Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The new commercials are out. Dead Reckoning, the Mariner news blog, thinks they highlight the "niceness" of all the Mariners, and aren't as funny as years past. Of course, there have been so many great M's commercials, and consequently the bar has been set pretty high. But I agree that they aren't quite as snappy.

Remember that first great slogan? "You gotta love these guys." There was something quirky about those Mariner teams, and that ad slogan played on it. Sure, Joey Cora was a cute (but lousy) second baseman, but we also had the magnificent jubilence of Ken Griffey, the cantakerous sage in Lou Pinella, the strong silent type in Edgar--he speaks with his bat, the gritty trash-talking Jay Buhner, the 6'10" lefty who you wouldn't want to cross. Even Dan Wilson, the nice guy of nice guys, was noted for his Mechanical engineering degree. That's not to say that we don't have characters now--Boone is cocky, Spiezio is a Gen-X rocker, Jamey, almost smugly, humiliates opposing batters. But the M's don't celebrate that nearly as much. Two commercials feature a puppy and the cuddliest mascot on the planet, the Moose. The Ibanez Latte commercial is exactly why New Yorkers laugh at our baseball experience--not that I want Safeco to feel like the Bronx.

My next observation may be a little technical, but we shouldn't underestimate the role of good editing in making the commercials funny. So much of comedy is timing, and the players reading thier cue cards probably haven't ever had great comedic timing (well, Lou Pinella was pretty good). Take this year's ad titled "Advice:"
Opposing second baseman (from Milwaukee) sheepishly asks Boone if he really means that even Boone misses easy grounders.

[Pause, cut to camera 1]. [Boone turns his head.] [Pause] "Hah![Pause] me? [Pause] No, not me. [Pause] Guys like you, happens all the time."

"Ah, you're welcome."

We got the joke after the first pause, and then we have to suffer through the rest of the exchange. Sure, Boone ain't the greatest actor, but the humor of deadpan is all in the timing, and timing is what editors have to be paying attention to. I suppose I shouldn't spare the director, who also plays a role in the timing and delivery of lines, but he's got limited talent to work with. For a study in contrast, check out the crisp editing and timing at the end of "Clapper," when Edgar delivers his punch line. Much better.

Oh, and can I just say that whoever decided to insert someone yelling "hey now" just before Dave Niehaus says "Get all of it" (the new slogan) has officially annoyed the heck out of me.

Ranting aside, we should be grateful that the M's have had such a long history of great commercials, and these ads generally maintain that proud tradition. Now for that World Series...

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