Miller Lite has re-ignited their collection of "good ol' boys" to promote the beer, but they've updated the roster from the nearly forty ex-athletes, actors, and writers to be more in line with the 21st Century. Instead of arguing over "Less Filling"/"Tastes Great", which culminated with the 1982 spot "Alumni Bowling" and 1983's "Alumni Baseball" (featuring George Steinbrenner firing Billy Martin for the umpteenth time), now the half dozen blipverts feature the Men of the Square Table as they debate the manlier aspects of Life.
As the grand old man of this collection, Burt Reynolds brings his easygoing, laid-back insouciance, carried with the air that he's just slumming his way through the ads. Just from his blipvert work alone, Burt could demand entrance into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame:
Kodak Max Film
Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds perfume
Brawny Paper Towels (as a voice-over)
But he's also appeared as his own televersion in several sitcoms:
'The Golden Girls'
'The Larry Sanders Show'
'Hope & Gloria'
And in Earth Prime-Time Delay, he's made his presence felt in the 1990s version of 'Mike Hammer'. I'm still undecided about where Claymation-styled characters should be - their own dimension or the Tooniverse - but Reynolds supplied the voice for his own Golem in an episode of 'Robot Chicken' on Adult Swim.
Joining Burt at the Square Table are fellow actors Paul Renteria and Eddie Griffin, who are both better known for other characters than themselves. Although Griffin also has a comic's background to trade upon.
The others are athletes who for the most part have made contributions to the League of Themselves in other efforts. Most prominent for his outsized persona would be the wrestler Triple H. Aside from his many wrestling appearances, his televersion has appeared on 'Pacific Blue' and 'The Bernie Mac Show'. He may also have shown up as himself on 'The Drew Carey Show' in the episode "Rats! Kate's Dating A Wrestler", but the IMDb.com didn't make that very clear for my straw-filled noggin.
Then there's Jerome Bettis, whose profile was heightened by this year's Super Bowl. He appeared in a PSA-styled ad about asthma which cleverly turned the tables on the old Mean Joe Green commercial for Coca-Cola. But his televersion also showed up on an episode of 'In The House'.
Rodeo champ Ty Murray played himself on appropriate shows like 'Walker, Texas Ranger' and 'Arli$$'. (The super-agent has his hands in all sports venues, apparently.)
And then there are those who are basically using this series of Miller Lite ads to kick off their membership in the League of Themselves:
Jackie Flynn is a sarcasm-fueled comedian who's played at least five different roles on 'The King Of Queens', but is better known for appearing in several of the Farrelly Brothers' movies.
Brian Binnie is a renowned test pilot who helmed SpaceShipOne for Scaled Composites. Most of his Toobworld appearances have been in documentaries or on talk shows, and to include them has the whiff of desperation. I'm sure he'll have plenty of other opportunities to trade on his fame for more appearances as himself as seen on TV.
And the same might be said for Aron Ralston, the hiker who used a pen-knife to amputate his own arm after being pinned by a boulder in the mountains. He's shown up on talk shows with Letterman and Craig Ferguson, but he could parlay his courageous tale of survival into appearances that could evoke memories of Harold Russell. Russell lost both his arms during the war and went on to win the Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for "Best Years Of Our Lives".
In Russell's day, his roles usually hinged on the fact that he was missing both his forearms and had hooks instead. However, Ralston might be cast in roles where his loss of an arm is just one facet of his character and not even the main reason why he was cast, in much the same way his disability goes un-remarked in these blipverts.
Now, according to adweek.com's Best Spots section this month, there is one more guy at the Square Table - Jackie Gesner. I have to wonder if this is a misspelling, because not even Google comes up with an entry for him. All I can figure is that he's the Methuselah who's transcribing all the decisions made by the Men of the Round Table.
Perhaps somebody out there in the Peanut Gallery might be able to provide an answer? Let me know in the comments section, thanks!
I'm not sure if the six ads that have aired so far have had any Square Table members rotated out for other attendees or not. The crew mentioned above were all gathered for a decision on the last unopened beer bottle at a party.
But if they do decide to bring in new blood, I have a suggestion: Eddie Izzard, actor, comedian, and cross-dressing heterosexual.
That should provide some interesting visuals.
It's just a shame that Rodney Dangerfield has passed away; he'd have provided the perfect quote to close out each session.
And maybe they can get Boog Powell for old times' sake.....