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Wednesday, August 13, 2008




Talk about a bad ending...

Solid programming, a minimum of fluff, and events without commercial interruptions. What could mess this up? Oh, just you wait...

• After Bob's intro, we start tonight with the Women's Cycling Time Trial. While watching solo bikers racing against the clock isn't really that exciting, here at least we get to see some spectacular scenery. The Chinese set up the route so that the cyclists race through what looks like Chinese castles or perhaps part of the Great Wall. It looks really cool.

Better yet, the United States' Kristin Armstrong, no relation to Lance, pulls out the victory. In her post-race interview, you can tell she can't even figure out how to react. I'm betting she sings on the medal stand. Or at least cries.

• The Chevy Gold Medal Spotlight. Tonight we get to learn more about U.S. beach volleyballers Misti May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Costas narrates and tells us that they're dominant. Uh-huh. It's fluff, and let's be honest, NBC is only putting this on because chicks wearing bikinis are good for ratings.

• Mary Carillo does five minutes of fluff on Chinese food. She visits a 600-year-old restaurant that's famous for their duck. When she asks what makes it so good, the owner says that it's a secret, and he could tell her, but then he'd have to kill her. In China, that's not a joke.

Mary heads over to Beijing's snack street, where you can buy anything as long as it's fried. That sounds like the State Fair of Texas. She opts for jumbo scorpion on a stick. The face she makes while trying a bite is priceless.

She then sees if she can get Bob to make the same face by bringing him a tasty scorpion stick. Bob claims he likes his scorpion freshly steamed. Nice excuse, Bob.

• Over to live beach volleyball to watch May and Walsh beat up on the Norwegians. High-ranking Team Rockwood member Sandy asks, how do the Norwegians have such good tans? I can answer that. You see, during the summer months, the sun is up almost 20 hours a day.

• Fluffette, showing Misti May-Treanor dancing on the Great Wall. I'd almost not even count this, since the match is live now and NBC has to fill time during breaks in play. But it isn't an event, so I have no choice. Rules are rules!

• Karch Kiraly and Chris Marlow are very good commentators for volleyball. Why, it's almost like we're watching a sport and not some fluff-driven programming. Thanks, NBC!

• May and Walsh quickly dispatch the Norwegians, and NBC fills time by showing a Michael Phelps qualifying race.

Oh, but now we've got some Phelps fluff, a music video montage showing all of his gold medals from both the Athens and Beijing Olympics.

• Thirty-five minutes of live swimming. I love it!

• Cris Collinsworth with fluff on Jason Lezak. Do I like Cris better than the dreaded Jimmy Roberts? Yes. However, every time I watch him, all I can think is, "what a goofball!" Seriously, doesn't he just look like NBC got some soccer dad off the street and made him into a commentator?

• In the women's 200-meter butterfly, China swimmers Liu Zige, 19, and Jiao Liuyang, 17, get gold and silver. Funny how much older these teenagers look than the 16-year-old Chinese gymnasts. Hmmm....

• The men's 100-meter freestyle brings us... yes. Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! Pieter Van Den Hoogenband! Also, Alain Bernard, the smack-talking loser Frenchman, and Jason Lezak, the American who beat him.

Bernard! He ees zee weenner! Lezak ties for third. Pieter Van Den Hoogenband? Well, he finishes fifth. That might be it for him, as he's already 30 years old. We've enjoyed chanting your name, Pieter.

• And now it's live men's gymnastics, but this time as individuals instead of teams.

But first, a couple of minutes of gymnast fluff. Did you know that both American and Chinese gymnasts can look serious and triumphant in slow-motion music montages? I know! I was surprised, too!

• Incidentally, there's been some stink lately about China packing their audiences with paid staff because they didn't want the world to see empty seats in their arenas. Well, the checks must be bouncing, because I see lots of empty seats in the National Indoor Stadium today.

• Hmmm... we cut away from live medal-round gymnastics to go to Michael Phelps swimming in a semifinal race. I'm assuming someone at NBC knows exactly when the U.S. gymnasts are performing and that we won't miss any of them by watching a race that Phelps is sure to win.

Phelps cruises, even though his goggles leaked. Later, in an interview with Andrea Kramer, he says that medals are more important than times. He looks tired. He looked good in his race today, but he does have a pretty ambitious schedule. Will he make it all the way to the end? One thing for sure, we can count on NBC to tell us, since every other segment on their primetime show is about him.

• We leave the gymansts so we can see France versus America, part two. This time it's in the women's 4x200 relay. The U.S. has never lost this event. Bring it, madames!

And the French... don't even matter. Instead, the Australians clean up, breaking out to a big lead in the first two legs and holding on to win it over the Chinese and the U.S. This one wasn't nearly as exciting as the men's race on Sunday.

• Back to gymnastics. Lots of people fall. Jonathon Horton moves up simply by not falling.

• Heeeyyyy! Tim and Al finally explain how the scoring system works! I'd actually figured it out by myself by now, but it's nice that they finally told us.

• A scary moment when Japanese gymnast Hiroyuki Tomita loses his grip on the rings just before his dismount and lands sideways. Sandy says he's going to need to see a chiropractor. I say he's lucky he didn't break anything. Ironically, this happened just moments after I said that no one ever falls off the rings. Apparently I'm a prophet of doom.

• Isn't it sort of ironic that a show called "My Own Worst Enemy" would star Christian Slater?

• Oh, and Jonathon Horton? He's from Norman. Boomer Sooner, baby!

• When doing the replays of Alexander Artemev's high bar routine, Tim makes good use of the slow-motion by pointing out individual techniques that Artemev is using. What? You thought I could only criticize Mr. Daggett? He is a gold medal winner, after all.

• At the end of four rotations the American's need to make a move. Jonathon Horton is 12th and Alexander Artemev is 14th. Someone needs to start sticking some landings.

• A quick cutaway to show Alain Bernard's medal ceremony. Even he sings, Michael Phelps! Why can't you?

• Now we're past midnight central time. I haven't had this much fun since the All-Star game went 15 innings. I guess the Olympics are going to be going on all night. Woo-hooo! We're stayin' up all night!

• Tim Daggett says that the Russians have had a "devastating" Olympics in the gymnastics events. Those gymnasts better be careful, or Vladimir Putin is going to send them to the South Ossetian front!

• German Fabien Hambuechen, the world champion in the high bar, only needs a solid performance on that apparatus to secure a medal. On his first release, he misses the bar and crashes to the ground. And just like that, his medal chance is gone.

The real error is after he finishes, though. After his routine, NBC decides to stay on the man who will be the winner, Chinese gymnast Yang Wei, instead of showing us a replay of Hambuechen. A replay would have taken ten seconds, NBC. Why not show us that instead of two minutes of hero shots of Yang Wei?

• AAAAAA!!!! Jimmy Roberts is back! Why? Why??!! Why is NBC ending their longest day ever with Jimmy Roberts fluff? Today, Jimmy is referencing how Georgia versus Russia were cordial in the shooting competition so that he can show how past Olympians defeated dictatorships. Or something. Really, I'm just so very angry that over five hours of fantastic Olympic coverage are being tossed aside so Jimmy can tell us how to feel that I can't even pay attention to him.

And you know, that's probably the best way to take a Jimmy Roberts' story.

A record-setting night, at least in length, and it was great right up until the end. Ohhhh, NBC... you task me! You task me and I shall have you! See you tomorrow...uh...today. It's late! Go to bed!

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