Super Bowl 23 Half Time Show
Starring Elvis Presto

January 22, 1989

by Ham

Super Bowl 23 contained what could be the most absurd Half Time Show in history. I'm not even sure where to begin. Ok, to start, it's in 3-D. Now, I don't have the benefit of having 3-D glasses so I couldn't tell if this effect actually worked or not. But, I have seen other "3-D" shows on television back then and the effect usually just sucked. Next, the show features Magician/Singer/Dancer/Elvis Presley Impersonator "Elvis Presto". This guy (and His Teeth) should go in the future Absurd Hall Of Fame. Hey, that's not a bad idea. Anyway, add to those things the "Biggest Ever Card Trick" that only succeeded in confusing everyone, and a couple hundred horrible dancers and you've got yourself one hell of a Halftime Show!

Here's a video clip of Bob Costas introducing the show, and the show's opening graphics (as well as Elvis Presto's first appearance). I cut out the Coke commercial that Bob refers to so YouTube and Coke wouldn't delete the video. I also will not be able to post as many video clips as I would like from this show because most of it contains trademarked songs, and if I post them YouTube will hunt me down and beat me about the hands and face. Anyway, here's Bob Costas and the introduction to the show:

You can tell Bob hates every minute of this. He's barely able to hide his loathing for all of this nonsense. Also, couldn't someone have raised his seat? I know he's short and all, but there was no reason for his head to only come up to the middle of the screen. I enjoy how he feels the need to explain that, when putting on the 3-D glasses, make sure the dark lens goes over the right eye. If you can't figure out how to put on a pair of glasses, I don't think you should even be allowed to watch television. Also take note that Bob said the show would be "featuring tunes from the 50s". This will become a theme for this article.

We also got to see the first appearance of our hero, Elvis Presto and His Teeth. For Elvis's first trick, we saw him "magically appear" out of a jukebox. Next, he does some wacky trick with a guitar.

Oh snap! While lip-synching, Elvis takes the acoustic guitar he was pretending to play and opens it up to reveal... it's hollow! Now, I know that the fronts and backs on most guitars aren't attached with hinges, but I do believe acoustic guitars are hollow to begin with. I would not have been surprised at this point to see Elvis and His Teeth beat on a drum and turn it over to reveal... the drum is also hollow!

The above picture also reminds me of the random movements being made by the hundreds of "dancers" on the field.

If anyone can find two dancers doing the same thing I will give them my left toenail. No, the other one.

At this time, the dancers are dancing moving about to one of the "50s tunes" that Bob Costas described, "Rock This Town" by The Stray Cats. Wait a minute. While it is supposed to be a retro-sounding song, "Rock This Town" was released in 1982. 50s song fail count = 1.

Elvis then tries to scare the children at home by running up to the camera (in 3-D, remember?):

Ahhh! That gets me every time! At least he tried to hide The Teeth. I mean, he still had about 8 minutes of horrible dancing and lip-synching as well as some failed magic tricks to attempt, so he didn't want to scare all of the kiddies off just yet.

Which leads me to the point in the show where Elvis attempts the "Biggest Ever Card Trick". There's no way you can completely absorb all of the absurdity of this trick without watching the video. So, put on your 3-D glasses and enjoy:

Wow. If you're like me, you're probably wondering what the hell you just saw. Like the Bob Costas introduction, this video starts off with Elvis Presto and The Teeth Dancers only taking up half of the screen. Perhaps they wanted to show off the wacky "outer space" graphics behind them. Also, I thought it was quite obvious that this first segment was pre-taped. Anyway, Elvis then asks the crowd to "pick a card", using an applause meter to see which one would be the winner. This part completely cracked me up. When they show the crowd, supposedly cheering for their favorite card, everyone is just sitting there bored out of their skulls. You'd think they were all listening to Genesis or something. Then, even though no one in the crowd is cheering at all, the applause meter miraculously goes crazy for the King Of Hearts. So, Elvis magically picks out the King Of Hearts as everyone's favorite card. Brilliant! Then, just when you think this nonsense can't get any worse and you're begging for it to stop - Elvis tells (or sings to) everyone that the card they picked is under their seat. They just have to lift up their seat cushion and hold it in the air! Amazing! Some people in the crowd actually do hold up their seat cushion, but there's just one problem. It just looks like there's random lines on them. Even pausing this shot on a big screen, I could not make out what was supposed to be on those damn cushions. Ugh!

