Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still About Nothing

It's here! It's here! The new phone book new Microsoft commercial with Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld is here! It's been a week since the last one. Let's hope this one doesn't suck too.
I said, let's hope this one doesn't suck too! DOESN'T suck! Does not suck! Are you listening? Microsoft? Bill? Jerry? Aw, crap, no one heard that. I can tell because it kind of sucked.

When we last left two of the richest and most accomplished people on the planet (as the commercials are not allowing us to forget), they were shopping for pleather Conquistador shoes at Shoe Circus in the mall whilst chomping on churros. The commercial appeared to have absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft or what message they were trying to get across or anything like that. And appearances were everything as it was confirmed by Microsoft after that commercial aired that it was, in true Seinfeld form, a show about nothing. I was hoping the next commercial would be about something. It kind of was. Something sucky.

We pick up the tale of two bazillionaires at the home of a "typical" suburban family. "Typical" if you have the nerdy Dad (who kind of looks like Gary Burghoff on crack) and the geeky Mom and three teenage or close to teenage children who are smarter than the parents. You also need to have the elderly relative, in this case the grandmother, who is largely ignored by the family and put to work doing various household chores like laundry, tree felling and auto repair. Oh, and Grandma is also required to have a bit of a mouth on her. If you have all of those components, then you have the "typical" family which consists of "real" people.

I don't see a lot of "real" people like that around in my "real" life. I think that's because if that were "really" someone's "real" life, they would have killed themselves by now. But for some reason (which, of course, is never explained to us), Bill and Jerry are staying with these folks to get an idea of what it's like to be real. As Jerry puts it, "You and I are a little out of it. You’re living in some kinda moon house hovering over Seattle like the mother ship. I’ve got so many cars I get stuck in my own traffic. We need to connect with real people." Thanks for reminding us of how rich you are. What's up with the next installment of Windows so we can all ditch that POS Vista?

That answer won't come for a while if this ad is any indication. While more enjoyable than the previous attempt at hip advertising, it was also more lengthy. Four and a half minutes. That's right; three times longer than the other POS. Look, if you're going to be showing me a commercial that is four and a half minutes long, it's going to have to have some of that Pixar animation going for it. The Toy Story guys, Shrek, I don't care, but it can't just have people. People? They're the worst!

Throughout the elongated attempt at what is supposed to be a 30 second commercial, there were plenty of opportunities to incorporate elements of Installment Number One into the ad. Sadly, none of those opportunities were taken. They missed out on the chance to do things like:
  • When Jerry was explaining to Bill how they needed to "connect" with people,there was Bill still flexing the pleather shoe because, as we learned in Confusing, But At Least Not This Long, Episode One, the Conquistador shoe "runs a little tight". No mention of the Conquistador at all. (It would have been more amusing to have that Hispanic family that had been watching through the window of Shoe Circus to watch them from the window of this family's home. But no, that didn't happen. Shame.) They can't even connect with the elements of these commercials. How do they think that they're going to connect with "real people"?

  • Not to spoil the ending, but the turning point is when the family heirloom (of six years), a leather giraffe from Cabo San Lucas, turns up missing. See, now what would have been funny is if the giraffe had been made of pleather. Like the Conquistador. But no, that didn't happen either. Shame.

Also, I noticed something odd when they had Chinese food delivered. The kid that delivers the Chinese food? Let's talk about him for a minute. Am I the only one who thinks that he looks like the illegitimate love child of Jerry and Bill (and Carrot Top, but that would make three people involved in an unnatural mating of the male species and frankly, that would start to get a little weird.). Seriously, look at that guy. Total combination of both Jerry and Bill. Thus, I was a little disappointed when they basically stiffed their little bastard and went back in the house to enjoy their far East fast all by themselves. I'm hoping it's some sort of foreshadowing for a future episode, but I can't imagine they're going to start getting all clever on us now.

And the only words that the Chinese food delivery Gates/Seinfeld hybrid love child utters during his delivery are words to again remind us that these guys have a lot of money that they earned from doing what they both do best (which is NOT star in commercials). He says, ""Whoa. Two of the most accomplished guys in their respected fields on earth. $39.75, dudes." Jerry paid the guy with a Greek coin. What, no tip, Mr. Funnyman Bazillionaire Dude?

When we mercifully get to the end of this endless ad, Jerry wants a sign from Bill about the future of something. He's not real clear (though he does mention a frog and a fish). Last time it was "adjust your shorts." This time it's "Gimme a little robot." (No, that is not a euphemism.) He should have just been able to say "Gimme the sign" and had Bill adjust his shorts. But no, instead we have Bill Gates doing the robot on an empty stretch of suburban road leading to...somewhere.

It would appear that we are going to be constantly reminded that Bill has connected over a billion people? We know that, but really, Bill doesn't even seem to care so much about that stuff these days. He's busy with his foundation and doing stuff that matters. I mean, the guy got us all started, we can't minimize that. He got the whole Windows/computer thing up and running and made us all a part of his world. A world that he had probably envisioned since birth. That's the guy, right there, the one doing the robot, who had the vision along with another guy (Hey, yeah, that's right. Where's Paul Allen during all of this? Eh, probably hanging out with Steve Wozniak.) that would change the world. And he did. And we all KNOW that. Tell us something we DON'T know, like if these things are going to start making sense.

So Bill does the robot as they are walking down the street towing their handy luggage on wheels behind them. Jerry asks, "Where are we walking to?" And Bill responds, "What about that pink house over there?" And then it ends with the words "PERPETUALLY CONNECTING" morphing together to form the word "PC" and then, thankfully it's over. Finally. My God, that was long. Four and a half minutes. Really? Look, Jerry, I know that you used to do that little show of yours about nothing for 30 minutes every week, but you had a supporting cast. And lots of jokes about masturbation and women's names that rhyme with a certain part of the female anatomy. But you've got none of that here (and I really don't think that we need any of that where ever Bill Gates is involved) and so four and a half minutes of you and Bill and a bunch of people we've never seen before is a bit much. Build up to that length of time gradually, please. You're only two into this ordeal. Which reminds me, how many of these are there going to be?

While some aspects of this ad were better than the last one, that's not saying much. The last one was pretty bad. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. My new BFF, Maria, over there at the LA Times Blog, wasn't real thrilled with either one of these advertising oddities either (and also wonders "Why do they keep reminding us, for example, about how much money Seinfeld and Gates have compared to ordinary people?" So it's not just me!) But now they're headed over to a pink house. Perhaps we'll run into John Mellencamp over there next. It couldn't hurt.

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