For 364 days a year I do anything within my power to avoid having to watch commercials. I set up an intricate DVR viewing schedule where I'll simultaneously watch two or three different shows at once, just so that the commercial buffering lines up. I'll channel surf away from ads during live events, hit the kitchen or the bathroom when I'm unable to fast-forward any further, mute my computer when I'm watching Hulu or else I'll close my eyes, cover my ears and sing songs from "Cats" just to miss having products sold to me.
As a long-time and devoted Patriots fan, I've had a pretty good stretch of years when the Super Bowl meant more to me than just a mid-afternoon receptacle for wildly expensive commercials. But this year, I'll be joining much of America in viewing the Steelers and Cardinals as a hopefully exciting filling for my advertising and Bruce Springsteen.
Follow along as I live-blog the commercials and a little bit of the game. And please, join in the discussion. If I hated the talking muskrats or the trailer for "Paul Blart 2: Electric Blart-a-loo" and you loved them, lemme know.
Blogging will begin after J-Hud sings the "Star Spangled Banner" and after the bump ...
6:21 p.m. ET The big ticket commercials aren't supposed to air until after kickoff, but try telling that to Paramount, which sneaks the "G.I. Joe" trailer into the post-National Anthem slot. The trailer is chock full of wooden acting, horrible dialogue and CGI blur. But the toppling Eiffel Tower is the sort of money shot that can make a summer blockbuster.
6:39 p.m. Bud Light commercial focuses on the economic downturn, but with a smile. An employee suggests the best way to cut back would be to eliminate Bud Light at meetings. He's thrown through the window.
6:40 p.m. Way to make "Angels & Demons" look like a cheap sequel to "The Last Templar." The movie looks derivative and familiar, but at least Tom Hanks has a new haircut.
6:42 p.m. Jason Statham, seemingly playing his "Transporter" character zips through the '70s, '80s and into the present day for Audi. It's a good commercial, even if it reminds me too much of those old Clive Owen BMW spots. The tagline is "Progress is Beautiful."
6:43 p.m. Bob Dylan and Will.I.Am offer different flavors of "Forever Young" in a Pepsi commercial that showcases icons from different ages with the slogan, "Every Generation Refereshes the World." The "Beverage of a Generation" thing is Coke's M.O., especially when it comes to the '60s. Will Pepsi be able to sway the generation that Coke taught to sing in perfect harmony?
6:44 p.m. Doritos' "Magic Ball" commercial relies on the thesis that hitting an old guy in the nads with a snow-globe is always funny. Yes, I know it's puerile of me, but I laughed. Twice.
6:47 p.m. Tee-hee. Snowglobe in the groin. That would really hurt.
6:51 p.m. How meta. Conan O'Brien begins his Bud Light commercial by saying he'd never do a commercial. He relents when he learns it will only be played in Sweden, where quality advertising features bearskin rugs, snowmen and possessed kittens. Skillnaden Ar, indeed.
6:52 p.m. Wow. "Year One" doesn't look ever vaguely funny. It looks like "Life of Brian" without the Monty Python sensibility. This one was directed by Harold Ramis, right? That reminds me that I should watch "Groundhog Day" tomorrow.
6:53 p.m. The commercial for the Toyota Venza really wasn't worth the money. I mean, yes, I've repeated the name Toyota Venza, but I don't know why.
6:54 p.m. Good to see NBC using a bit of promo time for "Chuck." The 1-D gag is funny. I wonder what it would take to make somebody watch "Chuck" for the first time at this point. It's a really good show, y'all. WATCH.
7:01 p.m. That was an incredibly quick first quarter.
7:02 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead take a roadtrip. They nearly run over a group of lambs. But what does this have to do with Bridgestone?
7:03 p.m. That's just a great trailer for "4 Fast 4 Furious." Fast cars, bumping-and-grinding women, fireballs? That movie is in good shape, quality-be-darned.
7:04 p.m. Grease monkeys? With real monkeys? Dear readers, if you know know me, you know I love monkeys, that nothing is more likely to make me endorse your commercial than monkeys. Therefore, Castrol, you have my vote. Use of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita" can't hurt either.
7:06 p.m. "Hand's up if you needed a big screen version of "Land of the Lost"? I can't see your hands. The CGI dinosaurs aren't bad, but the desert landscape isn't convincing and there wasn't nearly enough of the Sleesacks, Anna Friel or Danny McBride.
