97.5 Million People Bored by Super Bowl Until Last Three Minutes

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 8:46 PM EST

FootballThe overnight ratings are in, and initial figures show that not only was last night's Super Bowl the most watched Super Bowl ever, it was in fact the second most watched television event in history. Its 97.5 million number is bested only by the 106 million who apparently watched the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H. I never liked that show.

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While the last three minutes of the game did make up for it, the first 17 hours (or so) of the broadcast were pretty dull, and not only because of the actual game: the commercials were terrible. The New York Times went far too easy on them—I mean, how can you call that talking-baby E*Trade spot "amusing"? More like "utterly horrifying." Most ads seemed aimed to shock, or just gross you out—I don't think even SF's bear community wants to see a fat guy with jumper cables on his nipples, and a giant spider eating a cute little firefly does not inspire me to look at your job listings website. Pepsi's commercials are always terrible, but these were barely watchable: the Timberlake-magnet one was only good for the 7 milliseconds Andy Samberg was on the screen, and the "What is Love" spot was just sad, like anyone even remembers that old "SNL" sketch. Some new drink product was illustrated by dancing lizards, in another jaw-droppingly stupid ad, but at least it was accompanied by "Thriller," a song whose apparent revival I noted here a while back. I will say I kinda liked the screaming animals spot (was that for a car?) and I'd watch Will Ferrell read the phone book.

But what's this? People are asking if Tom Petty lip-synched during the half-time show? Say it ain't so, Tom! You're telling me you can't manage utterly zombified, coma-inducing performances of your biggest hits without the help of a backup vocal track? Sources aren't giving very reassuring answers: an NFL spokesman told the Dallas News "you might want to talk to Petty's people," and Petty's people said they had "no idea" if there was any pre-recorded material. Well, lip-synched or not, at least we still had guitar-as-penis visuals, just like last year. Hooray?