With a lockout threatening the NFL next year, the league couldn’t have asked for a better way to complete this season. Two storied franchises from blue collar cities meeting in the Super Bowl, both led by quarterbacks trying to climb out of the shadows. Green Bay Packers QB, Aaron Rodgers was looking to cast aside the comparisons to Green Bay’s legendary Brett Favre; Pittsburgh Steeler QB, Ben Roethlisberger was hoping to prove that he’d reformed his bad boy image after an off season of legal trouble. All fans of football could ask for in a big game like this is that it be played well and that the final score wasn’t a blow-out. Despite an uneven first half, the end result of Super Bowl XLV, which aired on Fox, should have pleased just about anyone who wasn’t rooting for the Steelers.

The Super Bowl has become such a huge pop culture phenomenon that sometimes the football gets lost in all of the hype. All day long, celebrities are on camera talking about their upcoming films, just bout anyone who’s ever picked up a football is analyzing the two teams and offering a prediction, and of course there are the commercials. The Sunday of the Super Bowl is circled on every marketing calendar as a chance to grab eyes for the latest gadgets, the newest variety of snack food, and any upcoming summer film release.

I was pretty disappointed with this year’s crop of commercials. None of them really grabbed me as memorable.  I did laugh, though, like at the Doritos commercial with the strange office drone sucking the nacho cheese dust off of his co-workers finger, the Budweiser old west ”Tiny Dancer” ad, and Chevy Cruze old folks bit. Audi’s jailbreak commercial was the most inventive, in my opinion, followed by Coke’s CG animated commercial with the dragon. I watched that one twice.

As for the movies trailers, Thor didn’t offer much, Captain America gave me hope that Chris Evans can pull off the red, white and blue, and Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens looks like it could be one of the summer’s best. As for Fast Five? Man, Vin Diesel is starting to look old. And what’s up with the Rock sporting that atrocious beard?

But enough about the hype. How about the game? After not one, but two national anthems to start the game, with Glee’s Lea Michelle over singing ”America the Beautiful” and Christina Aguilera flubbing the words to ”The Star Spangled Banner,” (which is just embarrassing) the game finally got underway. From the start, it looked like the Steelers were going to get their asses kicked. Penalties, turnovers and mental errors by Pittsburgh gave the Packers excellent field position and an 18 point lead before the end of the first half. Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, arguably the best TV commentators working, did their best to keep Steeler fans excited about a possible comeback, but it wasn’t looking good as the teams went into the locker room for the half.

After the Black Eyed Peas performed (more on that in a moment), the two teams returned and the Packers seemed to forget that they were playing for the championship. The Steelers began mounting their comeback and the Packers looked flustered. Actually, if you’d watched any of the Pack’s playoff games this year, you’d recognize that this is how they played in the second half of every one of their playoff games. Granted, the suffered some crucial injuries, but how they managed to hold on and win amazed me. Roethlisberger had the Steelers within reach of taking control of the game, yet turnovers killed the steel city team and the Packers went on to win.

Overall, the second half of the Super Bowl was the kind of exciting theater I expected from these two great teams. Fox’s coverage was excellent, as well. The network took full advantage of the broadcast to promote their returning shows, like Glee and Raising Hope, as well as promote new series like the eagerly anticipated, The Chicago Code and the new comedy, Traffic Light. I didn’t feel as if Fox went overboard. The special episode of Glee that followed the Super Bowl was hyped up pretty well. I do wonder how many east coast viewers stuck around once the game ended. After all, Glee didn’t begin until almost 11:00.

For more on the half time show featuring The Black Eyed Peas, and that post game Glee episode, I hand things off to my fellow Popdosers, Dw. Dunphy and Emilia Rhodes.

“It’s been seven years now. Can we please have a little T&A back?” – The organizers of the 2011 Superbowl Halftime Show

Yes, seven years ago, a plague of “legacy” rockers was unleashed upon the institution of the Superbowl, the one day when all Americans can set aside differences of religion, finance and status and enjoy the nation’s one truly non-denominational rite — watchin’ some Foo-BAWL. Do recall that, on that evening in 2004, a torrent of silvered Janet Jackson nipples wreaked havoc on the cultural psyche, caused the FCC to throw penalty flags of their own and made the Halftime producers think twice about who was going to officiate over the period most often reserved for chip-and-dip refreshing, beer-topping and, of course, peeing.

Since then, the grand old (mostly white) men of music have had to carry the ball, making the mid-game period safe once more for, well, grand old men. It wasn’t too bad, when you consider it. We had Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Prince, who made the most of his time and reminded the world why he’s one of the baddest mofos to strut across the stage. Then we had Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen in his natural element.

But last year, the point had been tipped. The Who, or at least what’s left of them, put on the best show they could but typified what the pre-second-half had become — a haven of safety that was guarded by the stalwarts of a certain g-g-generation. They didn’t look like the stars of the day, and they surely didn’t sound like them. Although I’ll always love The Who, they did come across as old, and the wind of change was in the air.

