The SUPERfluousBOWL!

Is it just me or has the bloom come off the rose a little bit?

It could just be a slow year, God knows there’s reason enough for that. Who’s got money to spend on top-notch advertising? (Well it’s not Toyota just now, is it?) Whatever the reason, it feels to me like some kind of long, slow denouement from the heyday of Super Bowls in the 90s and the 2000s. It got me to wondering when the current Super Bowl format arose.

A little digging will tell you that Superbowl commercials have long had a reputation for being a cut above your average 30-second advert. Stands to reason – you get one of (if not THE) biggest television audiences of the year, you’re going to swing for the fences. But there came a point when the commercials became as much of a draw as the game itself, and seeing as this is my blog, I think I’ll peg it at the advent of the first Bud Bowl.

That was 1989. (!) TWENTY ONE YEARS AGO.

After that, I think things just got crazy. Every year there was a huge push to up the ante. People had money to spend! Weird stuff started showing up in the gaps between game segments. WEBSITES!

In 2000, according to Peter Hartlaub at, 17 dotcoms bought spots in the big game. And then the boom went bust and the commercials went with it.

Well… it took them a LITTLE longer, but the angle definitely turned downward. This year there were a few that were clever, none that were particularly amazing. The half-time show was… well. The Who is great. I love ’em, but that show was just depressing. Pete Townsend looks like a slightly thinner version of my uncle Lowell. And Roger Daltry appears to be contracting. One of these days we’ll look and see that he has no limbs left, having absorbed them into his enormous, barrel-shaped torso.

(You know, I looked into the history of Super Bowl half-time shows, too. The first time the show WASN’T just some kind of drill team or civic/school band performance was 1987 when Mickey Rooney and George Burns performed WITH high school drill teams and dancers. You have to go up to 1991 the New Kids On The Block to find a show that doesn’t have some kind of ‘Drum Majors and Marching’ element!)

(Oh! I take that back – CAROL CHANNING played the 1970 Super Bowl halftime show. Maybe we could get Ryan Stiles to do a revival of that next year!)

I miss the old Super Bowl, but there’s hope! 3-D TVs are on the horizon, my pretties. Just imagine… soon a wee little Peyton Manning pitching screen passes through your living room! Or the Geico gecko shilling for his corporate masters right there on your coffee table! Just imagine the wardrobe malfunctions to be seen in 3-D! Sure, Janet Jackson went and tripped the vigilance switch, but gives me hope (among other things).

So bear down, buck up, and hope for next year. They’ve got to run out of old rock stars eventually. Until then, whatever you do…


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