Worst. Ending. Ever.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The sports were great, the ceremony was great, and the fluff was terrible, but that ending... we built up 17 days for that? It's Day 17 of the Vancouver Olympics!

• Tonight, says Bob as we open, we remember the athletes of the Vancouver Games! This is NBC's code phrase for "we're going to show you non-stop fluff for an hour."

• However, instead we start with painful highlights of the U.S.-Canada gold medal hockey game which ended just an hour-or-so ago. Curse you, Sidney Crosby!

• Heh. Just after the hockey recap, Bob throws it to commercial as the Olympic song starts playing, but Al Michaels keeps going with his "coming up tonight" script. Whoops! Costas handles the gaffe gracefully, saying that he was so excited that he threw it to commercial early. As they say in Olympic hockey, nice save!

•  And NOW we're just going to review previous news of the Olympics. First up, Lindsey Vonn! I know prime time starts at 6:00 p.m. (central time) on Sundays, but that doesn't really mean I want to watch fluff pieces for an hour until the Closing Ceremonies start. So I'm not really going to tell you anything about these segments because they're all stuff you already know. I'll just give you names and fluff times. In this case, Lindsey Vonn: 5 minutes.

• Snowboard cross fluff: 1 minute.

• Freestyle skiing fluff: 4 minutes.

• Long and short track speed skating fluff: 9 1/2 minutes. At least with this fluff we get a live interview with Apolo Ohno, who dodges the "will he skate in Sochi" question as well as he dodges other nation's falling skaters.

• Men's figure skating fluff featuring Tom Hammond and Scott Hamilton. I'm tempted to count this double, but I won't: 5 minutes.

• Okay, this is interesting. Fluff on "Oh, Canada." It's a montage of Canadian gold medal winners singing. That's kinda cool, but it's still fluff. 1 1/2 minutes.

• Mary Carillo introduces some fluff about Bode Miller rehabilitating his attitude and his image. Again, good for him, but 5 minutes.

• The U.S. loses in hockey, we're getting a record amount of fluff, and now this. I thought I'd made it through this Olympics without seeing Jimmy Roberts, but no. Jimmy finally makes a prime time broadcast so he can wax poetic about Nodar Kumaritashvili. Literally, at one point, because Jimmy reads some poetry. Anyway, right near the beginning of this piece, Jimmy says that Nodar "left his mark, but for all the wrong reasons." I've got to believe that no one at NBC thought through the double meaning of "leaving a mark" before they approved that particular phrasing, otherwise they've got a really sick sense of humor.

It's a fairly respectful story, but I do question NBC's effort in producing it. They show some video of Nodar's town and his funeral proceedings, but it's all clearly shot by someone's home video camera. In a story the size of the Olympic Games, couldn't NBC have sent a professional cameraman to cover this?

• Shaun White fluff: 5 minutes.

• Nordic combined fluff: 3 minutes.

•  Women's figure skating fluff. For the last time, shut UP, Scott! 6 minutes.

• Bobsled fluff. Those words don't really work together, do they? 2 minutes.

• FINALLY! The Closing Ceremonies, or from now on, the CC.

• In what can only be considered inspired, the CC opens with a mime crawling out of the hole that the Opening Ceremony's cauldron arm did not emerge from. He slaps his forehead, connects a big, jokey fake electrical plug, and the arm rises up as it should have 17 days ago. Then Catriona Le May Doan, the only one of the four torch bearers from the OC that didn't get to light the cauldron, rises up from the floor and relights it for the Closing Ceremonies. Talk about turning a negative into a positive! Maybe Mary Carillo was right about the genius of Canadian comedians last night.

• The stage fills with volunteers dressed as snowboarders as the Winnepeg-based band "Inward Eye" plays. Inward Eye? Whatever. If Rush doesn't show up at the CC I'm going to be very disappointed. The song Inward Eye is playing is called "Oh Vancouver." Here are the lyrics: "Oh-oh-oh-oh Vancouver." Then repeat that about 50 times.

• Why is everyone in the audience wearing paper ponchos? Is Gallagher going to perform at the CC? Maybe he's going to take the Sledge-O-Matic to a case of Molsons, eh?

• All the teams come in. Team Rockwood member Sandy says that she thinks the Americans are the best dressed. Then the Canadians come in. I think they look like they're dressed to go ice fishing.

• French-Canadian teen rockers! They're singing "Let's Have A Party." Is there a Canadian Disney Channel? If so, this group would have a show on it sometime during the mid-afternoon programming rotation. You know, they'd probably be high school students by day and rock-musician-spies by night.

My bad. It turns out that one of them won "Canadian Idol." There's a "Canadian Idol?" I thought that was Sidney Crosby.

•  Wait, are we back to fluff? No, we just got to see the end of the Men's 50km Cross Country race held this morning so we could set up their medal ceremony, which is right now during the CC. How cool would it be to get your gold medal in front of 60,000 people? Very cool. Not cool enough for skier Petter Northug to sing, however. But then, maybe the Norwegian national anthem doesn't have any words. Their lips might all be frozen shut.