7:07 p.m. Crunching Doritos makes magical things happen? It can strip women and deactive ATMs and turn cops into monkeys. Remember what I said about monkeys? It's still true. And the final gag with the guy getting hit by a bus Todd Mulcahy style? Sure. Why not.
7:07 p.m. Is GoDaddy really still using Danica Patrick? Why? There are better drivers and hotter babes and there are definitely other people I'd like GoDaddy to cause to make shower online.
7:10 p.m. Dudes getting hit with golf clubs, bowling balls, 4X4s. This plays to the same audience that laughed at the Doritos spot (i.e. me) except for the tag line, "Men can take anything except the taste of diet dola." Turns out it's a Pepsi spot. I happen to like Diet Coke just fine. Plus, Coke Zero is already a diet cola that tastes just like a regular soda.
7:10 p.m. Pedigree urges people to get a dog by showing how high maintenance rhinos, wild boar, ostriches and bulls are as pets. This transitions perfectly into the first Budweiser Clydesdales spot of the night, with the horse attempting to outshine the dog in a game of fetch. Usually I love the Clydesdales, but this isn't funny. The point is that the characters in these ads are both amusing and sympathetic, but this is neither.
7:12 p.m. A second consecutive Clydesdale commercial, this one with the horse pining after a racing horse and going on a cross-country odyssey to find his true love. But what did this have to do with Budweiser? And why the ethnic stereotype delivering the punchline at the end?
7:14 p.m. New "Star Trek" footage, or at least a tiny bit of new "Star Trek" footage. Most of that material was already in the first trailer and nothing in the new trailer feels additionally "Trek"-y, if you ask me. This has the vibe of a "'Star Trek' isn't just for Trekkers" pitch.
7:22 p.m. I preferred the first "G" commercial to this Superbowl spot. It was more mysterious. Now that I know it's just Gatorade, much of the mystique is gone. Also, the presence of Jabbawockeez would be better if they had something to do.
7:23 p.m. I don't know that I would like David Abernathy very much, despite all of his achievements, but I guess it's humanizing that he has to use Cars.com.
7:31 p.m. Steve Breaston has great speed and a tremendous afro. I can't accept that that's a coincidence.
7:35 p.m. Hyundai Genesis is making people anxious in Japan and Germany. Again, ethnic caricatures don't make me want to purchase a car. And this is odd, because usually I'm entirely in favor of mocking the Germans.
7:36 p.m. Oh look. The E-Trade baby has a new black friend. And naturally, he sings. Does he dance too? Do a little shuffle? Is he a gifted basketball player? Talk about making something that was already stale, even lamer.
7:39 p.m. I just watched "Wall-E" again the other day. The first half of the movie is as good as anything Pixar has ever done. That's my way of saying that while I'm not necessarily sure anything in this "Up" trailer has me convinced yet, the Pixar name is still gold.
7:40 p.m. I guess enough time has passed since the tragic death of Sonny Bono that Bud's "Discussions on Drinkability" commercial, in which some dork causes a skier to get hit by a tree, is acceptable. Acceptable? Yes. Funny? No.
7:42 p.m. Big turnover.
7:42 p.m. Because the only things certain are Death and Taxes, H&R blocks features the Grim Reaper showing up to threaten the accountant who missed things on his taxes. The commercial? So-so. Abe Vigoda as the voice of Death? Perhaps the coolest thing ever. See? He isn't dead.
7:43 p.m. Flowers come for Diane, but they're in a box and they're awful talking flowers that say cruel things like "Nobody wants to see you naked." The tag line is "Don't send flowers in a box. You never know what they'll say." That's pretty clever and the flowers themselves are funny, but surely I can't be the only one who completely missed who the commercial wanted me to get my flowers from. [The answer: Teleflora.com]
7:47 p.m. Chester the Cheetah is cool. The awful woman in her sweatsuit talking on her cell phone is not. That's what I learned from that Cheetos commercial. Also? Birds enjoy Cheetos. In a funnier version of that commercial, Chester would have mauled the woman. Now *that* would have been cool.
7:56 p.m. Wow. What an ending to the half. That's a game-changer. I don't think the Cardinals come back from that, even with the ball to start the second half.
7:57 p.m. I hate 3-D. Sorry. I know it's future, but it just doesn't enhance my enjoyment at all. So that was a lot of build-up to a "Monsters vs. Aliens" ad that mostly hurt my eyes. What did 3-D even do to improve that trailer? A little paddle ball gag? Some asteroids? The movie itself looks plenty cute enough, but the trailer didn't do anything to convince me that I need to see it in 3-D.
