Friday, February 10, 2006
we're off! I'm back on the Olympic wagon, and we'll see how much
I can stand before I have to jump back off. But for now, let's
jump right in...
• Torino! NBC bet big
money on the word "Torino" sounding
cooler than "Turin." It took them all of a minute into
the broadcast to say it. Oh, and since NBC is insisting that
the Italian pronunciation sounds cooler, I'm going to Italianize
words for the entirety of the Games.
• Oh, and this opening sequence? Technically
it's fluff-o, but for the first show, I'll let it go. Let's call
it a teaser for
everything you'll expect to see on a later broadcast.
• Torino! You know, my dad once had a
Ford Torino. But it was never shot in slow-motion high definition
one is. As I recall, though, it ran in slow-motion.
• Jim Lampley
says we'll be joining Bob Costas for the Opening Ceremonies in
40 minutes. Forty minutes?! There haven't even
been any events yet! What are we waiting for?
• We watch an interview
with Michelle Kwan about her figure skating trevails this year,
Kwan having qualified without actually having
to qualify. You know... this whole thing is being tape delayed
anyway, so why not just jump right in the Opening Ceremonies?
Oh... because NBC can get another half hour to put ads in.
• Hmm... mountain fluff. Or not. What
starts off looking like a fluff piece about the downhill course
$613 million to show us the USA's downhill practice? I don't
really know how to count this. It's not really an event, but
it certainly doesn't seem like fluff. I guess if it's showing
action I'll be generous and count it as an event.
• Actually, it
turns out that this downhill practice is being used by the US
team to choose which four skiers will be skiing
for the team, so now it's definitely going to be counted as events.
Jimmy Roberts, my
old nemesis. It goes without saying that anything
Jimmy touches is counted as fluff. Tonight, he
interviews Bode Miller. For Jimmy, it's actually a pretty good
segment, as he keeps his treacly mitts off of most of the interview.
However, he does the entire interview while wearing a plaid
lumberjack shirt and black overalls. Next to Bode he looks like
of a geek than I thought he was before. Overall, not too bad,
especially for Jimmy, although Jim closed with some ominous
foreshadowing, telling us that Jimmy would be back on a later date
of the Bode Miller interview. Curse you, Jimmy Roberts.
we've seen downhill practice, now it's time for snowboard halfpipe
practice. Note the uniform differences between downhill
and snowboard. Downhill racers wear spandex-spiderman uniforms.
Snowboarders wear big, baggy clothing that's more for show
than for performance. Plus, their sport is scored by judges. Ohmigosh!
Snowboarding is figure skating for extreeeeme kids!
• Finally, we're
at the Opening Ceremonies (from now on referred to as "The
and what's the most striking thing? It's NBC anchor Brian Williams
over Bob Costas. Who
knew Bob was so tiny? Or perhaps Williams is a giant. Maybe THAT'S
how he won that coveted anchor position.
• Yay! Melissa Stark! She's
awesome, and not just because she's good looking. She was one
of the few reporters ABC had on the
sideline for Monday Night Football who was actually any good.
It's good to see her here.
• Andrea Joyce asks U.S. flag carrier
Chris Witty if she's practiced carrying the flag. How exactly
would you practice something like
• An anvil, fire, and a sledgehammer.
I like this already.
• Bob tells us that the performers come
together to form a beating heart, the universal symbol of passion.
looks like they've
got a little arrhythmia going on there, Bob.
• Skaters with their
helmets on fire tear through the stadium, and one of them has
a camera on their back. Flaming-skater-cam!
• "Here come the Treemen!" Who
knew the Stanford
mascot was going to show up in Torino?
now we've got dancing cows. If I wanted to see dancing, I'd be
Keibler on "Dancing With The Stars." Oh,
and Stacy? She's gonna win easily. Just my prediction.
• A nine-year-old
girl emerges from this web-like thing in the infield to sing
the Italian national anthem. I think she's lip-synching.
She must be Ashlee Simpson-o.
• Now the dancers have formed some
kind of oddly shaped man on skis. It's sort of like a marching
band formation, except it's
more densely packed and no one's playing any instruments. It's
actually a pretty neat effect, but how am I supposed to feel
once the dancers break up? Eek! That skier has exploded!
• In a very odd set, a Cirque-de-soliel-like
group balances on some scaffolding that looks like a concert set.
of cryptic balancing, they descend and it becomes clear that
the scaffolding is actually a metal version of the Olympic
rings. Said rings tilt up and, with more fireworks, light up when
reach the appropriate positions. Very nice.
• During the Parade
of Nations, the athletes march in to a selection of American
disco hits from the '70s. Yes, the Olympics may represent
all nations, but it's clear which one's culture is now dominant,
whether the French like it or not.
• Bermuda has an winter athlete? Ah...
a skeleton competitor who was born in Bermuda, went to college
in the U.S. and now
works in Tokyo. Well, of course!
• As Bosnia comes in, Brian Williams
relates how most of their athletes don't remember the Sarajevo
games. I like Brian, and
he's clearly very smart, but every time he talks, he sounds
like one of those people who can't enjoy anything unless they turn
it into an educational moment. Relax, Brian! It's the OC! It's
supposed to be fun!
• The Koreas enter, with 40 athletes from
the South, and 6 from the North. Best I can tell, those are the
North Koreans who
have actually been fed.
