The sports column. . . .
COMMERCIALS I DON'T WANT TO SEE EVER AGAIN: One features John Madden in his wild beast role, crashing through the familiar barrier, ranting and raving and swinging his arms for Lite Beer. Another is beer pitchman Bob Uecker at the park, in the cheap seats. In fact, have you ever seen a more tired gimmick than all the Uecker put-down spots? They were cute only when they first aired--in 1911, I think.
Abrasive from day one, though, was Raider Lyle Alzado's commercial where he bullies some cowering little schmo trying to deliver the pitch. It's too long and too labored.
Let's not omit pizza spokesman Marvin Hagler, either. A great boxer, yes. But that doesn't make watching him eat with his mouth open any more appealing.
But none of these matches the absurdity of a regional Bud beer commercial featuring hammy Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray--" I'm a Bud man! "--looking like a complete fool while high-stepping with a bunch of dancing girls.
Ah, but not all sports-related commercials have to be nitwitty. I recently saw some promotional spots for the Oakland A's that were conceptually and visually exquisite. One depicted a boy dreaming of playing in the major leagues. The other showed old geezers having a wonderful time playing sandlot ball the way they used to.
Viewed side by side, the two spots emphasized life's cycle and the special kinship of interests between the very young and the very old. What cinematic finery. And what a grand way to spend 30 seconds or a minute.
Unfortunately, the cleverest or prettiest or most creative commercials are not necessarily the most effective commercials. Research shows that some of TV's most irritating spots work best because they are irritating and thus impossible to forget.
So it's entirely possible that Harry Caray sells beer better than the artistic Oakland spots sell the A's.
SPEAKING OF FAVORITE ANNOUNCERS: My idol Jim Hill worked Friday's Rams-Eagles exhibition telecast on KCBS. "We got an example then of how a punter can change the complexion of a whole football game," said Hill after the first punt of the game. Huh? "We must give the offense better field condition," he said later. Condition ?
And here was Hill, analyzing statistics, at his absolute Hilliest: "I still can't think those numbers couldn't be and shouldn't be much better." Oh.
But Hill had competition Friday. From the Atlanta Braves telecast on cable Super Station WTBS came this observation about Mets sensation Dwight Gooden: "If he wins, he's the youngest 20-year-old to win 20 in modern times." Yes, but I still can't think his age couldn't be and shouldn't be much younger.
I turned to Friday's Dodgers-Expos telecast on KTTV, meanwhile, in time to hear Ross Porter reveal that there were three players on the field from New York, or something like that, and wasn't that interesting?
To Porter, everything is interesting. A player's hat size is interesting. Imagine if Porter had discovered that the three New Yorkers also wore the same size shoe. He'd never recover. They'd have had to throw a net over him and cart him away.
A TV SERIES I DON'T WANT TO SEE EVER AGAIN: There are comedies with good jokes and comedies with bad jokes. "1st & 10" is a comedy with no jokes. Happily, there's no laugh track either.
HBO is home base for this 12-part clunker starring Delta Burke as Diane Barrow, who acquired ownership of the California Bulls football team in a divorce settlement with her husband. Ruta Lee plays her mother, Clayton Landey plays the team's corrupt general manager, Reid Shelton plays the coach, Fran Tarkenton has a cameo as an announcer and various other present and ex-footballers show up from time to time.
This is billed as an "adult" comedy, and I lied about the jokes. There are a few lame ones on the already aired premiere being rerun Tuesday and Saturday. A fat lineman gets stuck in a whirlpool and quarterback Bob Dorsey (Geoff Scott) comes on to Diane when her car won't start.
Dorsey: Having trouble?
Diane: I think it's my battery.
Dorsey: It seems to me you need to get jumped.
How bad is "1st & 10?" So bad that you keep wishing that John Madden would burst through the picture.