Wrapping Up: 2010 Rockwood Olympic Watch


The presentation of the medals follows, but first, the ACTUAL end of the Olympics.

Normally this would be the spot where I hand out the good and bad gold, silver, and bronze medals, but as you already know, this Olympics didn't really end correctly. So, before we get to that, here's a brief recap of what you missed unless you stayed up after your late local news (or, DVRed it, like I did) to see NBC's final hour of Vancouver coverage.

• Bob says, "After an intermission, we continue with Nickelback." But even as he says that we can see the giant moose balloons being hauled offstage, so we know that the "intermission" was only NBC's break so we could see the premiere of "The Marriage Ref." By the way, NBC, as soon as you cut away from the Olympics, I cut away from you.

• Next up, Avril Lavigne singing "My Happy Ending" and "Girlfriend."

• Bobsled fluff! Even after inserting a false intermission, NBC can't help themselves.

• Alanis Morissette shows up. Hey, did you know she still made music after 1995? Neither did anyone else, but sure enough, the song she's singing is one that no one knows.

While she's singing Andrea Joyce interviews Steve Holcomb. Then Jimmy Roberts interviews Lindsey Vonn. They're both happy to be there! Thrilling.

• Simple Plan follows Alanis. Still no Rush? You know, I once saw Rush in concert and they had giant inflatable rabbits on either side of the stage. That seems like it would fit in well with the Olympics' giant inflatable beavers. Bring on Geddy Lee!

• But no. Instead we get Hedley, a group from Vancouver whose lead singer finished in third place in "Canadian Idol" one year. Did you know that Rush has sold 40 million albums worldwide and is proud to be Canadian? But yeah, third place on "Canadian Idol" is close to that.

•  It's French-Canadian rocker Marie Mai. I'm sure you're all up on your French-Canadian rockers, right?

• A London preview! This is kind of interesting, even if it is just a long commercial.

• Fireworks! Uh... outside the dome. Isn't that sort of meaningless for the athletes inside the dome? Whatever. They're very pretty against the skyline of Vancouver.

• Jimmy Roberts tries to ruin my mood even further by trying to get Joannie Rochette to cry about her mother during an interview. Shut UP, Jimmy!

Andrea Joyce talks to Evan Lysacek. Cris Collinsworth interviews Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada's first gold medal in the Men's Moguls. I'd tell you what they were talking about, but it's really not that interesting.

• And now, what should have happened in prime time Sunday night, Bob and Al give us their final thoughts regarding the Olympics in Vancouver. Ironically, they keep talking about how they don't want this party to end, just hours after NBC made us all cut away to watch "The Marriage Ref."

• Bob waxes poetic, then throws us to "the traditional cavalcade of Olympic images" along with the names of thousands of usually un-credited people who helped bring them to you.

I notice that unlike 2008, for this Olympics Dick Ebersol doesn't get a voiceover during his credit. I guess he fired the voiceover guy this year due to budget cuts.

Seven minutes of scenic shots and event highlights later, the credits are over and so are the Olympics. And that's the way it SHOULD be, NBC.

So now it's over. Just 62 hours and 32 minutes of primetime coverage after we started. And what did we learn? Well, I'm going to recycle a chart from 2008 (expect to see this one every Olympic year).

  Events Ads Fluff
2000 Sydney 62.7% 24.4% 12.9%
2002 Salt Lake I attended the Salt Lake Games, thus I didn't keep time for them.
2004 Athens 68.1% 23.5% 8.3%
2006 Turin 65.0% 27.0% 8.0%
2008 Beijing 70.8% 22.1% 7.1%
2010 Vancouver 68.2% 23.9% 7.9%

Content-wise, these Olympics weren't quite as good as Beijing, but they were very close. And they were better than any of the other Games I've kept track of, so I'd give them a solid B+.

Then again, if you look at the hockey-puck chart on the upper-right of this page, you'll still see that NBC spent nearly five hours --over a night's worth of programming-- on fluff during the course of the Vancouver Olympics. There's still room for improvement!

