heyday. Are they beaming this into the locker rooms?

8:18 -- An referee appears onstage to send the band into overtime. I contain my laughter.

8:19 -- Bruce says he's going to Disneyland. He better be ready to drive 3000 miles. If he wanted to go to DisneyWORLD, it's only about 75 miles away.

8:21 -- Surfing on overstock.com with Carlos Boozer is fun for all the neighborhood kids. All the unsupervised neighborhood kids. Can't Carlos Boozer afford a lock for his front gate?

8:22 -- NBC Thursday night comedies cause you to literally laugh your ... posterior off. Obviously these people haven't seen "Kath and Kim."

8:27 -- Video game spokesmodel John Madden appears on-screen sporting a tie so wide they could have played the game on it.

8:29 -- Andrea Kremer continues to not be Pam Oliver. Alex Flanagan must be at the library. IN MY DREAMS!

8:36 -- A Coke ad featuring video game characters fails to include John Madden. Oversight.

8:36 -- Obnoxious robots in dune buggies jump around to the tune of "Jump Around." This has not been a good crop of commercials.

8:39 -- John Madden points out that James Harrison is coming around the back. Again, I'm absolutely certain this relates to football.

8:40 -- Another nice Clydesdale ad for Budweiser. The horses immigrate to America from Scotland.

8:41 -- The Rock appears in Race to Witch Mountain. But he is not playing the roles originated by either Ike Eisenman or Denver Pyle. Missed opportunity.

8:42 -- A shot of 2009 non-Oscar nominee Cuba Gooding Jr. prompts Al Michaels to inform us that he still gets residuals from his appearance in Jerry Maguire. And rightly so. He's the reason people watch that movie.

8:44 -- John Madden praises the "Four-Man Bunch."

8:47 -- John Madden spends more than a little time admiring Ben Roethlisberger for being so big and strong.

8:57 -- Incoherent jumble of an ad for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The Fallen are always looking for vengeance.

8:58 -- Here's a logical conundrum. If you hate going to work, you should use careerbuilder.com. To get a job. So you can go to work. Which you hate.

9:00 -- The strains of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" run through a Coke ad featuring bugs. Made me want to listen to "Peter and the Wolf."

9:06 -- John Turturro acts like a pretentious nit for Heineken. 'Cuz that sells beer? The Clydesdales are better.

9:08 -- Blink and you missed it. Miller High Life ran the shortest ever Super Bowl ad. It was better than anything Doritos did.

9:12 -- In a promo for the Pro Bowl, the NFL finally admits what we've all suspected: the Pro Bowl is elitist! Oh, and there's another "Celebrity Apprentice" coming soon. Thanks for the warning NBC!

9:16 -- John Madden: "For a big guy he's got a great burst and he bursts right into Ben Roethlisberger."

9:17 -- Coke rips off its own classic Mean Joe Greene ad with Troy Polamalu and his hair.

9:20 -- John Madden: "If you give Kurt Warner an opening, he's gonna find it."

9:23 -- A weird-looking scarecrow lip syncs to Ray Bolger in honor of a GE smart grid. Huh?

9:26 -- Alec Baldwin encourages us to soften our brains with online TV. Whatever you say, Jack Donaghey!

9:32 -- Another GE ad, this time featuring a jar of wind. I made one of those once. No one appreciated it.

9:33 -- "SNL" bit MacGruber becomes a Pepsi ad, featuring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and -- just as on last night's "SNL" -- Richard Dean Anderson. I refuse to call him "Pepsuber."

9:53 -- Apparently the game is getting pretty good right now. But for me, it's all about this crappy Bud Light Lime ad.

9:54 -- NBC promos "The Office." Soon.

10:00 -- Ben Roethlisberger hits Santonio Holmes in the corner of the endzone to put the Steelers up 27-23.

10:08 -- Kurt Warner fumbles! The game's over! The Steelers are the Champio ... Oh wait. It's being reviewed.

10:09 -- Call stands. That's the ballgame. Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin gets Gatorade dumped all over him. May we put an end to this "tradition," please?

10:13 -- Promo for the gang over at NBC/Universal owned USA Network including "Monk," "Burn Notice," "Psych," and others. They couldn't give these shows an in-game ad?

10:16 -- Former drug dealer Santonio Holmes gets his picture on the NBC Sunday Night Football horse trailer. Wonder if there's a Clydesdale in there.

10:19 -- The game has been over for ten minutes and NFLShop.com runs an ad for World Champion Pittsburgh Steeler memorabilia. You're a little slow, guys.

10:20 -- Hey, it's Joe Namath! Hope he's drunk!

10:23 -- Steelers owner Daniel Rooney receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy and thanks Barack Obama. Smart. Maybe he'll get some bailout money now.

10:25 -- Former drug dealer Santonio Holmes receives the MVP award.

10:30 -- Alex Flanagan does not quote F. Scott Fitzgerald. She used to be cool, but she changed.

10:32 -- Oop. "The Office" is on. Gotta go.

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