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August 19, 2016

The One With The Sitcom

If you spend a billion dollars on the Olympics maybe you should show that instead of regular programming.

  • Up tonight: sitcoms! Yes, NBC is cutting-short the greatest sporting event the world tonight so they can show us a sitcom they're hoping we'll watch once the Olympics are over.
  • But first, LIVE at Olympic stadium we start with the women's pole vault. Two Americans kick it off. I'm sure we'll be checking in with them the rest of the night.
  • Next are the men in the 4x400m relay. Both Jamaica and the United States have teams in the first heat, and they finish in that order.
  • Will this 60 seconds be the last Usain Bolt fluff ever? Oh please. We still have over two hours to go.
  • Back to the pole vault. Defending gold medal champ Jenn Suhr, who missed earlier, now makes her attempt at 15' 1". Are there other women from other countries in the pole vault? NBC doesn't care.
  • Now to the women's 4x400m relay. The US is just flat out dominant in this event, as no other country has a deep enough roster of female sprinters to keep up. Whereas the US men's relay came right down to the wire, the US women are going to win this qualifying heat by over three seconds.
  • Taking the medal stand is Usain Bolt for his win last night in the 200m. He sings!
  • LIVE on the track, the women's 5,000 meter race. I ran a 5k once. I'm betting these ladies do it much, much faster. But even if they're over twice as fast, they're still not going to show this uninterrupted because it will take over 14 minutes, so let's see what else NBC uses to fill the time.

    A quick look in at the pole vault, and Jenn Suhr misses her third attempt at 15' 5", so she's out. Since she was the only competitor I guess that means no one wins a medal right?

    One commercial break and one look at the pole vault is all NBC stuck in the women's 5,000 meters. That's actually pretty impressive.
  • Hey, there is another competitor in the pole vault! Katerina Stefanidi of Greece must have just flown in once she found out there were no other vaulters. She clears 15' 5". Eliza McCartney of New Zealand also caught a quick flight in, clearing 15' 9".
  • Around the Games we go again! US men's basketball won to qualify for the gold medal game, as did the US women's water polo team. At the BMX competition… wait, there's BMX in the Olympics? How can NBC not be showing us THAT? The Americans win. The Americans won gold in BMX bike racing and we didn't see ANY of that in prime time? Someone at NBC dropped the ball there.
  • Let's look at some women's 4x100m relay fluff before we watch the actual women's 4x100m relay. Yes, that was certainly exciting. Almost as exciting as now, where we're watching the women's teams waiting in the stadium concourse. We're watching people standing around instead of watching BMX bike racing. But hey, it's LIVE people standing around!
  • The teams come out to the applause of all 70 people in Rio's Olympic Stadium and now the race is about the start. The United States is the favorite in this race, but Jamaica could make it interesting. Here we go!

    It wasn't even close. The United States women, again, were dominant. Had they been a full second slower, they STILL would have won a medal. Amazing.
  • Let's get some United States men's 4x100m fluff in. Interesting. Instead of the usual story of how they've overcome hardship and now deserve the medal, it's a story of how they've blown it in the past and now seek redemption. Each of the American runners watches past races of their team losing to the Bolt-led Jamaicans, and it's obvious none of the four like it. The real question is can they get it done tonight?
  • Lookie here, it's some more Bolt fluff! He wants a triple-triple, and this is the race that would get it.
  • Sandi Morris of the US is holding up the men's 4x100m relay because she's about to try to win the pole vault. If she makes this vault she gets gold, if not, Stefanidi of Greece will. OH! She almost made it, but she just skimmed the bar. Silver for Sandi.
  • All the 4x100m relay teams run out, and something new happens. When Japan's team comes out of the tunnel, they pause in front of the cameras, draw imaginary swords, then put them back in imaginary scabbards. I don't know what that's all about, but what's really surprising is that I've never seen anyone do this before. Sprinters love posing. How can it have taken this long for them to coordinate their mugging for the cameras?

    In London, the US was ahead after three legs, then blew the final baton pass and lost to Jamaica. Can they break the jinx tonight and finally hand Usain Bolt a loss? Oof. No. The US passes the baton cleanly, but they were tied with Jamaica going into the final leg, and no one is going to beat Bolt in a head-to-head match. Bolt pulls away and wins easily, getting his ninth gold medal. In the meantime, what about the sword-drawers? Japan might be on to something. They finish second. The Americans were two hundredths slower in third.
  • Bolt party time! Usain walks around the stadium taking selflies. NBC must love this shot, because they show it every time he wins a race.

    Oh no! The United States men's 4x100m relay team has been disqualified! For what? NBC doesn't tell us before the commercial break. After the break, the replay shows that the US passed a baton "outside the zone" between the first and second legs. I watched the replay and didn't see it myself. Of course, I don't really know what I'm looking for. Doesn't Ato Boldon have a teleprompter in the booth? It would be helpful if he could draw on the screen and show us where "the zone" is.
  • To men's platform diving we go, where we get some lovely fluff from British diver Tom Daley. In his best British accent, Tom narrates his life story, where he –sigh– has overcome hardships to be a successful Olympic diver. He was bullied, his dad died, he overcame scurvy… okay that last one I made up… but now he's here in Rio because he loves to dive. I will say that because of his accent, this is the classiest sounding fluff we've had so far in Rio, but it's still fluff.
  • There's a new graphic for the Rio Olympics diving coverage: the splash meter. NBC does a great job on their diving coverage, but I think this is overkill. As an amateur, the only thing I actually CAN judge accurately is the amount of splash. I don't need a graphic to tell me how big it is.
  • So all of tonight's dives are just the qualifying round for tomorrow's finals. They took over 20 minutes for this event and three more minutes for fluff. Couldn't we have used some of this time for BMX? I'm just sayin'.
  • Usain Bolt fluff? Yes, please! Well, really I'd prefer none, but whatever. NBC doesn't listen to me. Let's interview him one last time. Will he come back for the Tokyo games? Nope. He's retiring. And with that, Bob Costas cuts us off.
  • That's it for tonight, let's all watch "Superstore" shall we?
  • I watched five minutes and didn't laugh, so I think I'll call that a failure. It's basically a less funny version of "The Office" but set in a Walmart. The jokes were more predictable than Usain Bolt winning a race, but less funny than Usain Bolt wandering around the track taking selfies. I'll pass.

Was I too hard on "Superstore"? I don't think so. It wasn't good and NBC has been hyping it for two weeks, so you'd think they'd have their best effort out there. It certainly wasn't Olympic-quality comedy. And, it deprived us of another 90 minutes of Olympic coverage. But it did keep us from having to see another story on Ryan Lochte, so there is that.