Friday, July 23, 2021
Finally! The Olympics finally made it past COVID. Hopefully. At least for the first day they did. Let's get this started before someone changes their mind.
- In an appropriate touch for 2021, we start the Olympics broadcast with a bunch of family members wishing their relatives luck via Zoom calls. And also, six minutes of fluff on why the Olympics are so awesome. We know! That's why we're here! Get on with it!
- Mike Tirico and Savannah Guthrie welcome us to Tokyo's empty Olympic stadium and then start talking about pandemic stuff. Blah blah blah… do you really need to hear any more about the pandemic?
- We're 25 minutes into the Olympics. Don't you think it's time for some women's gymnastics fluff? NBC does. Team USA ruuullllz! I mean, they have Simone Biles, so they do.
- At last, the Opening Ceremonies (OC) begin. How will this weirdness play to a stadium devoid of people?
- An athlete comes out jogging on a treadmill. Then some others come out a mime their sports while an iTunes visualizer is projected onto the floor. What does it all mean? A confused audience of empty chairs puzzles it over.
- A bunch of dancers entangle themselves with giant elastic bands. Mike Tirico says the creators call it "Connecting the Dots." I call it the COVID-19 vector map.
- The jogger is back on his treadmill. Always running. Never progressing. Just like this show.
- The flag of Japan arrives. Thousands of chairs applaud silently. And now the national anthem of Japan. No, it's not by The Vapors.
- The In Memorium segment of the OC is dedicated to COVID victims and sounds like it was narrated by HAL-9000. HAL invites everyone to stand in remembrance. And it turns out there actually ARE some people in the stands. So have they not been applauding this whole time? That's kind of rude, don't you think?
- More dancers, this time with fake tools. Apparently this is the Japanese version of Stomp , fake-building the Olympics while they tap dance for both the world and the 200 people in the audience who don't clap for anything. A set of rings is pushed together, which morph into the Olympic rings. The speakers explode with canned applause.
- How about some flag fluff? Uma Thurman narrates about how the flags… I don't know. Something inspiring, I'm sure. I kind of lost interest. Although watching some of the athletes' Tik Tok videos was entertaining. Entertaining. There's an idea, NBC! Let's try that!
- It's Parade of Nations time, where the athletes march in to the applause of 50 volunteers and thousands upon thousands of empty chairs. Mike tells us there actually are people applauding for the athletes. Uh-huh. There are 50 cameras in the stadium, NBC. Show me one.
- Italy's uniforms are white pajamas with a logo on it that looks like a pizza with a slice missing . Mmmm… pizza.
- A member of the Ukrainian team has a Barbie doll created in her honor. Savannah asks where the Tirico Barbie doll is. Some questions are better left unasked.
- I don't know who made the decision to try to have every team have a man and a woman co-wave their country's flag, but they should reconsider that for 2022. Everyone looks uncomfortable. Savannah disagrees, saying, "It's lovely." This is the kind of thing you say when you're getting paid to say only positive things.
- Kosovo has an outline of their country on their flag. That's a no-no, according to vexillologists.
- Hong Kong's Olympic team arrives and is immediately arrested by the Chinese team. Ha ha ha! Just kidding. China would never do anything evil.
- Three-and-a-half hours in, it's time for the United States team to arrive. The Rock is going to introduce the team! Get ready for the people's elbow! Japan, do you smell what America is cooking? It's fluff. They're cooking fluff.
- Last but not least, it's Japan, led in by Godzilla! No, not really, but wouldn't that be cool? There's still time left in the ceremonies, choreographers. Give the people what they want!
- What the choreographers thinkg we want is kids moving around giant blocks and then dancing around them while other kids with Sia haircuts ride electric scooters around the stage. Oh look! It's the oddly blocky Tokyo logo. If I wanted to see kids playing with blocks, I'd just watch my daughter.
- On the other hand, the drone… uh… sculpture?… hovering over the stadium is VERY impressive. That's actually something I've never seen before. And then they ruin the whole thing by having an international cast of famous performers sing "Imagine," the world's most overrated song. They were so close!
- Time for grift! Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, gets to speak to the crowd of athletes and empty chairs to thank Japan for lining his pockets with payoffs. Ha ha ha! No, he doesn't do that. Not out loud, anyway.
- Just a thought: how much better would the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies be if the cast from MST3K was doing commentary over them? TONS better.
- Japan's emperor officially opens the games and now it's time to parade the Olympic flag around the empty stadium. Savannah tells us while the flag is raised, the official Olympic anthem will play. I think we all know what that is . No, not really. But honestly, would anyone even recognize the actual Olympic anthem? Everyone thinks it's the song that NBC plays during their coverage, but that song is "Bugler's Dream." How surprising is it that an organization that has managed to monetize everything it touches has failed to make a memorable song?
- The cauldron lighting will be coming up soon. You know who they should get to do it? GODZILLA!
- I thought this pictogram segment, showing all the sport icons coming to life, was going to be silly, but it's actually the part of the OC I've liked best so far. Three performers dressed up as human pictograms and, with the help of the camera operator, posed as all of the individual sport's icons. It's hard to describe. You should really just watch it.
- Here comes the flame! Will they top the Barcelona lighting? No. No one will ever top the Barcelona lighting.
- Maybe they'll set their whole Mt. Fuji sculpture on fire. That would be pretty cool. An erupting volcano would be something we hadn't seen before.
- The front edge of the volcano structure opens up revealing stairs. And the ball on top morphs into a mirror ball. This will either be the cauldron or some kind of Bond villain's secret volcano weapon. I'm okay with either one. Tennis star Naomi Osaka gets the honor of setting the volcano on fire.
- In the wrap up, Savannah uses the phrase "exquisitely beautiful" twice in less than a minute. You've had a whole extra year to comb through your thesaurus, Savannah. You should have been more prepared.
And that's it for day one! It's great to be back and hopefully we'll have a disease-free two weeks. See you tomorrow!
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