A Good Year to Skip the Super Bowl


Tim Goodman

San Francisco Chronicle

CBS is billing this Sunday as maybe the greatest day of television ever. Some kind of slogan like that. The Super Bowl. Followed by the second installment of “Survivor.” In peacetime, non-assassination, non-natural- disaster television, CBS may just be right.

Football in Tampa. Survivors in Australia. How excited are you?

Just because both shows will be a letdown doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch.

Let’s be honest here. It’s the Super Bowl. That game is exciting about every other leap year. Plus, the elements missing in action that will affect you the most — the 49ers and the Raiders — make this a game about somebody else’s team. Rule No. 1 in sports: If it’s not your team, it doesn’t matter.

But no, duty bound, you’ll watch. Even nonsports fans watch. Why? Because it’s a party and it’s expected of you and as Americans we love hype, which is what this day is all about. It’s a beautiful thing, really. That it can bring us back, year after year despite often boring games, is a wonder. And still we plan — asking friends to come over, contemplating getting one of those Bud Light inflatable chairs, buying extra chips and dip, starting a pool on the game and watching as everyone stops talking to watch the commercials.

It’s almost like Christmas. Feel the goosebumps.

The difficult part of Super Bowl Sunday this year is that, who cares about the New York Giants and especially the Baltimore Ravens? Great defense, no offense. Which means, a low-scoring game. Which means — boring. And the dot- com companies — God rest their souls — are not advertising this year, so there won’t be much to watch. And we’ve all become kind of immune to the effects of even a very good commercial. Unless we fall out of our chair laughing, then it was only mediocre. The bar is set high at the Super Bowl, and neither the game nor the commercials will come close.

If that seems a tad cranky, well, it is. We fall for this empty hype every year. It’s only when the game falls hopelessly out of reach, when not even the banned 7-Up ad could make you laugh, and when your guests take off in boredom, leaving you to clean up one ungodly mess, that you realize once again that you’ve been had.

If there was ever a year to skip the Super Bowl (and come back for “Survivor 2,” of course), this might be the one. Unless you like off-tackle running plays that net two yards. What would you do instead? No — not read a book. Come on, this isn’t England. You at least have to watch TV.

Look, KQED (Channel 9) is running three episodes of “Jazz” starting at 9:30 a.m. Jazz is really more American than football.

While the rest of the country is gagging on the bloated pregame nonsense that is CBS’s “Super Bowl Today,” you could watch “Banacek” on KTVU (Channel 2) at 1 p.m. And it runs for 90 minutes, bumping right into “McCloud.” Man, it’s great to be American.

While some might snicker, let’s not forget that the Phoenix Open will be in progress during the game. Yes, golf. Oh, and you’d rather watch Trent Dilfer try and guide an already bland offense into the end zone? Don’t get sanctimonious.

Actually, outside of “Banacek,” it’s a boring day around the dial. Nobody wants to put anything good against the Super Bowl. So maybe that’s the trick. If the game is boring, you need to understand actual degrees of boring to get around the dial (and no giving up and reading). For example, there’s “The Road to the White House” on C-SPAN at 3:30 p.m. What’s worse — two teams that can’t complete a pass over 12 yards or the focus-the-camera-and-go-home nature of C-SPAN?

MTV has a “Jackass” marathon in progress as the Super Bowl unfolds. And A&E has a “Murder, She Wrote” marathon. Both of those are repugnant as well as boring. Only Cartoon Network, with its “Big Game 2001: Bugs vs. Daffy” looks like a real winner of inspired counterprogramming.

And sometime around the fourth quarter, if you’re so bored you’d rather watch soccer, there’s always English League Soccer on Fox Sports Bay Area.

Then again, maybe the game will be great. And the commercials will be brilliant. And maybe “Survivor 2” will duplicate the success of the original. And maybe there won’t be a blackout.

Hey, look up, there’s a flock of pigs overhead.

E-mail Tim Goodman at tgoodman@sfchronicle.com.