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August 5, 2016

Welcome to Rio!

We hope you brought your mosquito repellent.

  • Welcome to Rio! We kick off the Olympics with… fluff. Really? Yes, really. It's a puff piece on the beauties of Rio and Olympians. Am I going to count this as fluff? If I was feeling generous I might not. But I don't feel like I should be compromising my principles zero seconds into a seventeen day broadcast. Fluff it is!
  • To the Opening Ceremonies in Maracana Stadium! Well, not yet. First we get to see Meredith Viera, Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb talk about the party that is to come. Is this an event? Nope! Still fluff!
  • Michele Tafoya interviews golfer Ricky Fowler. I don't even recognize him if he's not wearing something garish. I mean, these Ralph Lauren USA outfits are bad, but not as bright as the things that Fowler usually wears. Back in the studio, NBC golf analyst David Feherty talks to Bob Costas about golf. Yes, what I really want to see on the night of the Opening Ceremonies is people talking generally about golf. Feherty also has a pre-taped package where he talked to President Obama, later fantasizing about what sport the president would be best at. Wow, isn't he dreamy? Fan boy fluff!
  • The ghost of fluff to come! Mary Carillo plays soccer on Copacabana Beach! Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, both winter Olympians, review fashion at Carnival! Tom Brokaw gets lost in the Amazon, never to be seen again! We have all of this to look forward to over the next two weeks.
  • Finally, 35 minutes into NBC's broadcast, the actually Opening Ceremonies (OC) start with a montage of sporting events all videotaped from a drone. The shots are very pretty, but given past OCs, I can only assume this will segue into some strange dancing.
  • Sure enough, a bunch of Brazilian spacemen in silver suits shake big mylar pillows in rhythm as we count down to the start of the actual ceremony. Whew! That two minutes of actual events was exhausting. We'd better take a commercial break.
  • GE would like to remind us that however strange the OC are, they can top this strangeness with a commercial about a rainstorm of octopi.
  • Now it's time for the raising of the Brazilian flag and the singing of the national anthem. Let's sing along: Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand!
  • A projection of a rainforest illuminates Amazon tribespeople grabbing some ropes hanging from the stadium ceiling and then braiding them. What does it all mean? Matt, Meredith, and Hoda are all silent, so I can only assume their notes have failed them and they are as clueless as we are. Way to study those notes, guys.
  •  Next, a giant hamster wheel appears, which somehow represents slavery coming to Brazil. I must have missed the episode of "Roots" that featured Cirque de Soleil acrobats performing on giant hamster wheels.
  • Parkour runners flip on the top of buildings projected onto the stadium floor. This looks great on TV, but for the three quarters of the paid stadium audience that is at the wrong angle, this is going to be a complete rip off. It will look like this.
  • Now Cirque acrobats are pulling big blocks off a building and building a wall. Hey! They're Trump fans!
  • Brazil claims that Alberto Santos-Dumont, not the Wright Brothers, was really first person to achieve powered flight. You'll excuse me if I don't believe that a country that hasn't even managed basic sewer systems in the 21st century pioneered airplanes in the 20th.
  • Gisele Bundchen catwalks the length of the stadium floor to "The Girl From Ipanema." Best part of the OC so far!
  • Meredith tells us that Brazil takes music from across the world and "makes it their own." Well, that's fantastic. So they're an entire country of American Idol contestants.
  • A rapper with pink hair hits the stage. I didn't catch her name, but I think it's Ruby Rhod.
  •  A bunch of dancers with uniforms colored to match their enormous afro wigs hits the floor. They must have cleaned out every Thing 1 and Thing 2 costume in Brazil.
  • Gisele is dancing in the stands. The second best part of the OC so far!
  • "What a great party," says the voiceover. Well, let's kill it by spending the next segment talking about global warming. I hope the next segment is about Rio's sewer problems. What fun!
  • The Parade of Nations! As with every Olympics, the first nation in is Greece. It's the only thing that Greece leads the world in. Well, other than bankruptcies, maybe. The Parade of Nations could also be called "The Parade of Athletes Taking Videos With Their Smartphones."
  • Bangladesh has 169 million people but only seven athletes, one in every 24 million people. Compare that to the United States, with 319 million people and 554 athletes, one in every 575,000 people. There's something for all of you math geeks.
  • Meredith says it's hard to believe that just eight years ago China was introducing themselves to the West. What? Does she think no one had ever heard of China before 2008?
  •  Here comes Team USA, led by Michael Phelps who, now in his fifth Olympics, finally has made it to an OC. He seems to be enjoying himself. You think that means he'll finally sing the national anthem if he wins? We shall see.
  • Is it just me or is this Parade of Nations taking forever? Maybe it's just because the United States entered with the "E" countries instead of the "U" countries, but I think it's also because Matt Lauer and company have no charisma. It feels like he, Meredith and Hoda are just reading country trivia cards off the side of a cereal box.
  • Two hours and 15 minutes into the Parade of Nations, Matt asks if we're at the end already because this is flying by! Ha ha ha ha! Speak for yourself, Matt. This thing is flying as fast as Alberto Santos-Dumont's rickety "airplane."
  • FINALLY! Brazil is coming out of the tunnel. Can we get back to the party now? Unless they're going to lecture us on global warming again. In that case, they can just forget it.
  • A programming note from the Rockwood Olympic Watch. I keep track of the times by recording the program and time-shifting everything, so I can document times using the built-in clock on the DVR. So, according to this clock, now that Brazil is in the stadium, there's only 10 minutes left in the whole show. I'm betting I'm going to miss the torch lighting because the whole thing will run long. We'll see if I'm right.
  • But just because we're running out of time doesn't mean NBC can't squeeze in some fluff! Ninety seconds of what's coming up tomorrow instead of what's happening tonight!
  • We're going to miss the flame, but at least we'll get to see Thomas Bach, president of the IOC's graft-acceptance division, give a by-the-numbers speech on how great Brazil and the Olympics are. That's what we all really wanted to see, right? I mean, that and a lecture on global warming.
  • You can read all about the actual torch lighting here.

So, one show in and NBC has already messed up their pre-recorded Opening Ceremonies coverage by mismanaging the time and stuffing it full of fluff. Not a great start. Hopefully they'll pick up their game for the rest of the Olympics. See you tomorrow!