More Things I learned from TV

Christmas Commercials Edition

LukeWilsonA good trusted spokesperson helps. I can’t decide who I want to buy a car from – Mike Rowe (from Dirty Jobs) selling Fords, or Howie Long (football celebrity) for Chevy. Somehow, though funny-guy Luke Wilson just doesn’t inspire me to switch to AT&T…

I’ve learned that the family that plays video games together, stays together, or so Wal-Mart seems to think. Several of their commercials feature families playing various brands of video games. Seems counter-intuitive to me… since when are video games a wholesome family activity? I guess it’s better than hanging out in the local bar, or tagging City Hall as a family.

So many of the commercials seem interchangeable. They’re almost cookie-cutter identical. Target, Wal-Mart, Kohls, Macy’s and JC Penney all blur together. How many times can you promise 20-50% off on the stuff you marked up on November 1st.

Old Navy and The Gap continue to try to outdo each other with pandering to our kids, selling “fashion” over substance. Listen to the one with the cute little cheerleader kids. They practically have a hissy fit, demanding the latest fashion and refusing to wear last-years clothes. They dress it up in cuteness, but the message is there: buy us what they tell us to wear, or else. The “SuperModelMannequins” aren’t much better. They pretty much represent what Old Navy thinks of their customers – mindless automatons, who buy whatever they tell them to. The problem is, their fashion is crap. It’s brightly-colored, cheap crap. It’s plain and if it doesn’t sell this year, wait a few years until they bring it back with a new name and call it “new.”

And don’t get me started with the Circuit City or Radio Shack ads. They’ve sunk to new lows and don’t even make sense at times.

The average number of commercials per hour seems like it’s climbing. You really notice it even when you are fast-forwarding through them on your DVR. I’ll bet it’s getting pretty close to 50% advertising on many prime-time shows. And I count self-promotion as commercial time as well. If a network spends 30 seconds plugging an upcoming show, it’s a commercial to me, whether they pay for it or not. Same goes for local “story at 11” teasers.

The thing that really ticks me off is the repetition. What makes them think we need to see the same commercial several times an hour, or even twice in the same break? The two-parters are annoying as well. Do they think that 30 seconds with a minute of other commercials, then 30 more seconds make it like a two-minute commercial?

We’ve also learned (again) that it snows in December in Western New York. The weathermen would like to make you think that’s news, but I guess there isn’t much else to talk about with the Bills sucking and all… It must have really bugged them that they had to wait until now to instill their winter snow panic attacks after they got such an early start in October a couple years ago.

There appears to be no end to the tasteless, sugary, sappy, “Christmas Specials” that TV can come up with. The Hallmark Channel seems to have devoted it’s entire schedule since November 1 to showing only Christmas programming. One Big-three network showed the much-beloved classic A Charlie Brown Christmas in a chopped-short 30 minute version because it was pre-empted by the President’s speech about Afghanistan. The conspiracy theorists are having a heyday, claiming it’s an attack on Christian values by the administration. If that’s the case, there’s a lot of crappy Christmas programming coming that they can attack. I’d thank them if they could eliminate most of it. Incidentally, the Charlie Brown show is being shown again in it’s full length later.

To me, there’s about three classic Christmas specials and there is no need for any more. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (the one with the late Burl Ives as narrator), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Christmas Story (the Jean Shepherd story featuring Ralphie Parker.) Not another one measures up, except maybe the original A Christmas Carol movie. (No need for the Jim Carey 3D animated movie version, or the modernized Bill Murray one either.) I’ll slide on the It’s A Wonderful Life if you insist. The Shop Around The Corner, is alleged to be a better Jimmy Stewart Christmas movie, but I’ve never seen it. I’ll still pass on the Miracle On 34th Street a “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” rip-off that was always a clever product-placement for Macy’s anyway.

Posted in Humour, Rants, TV
3 comments on “More Things I learned from TV
  1. Frank says:

    I don’t know a single person who buys a car for Christmas, even 10 years ago people didn’t do that. Now with the economy in the shitter, it’s even less likely, yet year after year we see an increase in these pathetic sappy car commercials with cars dressed up in bows, and some wife who’s overly dressed for it being Christmas morning all jaw agape that her wonderful perfect hubby surprised her by buying her a fucking Lexus. Those commercials piss me off.

