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Tuesday, August 12, 2008




Let the counting of the fluff begin...

NBC's had it easy the first few days, as I was out of town and didn't have the means (or the will) to count their fluff. But now that I'm back, watch out!

• After the intro, we start with a recap of last night's men's gymnastics. Fluff? Nahh... I'm going to count it as event, since most of this happened so late last night that a lot of people wouldn't have seen it. Plus, there's no cheesy music or annoying slo-mo shots.

• Off to synchronized diving, where as I've said before, I looooovvve the drop camera.

Also, extra points to commentator Cynthia Potter who managed to avoid calling the Canadian divers "fat" by instead just saying that they "weren't as streamlined" as the Chinese divers.

• U.S. diver Haley Ishimatsu is afraid to jump off that tower unless she's doing a dive. Yes, this was fluff, but only 30 seconds of it. Let's just call it "fluffette."

• Cynthia is doing a good job using freeze frames and the telestrator to explain how synchronized diving works. I just wish it wasn't the United States team that she has to keep picking apart.

• On the Canadians last dive, Cynthia proclaims it "a tidal wave." Enough with the fat jokes already!

• So, Jimmy Roberts and the Chevrolet Olympic Moments are gone, and Chris Collinsworth is in for the Chevy Gold Medal Spotlight. Does that make it better? Let's find out.

Chris is interviewing Michael Phelps' mother. In fact, he's sitting with her in the crowd as Phelps tied the Olympic record for gold medals. This isn't really an interview or a story, it's mostly just somebody editing Chris sitting with Michael Phelps' mom. Okay, he does ask her a couple of questions, you know, stuff like, "Isn't your son just the awesomest?" and "Aren't you proud of your son?" or something like that. It's kind of boring, really.

Is this an improvement over Jimmy Roberts? Well, it's not as cloying or saccharine, but I wouldn't exactly call it better. Instead, I'd call it "a good time to go to the kitchen for snacks."

• You know these Pizza Hut chocolate dunker ads would impress me more if the girl pretending she was French was fooling other French people instead of fooling Americans. Wouldn't that be awesome? "Zis shock-o-lot doonker, eet eesn't French... (reveal the Pizza Hut uniform)... it's from Pizza Hut, and we fooled you, Froggie. Not only that, but your swim team? Owned by the Americans! Ha!

• By the way, Sandy, a high-ranking member of Team Rockwood, also has some comments she'll be making from time-to-time. Sandy finds it interesting that in the China Olympics, the music played between points in the Men's Beach Volleyball competition is American arena rock. She likes it. Way to go China for embracing American culture!

• And now, the very definition of fluff. A story about pandas. No, even worse... a story about panda BABIES! What could be more fluffy than a story about panda babies? Mary Carillo travels to the Chinese zoo that breeds pandas and... oh my word I can barely stand it it's so sweet. Four minutes of panda video!

• Sacre bleu! Eet ees Alain Bernard from France versess zat feelthy American Jason Lezak, who mere days ago upset Bernard and France in the 4x100 relay. Tonight they're back in the 100-meter freestyle. It's only the qualifying semifinal, though. There will be no sweet revenge tonight.

The next semifinal? Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! He finishes second, but he's still first in "names that are fun to say."

• These events are all live, and NBC is having to run quick commercial breaks to keep up. That's good, though. It actually feels live instead of preproduced, like so many of the other non-live events do.

• And now, the Chevy Gold Medal Moment! How did Chevy get to sponsor Michael Phelps' event? Well, no matter. Here we go, watching to see if Phelps can break the all-time career Olympic gold medal record by winning the 200- meter butterfly.

Of course he does! And in world-record time! And how does he react afterwords? He looks disappointed. What? Rowdy Gaines says it's because he wanted to break 1:52 in time. C'mon, Michael. You now have TEN Olympic gold medals. You could crack a smile.

• We leave Morose Mike behind and go to the women's gymnastics, and Al tells us that NBC will be bouncing back and forth between gymnastics and swimming. I LOVE live Olympics!

• Visa has a commercial all ready for Michael Phelps, with Morgan Freeman congratulating him on winning more gold medals than anyone, ever. You think Morgan would be so congratulatory if he knew Phelps was throwing a fit for not making it to 1:51 in the 200-meter butterfly?

• Al thinks it's stunning to see China's and America's gymnasts talking to each other during the competition. Yes, Al, they must hate... HATE... HATE!!! Then Al stirs the pot some more by questioning the age of a Chinese gymnast. Look, I think China is as bad as anyone, but really, can't we do better than saying, "she's not 16! AAAA!!"

• You know what's cool about seeing the gymnastics competition live? Getting to see the gymnasts warming up and acting as a team. You know what's NOT cool about seeing it live? Listening to Al Trautwig and Tim Daggett try to fill air time.

• You know what another good thing about live competition is? No time for fluff!

• Back to the studio, where Bob Costas and Bela Karolyi are doing their own judging for the women's gymnastics. Bela gives his own analysis of Nastia Liukin's uneven bars performance and is largely unintelligible. The best part is when Bob says that Bela is like that all the time, and they have video to prove it. Cut to the replay... Bela bluescreened over Nastia, cheering her on. Hilarious! Oh, it's fluff, but it's great fluff.

• Less than an hour after becoming the Olympic gold medal record holder,Michael Phelps is back in the pool to lead the U.S. in the 4x200-meter relay. If the United States wins, will Morgan Freeman be back with another Visa ad?

The U.S. wins. Big. But no Morgan Freeman.

• Alicia Sacramone of the U.S. misses her mount on the balance beam, costing the Americans eight tenths of a point. Later on the floor, she falls backward after a flip. Tim describes the second thing as a "disaster of epic proportions." C'mon, Tim. It very well might have cost the U.S. a chance at the gold, but they're still in the driver's seat for the silver, which was the position they were in when they entered the last round. A "disaster" would be, say, being dropped from gold to bronze, or from silver to nothing, not from silver to silver.

• After a break, NBC comes back to the studio with Bob and Bela. Bela makes a comment about Sacramone maybe feeling more pressure because she's older. When Bob presses him for more comments, Bela said that the advantage of the Chinese "using the 14 or 15 year old kids" is that they don't feel as much pressure because they don't think about it as much. Bob "corrects" Bela, saying that the lower age limit for women gymnasts is now 16. Bela responds with "it's documented, half of the Chinese team is underaged" but that no one could prove it because they have government issued passports.

Uh-oh. NBC make China angry! Bob, clearly realizing what Bela was implying, gently puts a "shut up Bela" hand on Karolyi's arm and quickly throws it back down to the floor. You can bet that someone's going to get in trouble for this tomorrow.

• Sandy says they're going to bring Bela back for his politically incorrect but true comments.

• They bring Bela back and he says the Chinese team should be commended but "too bad they are underaged and should not be legally accepted." Wow. And here I thought the Chinese thought police would have taken him backstage and beat him with a sack of oranges. But then, if anyone should know how a communist gymnastic team works, it would be Bela. Who are you going to believe, Karolyi or China?

• Michael Phelps reappears on another medal ceremony. Will he sing this time, given that just moments ago he said how emotional he was at winning yet another gold medal? Psh! No. Sorry, Michael, but for all of your gold medals, you haven't yet passed Natalie Coughlin as my favorite Olympian.

So, four-and-a-half hours and almost all action. Will a "live" Olympics like China's continue to keep the amount of fluff low? So far, so good. We're running at full speed now, so keep coming back to see how it all turns out!

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