ESPN’s ‘Toy Story’ NFL Stream Started Glitchy, Got Better, and Then Had a Drug Reference
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv ESPN’s ‘Toy Story’ NFL Stream Started Glitchy, Got Better, and Then Had a Drug Reference

ESPN’s ‘Toy Story’ NFL Stream Started Glitchy, Got Better, and Then Had a Drug Reference



ESPN’s ‘Toy Story’ NFL Stream Started Glitchy, Got Better, and Then Had a Drug Reference

ESPN‘s “Toy Story“-themed alternative live stream of Sunday’s Jaguars-Falcons game was incredibly ambitious, and it showed early on in the form of technical issues.

The stream was available on both Disney+ and ESPN+. That is, if you could get in. I was able to log in on my second or third try after fully restarting my TV; a colleague gave up after five minutes of continuous trying. Those who joined halfway (or more) through the first quarter probably had the best viewer experience.

Ball-tracking was the first noticeable challenge and the most consistent issue throughout the game. At times, the football would just appear on random spots of the carpet (field) or slide around the playing surface on its own. Sometimes The Claw, playing the role of umpire in Andy’s room, never even spotted the ball at the line of scrimmage.

Catches were occasionally presented as drops, and bounces were apparently not trackable — the football would just plug into the area rug. Kicking wasn’t great either, as punt height was not properly depicted, and due to the thickness of Andy’s alphabet-blocks-as-goalposts setup, the results of field goals/PATs were unclear from a visual standpoint.

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The presentation’s “camera” angles were also way off at times — especially early — missing the entirety of the on-field action. At its glitchiest, the toy players vanished and the live stream cut to some random high or low angle of Andy’s empty bedroom.

If that all sounds overly critical, well, it may be. This was a first attempt at leveraging technology that is hard to even wrap your brain around. (IndieWire’s animation expert Bill Desowitz covered it here; at its most basic, each real-life player had tracking chips in their shoulder pads.)

When “Toy Story Funday Football” worked, it worked well — those moments are evidenced by the selective highlights shared on social media by ESPN and the NFL.

Play-by-plan man Drew Carter and color analyst Booger McFarland did their best to keep us informed and entertained during the stream’s buggiest times. It was Carter’s job to address the elephant (not to be lumped in with animal toys like Ham and Slinky Dog) in the room; we counted two outright apologies by about midway through the first quarter. A bit later in the game, they probably owed us one more.

With less than two minutes left in the third quarter, McFarland took an Aaron Rodgers riff a bit too far for the intended audience. As the “Toy Story” Little Green Men circled the field in flying saucers, Carter made a harmless reference to a multi-time NFL MVP.

“I wonder if Aaron Rodgers is seeing these UFOs,” he said. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”

McFarland replied: “He’s still on the ayahuasca,” referring to the plant-based psychedelic drug that Rodgers first brought to many of us. Then the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback, Rodgers says he and a friend drank the hallucinogenic tea under the guidance of a shaman. In the hours following, Rodgers says, his mind was opened.

If McFarland thought he and Carter were on the exact same wavelength, he probably should rewatch this season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” At the end of the docuseries, among some Rodgers outtakes, the newest New York Jet (Rodgers made it all of four plays this season before tearing his achilles) recalls the time that he, college teammate Steve Levy, and Levy’s brother saw a “tremendously large” UFO overhead in New Jersey in 2005.

There was no mention of drug or alcohol use for that evening. Rodgers said he had a “5 a.m. wakeup” the next day, so presumably they weren’t partying too hard — if at all.

At this point in the story we should point out that the third member of “Toy Story Funday Football” reporting team was a 12-year-old girl. The broadcast was rated PG, though it was not available on what the company calls “Junior” profiles; nor is the replay. The McFarland ayahuasca line remains in the replay.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 in London, and in Andy’s room.

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