Super Bowl XXXIX
Super Bowl Sunday. What's the big message this year? Is it teamwork? Heart? Perseverance? Nope. It's just "talking animals." Lots and lots of talking animals. (Note: Sorry, but you'll most likely be able to tell that I'm from Massachusetts since my Patriots bias is rather transparent. No offense, Eagles fans.)

5:20 pm/ET: I call my dad, who apparently was watching the pregame show, because out of nowhere he comments, "Terry Bradshaw looks really dumb with that beard." 6:06 pm: Fox announcers Cris Collinsworth, Troy Aikman and Joe Buck have the 524th Patriots "dynasty" discussion of the last two weeks. I wish Joan Collins had come on and asked what her old show has to do with football. And then had a catfight with sideline reporter Pam Oliver.6:08 pm: The Ray Charles tribute is set up by Will Smith. Hey, doesn't he have a movie coming out soon?6:15 pm: On video, Massachusetts native Michael Chiklis introduces the Patriots while Will Smith (hey, doesn't he have a movie coming out soon?) does the same for his hometown team, the Eagles.6:21 pm: Didn't that cow in the California Cheese commercial sound like Edie McClurg from Ferris Bueller's Day Off?6:26 pm: Former Presidents Bush and Clinton are there in their respective dark blue suits.6:31 pm: Coin toss — the Eagles win. Well, that's just great.6:40 pm: Terrell Owens gets a seven-yard reception and miraculously doesn't snap in half. The state of Pennsylvania breathes a huge sigh of relief.6:42 pm-7 pm: Commercials (not a lot of a pivotal football during this stretch):Bud Light — As an incentive for a nervous sky diver, a six-pack is tossed out of the plane. Unfortunately, the pilot leaps for it instead. Priceless looks of "Oh crap, this doesn't look good at all" are exchanged.Constantine — Did Keanu just take The Devil's Advocate and The Matrix and mash them together? Diet Pepsi &#151P. Diddy arrives at a premiere in a Diet Pepsi truck. Not bad at all, but I can feel myself get sick of this one. The PacifierVin Diesel is starring in a Walt Disney movie. Commence self-loathing, Mr. XXX. Diet Pepsi — To the beat of "Stayin' Alive," a guy carrying a can of the soda is ogled by Cindy Crawford and Queer Eye's Carson — A woman with large breasts testifies before a committee about something. Was it Father's Day? I'm not sure.FedEx — In my opinion, this was the best spot by far. It enumerated the Top Ten Super Bowl commercials items with an example for each: 1. Celebrity — Burt Reynolds. 2. Animal — A bear. 3. Dancing animal — Burt and bear do a short jig. 4. Cute kid — "That bear can dance!" says a little boy with an ice-cream cone. 5. Groin kick — Burt takes a solid one. 6. Talking animal — "Sorry, Mr, Reynolds," says the grizzly. 7. Attractive females — Cheerleaders admire the talking, groin-kicking bear. 8. Product message (optional) — Something is said about delivering packages, I think. 9. Famous pop song — We hear Journey's "Don't Stop Believin.'" 10. Bonus ending — Bear tells Burt, "I loved you in Smokey and the Bandit." And wasn't it perfect that many of the commercials that followed contained these elements that are now officially clich&#233s? There's gonna be some mighty peeved ad people after this one. 7:08 pm: Mike Vrabel sacks Donovan McNabb for a 16-yard loss.7:13 pm: Rodney Harrison interception! Oh, that felt good. Commercials:Visa Check Card — It was nice to see Spider-Man, Wolverine and the gang, but I wish they had been animated instead. And why does Spidey sound like Woody Allen?AmeriQuest — When your cell-phone conversation is mistaken for a robbery attempt and then you get sprayed in the face and clocked with a bat, it just shows you how important cell-phone etiquette is.7:15 pm: First appearance of the "pylon cam," otherwise know as the "waste of money" cam. Commercial:Honda Ridgeline — The car company shells out a load of cash to air a supremely generic spot that was basically, well, a load. I momentarily flipped over to The Fox Report only because — somewhat shameless plug ahead — my friend Alisyn Camerota is anchoring the program tonight. But how long does my friendship require me to continue watching? Twenty seconds? Sounds good to me. [Egg-timer sound followed by a "ding!"]