(Sports Illustrated) I flipped on the Nickelodeon broadcast in the same spirit that many people drink before a wedding or swallow bags of fungi before a boring summer concert; playoff Mitch Trubisky did not feel interesting enough to me, a sober person, and I needed to see him covered in slime to get me through the next few hours. That is, if Trubisky was even going to make it into the Slime Zone.
There’s a lot we could say about Viacom’s experimental NFL broadcast for kids, which debuted in the 4:40 p.m. ET hour on Sunday amid wild-card weekend and converted the typical football viewing experience into a children’s aesthetic with simpler graphics, a casual broadcast crew explaining the game’s complexities and, yes, digital slime pouring into the end zone when a team crossed the goal line (I think it’s brilliant, strategically, for parents who don’t want to surrender control of their remote on a particularly exciting Sunday to a mob of unruly, Caillou-starved children). To be honest, my plan was an unoriginal Fear and Loathing rip-off where we talked in great detail about the neon green and orange psychadelia adorning the field and how the random insertion of SpongeBob SquarePants characters felt like an intrusive pandemic lockdown fever dream; the moment when all of the haunting childhood cartoons and songs that live in our heads throughout the endless, eventless days finally seep their way into the adult programming we use to escape that reality for a few moments every weekend. A real hellscape, of sorts.