On Sunday I watched my other football team bomb out of the playoffs. Actually to be correct, I had to watch the game on a delay because I was otherwise engaged earlier in the day and time ran over, and my stupid stupid DVR (thanks, Time-Warner) not only cut off the last minute of the game but actually lost the recording as well. But as a result of watching the game, I learned that Bruno Mars would be playing the Superbowl IIL halftime show. (Yes, I know it’s actually “Super Bowl”, but I refuse to spell it that way. I also know it’s officially XLVIII, because the modern restrictions we put on Roman numerals are moronic. I reject this silliness.) When they announced Bruno would play the halftime show, they played one of his newer songs that I loathe, and it’s been stuck in my head for two days.
The thing of it is I don’t actually hate Bruno Mars, but gads is he ever trying to convince me lately. He’s got talent out the wazoo and is truly a good singer, but I just hate the vast majority of his musical catalog. Too many of those songs rub me the wrong way. And the horrible part: I used to like more songs of his than I disliked, early on. But for the past couple of years he’s been batting zero, and for reasons I can only partly articulate his newer music hits my rage buttons.
I’ve talked about the best and worst of Superbowl halftime shows before, so this is not a rehash of that rant. Rather, it is a lament. There was a time, for a few years in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when more TV networks recognized that the halftime show usually sucks. They gave us alternative programming to watch instead. MTV once aired an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch with a “return from halftime” countdown just to poach viewers, and one year NBC gave us a little bit of Saturday Night Live that was stinking hilarious—though they ran over a little. This kind of thing was glorious, and gave me real faith in humanity, because it filled a desperate need. Yet now, practically nobody does it. Well, except Animal Planet with the Puppy Bowl, but while that’s adorable I’d prefer something more in the awesome or funny category. Checking out Wikipedia’s page on counterprogramming shows that hardly any effort has been put into meaningful alternatives for years.
Frankly I don’t get it. Other networks have to be hurting for ratings opposite the Superbowl. They know, with great certainty, that a large number of people are always disappointed in the halftime show player and many simply have no taste for the gaudiness of the show. Those viewers are poachable, and these channels can give their ratings a huge boost on an otherwise lackluster day by offering worthwhile content during this time. The Puppy Bowl draws huge numbers because it has no meaningful alternatives (and in some years, none at all).
Moreover, a lot more networks could be doing alternative pregame shows. Tell me the official pregame content in the last few years hasn’t sucked, and I’ll call you a liar, call you an idiot or some derivative thereof, and spit in your face. (Okay, maybe I won’t spit. Maybe. But I’ll still say well-deserved mean things.) I mean good gads, in past years we had Madden countdowns, NFL Films, outdoor concert performances, etc., stuff that was exciting and got people ready for the game. The last few years we had interviews with the president, who has jack nothing to do with football. The Superbowl is not a day for politics. It is a day for fierce sports rivalries, for celebration and silly commercials, and most of all chicken wings. Preferably teriyaki.
This year it looks like our only halftime alternative once again is the Puppy Bowl, featuring Keyboard Cat. It’s quasi-acceptable. But it sucks that there’s nothing else. And mind you, even this info was hard to find on Google; the aforementioned Wikipedia page doesn’t mention it, and searches are flooded in meaningless stories about the regular halftime show. I haven’t heard a peep about pregame options.
Well, at least I’m still looking forward to the food and the commercials. As for the game, I’m rooting against pretty much everyone left in the playoffs, so it’s a matter of picking who I want to lose more. Again.