Dexter Slashes Through CTV’s Super Bowl

First off, to all those people who were mislead by my Super Bowl prediction, I’m sorry. Giants won by three points, not four as I predicted. I’ll try harder next year.
Now, a few thoughts on the broadcast.
I know The Super Bowl is considered the biggest promotional platform in television today. Certainly Fox wasn’t shy about hyping that stay-tuned-for-a-new-episode-of-House deal. If CBC had the game, we would have been bombarded with scenes from The Border, MVP and Sophie. They would have been comin’ at us last night like the Giant’s pass rush.
But CTV must have set some kind of a record for promotional hits for two of their mid-season, strike induced U.S. pickups: Dexter and Jericho. I did not keep track, but there had to be at least 20 blood-splattered Dexter promos during the game, or one for every time Patriots QB Tom Brady got hammered to the turf.
They irritated the hell out of the group I was watching the game with, especially after I explained to them the premise behind Dexter. The series, which originates in the U.S. on Showtime and has been carried already in Canada on The Movie Network, has a grisly premise. A forensic pathologist (Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under), acts as a lone avenger, seeking and capturing serial killers and then dissecting them in his lab, cutting them into little bits and eliminating any evidence.
The series is watchable, indeed fascinating, because Hall does the impossible, making a psychopath a sympathetic character. It is quite a feat. Most episodes, it also must be said, are not as bloody as the gruesome premise would suggest.
It just sounds sick, and hammering it at families viewing The Super Bowl got a bit much after the umpteenth time. Dexter just does not go down well with salsa and chili.
There might have been as many promos for Jericho, too. CTV had one extra long spot hyping the full inventory of new episodes of all kinds of shows–including their pick up of the excellent AMC series Mad Men. Okay, we get it, you guys have the cupboards well stacked no matter how much longer this strike lasts. But after a while you had to ask–the Super Bowl is TV’s biggest ad bonanza. Why aren’t there more paid commercial breaks? One spot went Dexter, Jericho, We-Got-Lots-of-Shows, back to Dexter. Why vamp with in-house filler when you can sell sell sell?
On the positive side, I counted just one ad for those damn Bell cell phone beavers. I think it was run twice. And have to give credit to CTV for this: unlike Global, which used to try and cram digital ads throughout the actual game (on virtual blimps, billboards. etc), CTV did not mar any of the game footage. They didn’t even cover up or cut away from Fox’s game-action ads for House, even though that was hyping rival Global’s big post-game goodie. (CTV countered with the fifth season premiere of Nip/Tuck, like Dexter another scalpel series.)
When real ads did run, they weren’t very memorable. Given all the hype about the high-priced Super Bowl ads that run south of the border, the Canadian ones seems extra cheesy by comparison. There was a lame little spot featuring a doodle of two birds sitting on a branch. I can’t even remember the sponsor, which is a bad sign for the sponsor. Nothing really leapt out as special or innovative. Our ad community just doesn’t put as much creative behind this opportunity, perhaps because, proportionally, it isn’t anywhere near the draw in Canada that it is in the U.S. (Although the numbers will be interesting when they’re released later today, given that this is CTV’s first kick s the Super Bowl and given that it was a nail biter right down to the end).
As for the purists who were creeped out by Ryan Seacrest hosting Fox’s pre-game, red carpet-y Super Bowl coverage–as I said this morning on London’s 103.9 The Hawk FM with Jeff McArthur–anybody who wastes six-and-a-half hours watching a football pre-game show deserves Ryan Seacrest.

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