If Janet Jackson's Super Bowl transgression was titillating the audience, then Paul McCartney's was boring the audience, according to viewers who lodged email complaints with the Federal Communications Commission in the wake of Sunday's big game.
A year after the FCC logged more than 500,000 complaints over Jackson's exposed breast at the Super Bowl halftime show, the governmental watchdog had received exactly two complaints by Monday afternoon over McCartney's fully clothed set.
In both cases, viewers complained of being "bored" by McCartney's 12-minute, four-song showcase of Beatles and Wings classics, including "Hey, Jude," FCC spokeswoman Rosemary Kimball said Monday.
Boring or not (and some TV writers did not disagree with that assessment), McCartney's performance was heavily TiVo'd, registering 5 percent more viewers than last year's Jackson fiasco, according to the replay-device company, and heavily watched.
The Super Bowl (halftime show included) had its usual hold on the TV nation, with 86.1 million watching the New England Patriots-Philadelphia Eagles football contest on Fox. That's down 4 percent from last year.
As an entertainment event, critics found the Patriots' 24-21 win over the Eagles as methodical and plodding as the musical acts and commercials.
Daily Variety likened McCartney's efforts to "damage control for last year's Janet Jackson incident." Still, wrote Brian Lowry, "Sir Paul delivered."
The New York Times' Jon Pareles noted that McCartney did manage to perform an unexpurgated version of "Get Back," complete with its references to "California grass" and crossdressing, with the NFL's blessing. "What was once mildly risqué is now merely droll," he wrote.
In USA Today, Michael Hiestand observed that the halftime show "returned to its traditional role--something that sits well with chips and dip."
The ads, which took almost as much heat last year as Jackson, also went down easier. Participants in USA Today's annual ranking of Super Bowl commercials sounded grateful for the lack of spots about four-hour erections and horses passing gas.
A Bud Light commercial featuring a pilot jumping out of skydiving plane in pursuit of a six-pack of the beer was the survey's top-rated commercial; Napster's lone Super Bowl entry, a spot comparing its service to iTunes, was the lowest-rated.
Commercials teasing would-be blockbuster movies received middling responses, per USA Today's data. Will Smith's Hitch was the highest-rated among the film spots; Warner Bros.' Batman Begins teaser the lowest-rated.
CareerBuilder.com, the job-search site, scored big with three spots featuring chimps--the commercials ranked fourth, fifth and six in the newspaper's survey.
Web builder GoDaddy.com's spoof on the Jackson wardrobe malfunction hung in the middle of the pack in the USA Today rankings. At the FCC, it was the undisputed number one.
No commercial or broadcast moment prompted more complaints--eight--than GoDaddy.com's, according to Kimball. (All told, the FCC recorded just 33.) The spot was supposed to air twice during the game, but the NFL and Fox got so anxious after the first airing they nixed the replay.
Also-rans at the FCC's complaint department included: Cialis (five viewers had a beef with the game's lone erectile-dysfunction sponsor); Fox announcer Joe Buck (one viewer wanted him "removed" from the booth); and last year's halftime show (three viewers apparently were still reeling from Jackson's breast).
Kimball said the FCC received two thank yous from viewers who appreciated the toned-down proceedings.
Apparently, sometimes boring can be a good thing.