Friday, June 25, 2010

Couch Pretzels: The Magic Bullet Infomercial

A few weeks ago, Peter brought "Couch Pretzels" to The Couchwarmers.  Today, Peter is back for part deux.  Nothing like a commentary on infomercials to fill a Friday afternoon.

The Magic Bullet Infomercial: There are a lot of good possibilities in the infomercial category: Sham-Wow, The Snuggie, anything involving Ron Popeil. But the Magic Bullet wins out because of its ability to provide the audience with just enough narrative to keep us watching—not for the product, but for the characters.

The premise of the original infomercial is the day after a neighborhood barbecue. For some unexplained reason, all the guests -- middle aged yuppie types -- have crashed at the house of their hosts, Mick and Mimi. Was there some sort of after-party? Did these guests engage in a swingers-style spouse swap? We’ll never know, though I’d like to assume the answer to the last question is “yes.”

Anyway, Mick and Mimi wow their guests with brunch made by the Magic Bullet, which I can say from personal experience is just an extremely loud mini-blender (careful viewers will notice that the producers crudely dubbed in all dialogue when the machine is turned on; it’s because the Magic Bullet is as loud as a jet engine).

I’ll try to spare much of the summary, which is well chronicled here but as Mick and Mimi prepare everything from salsa to egg salad (including a vomit inducing squeeze of mayo into the device), the guests begin to reveal what makes them tick. Berman is obviously a drunk and a “party animal.” Hazel is much older than the other guests and smokes what sounds like eight packs a day. Fred and Wilma are generally wowed by the fact that “as fast as you can say Bob’s your Uncle, Franny’s your aunt, you’ve got a beautiful, homemade pesto sauce.”

But as I said earlier, we keep watching because the show gives us just enough to want to know more. It’s a little like LOST. We have theories about the characters (“Hazel is actually the maid!”) and questions that are destined to be unanswered (“Why does Berman hate Broccoli so much?”). We can reel off iconic lines (LOST has “See you in another life, brother,” the Magic Bullet has “Everyone gets [pause] exactly what [pause] they want!”). Follow-ups have been made, though like the subsequent LOST seasons, they pale in comparison to the original. The best part of the infomercial, however, is that it doesn’t end with Mick realizing he is living in purgatory until he learns to “let go” of his urge to throw the perfect dinner party.

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