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Originally published February 2, 2014 at 9:23 PM | Page modified February 3, 2014 at 2:23 PM

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Fox scores with entertaining Super Bowl telecast

The Super Bowl telecast featured Northwest faces in memorable commercials and a polished half-time show starring Bruno Mars.

Special to The Seattle Times

Every year, the Super Bowl is a showcase for the best that the advertising industry has to offer.

Everyone will have their personal favorite commercials; here’s a Top 10 compiled by one very rowdy group of 12th Men (and Women) gathered at a viewing party in Seattle’s Central District.


Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in this tongue-in-cheek sendup of “The Matrix,” with a (literally) operatic climax.


The old-school technology shop enlisted a passel of ’80s personalities — including gymnast Mary Lou Retton, Hulk Hogan and the TV puppet Alf — to clear out dated inventory and update its image.

Beats Music

Ellen DeGeneres is immensely likable to begin with. Team her with a family of dancing bears, boogeying to the new subscription-based music-streaming service, and she’s irresistible.


Soccer star David Beckham ripped off his shirt and then (off-camera) lost his underwear. Every woman (and a few men) at the party wanted to know where to buy whatever he was selling.

Bank of America and (Red)

Love the band U2. Loved the exploding-sparks-and-flashlights effects in this music-video style ad, directed by filmmaker Mark Romanek. Especially loved the fact that a big old bank is raising money to fight AIDS.


James Franco’s epic weirdness brought our high-decibel Super Bowl party to a hush, as everyone strained toward the TV to figure out what the heck was going on. And after all, isn’t that the point?


The global soda-pop company won the sincerity sweepstakes, with a multilingual version of “America the Beautiful,” accompanied by images of cross-cultural family bonding. Pepsi’s competing attempt to turn NYC into a collection of giant instruments was clever enough, but didn’t pack the same emotional punch.

Wonderful Pistachios

There was something inspired about the pairing of Stephen Colbert and pistachios: Two nuts together.


This ad went for the heart and the funny bone with equal success. It started as an earnest plea from Bruce Willis for car safety. It ended with a goofy twist as Fred Armisen (“Portlandia”) clinched Willis in a bear hug that wouldn’t quit.

Chevy Silverado

Hands down the best commercial about bovine lust we have ever seen.

Tonight in Prime Time

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Fox’s Super Bowl coverage captured the Seahawks’ immediate momentum, including an early “Sounds of the Game” feature as microphones captured Seahawks safety Earl Thomas’ celebration of a successful play with a “You a beast!” exclamation.

A series of penalties and timeouts interrupted play — giving the network plenty of early opportunities to cut away for commercials (“We’ll get the call when we come back”). This is fine for the Super Bowl, where some viewers look forward to the ads as much as the game, especially when it’s a blowout.

Several multipart ads aired, including a Bud Light spot with music maker and comedian Reggie Watts spinning tunes in the back of a limo for an average Joe who didn’t know he was starring in a TV commercial.

Watts, perhaps best known here as frontman of the Seattle band Maktub, wasn’t the only Northwest face in the mix. Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno was spotted pitching a Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub with other former Olympians in a Subway ad. And former Sonics star Gary Payton was in a promo for “Fox Sports Live.”

“Portlandia” star Fred Armisen turned up hugging Bruce Willis in a commercial touting the safety of Hondas.

T-Mobile aired a spot starring Tim Tebow recounting all his adventures outside of football in the past year, which evidently included tackling a sasquatch and taking a selfie with the bigfoot.

Hours of pregame coverage included a reading of the Declaration of Independence, which doesn’t seem to have much to do with football but go figure, it’s a Fox thing; and sideline reporter Erin Andrews revisited her interview with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

Sherman, notably quieter and calmer than in his post-NFC Championship Game interview, told Andrews he regretted the way he verbally attacked 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree (“I think that was uncalled for,” Sherman said), but he otherwise defended “the energy, the passion” of his rant, as did several Seahawks teammates who pretty much appeared as character witnesses.

Just before kickoff, opera star Renée Fleming sang the national anthem, giving the game the patina of New York, high-culture class. This was juxtaposed with Joe Namath at the coin toss wearing a fur-lined pimp coat.

Bruno Mars was a hit in the halftime show, singing a medley of his own tunes, doing some James Brown-style fancy footwork, playing drums, performing alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers and then segueing to a slower tempo song (“Just the Way You Are”) with a tribute to members of the U.S. military.

After the game, CBS announced Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson will visit CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” Monday night at 11:35.

Not only did Seattle do well on the field, but the Pacific Northwest also sparkled on social media. Portland’s real-life feminist bookstore owners — where “Portlandia” shoots scenes — live-tweeted the game on the @ifcportlandia Twitter account, including this gem: “Pigskin. Is it vegan? Is it kosher? Where did the pig grow up? I wanna see the farm. #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat #SuperBowl #portlandia.”

Freelance writer Rob Owen: or on Facebook and Twitter as RobOwenTV

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