So last night I watched the entirety of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic games. Some thoughts.
1. NBC’s coverage was its usual level of mediocrity. I really didn’t need or want the commentators at all, and I certainly did’t need or want them talking over the music or speeches. Just shut up. We’re smart enough to figure out what’s going on. If you really feel the need to tell us something during music or whatever, scroll it along the bottom.
2. While bashing on NBC’s coverage, allow me to bring up the Parade of Nations. It might be the only time people in America hear of places like Palau, which given its history is inexcusable. The Parade, while long, gives us a chance to see countries most people have never heard of and to see athletes who won’t win any medals but are insanely proud of being where they are. This in addition to giving ex-pats from those countries a chance to see the old home team. NBC cut away to commercials several times and then gave a token mention of countries they’d skipped while away. That’s…acceptable, I guess, in a live broadcast, but this was on a several-hour tape delay. They could have just paused and picked up where they’d left off, but no. Why do that when you instead screw over several countries?
3. I’m pleased as hell that Danny Boyle, who directed the whole thing, honored the soldiers of World War One. In this country, the war is largely forgotten, which I suppose makes total sense given that we “only” lost 117,000 soldiers. Anyhow, the Brits remember it and remember it often and that’s a good thing.
4. I was also pleased, if a bit confused at first, at a bit honoring both Peter Pan and the National Health Service. Then I was reminded (by, yes, NBC’s commentators…*sigh*), that when JM Barrie died, he left the rights to the story to a hospital in the UK. So the two are, at least somewhat, linked. It was still a bit like seeing an opening ceremony here honoring Social Security, but I liked it.
5. No Doctor Who video. Boo. Apparently the producers of the ceremonies got the rights to show some video but had to cut it for time. I can but hope for something when it comes to the closing ceremonies, and at least we got this:
6. The moment when they mentioned the theme from Chariots of Fire was coming up had me rolling my eyes and going, “Really? How obvious and uninspired.” Then came this:
7. I love that the opening ceremony featured references to, and appearance by, Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web. It was an odd inclusion, but I’m always happy to a: have Americans reminded that we didn’t invent the thing, and b: to have scientists, inventors and the like honored on a large scale.
8. Mary Poppins, plural, versus Voldemort. Excellent.
9. This was topped, however, by James Bond and Queen Elizabeth parachuting into the games. I cannot find a video of it, but if you poke around, you probably can. If you haven’t seen it, do so.
Danny Boyle and the organizing team really did do a wonderful, extremely British opening ceremony. I was pleased on pretty much every level and I look forward to seeing what we get for the closing ceremony and then how Russia and Brazil try to top this one.