Saturday, July 28, 2012

The London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony Was An Excellent Show Despite NBC's Attempts To Ruin The Viewing Experience

When I started watching Friday's London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony I figured I would not last long due to Bob Costas fatigue, particularly when, soon upon the start, we were subjected to Bob Costas talking to Tom Brokaw.

But, soon we learned that Merideth Vieira and Matt Lauer would be the talking heads during the actual ceremony.

So, last night I made it through my first Olympic Opening Ceremony, as broadcast by an American network, this century.

I was blessed in 2008 to be able to watch the Beijing Olympics, Bob Costas/NBC-free, due to being in Tacoma and thus able to watch it on Canadian TV.

Merideth and Matt provided some actual useful commentary, at times, explaining what was happening. At other times their inane babbling grated on my nerves and triggered the would you just shut up impulse.

Reading other viewer's viewing experience, particular those who watched both the NBC version and online, interruption free version, made me more annoyed at NBC. Apparently some interesting stuff happened during some of the commercial breaks.

And why, oh why, did NBC stick in that long, boring taped interview with Ryan Seacrest talking to a couple gymnasts, while the live Opening Ceremony was happening?

Well, actually, taped delay live Opening Ceremony. But, still, Ryan Seacrest was not part of the Opening Ceremony, which is what I was hoping to watch.

The creative genius behind London's Opening Ceremony, Danny Boyle, had said he knew there was no way they could out do Beijing's spectacle.

I beg to differ. I think London did out do Beijing. And I really liked the Beijing spectacle. Beijing was so over the top, the likes of which I'd never seen before. An online commenter summed up the difference...

If I were to describe the difference between Beijing and London, I think it is best described as a celebration of  individuality versus a display of forced uniformity.

The London show had a sense of humor. With the funniest part being Queen Elizabeth's contribution with James Bond. I don't know if NBC was to blame, or what, but it would have been far more amusing had the transition between Queen Elizabeth parachuting into the stadium, and the actual Queen Elizabeth appearing, been made seamless. Instead it seemed like something went awry, or was badly edited.

I thought the transition from pastoral England to the Industrial Revolution was an amazing spectacle. How did those smokestacks rise from the stadium floor?

And then the raucousness amped up when we got to the 60s, with England's contribution to the world's music, on to the modern era, with Twitter and the Internet, the stadium floor turned into an out of control party. I wanted to be at that party.

The part, earlier in the show, that celebrated Britain's nationalized health care, seemed a bit odd, from the American perspective, but, apparently the Brits are really proud of their free health care, something they've had since 1948. Something America has never had. Not in the Brit way.

Maybe in the 2060 Los Angeles Opening Ceremonies there will be a segment celebrating 50 years of Obamacare. Somehow, I suspect that won't happen.

Below are a couple comments I saw online, on both sides of the good or bad show spectrum, first the good....

Congratulations, London!  You did a fantastic job on the opening ceremonies.  England certainly lived up to its reputation for being a master of pomp and ceremony.  It was delightful to see your rich culture and history showcased with such class, pride and that wonderfully dry British wit. As the Brits would say...brilliant, just brilliant!

And then the bad....

Cringe-inducing. Really this makes some of you proud to be British? This nonsensical, mishmash of a high-school level show? Look I can understand loving your country. It's a great country and London is a great city. This is an absolutely HORRIBLE opening ceremony than. Seriously. If you guys think this is good you seriously need to think again. No wonder Romney complained. This is unwatchably bad.

Now, before the next Olympics Opening Ceremony, I think it would be a good thing for NBC to watch how  the BBC and CTV cover an Olympics.

And even though NBC still managed to mangle an Olympic Opening Ceremony and even though NBC still had talking heads babbling inane babble, this most recent attempt was a big improvement, to the point that, with the help of my DVR FF button, I actually made it through the entire show without hitting the off button.

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