The 2010 Rockwood Olympic Watch Medal Ceremony

The scores have been tabulated. We have the results. Extra credit bonus points if you cry while singing your national anthem on the medal stand. Starting with the good:

Good Bronze Medal. NBC's treatment of Nodar Kumaritashvili. In what surely had to be one of the worst starts to an Olympics ever, the Georgian luger was killed on the track during practice just hours before the Opening Ceremonies were to start. Wisely, NBC put on hold whatever other stories they had hoped to open the Games with to focus on Kumaritashvili's fate. And although they did show video of the accident once, they then promised that it wouldn't be shown again, and they stuck to that promise. They even showed footage of his funeral proceedings during the Closing Ceremonies. I've bashed NBC a lot over the years, even a lot during this year, but this was very respectfully done and they should get some positive credit.

Good Silver Medal. O Canada! Before Vancouver, Canada had never won a gold medal in an Olympics they had hosted. An obscure statistic, yes, but NBC was making a big deal about it early on in the Games. As such, every time a Canadian won gold in these Olympics we got to see the medal ceremony. And since the crowds were always mostly Canadian, every medal ceremony turned into a sing-a-long. Anyone who's read a few entries in the Rockwood Olympic Watch knows that we lovvvvve singing at medal ceremonies, so hearing the entire crowd sing for all of these medals was very cool, indeed. Plus, O Canada (which I have apparently misspelled for the entirety of the Olympics) is a great song. We stand on guard for thee, Canada!

Good Gold Medal. The United States versus Canada hockey gold medal game. I know, I know... it wasn't in primetime. I don't care. If Zach Parise's goal with 25 seconds left in regulation didn't make you...

AMERICANS: leap off the couch in joy
CANADIANS: leap off the couch in despair

...then you are dead inside. Seriously, seek help. If NHL games were even half that good on a regular basis, then the USA might have a new pasttime.

Of course, not everything can be perfect, even at the Olympics, so now we come to the bad:

Bad Bronze Medal. Scott Hamilton. Yes, I know he's a great American hero of Olympics past. I get the irony of me, the fan of everything Olympics, bashing him. But OH! GRRR! UNGGH!!! GRUNTT!!! Yes, Scott! We get it! You're feeling the pain of the ice skaters. But grunting isn't commentary. Learn to speak!

Bad Silver Medal. Blind sled dog fluff! I'll admit that it makes me laugh even today to know that NBC's fluff is eating itself. The "Up Close And Personal" segments that Jim McKay did in Olympics long ago were the starting point for fluff. They were simple human interest stories about athletes in obscure sports that people would normally not know anything about.

But as Olympic coverage increased, it was no longer good enough for these stories to be merely "interesting," now they had to be "inspirational." And the only way to be inspirational was for an athlete to have overcome some great obstacle. If you get down to the heart of fluff, it's always about someone's pain and how that pain was conquered.

Which brings us to the dogsled fluff. After years of exploiting the pain of people, NBC's editors are now so focused on finding a story's pain element that they couldn't help themselves when presented with a blind sled dog. The blind sled dog wasn't just "friendly," he was "inspirational" and "a testament to the will to go on living."

NBC has managed to make fluff postmodern. Can you imagine Jim McKay doing a story on a blind sled dog? What was up close and personal is now distant (the sled dog piece was shot 1,300 miles from the Olympics!) and impersonal. Up is down! War is peace! Freedom is slavery! And despite this complete de-evolution of fluff, it still wasn't the worst thing at these Games. That title belongs to...

Bad Gold Medal. After 62 hours, 31 minutes, and 59 seconds of good-bordering-on-great coverage, NBC proceeded to commit their stupidest gaffe in 10 years of the Rockwood Olympic Watch on their very last second of primetime coverage. I refer, of course, to their cutting away from the ongoing Closing Ceremonies to take us to the premiere episode of "The Marriage Ref." This was not just stupid, but world-class stupid. You might even say Olympic-class stupid. This will be a lesson in stupidity for years to come. Mark my words: in the future, "The Marriage Ref" will be the Olympic version of "The Heidi Game."

So that's it! Another Olympics, another Rockwood Olympics Watch. Vancouver was only 18 months from Beijing, but London is almost 30 months away. That's going to seem like forever! Will I be back for 2012? Who knows? Maybe some desperate news magazine searching for a blogger will snatch me up and give me a job! Yeah, right.

In any case, it's been a lot of fun yet again, and I thank you for joining me. So go hit up Rockwood, read some comic strips, and meet me back here in 2012 when we can watch the Olympics together once again! See ya!