Live-blog the Super Bowl commercials

A curious development in the history of the NFL championship game has been the role of commercials.  Viewership is so huge for the big game that ad agencies have been going all-out to come up with the best commercials they can devise.  So commercials have become themselves a beloved part of the festival.  And for much of America whose teams didn’t make it into the game and for people who don’t care that much about football at all but go to watch parties anyway, the commercials are the best part.

So this is the place to live-blog the commercials.  Which ones work and which ones don’t?  Which is the best?  Which ones are really bad?  Which ones are clever, funny, or mildly amusing?  Do any of them actually make you want to buy their products?  Are any of them as good as this one?

The military procedural

The American Sniper movie is stirring up big controversy in some circles for supposedly glorifying war.  But it’s also a monster hit, possibly on its way to becoming the most popular war movie ever.  Film critic Ann Hornaday says that it’s an example of a new kind of war movie:  the military procedural.

On television, police procedurals have become extremely popular, stories that concentrate on showing how police officers do their jobs.  All of the shows about forensics specialists, physicians, lawyers, etc., are of the same type, showing professionals at work as they overcome obstacles and accomplish the tasks set before them.  That is to say, all of these procedurals are about vocation! [Read more...]

Bringing God back to Veggie Tales

Broadcast television is facing stiff competition from services such as Netflix, which is now streaming original programming.  The traditional networks are complaining that Netflix, like HBO, can present taboo content and language that they can’t.

Now Netflix is presenting uncut, uncensored material that NBC found too shocking:  Letting Veggie Tales talk about God.

Netflix is running new Veggie Tales stories, a franchise now owned by DreamWorks, but unlike the cartoons’ unhappy experience on network TV, the talking vegetables with Christian roots (sorry!) can now once again use explicit language, such as “God loves you.” [Read more...]

The mother of all attack ads

I was 12 years old when I watched Lyndon Johnson’s campaign ad that showed a little girl picking daisies followed by the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast.  Even at the time, I understood the message:  Don’t vote for that extremist Barry Goldwater!  He will start a nuclear war!

Yes, the ad, if you thought about it was utterably lame (a little girl? daisies?), but it had to have contributed to LBJ’s landslide victory.  Drew Babb analyzes the political commercial, which aired as a paid advertisement one time only on September 7, 1964 (after that, it was endlessly re-run by the three networks who covered the ad itself as a piece of news).  He calls it the “mother of all attack ads.” [Read more...]

Taking Lassie straight to merchandising

The Hollywood studio DreamWorks has the rights to Lassie, the TV show about a heroic collie that is the third longest running TV drama of all time (behind Gunsmoke and Law & Order).  But the studio thinks the character is too old-fashioned for a new TV show or movie.  So the plan is to take Lassie straight to the true goal of making movie heroes these days:  merchandising.

Finding that Lassie is still beloved, she will be making appearances on TV shows, commercials, and a host of Lassie-related products.

Do you agree that Lassie, while still popular, is unable to entertain children today?  That children have to have explosions and superheroes; otherwise, they will be “bored”?   That’s the view expressed after the jump. [Read more...]

Why they cancelled “Longmire”

One of my favorite TV shows has been Longmire, an extremely well-done mystery series centering around a modern-day sheriff on the high plains of Wyoming.  It’s critically-acclaimed and one of the A&E Networks’ top-rated shows.  So the network is cancelling it.  The reason why–even though it is said that we are in a new “Golden Age” of TV drama–tells us much about network TV.  And why TV funded by subscription rather than advertising, such as Netflix and HBO, is coming into its own. [Read more...]


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