Putting on the Bad Idea Jeans to Make a Commercial

Wednesday links:

Good comedy is under attack, people. Don’t believe me? What other reason can we gleam from Bridesmaids being so successful and critically acclaimed? Are we that starved for good comedy that we’ll accept a lesser comedy just because someone takes off her makeup then poops in a sink at a wedding dress shop? You know what I say to that?

The problem really seems to be how a comedy premise is presented for a Hollywood movie. Just like it say on reason #1 in that link, it seems like every mainstream comedy starts with the following question: Wouldn’t it be funny if … That’s a mistake. Comedies don’t start with a premise, they start with stories about people. Wedding Crashers did the “wouldn’t it be funny if two guys in their late 30s crashed weddings to hook up with hot, vulnerable chicks” for the first 15 minutes. Then it developed characters and told a story about growing up. And it was still funny! Picking on Adam Sandler for it really does suck, but he’s the main perpetrator of it. You can almost seem him sitting in an office cracking up with his buddies, “And then we can just have them hang out after the funeral! And then we’ll have Kevin break the rope swing! You know, because he’s fat! Who cares if we already made a joke about him exploding his pool? He’s still fat, isn’t he? Write it!” The only way we’re going to get past this garbage is by people actually reading reviews and finding out about movies instead of showing up at the theater and saying, “Oooo! An Adam Sandler movie! It must be funny!” Since I don’t see that happening, we’re kinda stuck.

i never understood what heroes in a half-shell even meant

Who knew there were this many Ninja Turtle fans still around? Oops, sorry, I mean Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve never seen one movie, it was a bit out of my age bracket, but if people are going to join together to try and take down Michael Bay, count me in! How dare he say the turtles are aliens! And how dare he shorten the name! And as a general aside, HOW DARE HE KEEP BEING ALLOWED TO MAKE MOVIES!!!

Speaking of things I didn’t know people cared about, let’s just say adios to Terra Nova now and get it over with, OK? OK. It’s gone. It’s not coming back. Netflix officially has passed, the actors are signed on to other pilots for next season … these aren’t good signs. You know what they’re signs of? A show that’s dead.

I feel terrible that I involuntarily bailed on the British version of Being Human. Somehow, Comcast took BBC America off OnDemand, and that was it. I have the third-season DVDs sitting on my TV, and I’ve gotten through about half of them, but catching up on Breaking Bad took precedence last summer. So now I’m a full season behind, and it’s not looking good for playing catch-up. That doesn’t mean I can’t be happy to see that it will be back for a fifth year, does it? No, it doesn’t.

In case you’re one of the 10 or so people that watched the new NBC comedy Bent last week and you like it and don’t want to see it get canceled, then you have until about 9 tonight to find about 6 million more people and force them to watch. Otherwise, you’re kind of SOL. I actually meant to watch it because I’m an Amanda Peet fan for some reason, but never got around it and I’m certainly not watching now. It has two episodes to air this week and two more next week before it’s gone. But don’t be a bit surprised if the ratings go even lower this week and NBC decides to go with dead air next week. OK, not dead air. But it’s going to reach that point on NBC pretty soon, isn’t it? On the bright side, with each passing NBC comedy failure — and there have been oodles of them — Community looks like a safer bet to get the fourth season it deserves.

Any list that pulls me in with “10 characters that need to go” better have a certain annoying, waif-looking redhead mom sitting at #1, so let me just scan this list… yup, there’s Lori from the Walking Dead, anyone’s #1 pick for a list like that. It’s been about a week-and-a-half since the Walking Dead finale, and I think I get angrier every day about her inane behavior. That’s on top of how much I hated her in the first place, and how she was already behind the 8-ball with me from the jump since I hated her as Sara Tancredi on Prison Break. (SPOILER ALERT, I think, DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING THAT COULD BE COMING ON WALKING DEAD!!!) The good news is, I heard she dies in the comic. So we got that goin’ for us. Which is nice.

And here begins a very thorough discussion of the new Verizon Wireless “Bad idea” commercial, and whether it ripped off the SNL Bad Idea Jeans parody commercial. No more links beyond that one, so feel free to bail if that holds no interest to you: 

Since I have some kind of allergic reaction to commercials, when someone asks me, “Hey, did you see that one with the dog and the baby and the hot chick?” my answer is almost always, “No.” But when a couple people started asking me about the new commercial for Verizon Wireless 4G, I decided I had to check it out.

If this looks vaguely familiar, it should. It’s basically the same thing as one of the five best SNL parody commercials of all time, Bad Idea Jeans.

If you don’t know the skit or why it’s funny, it’s a parody of the popular, early 90s Dockers commercials where a bunch of guys sit around talking about their lives. In Dockers. You had to be there. Bad Idea Jeans rightly lampooned it, with my favorite bad idea being David Spade’s “Normally I wear protection, but I thought, ‘When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?'” The spoof was popular enough to make it into the lexicon years later, as someone “puttin’ on the bad idea jeans.” As in, “I know it’s 2 a.m. and I just had 15 beers, but I’m pretty sure I can drive home” or “Maybe if I leave a 10th message, she’ll call me back.” When you retell stories like these to friends, you routinely would say, “Yeah I was puttin’ on the Bad Idea Jeans last night.”

Bottom line — it’s a classic. Now comes the Verizon commercial, with the old football coach from Glee, no less, that is 99.9999 percent the same thing. The. Same. Thing. So the question is, did Verizon rip off SNL, or did they kiss Lorne Michaels’ ring with a big, fat check?

Some facts to decide whether it’s an homage or a complete rip-off:

–Lorne Michaels is notoriously watchful over his intellectual property. Anything that happens on SNL is his intellectual property. When this idea was gestating, he knew about it somehow. There is no way he would let this air without his consent and compensation. Adavnatge: HOMAGE

the genius of phil hartman further on display

–Because Michaels is such a stickler for that kind of thing, you would think there would be some kind of nearly invisible disclaimer on the commercial stating that it received some kind of permission from SNL to make the commercial. There is not, at least none I can see. Advantage: RIP-OFF

–The world is so sue-happy that no one would dare air something so blatantly jacked. Verizon lawyers would know this would cost them millions if they didn’t have permission. Advantage: HOMAGE

–It’s been long enough that anyone under 25 — Verizon’s Wireless’s core audience — has never heard of Saturday Night Live, let alone Bad Idea Jeans. Maybe Verizon thought it could slip this one in and no one would notice. Or they just said the commercial was so funny and so effective, they’ll air it for a couple weeks, make bajillions off it, then pay the $10 million or so that Michaels would sue for. That doesn’t seem very logical though. Advantage: If it’s true, which it can’t possibly be, RIP-OFF.

Lawyers have a funny way of getting around stuff, but there couldn’t possibly be a judge on the planet — even in Haiti — that wouldn’t think this is a total, utter rip-off of the Bad Idea Jeans sketch. And because we haven’t heard a word from Lorne Michaels on the subject — at least not on a Google search, anyway — there is no way, no way in hell, that this didn’t get cleared with Michaels and the SNL people first. I just can’t let myself believe that Verizon would be so stupid to think that Michaels would never see it. I hadn’t seen it and had to people call me and tell me about it. Don’t you think Michaels would have had about 1,000 calls in the first hour of the commercial’s airing? FINAL VERDICT: It just has to be a bought-and-paid-for HOMAGE.

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