Sunday, August 8, 2021
High School Musical.
What if they gave a Closing Ceremonies and nobody came? That might have been better than having just some people. At least then there would be an excuse for lack of applause.
- It's time! I'm going to take a lot of hallucinogens and describe what I see! Ha ha ha! No, actually, I'm going to watch the Closing Ceremonies (CC from now on) and describe what I see. The test for you is to determine which of those statements is correct.
- In the booth tonight, square old-guy Terry Gannon, hyper-pixie Tara Lipinski, and the Pee-Wee Hermanesque Johnny Weir, whose hairdo includes a sequiny Olympic ring barrette and looks like a cat sitting on top of his head. This is a good start.
- Let's hear a song from the Jonas Brothers. Why? They're singing on top of a building in Los Angeles. That's the 2028 Games! They're just the music bed for a highlight clip segment. "We're going to want to remember this," they sing. That's where you're wrong, Jonases. Fluff!
- The president of the IOC, Thomas Bach has arrived with the Crown Prince Fumihito of Japan to receive his Brinks truck full of cash. Ha ha ha. I'm just kidding. I don't think Brinks operates in Japan. I'm sure it's the Japanese equivalent.
- The Olympic flag is brought out through the empty Olympic stadium, to be raised to the Japanese national anthem while 30 Olympic officials watch. With the official corrupt money transfer complete, we can now bring in the athletes!
- The flags from all of the participating countries are brought in by athletes. For the United States, Kara Winger, winner of the gold medal in javelin, gets to bring in the Stars and Stripes. She can only imagine how special this would be if the stadium was filled to the brim. Yes, we all wonder that. It's a little tame now, even if she's excited to represent America.
- A little bit of highlight-clip fluff later, here come the athletes! I don't know what music is playing over the stadium PA, but it sounds like it belongs in a Nintendo game. In theory, the athletes are going to fill up the stadium floor, but it's been several minutes now and it's probably only 10 percent full. I've seen post-game celebrations at college football games with bigger crowds. Hopefully there's a big surge at the end. There are 37 million people in the Tokyo metro area, and right now this might be the least densely populated part of it.
- NBC has a Top 5 Moments of fluff segment… uh… I mean, they have a Top 5 Moments of the Olympics segment… that they'll probably run all night long. Team Rockwood will present their top three moments – gold, silver, and bronze – at the end of this column. What's up with top five, NBC? Don't you understand how the Olympic medal system works?
- This endless slow parade of athletes is just allowing Terry, Tara, and Johnny to talk about their favorite moments of the Olympics they were in, and then their favorite moments of the Tokyo Olympics. Eesh. The weird stuff can't start soon enough to keep them from talking anymore. The Americans enter and now at least we get to watch some people mugging for the camera. Johnny says he's glad the athletes have iPhones to take up the time while they're waiting on the floor. They're not the only ones on their phones right now, Johnny.
- Finally! Something is happening! A rainbow of colors is being projected onto the ground. Then everyone holds up their phones… which rise up into the sky? What? Is this a projection or drones? The dots of lights swirl around the stadium and assemble themselves into the Olympic rings hovering above the heads of the athletes. That's got to be a projection. They wouldn't allow drones flying over people's heads like that. Too much liability.
- Anyway, now we're going to watch a Japanese lounge band perform for the athletes, since none of them could go out to see Tokyo's night life due to COVID restrictions. The band, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, pounds out the beats while dozens of actors simulate what you'd see in Tokyo if you were allowed to leave your hotel.
- A bunch of breakdancers come out and a DJ spins. They're good. They finish and there's a smattering of applause. This whole thing just feels so empty. There should be a stadium full of cheering fans, and it feels like a high school musical tryout.
- NBC's Moment #3: Molly Seidel's marathon bronze. Yeah, that was pretty good. Speaking of medal ceremonies, she got hers at the Olympic stadium tonight. That doesn't suck.
- It's big drum time! A drummer comes out with a big taiko, pounding out a rhythm while a dancer dressed as a tree emerges. Her tree costume consists of a bunch of green strips of fabric hanging from her arms. Honestly, it seems a little lazy. Like the costume designer said, "No one's going to be there anyway." Walking around the stage are people dressed up in fancy kimonos carrying lanterns on outstretched poles. Now THOSE look like someone put some thought into them.
- More dancers, this time for a traditional Japanese dance. All of these people are dressed up. They just make tree girl look even worse. Speaking of looking worse, I'd be shocked if there were more athletes here than performers. The crowd looks more like a free concert in the park with some local band than an Olympics Closing Ceremonies. At least the athletes are trying to get into it.
