Well, it was a clean and wholesome Super Bowl, I'll concede that point, but it certainly wasn't the most exciting of “Idiot Box” events. After a year of controversy and outrage over farting horses, Viagra commercials and Janet Jackson's infamous nipple ring, Super Bowl XXXIX arrived with as much skunk-eyed government scrutiny as you can get without being a Iraqi tourist with a one-way ticket to Washington, D.C., and a ticking carry-on.
The producers of this year's extravaganza started off as innocuously as humanly possible, with two ex-presidents supervising the coin toss and the combined choruses of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard singing the National Anthem--no chance of some pop star screwing up the lyrics that afternoon. Aside from a vague curiosity over exactly what Michael Douglas was doing there, the game started off with stern efficiency.
The game wasn't the best championship ever played, but it was the commercials that really disappointed. Running scared after last year's broadcast, which ended with our own Sen. Heather Wilson weeping in front of Congress, the corporations that shelled out nearly two-and-a-half million dollars for a 30-second spot decided to tone it down. Way down.
“Male enhancement” commercials were conspicuously absent, while beer and car commercials (still the dominant forces of the evening) were a conservative, unmemorable lot. The sole humorous Mustang commercial, featuring a frozen convertible driver, was amusing, but ran three times during the game and seriously wore out its welcome.
FedEx's spoof of what makes a great Super Bowl commercial (talking animals, dancing, groin injuries, Burt Reynolds) was a hoot, while the Ameriquest commercials urging people not to judge too quickly (one featuring a poorly timed cellphone conversation and a cattle prod, the other featuring a cat, a pot of spaghetti sauce and a butcher knife) were worth the price of admission.
The GoDaddy.com commercial proved to be the most TiVoed moment of the night. Perhaps because the commercial (featuring a buxom gal testifying before a Congressional committee) was pretty much the sole salacious moment of the entire evening. Although the spot proved eye-catching, I doubt one out of a thousand Super Bowl viewers could say exactly what GoDaddy does.
Other completely nonsensical commercials included a rugby-playing Gladys Knight somehow hawking a credit card and an expensive CGI pirate fantasy that related to NASCAR in some manner that totally escapes me.
The consensus seems to be that Paul McCartney's 12-minute half-time show was “boring.” Well, it was no Janet and Justin, but I give it points for class. After so many years of pop stars combined with rap stars surrounded by flag-waving cheerleaders and dancing llamas, a little restraint is nice.
In the end, FOX proved it could produce a Super Bowl show that was as tame as an episode of “The Lawrence Welk Show.” But so what? On Monday morning, I found myself talking more about “The Puppy Bowl” over on Animal Planet (a work of retarded genius if there ever was one) than the big game. Next year, how about a compromise: No nipples, but at least one farting horse.