Thursday, November 18, 2004

TV: Monday Night Football

I’ve been asked why I haven’t weighed in on this week’s fiasco involving Terrell Owens and his DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES. I was hoping this tempest in a teacup would blow over; frankly, I’m far more annoyed with ABC over their handling of the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN imbroglio. And much of what I would say has been better expressed by others, such as Alessandra Stanley. I’m just happy DH got a little publicity. I’ve heard the show is struggling. And how much overlap is there between that audience and the MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL crowd, anyway?

But the truth is I never miss the opening of MNF. I always want to see which celebrity has been dragooned into introducing the game. Earlier this season, John Travolta talked up Ray Lewis and the Ravens the week that the Baltimore-filmed LADDER 49 opened. Billy Bob Thornton did a bit on coaches that happened to coincide with the release of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

Occasionally the intros don’t plug anything. When the Cincinnati Bengals made their first home MNF appearance in 20 years, Leslie Nielsen dusted off his Frank Drebin character from POLICE SQUAD. (Which, come to think of it, was an ABC show.) The season opener had Dennis Hopper in EASY RIDER mode for no discernable reason.

And the cross-promotion doesn’t stop at the intro. During this week’s Eagles-Cowboys match-up, ABC sitcom star George Lopez turned up in the booth with Al and John. Jim Belushi seems to be there every other month. The week of ABC’s first airing of PRIVATE RYAN, Oakland boy Tom Hanks called part of the Raiders game. (Raising the question: is the network in cahoots with the league schedulers or just lucky?)

ABC has essentially turned MNF into one big promotional opportunity. Someone should take them to task for that, instead of complaining about the kind of nudity that’s common in soap commercials.

Miscellaneous: Link

Thanks to Jaime Weinman for linking to this piece by Bruce Bawer on cultural life in the early 1960s.