- Ladies and gentlemen! Please stand for the Olympic anthem! Nobody has any chairs. What else are they going to do? An opera singer comes out wearing what could best be described as an oversized blue curtain and belts out the tune that absolutely no one on Earth knows. If I told you this was a different song than the Olympic anthem played in 2018 would you know any different? Nope! The fat lady stops singing. You know what that means.
- It's time to hand over the Olympic flag from Tokyo to Paris. Be sure to use hand sanitizer first! The Paris mayor needs some practice at waving a giant flag. She has four years to get better. And now, Paris! An orchestra plays, and so does a flute soloist on top of the Olympic stadium. Then a string quartet on the Seine. Then some marimbas in the Louvre. So many musicians, but this doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Ah, but it does. It goes to space, where a French astronaut plays saxophone in the International Space Station. None of this makes any sense. It's like watching a French movie. They should have just had Luc Besson direct this. Luc, Who do you want in this promotional video? EVERYONE! Then they cut to a crowd celebrating near the Eiffel Tower. There are more people tonight on a street in Paris celebrating the 2024 Games than there are in Tokyo's Olympic stadium tonight. The Patrouille de France precision aerobatic team does an Eiffel Tower flyby trailing red, white, and blue smoke behind them. It's spectacular. Meanwhile in Tokyo, 400 people are trying to find a Dippin' Dots to kill time for the next hour of the CC.
- IOC President Thomas Bach gets his turn to talk. "Dear Athletes," he says, "In the briefcase at my feet I have more money than you'll see in your lifetime, but you have retained your amateur status. Congratulations." A massive crowd of 56 people stands near the podium, listening listlessly.
- The last of NBC's Top 5 was Karsten Warholm's world record run. That was amazing.
- The Rock is back, hyping the Paralympics. It's two-and-a-half minutes of fluff, but he's so good at it!
- Japanese kids take the stage with their teacher, I guess, trying in vain to rescue this disaster of a CC. The Beijing winter games are just six months away. I guarantee they'll have a giant crowd applauding all the performers. Of course, they'll all die of COVID two weeks later because China hasn't actually been containing the virus and it will be a human rights catastrophe, but it's going to look great on TV and NBC will just edit that last part out.
- Anyway, the schoolkids and their teacher all stare at the flame and the cauldron slowly closes up as the fire extinguishes. Terry, Tara, and Johnny must be on some kind of break because they haven't said anything in the last four minutes. They've given up just like everyone else. "Arigato," says the Olympic stadium jumbotron.
- Terry says what we just saw was sheer joy. Terry obviously leads a sad life. All three commentators spend more time gushing about Paris' five minutes in the sun than anything that happened here tonight.
- Back in the studio, Mike Tirico is here to wrap it all up. "We miss the crowds and the cheers," he says. Ya think? The rest of his speech is basically just, "The Olympics are awesome." Well, yeah. They are. It's fluff, but it's over, so I'll let you have this one, Mike. See you in six months.
So that's it! Japan pulled it off. Well, mostly. It's probably still disappointing for them, given that it could only be watched on TV. But that's really how most people see it anyway, so in that respect it was a success. And NBC did a good job, too. How good? Let's talk about it!
Back to home
The 2021 Olympic Watch Wrapup
I've been doing this now for 21 years. Which year had the least fluff? Welcome to 2021! Yes, really, the final tally:
FINAL 2021 RESULTS
There has never been less fluff in NBC's Olympic broadcast than this year. Let's look back at Games from the past.
|2002 Salt Lake
attended the Salt Lake Games, thus I didn't keep time for them.
What does this mean for the future of the Rockwood Olympic Watch? Has Team Rockwood been rendered useless by our own success? Who knows what the future brings! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. How about we just talk about medals instead?
Bronze Medal: Tie between Tamyra Mehsah-Stock and Molly Seidel. Both were unexpected medal winners, Tamyra in wrestling and Molly in the marathon, but both were ecstatic to have won. Team Rockwood rewards joy on the medal stand, and both of these women had it.
Silver Medal: Allyson Felix. She's now won more track medals than Carl Lewis. CARL LEWIS! How can you not think that's amazing? It is. But still not enough to win gold, which belongs to...
Gold Medal: Lydia Jacoby, who not only celebrated herself when she won an upset gold medal in the Women's 100M Breaststroke, but also had an entire town go ecstatic. If you don't smile watching this video you're as empty inside as Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.
So that's it! It's over! Will the Rockwood Olympic Watch be back for Beijing? I don't know, but it would seem strange to end here, wouldn't it. Now that the Olympics are over, I'll get some sleep and think about the future. Six months into the future. Faster! Higher! Stronger! Thanks for reading!