So that was fun while it lasted.
H-E-B released the final three commercials of this year’s slate Saturday night, including the much-anticipated appearance of Tim Duncan, the former face of the commercial franchise.
Otherwise, it was a ho-hum conclusion to another H-E-B commercial season that had its share of funny moments but more lulls than we’ve come to expect.
(Side note: Here’s Part I of this year’s commercial analysis for your reading pleasure.)
- The premise: It’s The Coyote’s birthday, so LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard surprise him with personalized gifts from H-E-B.
- High point: Kawhi stole the show once again. His gift, senior blend of dog food, is a playful dig at The Coyote’s age. When Aldridge and Parker nod dismissively, Kawhi retorts with a gem of a line: “What? He’s like 231 in dog years.” Game. Set. Match. This performance cemented Kawhi as the 2016 H-E-B commercial Most Valuable Actor. No questions asked. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year was delightful in both spots that he was prominently featured in (“Origami” and “Coyote’s Birthday”), which just happened to be the two best commercials this season. That’s no coincidence.
- Fun fact: Last year, The Coyote gave Aldridge brisket-flavored dog food in the “Gifts for LaMarcus” skit. This year, Aldridge re-gifted the brisket-flavored dog food and returned it to The Coyote. Which was a baller move, if you ask me.
- Low point: Nothing.
Grade: A-minus. If you were concerned about the post-Duncan future of H-E-B commercials, don’t worry because Kawhi has the tools to carry a commercial team by himself. And he’s only 25 years old. He isn’t even in his commercial prime.
- The premise: Tim Duncan is retired, allowing him entry into the exclusive retirement club for Spurs legends like David Robinson, George Gervin, Bruce Bowen and Sean Elliott.
- High point: Seeing Tim Duncan on a television again, reprising a familiar role.
- The monogrammed ‘TD21’ steak was a nice touch; those personalized Spurs robes were fantastic; Sean Elliott still looks, like, 34 years old.
- Low point: Realizing that Tim Duncan won’t be playing basketball for the Spurs this season.
- Quibble: Too bad Duncan and the rest of the cast couldn’t make it into the studio together as their parts were filmed separately and edited together.
Grade: B. This had the potential to be much better, considering Duncan’s tenure and comfort in the commercial system, but it relieved heavily on nostalgia and little substance. “Retirement Club” was graded on a Star Wars: The Force Awakens curve, because we were all just really excited to watch an old friend return to the small screen. Duncan’s appearance alone makes it an enjoyable commercial.
- The premise: Tony Parker has a food truck and the squad is really hungry.
- High point: Kawhi’s aside with Green and/or the return of Tony’s deadpan reaction to Pau’s question.
- Low point: Copying the exact same line from last year’s “Cooking Class” skit (which was hysterical) and substituting ‘Pau’ for ‘Timmy’ is lazy. Pau, in the unenviable spot of filling Duncan’s role, didn’t deliver. Mills was overshadowed. Kawhi, the star of this year’s commercials, didn’t have a big enough role.
- Also, why was Manu Ginobili even in this commercial? He didn’t have a line.
Grade: D. This was an unimaginative commercial. Plain and simple. Not their best work.
If you’re keeping score at home, here are my H-E-B commercial rankings this season.
- “Coyote’s Birthday”
- “Retirement Club”
- “Farmer’s Market”
- “Tony’s Truck”
See you next season.