Highlights and Lowlights
- How appropriate that NBC featured diving heavily on Tuesday night's show, because they laid down one heck of a belly flop as far as their "fluff" quotient. Sadly, it was on the one night when you could honestly say they did the best job with the events that they did show. However, there are some possible extenuating circumstances. Let's take a look...
- The first thing you need to know about Tuesday is that event-wise, this was probably NBC's most difficult day. There were no swimming events, no track and field events, and no gymnastic "events." More on the gymnastics later. So with none of the elements that have been proven to grab U.S. audiences in the past available, NBC swung for the fences. And, as happens when you do that, sometimes you hit a home run. And sometimes you strike out.
- Home run. NBC spent over a half hour at the beginning of the show covering only the women's road cycling event. And it was announced by Phil Liggett, who has done a good job with the other cycling events.
- Strike out. Unfortunately, NBC alternated their 13 minutes of cycling events with 14 minutes of cycling fluff, which revealed another reason I hate the fluff to begin with. The three pieces pertaining to the women's race featured Anna Wilson from Australia, who lost her father when she was eleven years old, Nicole Freedman of the U.S., who lives in a van (no, not "down by the river"), and eventual winner Leontien Zijlaard of Holland, who conquered anorexia. The unspoken message behind these spots is that Person X "deserves" to win because they've suffered so much. I'm sure if we dug deep enough, every Olympian would have some sob story in their past somewhere ("...it was the worst hangnail ever..."). Do we need to add a sympathy judge to each event to tell us who we're allowed to cheer for?
- Home run. Beach volleyball. For once we got to see more that just the last few points. Why, it was like I was actually watching a match!
- Strike out. Why did the final beach volleyball match only go to 12 instead of 15? Did I miss someone explaining this? I mean, it doesn't cut down on my enjoyment of the event, but it would be nice if the announcers filled us in on little oddities in the rules such as this.
- Home run. Women's volleyball, the non-beach variety. Almost 40 minutes of coverage! Wow! An exciting game, and we got to watch it all (well, the last two sets, anyway)! Good job, NBC!
- Strike out. Along the same lines as beach volleyball, it would be nice if someone was explaining the differences in the rules and scoring from one form of volleyball to the other. A minor quibble given the excellence of the coverage.
- Home run. Weightlifting. I complained several days ago about how NBC had ruined the lighter weight-classes of weightlifting by turning them all into fluff pieces. But although I was upset at NBC for this, I didn't really think weightlifting would be that exciting. After all, it's just guys picking up stuff, right? Today, they let the big dogs (and I do mean BIG DOGS) eat. After seeing the heavyweights in action, I can honestly say that I was enthralled. Who would have thought that behemoths clean-and-jerking 500 lbs. of steel over their heads would be that exciting? I was very impressed, not only with the event itself, but with the fact that NBC let us watch it for 20 minutes without making us watch a syrupy story on some weightlifters background. I guess none of them have really suffered.
- Strike out. And this is a big one. The gymnastics "Champions Gala." I counted every second of the twelve minutes of the "Champions Gala" as "fluff." You could argue that it wasn't preproduced, and you'd be correct. However, neither is it an event, therefore, it could only be one thing. This is not to say that some of the things there weren't impressive. The Chinese "sports acrobatics" team was nothing short of astounding. However, so is Cirque de Soleil, and they don't count as an Olympic event either.
- Home run. When Bob Costas first introduced it as the Champions "Gala" with a little gleam in his eye, it was pretty obvious that he thought it was fluff, too. Too bad he doesn't have some kind of veto power.
- Strike out. Harry Smith. I hate to keep ragging on Harry, because I like him personally, I just don't think his segments should be cluttering up the Olympic coverage. Today he did six minutes on cyclist Lance Armstrong, then another two-and-a-half minutes on Greg Louganis for the "Citius, Altius, Fortius by AT&T" piece. That's over eight minutes we could have been watching weightlifting.
- Home run. The "Sun America Sports Desk." Sun America is going to get my business after the Olympics because they apparently are the only sponsor that understands I want to see more events at the Olympics. With the exception of one day, their spots have been nothing but news about the events. Today they did over seven minutes recapping the U.S. Women's Softball team winning the gold. I didn't get to watch the game "live," so Sun America's segment was welcome.
- Strike out. Well, duh! "GM presents Olympic Moments" with Jimmy Roberts. Today, in an astoundingly long segment where GM should know I spent 600 seconds shopping for Hondas, Jimmy took a trip across Australia by train. Or rather, he and his camera crew crossed the country before the Olympics started and are just now telling us about it. This story was particularly depressing because it was clear from the desolate shots of the Outback that Jimmy could have been thrown from the train in literally thousands of spots and never heard from again. Perhaps then we could have been spared the sight of Jimmy in a transsexual-run brothel in Kalgoorlie. (GM, from now on, I will always associate your company with "transsexual brothels"...just thought you should know.) Or the sight of Jimmy playing golf on the sandy links of Cook. Or the revelation that, when traveling across a continent the size of the United States, --gasp!-- the scenery changes! I guess Jimmy figured that the only village between Perth and Sydney would be Bartertown. Oh, if only we could somehow get him in the Thunderdome... "Two men enter! One man leaves!" Whaddya think? Jimmy Roberts versus MasterBlaster? Now that's an Olympic sport!
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