Was the change for the better? Well, I’ll put it this way: I’m still not going to go buy any Black Eyed Peas music, as just about everything they’ve done since Fergie joined sounds like cheerleaders with Tourettes, but the show was… pretty good. Lord help me, they managed to pull off a highly kinetic, visually entertaining performance, kind of like Tron 3D without the glasses. Certainly that was the look they seemed to be going for, with dancers on the field decked out in glowing garb, arranging into green arrows, red hearts, yellow moons, blue diamonds and what-not. (Just arrows and hearts – the rest is just Dw. jonesing for Lucky Charms. -Ed.)

A problem with the performance, aside from the songs and that grating auto-tune, was Fergie’s aping Axl Rose when special guest Slash showed up to play “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” She sang it on Slash’s recent solo album, so his appearance wasn’t a big surprise, but what was surprising is how much imitation she threw into her rendition, making it rather difficult to listen to. With some of her solo work, Fergie has proven she can sing, so why did she feel the need to make like Rich Little here? (You don’t remember Rich Little, do you? He was kind of a creepy dude that made his voice sound like other people. That was his shtick; impressions… Oh, forget it.)

What went right was that even if you had your fingers in your ears, you couldn’t turn your eyes away. The band was hired, I presume, for three things — to bring the “show” back to the show, and in that respect, they pulled it off tremendously. They also had to open the door back up to the youth market, and I suspect reports will indicate there was a lot of traction thanks to their participation. I still think their music, on the whole, stinks but they weren’t there to hook me. They were there to appeal to an audience at least a decade younger, more likely two. I’m sure they did.

The third thing they did was to keep Fergie’s boobs and booty covered, assuaging the fears of the NFL and the FCC, and ensuring that chastity, prudence and virtue once again ruled this most sacred American day. And now that they have accomplished that task, I’ve no doubt that next year’s performers will be Katy Perry and Kesha.

God help us all. —Dw. Dunphy

The post-Super Bowl slot is a coveted TV spot. With millions of viewers tuning into the biggest sporting event of the year, a small percentage of those viewers lingering for the follow-up show can mean a huge boost in ratings. Some of the most edge-of-your-seat episodes have aired in the timeslot, including the bomb episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and Alias’s culmination of hours of tension when Sydney took down SD-6 and finally kissed Vaughn. Glee may not have been the obvious choice to match the viewership of the Super Bowl, but as one of the biggest Fox shows and marks on pop culture in the past two years, it still made sense. Although I will admit I’m not a consistent follower of the show, I was looking forward to something flashy, over-the-top, and fun for the Glee event.

It had been rumored Glee would do one of their artist-themed hours like their Madonna or Britney Spears tribute. But instead of the show embracing what it does best independent of the Super Bowl, it seemed to fight it by going with a football theme.

Tensions have come to a head at McKinley High between the jocks on the football team and the glee club members, and the coaches force the jocks to join the singing group in an attempt to make everyone get along. Thus imposes the heavy-handed lesson, reminiscent of a Saved by the Bell episode. Obviously the way to hook those ”jocks” that were viewing the big game is to teach them acceptance of musical theater, and they will fall in love with the show.

In spite of the moral-centric story, the show did start off with a lot of flash during a Cheerio’s number to Katy Perry’s ”California Girls” that involved fire, BMX bikers, and flaming cone-bras. But that wasn’t enough, and Sue (Jane Lynch) tried to top it with getting Brittany (Heather Morris) to shoot from a human cannon.

Sue’s not the only one who wants the spotlight. The football team, the glee club, and the Cheerios are all vying for the same coveted spot at the top of the school. Naturally, chaos ensues. With everyone turning against each other, so many ultimatums of choosing between the activities were batted around it was hard to keep track of who was allied with whom. The glee girls even ended up pitching in and playing the first half of the championship game, even though they had no idea how to play.

But everyone comes together, even the most reluctant football player, for a halftime show mash-up of Michael Jackson’s ”Thriller” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ”Heads Will Roll.” The number itself was fun, with everyone in elaborate zombie makeup doing moves that paid respect to the original ”Thriller” video. But even the biggest budget-buster of the show so far wasn’t enough to save the lackluster episode.

After the big number, star power in Katie Couric didn’t add any value either because of the absurdity and irrelevance of the Loser of the Year interview she was conducting with Sue. The last ditch effort to go out strong was a final kiss between Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Finn (Corey Monteith), but it felt a little tacked on more than romantic. Glee is usually known for its quick one-liners, but everything seemed to fall flat, for example Mr. Shue (Matthew Morrison) trying to invigorate his students while practicing their zombie number by telling them to ”put some afterlife into it.”

I’m curious to hear what die-hard Glee fans thought of the episode, but for me, even the Super version of Glee wasn’t strong enough to make me want to come back for more. — Emilia Rhodes

About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Malchus@popdose.com. Follow him @MrMalchus

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