Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guarantee Void In Tennesee

Hard to believe it but as of this writing we still have a full 24 hours left of  FXX's record breaking Every Simpsons Ever marathon. And if you're still watching these season 24 episodes with the same level of enthusiasm as the Simpsons fare from last week I have to at least admire your fanatical dedication to the series (or maybe you were born in 2000 and you just don't know any better). Much like most "classic era" Simpsons fans I for one have transitioned to an increasingly casual viewing schedule since about season 10 or so wrapped up, popping in sporadically to experience the odd novelty of watching a totally unseen episode of the show (though I am surprised at how many later era episodes I have actually seen). For me this whole marathon has kind of been like Homer's experience with eating his inherited 10 ft hoagie from "Selma's Choice". I eagerly consumed it for about the first week until its quality began to turn. Then despite it getting into a state far past its sell by date I still kept sneaking in a couple of bites. Eventually some of the episodes left me feeling a ill. However in the end I could not continue to stay mad at something I loved so much.

Laughter and tears and some mild laughter aside, my other lasting memory from this wild 12 day run would be the commercials, oh my goodness those commercials. Hours upon hours of Simpsons binge watching also comes with it the terrible, irritating price of being exposed to the same group of advertisements over and over again to the point where you wish you had the short memory of an NBA great like Charles Barkley. I cannot recall any other situation where I was exposed as many times to the same limited number of TV ads in such a brief span. The repetitive spots you get while watching playoff sports have nothing on this marathon.

So I figured just for the fun of it, and perhaps in a possibly futile effort to exorcise them from my subconsciousness, I'd list a few of the highlights that many of you fellow marathoners may be all too familiar with.

This spot was the undisputed king of the early third of the Simpsons marathon. Fortunately these have sort of faded away at this point. There were commercial breaks where it ran twice! My opinion of it? It's pretty awful. I found the shirt guy unsettling, his couch buddy overly condescending and that third guy who doesn't talk superfluous. Additionally his "punchline" ("but I got it off SkyMall) is a lame non-joke. I only later found out that this was the shortened 15 second version of the original ad. The full 30 second spot is actually a little better; they give the third guy a line and long time Hanes pitchman Michael Jordan makes a random cameo (though I'm not entirely convinced that he's not just a figment of Kitten shirt dude's warped mind). Still, I'm sticking to Fruit of the Looms.

Don't say you never learned anything while watching this marathon. I don't know about your TV market but the first week or so of this marathon dropped some serious knowledge on me about the horrors of Risperdal and gynecomastia courtesy of the firm of Pulaski & Middleman. Actually it is quite frightening that a drug meant to treat a mental disorder could lead to such an unexpected and bizarre side effect like making boys grow female breasts (they really emphasize the "female breast", I suppose big male breasts won't cover it). This must be a huge source of litigation, I found dozens of similar legal ads; with various "sad teenage boy" stock photos. Of course when I hear boys with breasts I immediately pictured Homer bullying Uter (note: weird edited clip).

The NFL continues its undisputed dominance over all forms of American culture, including the Simpsons marathon. Between round the clock commercials for Madden 15/GameStop, the digital HD and Blu-Ray release of Draft Day, and the countless ads for the new season of "The League", football related ads may come out as the biggest commercial presence of the whole marathon. The Madden ad's one note joke would have been okay a few times around but did not hold up to its excessive replays. At this point the ad have thankfully mostly gone away. Draft Day sneakily continues to be played at basically the same rate as when the marathon began, which is ad nausem. The ad makes it seem like the movie is 60% archival footage of the actual draft. I still have a hard time believing this movie isn't just an SNL parody. As for "The League", it continues to be pushed hard. I do have to give it some credit for having at least a variety of spots, though they're all not that funny. Truth be told, I have seen a few seasons of the show and it's really not that bad, but none of the ads give any indication of that.

Of all the ads I've seen, this is probably my favorite. Despite the overplaying I still find it unobjectionable, funny even. James Harden's role in all these Footlocker ads is kind of interesting. He plays everything so unbelievably deadpan. There's no change in emotion or anything coming off him, all the humor is derived from other guest athletes or by his straight faced reaction to an exceedingly bizarre situation. I imagine there might be a much darker side to Barkey and Pippen's short memories like Memento where they have to rely on a complex series of self written notes and mementos just to get through the day. Despite historically playing second to Jordan, Pippen comes out on top when comparing their respective Simpsons marathon commercials.

Microsoft left their mark on this marathon with a pair of commercials promoting their new products via dissing on Apple. In the ads supporting their Surface Pro 3 they employed Wendy's girl level passive aggressive dumping on Apple, basically showing off how their tablet is superior to their laptop (in whatever white room Apple used during their Mac and PC campaign). It seems Microsoft is really picking their battles with their tablet, since they can't actually compete with other tablets they pit their tablets against other laptops. The second ad showing off Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Siri, made me wonder what kind of absentminded husband needs his phone to remind him to tell his wife happy anniversary and to give him alerts whenever he passes ANY flower shop? Why bother even remembering his wife's name when he can command Cortana to remind him whenever she is around. This ad gave me an idea or a possible sci-fi screenplay where a man falls in love with his phone and plots with it to kill his wife; like a film noir "Her".

I still have no idea what this Destiny game is all about. It looks like a fancy version of Halo to me. Given the excessive amount of advertising, this game must have some serious hype. The ad for the PS4 release of Blizzard's Diablo 3 comes off totally like a movie trailer. If it weren't for the bumper at the end I would have never known. On the whole I'd rather be playing Lee Carvello's Putting Challenge

Speaking of Blizzard (see that slick transition there?) Dairy Queen's ad for their Chips Ahoy Blizzard has been coming on strong in the later seasons. Maybe it's just me but every time I tuned in for a later era episode, I had cut-rate Alexander Skarsgard giving me his two cents on how to properly get the chocolaty word out. I don't mind the commercial that much. The irritating, over-the-top, English soccer announcer (shades of the Simpsons take on hyperbolic international soccer announcing) kind of grew on me ("MAGISTEEERIAL SOFT SERVE!"). My only problem is why is the guy imagining all this in an empty stadium? From what we gather, this man's fantasy is eating the Blizzard in an empty soccer stadium while a football announcer watches and commentates. Where are these roars coming from? How is eating the Blizzard in an empty stadium a good way to get the word out?