TV Sure Loves Its [Insert Product Name Here]

Wednesday's Modern Family was all about the iPad—Phil really wanted one for his birthday, so Claire volunteered to wait in line and get one for him. Multiple family members got dragged into the iPad drama, and it shaped up to be a pretty solid episode. Still, after a while, the dialogue started to sound like, "iPad, iPad, iPad, iPadiPadiPad [tech word]." The blow was softened when we learned that Apple didn't, in fact, pay for the love; Modern Family's writers simply thought the storyline would make for some compelling comedy (and it did). But other shows don't have that luxury. Invasive product placement isn't just part of television's cashflow-restoration solution, it's the only solution. To wit, some egregious examples from recent memory:


Crime: Tuesday's episode ran a V countdown timer in the lower right hand corner, which marked the minutes until the alien invasion series returned from its winter hiatus... to the delight of almost no one. It remained there for the entire episode, and signaled not only the beginning of V, but the end of the week's (certainly not grade-A) installment of Lost. Because if there's one thing Lost fans love, it's constantly being reminded that the experience is going to end soon.
Would have been worse if: One of the aliens actually came onto the island and said, "Hi guys, the secret behind this show is that we're all aliens. Or are we? Lost." It's true, though. You heard it here first. April first.


Crime: A couple episodes ago, Big Mike tried to train Casey to be a civilized manager-type. But first he needed his strength, courtesy of the neighborhood Subway sandwich shop. Ever heard of it? They actually used the line "Subway can soothe the tummy and the soul."
Would have been worse if: Subway hadn't single-handedly saved Chuck from cancellation last season (maybe). I think that qualifies for a lifetime pass.


Crime: Devoting an entire subplot to the greatness of the film Avatar. The characters even waited in line to snag sweet opening-weekend seats. It was a lot more than that little indie flick deserved.
Would have been worse if: The show had included a special 3D shot-by-shot homage to the film's deleted sex scene. Seriously, read it and weep.


Crime: Besides the entire show after season one? Well, there are plenty of invasive uses of Sprint phones, especially last season when Bennet and what's-her-name-the-blond-one were tracking Claire Bear. The phone screens: so clear.
Would have been worse if: They had given the phones to the carnies for a series of dumb "Slow Burn" ad spots. Wait...

American Idol

Crime: Yesterday's entire opening sequence was this odd American Idol-Clash Of The Titans mash-up that didn't even make sense.
Would have been worse if: They had done it… through song!

What's the most obnoxious product placement you've noticed on TV?

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