I am obsessed with the Olympics. Even the Winter Olympics. I will always clear my schedule to watch the Opening and Closing ceremonies.
I loved the Opening Ceremonies last night. It felt like a very personal love letter to the United Kingdom, proclaiming that this is who they are and what makes them amazing. And even for those who scoff at it, saying it wasn’t serious enough- did you really want another abstract show about the spirit of a country finding friends, fighting adversity or whatnot? I admit, I’m really tired of that. This at least felt like something vibrant and real. (Except for the Giant Baby. That was odd.) My mother-in-law commented that the feeling was a lot more like the closing ceremonies, and it wasn’t a bad thing at all. It felt fresh.
Some of my particular favorites: The cauldron. I loved that each nation brought part of it in with them. Just seeing all those individual petals come together to form the torch said everything that the Olympics should be. David Beckham. That is a man who loves his country and is so proud of them. You could tell. Also, David Beckham + a suit + speedboat = James Bond movie. Just saying. Glastonbury Tor. So many Olympic Stadiums are shrines of metal- it’s nice to have something organic. The TARDIS. Yes, they worked the sound of the TARDIS into the Opening Ceremony, which is a lovely nod to the episode where The Doctor lit the cauldron at the 2012 Olympics. (Don’t watch Doctor Who? Try it! I’m certain you’ll love it) And a tribute to children’s lit!
As much as I loved the Opening Ceremony, NBC’s coverage of it was terrible. Meredith Viera was nervous and unprepared (she said “I didn’t know that” a lot), Matt Lauer was rude to Meredith and didn’t even seem to care about being there, and Bob Costas… okay, Bob Costas was awesome, but made it more obvious how much Matt Lauer lacks these days. Bob Costas had passion and knowledge, and while he talked a lot- it was . And a lot of inane prattle during moments that were best left quiet (including stuff that spoiled some of the surprises). That’s ignoring the fact that they didn’t have a live feed for it online, which seems to be what most of the internet wants.
Beyond that, they actually edited out an entire segment from the opening ceremony– not just editing out some segues to make room for commercials. And what did they replace it with? An inane interview with Michael Phelps.
We’re at a point where with the internet and social media, we’re aware of things as they happen. It seems odd to not air events live, and simply replay the high profile events during peak broadcast times (and/or make those available online). I would have appreciated getting to watch the Opening Ceremony live, uninterrupted and unedited. If this is how the UK wants to introduce themselves, I’d like to see it all.
Technology-wise, we’re at a crossroads. Either we continue to insist that we can tape-delay live events or we acknowledge that life doesn’t always happen during prime time. It’s not hard. You can still re-air the high profile events during prime-time, but simply give people the flexibility to watch it live, even if it means during the middle of the night. It is the Olympics- it’s a time for us to come together and see the best that humanity can offer. Shouldn’t you be allowed to get up at 2 am and watch something if you want?
(Apparently you can get up at 2 am and watch it, but I had to dig through my DirecTV menu to find their listing with Olympic events and what channel offers the coverage- and I know that the only reason I can watch it is because we have the sports package. I know that I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but is it too much to ask for everyone to be able to have access to the Olympics?)