... and now back to the game.7:32 pm: An hour into the game, a touchdown is finally scored. However, it's a pass to L.J. Smith. With the kick, it's Eagles — 7, Patriots — 0. Dammit! My stomach hurts.7:33 pm: Commercials: Budweiser — That donkey who wanted to be a Clydesdale has inspired, among others, a camel, giraffe, elephant and pig to try out as well. Cute, but who cares.Lays — Tossing potato chips over the fence gets you back a baseball, dog, a '72 Impala and MC Hammer (who was thrown back). It's comforting to see the Surreal Life alum getting work.7:41 pm: The Eagles recover a fumble on a play that at least half the guys didn't know was still going on. A few minutes later the call is challenged and reversed.7:47 pm: Tom Brady loses the ball in play action. My heads snaps back in disgust. Aikman notes that a new, "slick" ball is used for every snap. Yeah, that's a good system.7:52 pm: With several monkeys and a chivalrous bird, and Bud Light ads support FedEx's Super Bowl commercials theory.8:01 pm: No one on the Eagles notices David Givens setting up a lawn chair and reading a magazine in the end zone. Brady does and eventually throws him a pass for an easy touchdown. Eagles — 7, Patriots — 7.8:25 pm: Halftime Paul McCartney performs. He ends his perfectly nice and fine (and relatively boring) show by saying, "Thank you, Super Bowl! We love you!" Since when do you express gratitude to an event itself? Well, live and let die.8:47 pm: Vrabel, a linebacker, gets his second Super Bowl touchdown (last year was his first). Wow, Terrell Owens must be seething. Patriots — 14, Eagles — 7. 8:58 pm: Commercial: My second favorite of the night is another AmeriQuest "Don't judge" spot. How brilliant is that scene with the guy holding a giant knife and a tomato-sauce-covered cat as his woman comes in the door? Awkward.9:11 pm: Following an amazing behind-the-back catch, Brian Westbrook snags another reception for a 10-yard touchdown. Patriots — 14, Eagles — 14.9:12 pm: Commercial: Verizon Wireless shrinks down Shaq, Kid Rock, Christina Aguilera and Deion Sanders. This couldn't have included Geraldo?9:24 pm: In the fourth quarter, Corey Dillon plows through for a touchdown. Patriots — 21, Eagles — 14.9:28 pm: The pylon cam gets another appearance. "If you were an orange foam pylon," says Buck, "that's what it would look like down the line." So true. So true.9:31 pm: Commercial: In, like, the third "group" commercial so far, MasterCard gathers a bunch of ad icons including Count Chocula, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Mr. Peanut, Green Giant and Mr. Clean. Clearly, Tony the Tiger pissed someone off.9:41 pm: Adam Vinatieri kicks a 22-yard field goal. Patriots — 24, Eagles — 14.10:03 pm: What the hell&#151?! McNabb connects with Greg Lewis for a huge TD! Patriots — 24, Eagles — 21. One wrong move and New England is screwed.10:07 pm: Bill Belichick shows a hint of an emotion. 10:15 pm: Another Rodney Harrison interception! With nine seconds left! 10:16 pm: Gatorade bath on Belichick! I know it's a tradition now, but can we think of some new ways to congratulate the coach? How about instead he's pummeled with seedless grapes or chocolate sprinkles or even buttered popcorn? Mixing it up couldn't hurt.10:17 pm: McNabb graciously congratulates several Patriots players.10:25 pm: Star Wars music is used as a prelude to the trophy ceremony.10:29 pm: Courtesy of his 11 catches and 133 yards, a very deserving Deion Branch is named MVP.10:32 pm: Wrap-up analysis from the Fox Sports crew. Off to the side, when Howie Long was blathering on, we see J.B. attempt to squelch a sneeze. No luck.

