Thank goodness for the power outage. In the midst of a Super Bowl so advertised, organized, publicized and teased prior to the players actually taking the field, the unexpected power failure provided one of the few surprises during Sunday's broadcast.
Some could also argue the power failure gave the San Francisco 49ers time to regroup, reenergize and maybe hear a Hunter Pence-like Come to Jesus speech which motivated their comeback in the second half which was the event's other unforeseen outcome. Again, props to the power failure be it due to Beyonce, a quirky electrical system or somebody forgetting to pay that pesky bill by the due date.
Regardless, the lighting shutdown had to be a highlight because so little else outside the actual game was unexpected.
Of course the cameras cut often to the Harbaugh family to gauge which brother was getting the most secret finger-crossing for victory. The days leading up to the brotherly showdown were filled with little else if you didn't count the rehashing of every 49er PR gaffe or the requisite "Let's visit Turlock” angles to the Kaepernick hometown-boy-makes-good story.
The halftime show had a small element of unknown although that only hinged on whether Beyonce's former band mates in Destiny's Child or her husband, Jay-Z, would pop up alongside the songstress on stage.
But the real been there, done that, not impressed reaction is saved for the commercials.
The draw of the Super Bowl for those who don't care much about the pigskin are the advertisements which for the millions of dollars per minute price tag and extraordinary hype are supposed to provide watercooler moments for pop culture Monday morning quarterbacking. And there were a few bright moments sprinkled although suffice to say they are no child Darth Vader. The Tide stain piece was funny to any die-hard fan who has ever sworn never to wash a lucky piece of clothing or who inexplicably lives under the same roof as an opposing team's biggest supporter. Jell-O's post-game commercial announcing how San Francisco is the real winner because the city will get free pudding Tuesday to wash away that bitter taste of defeat was also worth a chuckle. Even the spot by San Mateo-based GoPro nabbed some approval by those with appreciated a baby equipped with a high-definition video camera.
Heading into the show, though, the so-called "big” commercials had already been hyped and dissected so much there wasn't much to shock or warm the heart. The teases were supposed to build anticipation. Instead, they didn't do much more than confirm what viewers already knew was coming, sort of like movie trailers that blare the best line, lay out the entire plot line and all but give away the ending.
Prior to Sunday, viewers knew to expect a VW commercial with a Jamaican accent that offended everybody but actual Jamaicans. Those with a soft spot for beautiful models might have looked forward to Kate Upton watching football players soap up a Mercedes or Bar Refaeli loudly sucking face with a nerdy fella but the only eyebrow raising was over the decibel level of the lip lock. Ew.
Even those ads that weren't given a little pre-game buzz fell flat if only because they are rehashes of past efforts. Clydesdales were a given (although who doesn't love a baby animal?) as is Danica Patrick anymore. E-Trade needs to give the baby a rest. At least Scientology was new although the ad frankly looked like a promo for University of Phoenix or a similar educational adventure until the tagline. Consider it all a buzz kill.
Some years, the Super Bowl game itself is so uninspiring that watchers give thanks for the advertising treasures in between. This year, the opposite held true. The 49ers' final push made for a game that turned out to be pretty exciting. But the rest of the so-called entertainment? Commercial failure.
Michelle Durand's column "Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com