•  Opera singer Ben Heppner comes out to sing a song about the Olympics. Singer: very good. Song: silly.

• Time to hand off the Olympic flag from Vancouver to the Russians. You know what would have been easier? They could have just given the flag to the Georgian athletes and let the Russians take it by force. HA!

The hand off goes well until the Russian representative bangs his shoe on the podium and says "We must break you!"

Then a choir comes out to sing the Russian national anthem, which used to be the Soviet Union's national anthem, but they've changed some of the lyrics to be less oppressive, I guess. Anyway, they sound great, but every time I hear this song I think of the scene in "Hunt For Red October" when Sean Connery has his crew sing the song to taunt the American sub that was hunting him. That's not really relevant to anything, I just think that's a great scene.

• Ice dancing fluff? Really? Aren't there some kind of ceremonies going on right now that we could watch? Instead we have to watch Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada again. One-and-a-half minutes.

• And now the trailer for Sochi 2014. What kind of weirdness can we expect from the Russians four years from now? How about electric-blue people trapped in gelatinous balls? Red Square! Grand pianists! Symphonies! Ballet dancers! Invasions of neighboring countries! Oh wait... not that last one.

Then the trailer takes us to what I can only describe as the Russian's secret sea cave ice dancing lair. It's going to be like some Bond movie come to life! Maybe one of the new events they'll have is a modified biathlon combining freestyle skiing, shooting, and skydiving.

• And now the gelatinous ball-men surround a gold-winged opera singer standing atop a sphere decorated with electric-light horses. Part of the reason you have to actually watch the CC is that there's really no way to properly describe some of the stupid things they put in them.

• Sean White fluff? We already had Sean White fluff! A minute-and-a-half.

• And now Jacque Rogge addresses the crowd, thanking them all for the fine graft that Canada has provided him. Bob claims that he's saying something else, but it's all in French, so he really doesn't know any better than I do, does he?

Rogge then declares the Games closed and receives a round of boos from the crowd.

• Taking the stage, Neil Young. Is he going to sing a song about the overcommercialization of the Olympic Games? Ha ha ha, yeah right. No, instead he sings something inspirational that was surely chosen by the Vancouver Olympic Committee for its marketability. Sell out! This note's for you, Neil! I'm still waiting for Rush.

• The flame extinguishes and the arms retract without a hitch.

• SHATNER! Oh, please, please, please sing! He's proud of many things in Canada. He makes a sly reference to Canada being "The Final Frontier" but never breaks into song.

Catherine O'Hara enters the stage with a curling joke. That was okay, but the pee-in-the-snow joke? Really?

Michael J. Fox takes the stage and gets an ovation that could only be topped by Sidney Crosby. He states some other reasons that he's proud to be a Canadian.

All of this is all right, but don't these really seem like presentations that should have been made to GET the Olympics? By now, everyone should have already formed their opinions of Canada, good or bad. They don't need Captain Kirk and Marty McFly to tell them it's a good place to be.

• Michael Buble dressed as a Mountie stands in front of projected mountain scene. What's going on? He's approached by... uh... Mountettes? They rip off his Mountie uniform to reveal a white tux and then it's announced that he's Michael Buble. I guess we weren't supposed to be able to tell before.

It's turned into some kind of weird Mountie parade, with dancing Mounties and giant inflatable Mounties.

It's the Hockey Night In Canada theme! Dancing hockey players storm the stage on rollerblades! They're followed by stagehands pushing giant hockey-player cutouts, thus creating a giant version of tabletop hockey, with a young boy running around dressed as a puck.

After that, some Busby-Berkeley-like dancers wrapped in giant maple leafs prance across the floor and hang from the ceiling. Add to that dancing canoes! Then giant inflatable beavers pushed onto the stage by lumberjacks are chased by multiple giant inflatable moose. I think the CC were designed by a drunk Mike Myers.

And from all of this, Michael Buble rises up out of the center of the stage on a giant Mountie hat surrounded by the Mountettes and finishes singing "Oh, Canada." It's a good thing that these aren't the summer Olympics, because if Michael Phelps was in the front row right now he would be FREAKING OUT, MAN!

• And then...

WHAT? That's it? No closing montage? No 15-minute run of credits? No inspiring Bob Costas finishing speech? NBC'S going to leave me hanging with lumberjack-propelled-inflatable-mega-beavers?

Yep. Instead we go straight to "The Marriage Ref." I've got to tell you I feel a little cheated.

Okay, the Closing Ceremonies were their usual weirdness, and I would only watch something like that because they were part of the Olympics, but I have to say I feel a strange lack of closure on the whole Games. I'm used to having that ending montage of star athletes. That giant credit sequence they always have helps me feel like, "Yes, I have truly watched something great if it has this many people involved with it." I recorded the post-news Olympic broadcast that NBC put on tonight, but I'm not going to watch it until tomorrow. Maybe I'll feel like it's all over, then. So tune in here tomorrow when I'll have one more day of Olympics for you. See you then!