After the game I got a call from my Watercooler colleague and Pennsylvania resident Damian Holbrook. Here's how it went:
Damian: "Well, that was depressing. Thrilling but depressing. The first touchdown, you had all that hope..."
Me: "Is there anything you can personally do next season to help the Eagles?"
Damian: "Spend more money on the Eagles items they sell at our gas stations here in Philadelphia."
Me: "So you're saying if you had bought more of those, they would have won?"
Damian: "I think so. I think if I had decked myself in head-to-toe Eagles wear, it's quite possible."

Originally, our other Watercooler colleague Mike Peck was going to be in on this call too, but he has in recent times given up his rabid football-watching ways. And tonight, believe it or not, he actually went to a poetry reading. I'm not kidding. Mike, I don't want you to feel bad, but you do realize that if you had watched the game, your team would've won, don't ya?

The Simpsons
Finally, after all these painful years of waiting and hoping, we now know that Comic Book Guy's actual name is [mild drum roll — and then, oh, how about a snippet from Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" for variety?]... Jeff Albertson. Yeah, OK, so now what? This kinda reminds me of the big buildup surrounding Kramer's first name, which was eventually revealed as "Cosmo." And just like that one, I'm thinking, "Well, whatever." Maybe it's better not to know sometimes. That's actually my motto the older I get. Years ago when someone would halt a conversation by saying, "Wait, maybe I shouldn't tell you this...," I'd try to get them to finish what they were going to say. And usually it actually was something I didn't want to hear. So now when someone interrupts himself like that, I respond, "Maybe you're right. Just stop right there."

I have to wonder how the deeply devout are going to react to this episode. I found it pretty funny, but I could see some people being offended by Ned's extreme, Mel Gibson-provoking religious imagery. Of course, at this point, this show has been around forever, so it's practically impervious to backlash. Two other things: Unlike some of the other guest voices, Tom Brady, in this chinless Simpsons universe, didn't look like himself. And most importantly, my new favorite character is Crazy Cat Lady. She sure likes cats.

American Dad
As a devoted lover of all things cookie, I firmly believe the best line tonight was Roger's complaint that his Pecan Sandies were forgotten in the week's food shopping. Like the wry alien from Area 51, I appreciate this tasty yet dry dessert. (But do not, under any circumstances, begin munching without some sort of beverage around. Please.) Although I would have been in greater agreement with Roger if he had been a big fan of Fudge Stripes or Oreos.

This edgy animated fare comes from Seth MacFarlane, the disgustingly talented animator behind The Family Guy. There was some funny stuff here, including that sad 19-year-old dog, but the parallels to MacFarlane's first show are just too close. As everyone has been saying, Roger is the equivalent of Brian the dog, and Klaus the German goldfish is akin to Stewie the maniacal baby. Look, I want to like any show that features chocolate school lockers, but new territory would have been nice.


Saturday Night Live
Who says SNL sketches don't have endings? The skiing-in-Switzerland scenario that featured host Paris Hilton (as herself) and Donatella Versace (Maya Rudolph) culminated poetically with a massive avalanche created by gas from Elton John (Horatio Sanz) brought on by fondue. Paris's acting ability was put to good use in several instances in which she was supposed to look stiff. She played a Barbie doll, a computer student in a parody of those cheapo commercials for local tech schools, a nonresponsive woman at a nightclub and, of course, herself in the Versace bit. I guess the sketches with her as a fashion-conscious corpse and napping supermodel were cut for time.


The Greatest Commercials: Super Bowl vs. the World
Oh boy, that was close one. Imagine the national chaos if CBS's online competition had resulted in the foreign ads claiming victory. USA! USA!... Nevertheless, one of my favorites was the U.K. spot for John West Salmon that featured a grizzly bear with martial arts skills who gets taken down by a solid kick to his bear balls (hey, I've never written that phrase before). I also want to point out that Apple's "1984" classic proves that even if George Orwell's dystopian vision had come true, poufy '80s hair would still have prevailed.