    I’ll give Mike Rowe one thing, he’s 100x better to listen to than Dennis Leary trying to sell me a car with his cynical sounding ‘get real’ attitude. Those commercials really got under my skin.

    Honestly, Luke Wilson’s commercials may not be effective, but they’re not nearly as annoying as those Sprint people living in bubble commercials they’ve been churning out and spitting at us at an alarming rate. Or those ones where they throw some map at us for 5 seconds and expect us to honestly believe their coverage is like 5x the size of their competitions.

    As for which yearly Christmas specials I look forward to, you nailed them all except one. You forgot Frosty the Snowman. I loved that one. “Let’s name him Oatmeal!” that along with Charlie Brown, Rudolph and Christmas Story are great. Mom used to really love the Grinch, and I don’t mind it. But I don’t find it to be necessary every year like Ralphie and Rudolph are. And I’m gonna stick up for Scrooged. I think that telling is the most entertaining of the slew of incantations of the Dickens story. The story itself is so overtold and boring, Bill Murray actually breathes a little life into the character. I didn’t see the new Jim Carrey 3D one, but I heard it was essentially a straight telling of the story and we’re better off just watching the one from back in the 30s. Scrooged at least didn’t make you want to fall asleep by the second ghost (Carol Kane for the win. What ever happened to her?).

    Miracle on 34th Street was awful. I never liked that movie. Its a Wonderful Life was another one of those Mom movies, but I hated it. I never watched it from beginning to end because it always found new ways to bore the living hell out of me. I don’t find Jimmy Stewart watchable. His voice is annoying and he’s just… blah.

    There’s my 2 cents…

  2. Al Gritzmacher says:

    Cars are not presents. Cars are a tool, a necessity, a responsibility, not a toy or a gift. Give a car to someone who cannot afford it’s upkeep, it’s a curse. Plus, it’s such a personal choice, you shouldn’t give someone a car without consulting them and letting then in on the decision.

    Anyone that has so much money that they are considering a car as a gift should pull the silver spoon out and think long and hard about it. To 90% of the population, a car with a bow on it is such a ridiculous concept it seems over the top.

    I didn’t realize Dennis Leary was still doing car commercials, but I heard the one today about the trailer passing you… not my favorite either.

    The Sprint bubble commercials are obnoxious too, but I do like the idea of butt-dialing Flav-A-Flav. Can I get that as an option? I’d pay for that!

    I didn’t really forget Frosty or the Grinch. They’re okay and legitimate Christmas Classics. Scrooged had it’s good satirical points too. But the majority of the new ones lately seem forced, as if some exec said “We need a new Christmas Special. Whip out a new script for me. Have it on my desk by 2 this afternoon…” The quality just isn’t there.

  3. M. Moretti says:

    I regard annoying commercials as comedy entertainment, like politics. I actually thought the “supermodelquins” were a cute way to make a commercial on the cheap without hiring actors. Companies have to cut corners these days, too. About half my wardrobe comes from Old Navy,and a lot of it is not bright colors. The quality of their clothing varies a lot, and there are certain things I never buy there. They mostly cater to teens and children and a little to women my age. I guess they want the moms to shop there, too, as there is little that would suit you. I recently got what I would call a nice belted wrap sweater from them. A week or so later the commercial calls it a “cardi-coat”, and I’m supposed to party in it, as in out to nightclubs.

    But back to Christmas. I can’t stand “It’s a Wonderful Life” either. Rudolph, Charlie Brown Christmas, and Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol are the best. Muppets Christmas shows, too, if you can find them. Mr. M has a collection of about five different versions of Christmas Carol. He watches them all, and has debates about best Scrooge, best Ghosts, etc. Most people (myself included) think the Alistair Sim version is the best. The richest man in town lives in a house he is too cheap to keep in good condition. Meanwhile his allegedly “poor” nephew lives in a nice house with his lovely wife having a Christmas party with his friends. You will notice he is so “poor” that he can afford a maid (and probably one or two other servants unseen) and has nice furniture and even a piano. This man is doing alright for the era. The Cratchits are probably more an average family, although Bob could probably do better if he would go work for someone else. Scrooge’s change of heart at the end is classic.

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