Next up we are treated to some more elementary school-style dancing:

The "50s tune" that they are dancing to this time is "We Go Together", from the Grease soundtrack. Sorry. Wait a minute... again. While Grease was a movie that was set in the 50s, it was released in 1978. 50s song fail count = 2.

Next song up is "Do You Love Me", released in 1962 by The Contours. Getting a little closer this time but still - 50s song fail count = 3.

Elvis and His Teeth then perform two "magic" tricks.

First, he miraculously has a woman hold herself up by her arms and stretch out her legs. Hell, I could do that on the monkey bars at 10 years old, and Mr. Presto certainly wasn't there to help me! The next trick features some woman doing her impression of Robutler.

Next up is...

Aaaahh! Why does he keep doing that close-up thing? And this time WITH The Teeth and an added finger! Dammit!

Our next "50s tune" on the program is "Devil With A Blue Dress On", released by Mitch Ryder in 1966. 50s song fail count = 4.

Now, you'd think that during this song the girls would be wearing... oh, I don't know - blue dresses? Blue skirts would even be acceptable, I would think. But, no...

Not one blue dress in sight! Oh, and the dancing is just hurting my eyes! Did they even rehearse this s**t?

The next song they perform is actually by Elvis Presley. Hot buttered biscuits, an actual "50s tune", right? Oh no, they do "Burning Love", which was released in 1972. Ugh. I swear, the only reason they put together this special was so I could laugh at it 20 years later. 50s song fail count = 5.

To go along with the "Burning Love" theme, Elvis then shoots some flames out of his hands.

Ok, the flames didn't come out of his hands. Not exactly, anyway. I just tried to make it sound cooler than it was. He was holding some miniature "torches" which shot out the flame on Elvis's command.

Elvis then went into a sign reading "Magic Drive-In" and disappeared.

Phew! Show's over, right? Nope. The things that happen next are what Wayne & Garth would describe as a couple of "Huh?" moments.

Someone who is clearly not Elvis Presto (note: no Teeth) then rides out on a motorcycle. Huh?

"Greased Lightening'", again from the Grease soundtrack, is played. 50s song fail count = 6.

This guy, who I thought looked a bit like a Muppet, seemed very angry that he had to do the "Greased Lightening" dance on network television:

It was time for another "Huh?" moment. Several dancers all crowded around in a circle. I thought some huge magic trick was going to happen, or maybe Elvis was going to pop out of the ground or something. But, no such luck. The dancers just dispersed and then Elvis and His Teeth were standing behind them, outside of their little circle. Huh?

I think someone f-d that trick up. I think Elvis looks a bit like one of the zombies in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video in this picture.

The next, and last, song to be performed was "Good Lovin'", released by The Rascals in 1966. 50s song fail count = 7. So, for those keeping track, not one song from the 50s was performed in this special that was supposed to feature "tunes from the 50s".

Finally getting toward the end of this nonsense, we are shown a bunch of random 3-D images.

Of course. A trumpet and some dogs riding flying saucers. Why not?

We are then shown some taped footage of fireworks, followed by a display on the field.

I can only assume that this is supposed to look like some fireworks exploding. I still have no idea what I'm watching.

The show ends with Bob Costas stating the this was the most "wonderfully understated 12 minutes of television". I think if you substitute the word "absurd" in for "understated" then you'd be a bit more accurate.

(Posted 7/2009)