• The Denmark team enters, and angry Hezbollah
supporters promptly set them on fire! Ha! Just kidding! No one
in Hezbollah would
never overact like that!
• The German team enters, and all of
Italy throws down their guns! Ha! Just kidding! Germany has
a luger nicknamed "The
Speeding White Sausage." And much like politics, you don't
want to see how that nickname was made.
• The U.S. Virgin Islands
has one athlete, a 52-year-old female luger. So kids, if you've
to be in the Olympics,
but you didn't want to bother with all of that meddlesome "practice," move
to the Caribbean and sign up for something on ice!
• The background
music has moved forward in time. It's now up to American hits
from the '80s. "Sweet Dreams Are Made Of
This." I suppose that's appropriate.
• Bob catches on to the
fact that we're listening to '80s American pop songs, and puts
in a special
request for "Bette Davis
Eyes." I noticed that while "YMCA" is playing,
I can't see anyone in the background semaphoring out the letters.
• Here comes the U.S.! Laura Bush looks
cold as the U.S. team enters the stadium, and NBC stays longer
than on any
other team. Don't be shocked. First of all, they ARE our home
team, and they're also one of the biggest teams out there,
so it's only natural that they'd get this much screen time.
Turkish team enters. Hmm... looks like that woman could have
used some flag-carrying practice.
• Hungary and Uzbekistan enter to "Disco
does this mean? Probably nothing, I just like that song and wanted
to make a note of it.
• And here come the Italians! They're
all wearing silver jackets. They must be from the future! Now that
teams are here,
the really weird stuff can start. And you know the weird stuff
• Italian men in tights wave a bunch of
flags around the athletes, but they leave once the rhythmic gymastic
come in. And you thought I was kidding about the weird stuff
• Mmmm... Eva
Herzigova is playing Venus,
the goddess of love. Of course she is. In a land of fine food,
without a little cheesecake?
• Okay, there are now some people
floating overhead attached to balloons, and they're flying over
women with dresses so big
that there are people living inside of them. Seriously, who
comes up with this stuff? Someone needs to do drug testing on the
• Uh... fire, dancers, and golden statues.
And now... uh... wow. The dancer has disrobed so that we can
see his pasty white spandex "flesh" covered
by veins and arteries, and his hat has been removed to reveal
a spiky mohawk haircut. Yeah. Okay, Italy. Whatever.
• Had enough
interpretive dance? Well, then, here comes Michael Schumacher
in his Ferrari F1 car, doing doughnuts on the stage.
Yes, really. That's for all you NASCAR fans.
• Jacques Rogge, the
president of the International Olympic Committee gives a nice
speech from a podium not at the end of the stadium, but rather
of the athletes.
Nice touch, Turin!
• Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon and six
other women carry in the Olympic flag. Susan Sarandon? Really?
only thing she's done in sports is make Nuke LaLoosh wear lingerie.
What is she doing in the OC?
• I guess I don't get the whole women
empowered thing for the flag carriers. Did I miss some special "Year
of the Woman" Olympic
message again? I thought 2000 was the Year of the Woman. Or was
• And now, the Olympics hymn. "We
are the Olympics. We are the children. We are the ones who make
a brighter day..." Wait.
That's not it. Never mind.
• The Olympic oath. An Italian in his
shiny, metallic jacket steps up to the podium and says, "Klaatu,
Barata, Nikto." No,
• More Cirque-de-Soleil stuff. Acrobats
in silver suits climb up a net and do little dances and formations.
with shots of the athletes looking up at them. What must the
athletes think? They've all spent years of their life perfecting
their bodies, applying rigid scientific training methodologies
to every aspect of their lives, and the first thing they get
to see when they finally get to the Olympics is a bunch of
professional wall climbers arranging themselves in the shape of
a dove. It's surreal.
• Yoko Ono
is now on stage. Presumably she's here to break up the Olympics.
Why is she still famous? Her poem sounds like something
a 7th-grade girl would write. Should you really get a lifetime
ticket to fame just for marrying someone famous?
• In the meantime,
Peter Gabriel is onstage singing Lennon's tune, "Imagine." He
looks depressed. Peter! Three billion people are watching you!
• Finally! Here comes the torch. We pass
it off from skier Alberto Tomba, who you may know, to four successive
Italians whom you've never heard of. The last woman lights a small
metal structure that ignites fireworks which circle the stadium
before finally igniting the cauldron.
• Luciano Pavarotti closes
out the OC by singing some opera. Wait a minute... if this is
over, shouldn't it be a fat lady singing?
• Here's the wrap up. Brian Williams and
Mary Carillo loved it! So did Bob! I'm so shocked! Did you think
were going to
say it was just okay? Right.
• We close the night with some fluff,
namely a musical medley of what's happened earlier tonight. Is
this necessary? After
all, we've been watching for almost four hours at this point.
And all of these events are now happening out of context. Although,
am I really missing any context by not know where the Visible
Man and his mohawk fit in? I doubt it.
So that's it for day one! Not too bad, fluff-wise,
although I suppose the severely anti-fluff would regard all of
Ceremonies as fluff. I wouldn't argue against those people,
that's just not how I'm grading here. So, tune in tomorrow as the events
get started and we'll see how NBC is keeping up. See you then!