Friday, January 30, 2009

Wave of Mutilation

I consider myself a fairly jaded soul when it comes to television infomercials. When you look back at your formative years and they looks suspiciously like all the warnings from "Television, the Drug of the Nation"; you have to admit you've spent a lot of time in front on the TV. Seeing that I've seen my fair share of TV infomercials and that television has completely obliterated my attention span, it really takes a special, "Offer-ian" level, effort for a late night commercial to stop my remote in its tracks.

Well, for the past half hour, I was a captive in my own room; irresistibly fixed to this hypnotic sales pitch for something called the "Flavorwave Turbo Oven". The crazy thing about it was, it was probably one of the worst infomercials I've seen in my life, but I just couldn't stop. The baffling level of badness to it all tasked me to keep watching. Throughout the whole commercial I was wondering if this was some sort of elaborate joke or extended comedy bit. Everything from the premise of the commercial to the people involved to the actual product itself just seemed so absurd that it just couldn't have been a legitimate advertising for a cooking appliance.

In terms of the hosts, the big question is, what has Mr. T done in his decades of acting work that have anything to do with a kitchen appliance? They don't even bother even having it tangentially related to him by slapping his name on it like the Foreman or the Hogan Grill. In actuality, his generic role of inquisitive male counterpart could have been replaced any nearly actor. Of course with most other actors, you wouldn't be able to introduce him by having him break down the kitchen door! Sure the banter between him and suspected "actress & TV personality" Darla Haun is stiff and awkward; sure, every attempt by him at feigned enthusiasm is transparent and forced; sure, the sad sight of a middle aged, dumpy, gold chain-less, Mr. T is totally distracting from the actual product; but at least you have him dropping an "I pity the fool" about a minute into the commercial.

As for the machine, it looks so cumbersome and extremely narrow in application. Infomercials have the magic touch of making an otherwise shoddy or unnecessary product seem like a life changing innovation, but even all the late night luster couldn't make this product seem enticing. Half the problem lies in the fact that you never actually see it in action since it takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook things; and the time lapse videos they show you of meat cooking looks more like the scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when all the Nazi's faces melt-off. The other issue is that all the demonstrations that Darla and Mr. T show in the commercial is basically the extent of the Flavorwave's use. In the relatively specific cases where you need to cook and eat medium sized pieces of frozen meat and vegetables with a cooking time that is about five minutes less then a toaster oven, the Flavorwave is the innovation for you.

Then there are just weird moments in the commercial that defy catagorization, like when:
  • Mr. T inexplicably gets a birthday cake.
  • Darla nonchalantly brings out a large tray of frozen meats.
  • Mr. T says he's had enough of the jibba jabba.
  • Mr. T uses Hannibal's catchphrase ("I love it when a plan comes together") from the A-Team.
  • Darla gives Mr. T some sort of official Flavorwave master gold chain
Of course the ultimate question is, despite the terribleness of the whole marketing effort, isn't the very fact that I was mesmerized for half an hour and I'm blogging about it make it technically a good commercial? Now that's some impressive jibba jabba.


  1. Ok. Wow. I saw this informercial one night during a bout of coffee-fueled insomnia, and it was indeed mesmerizing. I think the hypnotizing aspect come from the wonderful, BTTF2 re-hyradter future we all wish we lived in, as opposed to the hoverboard-less, Max Headroom host-free present we live in now.

  2. P.S. I'm really annoyed I can't watch this again in full online. THATS a great infommercial.