FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2018
WHERE DO THEY GET THOSE WONDERFUL TOYS?
Korea kicks off the Olympics. Possibly the last one dominated by humans.
Has it been two years already? Not really. It's only been 18 months since the Rio Games. But that's enough time to recover, right? Let's hope so. So now we're in Korea. Let's start the Games!
- Orrrrrrrrr….. not. NBC starts of their 2018 Olympic broadcast with fluff. Let's all take a look at all the inspirational stories that we'll be hammering to death over the next two weeks. "Welcome to what dreams look like," says the narrator. We just started off with seven-and-a-half minutes of fluff. This is the stuff of nightmares.
- To the studio we go to hear from Bob Costas and… wait, what? There's no Bob? Does he have pink eye again? Okay, well, I'm sure Matt Lauer will do a good job filling in for… oops. I guess he got trapped in his remote-locking office. So we're down to Mike Tirico and Katie Couric calling the shots tonight. You can tell we're at the winter Olympics because Katie's face already looks frozen.
- US skier Mikaela Shiffrin and her mom are BFFs! Awwwwwww. Katie interviews both of them and… seriously. What is going on with Katie Couric's face? It's frozen in a Joker-like grin. I'm a little concerned that she's going to release a bunch of balloons filled with Smilex gas over the Opening Ceremonies.
- Joshua Cooper Ramo, NBC Sports Asia Analyst, has some thoughtful words for us about the seriousness of the North Korea situation. I look forward to him bumming us out periodically throughout tonight's broadcast.
- And now it's time for the start of the OC! As usual, I remind you despite what I am about to write, I am not on drugs.
- Five Korean children pick a glowing orb that will lead us through the Korean experience. Hopefully this is neither The Orb or the Loc-Nar.
- Immediately, the children began to hallucinate glowing animals that lead them through periods in Korean history. Now in the stadium, all five kids run after a giant, albino tiger puppet. Suddenly, they're surrounded by other giant puppet animals, including dragons, butterflies, and turtles. Well, this all sounds too peaceful to be the Loc-Nar, so it must be The Orb.
- Ramo says that I might think a phoenix in the middle of the floor is representative of Korea rising from the ashes after the Korean War. I think he's giving me too much credit. Had he not told me it was a phoenix, I would have just thought it was some weird bird skeleton.
- Let's pause the celebration to acknowledge the presence of Chief Olympic Graft Receiver, President Thomas Bach. He's just now taking his seat, over 20 minutes into the show. It takes time to count all that under-the-table money.
- The Korean flag enters and now it's time for the national anthem. Heyyyyyyyyyy, sexy lady! What, that's not it? *And here comes the parade of nations. Wait, what happened to those five kids? I was promised they would lead me through the Korean experience, and they were only in the show for the first three minutes. The dragon puppet got more stage time.
- The athletes start marching into the stadium and the crowd… wait. Is there a crowd? I thought the stadium was full of people all holding up lights, but on closer inspection, the stadium is full of lights, but not people. Maybe that's where the athletes will be seated, but that sure seems like a lot of space. And how are they going to get to the upper deck seats? Maybe they parade everybody past the concession stands in the concourse in hopes of raising a little more money from hungry athletes. Olympic stadiums don't pay for themselves!
- Anytime NBC shows a wide shot of the athletes parading into the stadium, it looks like there are about 50 people there. At this point I'll be surprised if people outnumber lights when this thing is over.
- As we get to the "M" countries, we get Gangnam Style for entrance music. And, as it happens, in Korean the United States starts with an M, so Team USA gets a welcome from Psy.
- Team USA's uniform. Jackets? Good. Hats? Good. Gloves? Lloyd Christmas.
- There's a giant circle of dancers in the middle of the stadium floor welcoming all the athletes. They've been dancing for a solid hour without stopping. I can only assume these are the North Korean imports we've been hearing about and if they stop dancing they'll be shot.
- Jamaica has three athletes in the PyeongChang games. Iceland has five. How in the world does a country named after ice only have two more athletes in the winter games than a country that has never seen ice?
- Tonga's flag bearer shows up without a shirt again. Pita Taufatofua, who two years ago competed in taekwondo in Rio, has switched sports to cross-country skiing for the winter games. If he really wants psych out his opponents, he should compete without a shirt, too.
- The Korean team enters and all 75 people in the stadium crowd cheer. The North and South Korean teams are unified for these games, so you should have at least two weeks where you don't have to worry about Kim Jong Un shooting off a nuclear missile. Mike Tirico tells us that they'll be fielding a unified hockey team, featuring players from both the North and the South, and that they've been having some language translation problems. For instance, the players from the North don't know what the word "food" means.
- All the athletes are in, so back to the weirdness. Hey! The kids are back! They sail across the floor on a wooden barge as a 77-year-old man sings a traditional Korean song. Augmented reality fireflies rise up from the floor of the stadium, enthralling the television audience while simultaneously giving the shaft to the people who actually spent money for OC tickets and are unable to see them.
- In the middle of an AR segment showing Korea being taken over by robots, Mike tells us that NBC has edited down the OC for time, but you can watch it in its entirety online. I don't know if Korea's robot overlords are going to be happy with that explanation, Mike.
- Katie tells us that South Korea has more tech addiction rehab centers than any other country. Korea's robot overlords are pleased.
- A giant cylinder of Christmas lights rises up from the center of the floor. Korea's robot overlords have assembled an MCP cone.
- Thomas Bach invites Korean president Moon Jae-In to stop counting the bribery money and officially open the games. He does, and fireworks explode all over the city.
- The kids stroll across the floor with candles, symbols of what North Korea uses for lights. Then a bunch of aging Korean rock stars come out and sing "Imagine," possibly the most overrated song in the history of the world. Hundreds of other candle-waving kids come out onto the floor to fill in the outline of a bird. Let's just all sing "Kumbaya" and get it over with.
- An army of drones – most likely programmed by Korea's robot overlords – fly over a ski slope in a formation resembling a snowboarder. They then reform into the Olympic rings, giving humans everywhere a false sense of security because nothing that looks so pretty could actually be Skynet training to kill you, could it? The answer is yes. Yes, it could.
- The Olympic flame enters the stadium, currently carried by a human. At this point, I'd be surprised if there's not a robot involved somewhere in the cauldron lighting. The overlords must not be overlooked.
- A staircase on the ramp to the cauldron lights up and a North and a South Korean hockey player team up to carry the torch to the top, where figure skater Yuna Kim waits as the final torchbearer. But wait! She instead lights a giant probe, which then extends to light the cauldron. That's right. The last entity to actually light the cauldron? A robot. Your days are near their ends, meat sacks.
- The cauldron is lit, so back to the floor for more abstract dancing and fireworks. Goblins – rollerbladers with masks and torches – skate around the floor, representing good luck. The goblins use their fire torches to play huge drums, because what is luckier than burning drums? More fireworks, more explosions, the five kids wave from the top of the stairs… none of this makes a lick of sense, but it sure does look pretty.