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January 29, 2014

The Couch Potato: Commercials for big game not so 'Super' anymore

NEW CASTLE — As has been mentioned in this space before, the Couch Potato is not a big fan of today’s highly rated, and therefore, most popular situation comedies.

That was not always the case, as during my youth, I pretty much watched any predictable, laugh-track based sitcom on the air. 

Here’s a rundown of some of those lovable shows from my youth: “The Drew Carey Show,” “Dharma and Greg,” “Saved By the Bell,” “Full House,” “Step By Step,” “Just Shoot Me,” “Spin City,” “The King of Queens,” “Mad About You,” “Ellen” and for a $1.50 cash prize if you’ve heard of it, the Molly Ringwald vehicle, “Townies.”

None of those shows would be considered television classics by any means, but I watched them regardless. It didn’t matter that they lacked creativity or cleverness, it was just what was on.

Today’s offering of predictable, laugh-track based sitcoms are still the most popular shows on television. “The Big Bang Theory” is the number one comedy, while “Two and a Half Men” continues to thrive along side other Couch Potato-detested shows like “Two Broke Girls” and “How I Met Your Mother.”

As I have gotten older, my taste in sitcoms has changed to the point that I can’t watch a laugh-track comedy anymore. I hate being told what is funny and when to laugh.

But that’s a well-beaten path that the Couch Potato has been down before. I only bring it up because as I get older, another classic American comedy institution has been getting on my nerves — Super Bowl commercials.

With sitcoms, we have seen a great progression toward smart, quick-witted shows like, “30 Rock,” “Arrested Development,” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” among others. 

Super Bowl commercials have lacked that same progression over the years. Most still rely on the same old tricks of talking animals or babies, big celebrities and low brow humor. Very few have moved toward anything resembling astute comedy.

Perhaps the Couch Potato has become a snob, but I can’t take watching another dog run through a door for Doritos, hear a baby wax poetic about the benefits of online trading or see Danica Patrick do any number of stupid things for Go Daddy.

It’s time for Super Bowl commercials to catch up with the rest of comedy and bring some real cleverness to the table. If that table just happens to be of the ping pong variety featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in a wig, then so be it.

While recent years have been pretty bad, probably the best Super Bowl commercial of all time happened in 2010 when CBS aired the big game.  David Letterman sat on his couch and lamented how bad his Super Bowl party was, as the camera panned out to show Oprah sitting next to him.  Letterman and Oprah had a long-running feud at the time. 

That seemed clever enough, but then the camera cut to a wider shot to show the other couch mate and guest of the party, Letterman’s long time rival Jay Leno, sniveling as he ate his popcorn.

Now THAT is comedy.

At any rate, regardless of how bad it gets, I’ll still be watching the Super Bowl this year with the rest of the country. I just hope that the commercials are at least funnier than “Townies.”



 

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