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We rate the Super Bowl commercials

We rate the Super Bowl commercials. The Osbournes meet the Osmonds, Willie Nelson in a close shave, and a superspy in red lingerie — Ken Tucker picks the best and worst

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Donny Osmond, Marie Osmond, ...

We rate the Super Bowl commercials

No question what the funniest Super Bowl commercial was Sunday night: If you didn’t laugh at footballer Terry Tate tackling office goof-offs and slackers in that funnybone-crunching Reebok spot (WHAM! ”Thas a long-distance call, Doug!”), you’re probably a football-hating wimp who thought the commercial was too violent. As a football-couldn’t-care-less, I thought the tackle commercial had everything a good ad should: razor-sharp editing that kept the surprise of the tackles sustained, and an ad message delivered decisively. Plus, who hasn’t wanted to see our fellow clock-watchers clocked, if only on TV?

After that one, there was a steep drop-off in quality:

— ABC’s own commercials for the super-duper edition of ”Alias” were cooler than anything else on the air last night. Exploiting Jennifer Garner by dangling her in front of juiced-up Bowl revelers, dressing her in lingerie in the opening scene and then having her say to a bad guy bitterly, ”Do you think it’s comfortable wearing clothes like this?” — well, this was a brilliant example of having it both ways. (And the episode it was promoting, by the way, was a corkscrew twister that sent the series into whole new directions: Bravo!)

— The H&R Block spot featuring Willie Nelson, playing off Nelson’s tax problems (how many of the twentysomethings in the football audience remembered those, though?) as well as his hippie beard, was a nice little hoot.

— Sierra Mist’s commercial about a hot day relieved when a dog lifts a leg to, well, relieve himself and instead kickboxes a fire hydrant open, drenching his grateful owner in cool water, was a real refresher.

— Gee, ”The Matrix Reloaded” looked cool.

— Yeah, the Osbournes meeting Donny and Marie and Florence Henderson (a Pepsi Twist commercial) was pretty amusing, but the camp use of fading stars reminded me too much of the style of an Old Navy commercial.

That was it, as far as good ones were concerned. The bad? This year, most everything was mediocre, but these stood out as particularly bad:

— The Levis jeans commercial that showed an ostentatiously smug couple standing calmly as a buffalo stampede rumbles around them on a deserted city street. What’s the message here: Chic denim makes you untouchable or just easily resistible?

— The anti-drug spot that linked smoking dope with getting pregnant but set up the commercial as though middle-aged parents were the ones expecting a baby rather than their inhaling daughter — this was obnoxious on so many levels.

— All of ABC’s other series commercials, including ”Veritas,” ”Miracles,” ”Are You Hot?,” and especially Melissa Rivers screeching during a plug for the upcoming ”reality” show ”I’m a Celebrity — Get Me Out of Here.” If there’s a person in America besides her mother who’s been waiting for Melissa to get her own reality show, I’ll dress up in one of Jennifer Garner’s lingerie outfits.

What did you think were the best and worst commercials?