7:58 p.m. The "Monster vs. Aliens"-inflused Sobe ad actually makes much better use of the 3-D. The dancing football players, flying lizards and soaring beverage bottles all look better in 3-D than anything in the vaunted movie trailer.
8:03 p.m. Our music guru Melinda will be handling the Springsteen concert, so I'm going to go get some food...
8:36 p.m. Would that Coca-Cola commercial make more sense to me if I played World of Warcraft? I guess it was sweet.
8:37 p.m. Fratboys rejoice! Mars astronauts cavorting to "Jump Around" is bound to become a favorite commercial for a certain subset of the audience. I've already lost track in my mind what the commercial was for (Bridgestone) or what it had to do with anything, but it was giddy fun.
8:37 p.m. What did Who-Cakes ever do to Dennys and why is Dennys so desperate to mock IHOP? The new "Isn't it time for a serious breakfast?" slogan makes precious little sense coming from a company that proudly serves the Moon Over My Hammy.
8:38 p.m. The latest Monster.com "Need a new job?" ad makes its point pretty clearly -- you can either work under the head of the moose or under its rump -- but it was probably too brief to make any real impact.
8:40 p.m. Thanks to the success of superhero movies, we're treated to an origin story for Jake, one of the Budweiser Clydesdales. It's not a funny commercial, but it's nicely atmospheric and well-produced and I like the pro-immigrant sentiment. Could we have had this kind of commercial last year, or is it a product of the Obama Era?
8:42 p.m. No, I'm still not going to see "Race to Watch Mountain," but there were a lot of special effects in defense of a movie that couldn't interest me any less.
8:57 p.m. There's a nawful lot happening in that "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ad. If you liked the first movie -- and I know a few people who may have -- the trailer gives a strong inclination that Michael Bay's "Bigger Is Better" philosophy remains entirely intact.
8:58 p.m. That CareerBuilder ad may be my favorite so far. And not just because of the guy drinking gold, the woman riding the difficult-to-identify aquatic creature and the dude punching the coffee-drinking koala in the face. Actually, mostly because of the koala thing.
9:00 p.m. Coca-Cola spot gets all "Bug's Life," as a man's Coke bottle falls victim to maurauding insects, with a little "Peter and the Wolf" on the soundtrack. It's a rather beautiful and inspired spot, especially when the butterflies pretend to be the Coke bottle.
9:01 p.m. I'm glad Frosted Flakes is giving back to the community. But maybe instead of spending $3 million on telling me they given back to the community, Kelloggs should have given that $3 million to the community.
9:02 p.m. "If your Conan lasts more than three hours, call a doctor."
9:05 p.m. Have you met Usama Young? He used to sell concessions at RFK Stadium. Now he plays for the New Orleans Saints. That's a very sweet commercial.
9:06 p.m. John Turturro for Heineken is part of a series. Lame. Not the series. It's decent. But give me something fresh for the Super Bowl.
9:08 p.m. OMG. A local ad just featured Jack from Jack-in-the-Box getting hit by a bus. It looks like he might not make it.
9:11 p.m. We're into old commercials and local spots. I thought NBC was more sold out than this?
9:17 p.m. Troy Polamalu stars in a rather funny remake of Mean Joe Green's classic Coke commercial. This spot, for Coke Zero, at least has a couple funny new aspects to it, while Polamalu is a likable enough pitchman. The original is still better.
9:18 p.m. MC Hammer and Ed McMahon for Cash4Gold.com? Funny for 10 seconds, not for 30. Was Gary Coleman busy? How about Willie Nelson?
9:23 p.m. Is that Vizio commercial national? Well, I do have a Vizio.
9:24 p.m. The girl in that Taco Bell commercial is going to drop his stalker butt as soon as she sees an escape route.
9:26 p.m. Alec Baldwin is always funny. "TV only softens the brain. Like a ripe banana." To take it all the way? Use Hulu.com. That's a very good commercial for a product that most people don't know, but which I use on a daily basis. And I'm not just saying that because I'm an alien...
9:32 p.m. We have a game here.
9:33 p.m. Macgruber? This was a skit on last night's "Saturday Night Live." How very weird. Out of context, I'm not sure if it really works. PepSuber.
9:49 p.m. We suddenly have a classic going here.
9:54 p.m. We're killing time now. Bud with Lime. Tawdry GoDaddy stuff. They must want to get back to the end of the game as well.
10:13 p.m. One of the great Super Bowls is over. But were the commercials great? Meh. I'd put CareerBuilder, Hulu and the Dylan Pepsi spot near the top of my list...