Saturday, July 28, 2012
I have no idea what I would have done had I been given the assignment to create the Opening Ceremonies.
Danny Boyle, who did have that herculean task, is one of my favorite film directors.
The logistics must have been an unbelievable nightmare. Just coordinating all the dancers, costumes, sets, molten steel, LED screens, special effects, etc. was a miraculous feat in itself.
The TV coverage was amazing. A gazillion cameras. I can’t imagine directing that show – live yet.
I was looking forward to this. I went into the show wanting to be moved, wanting to be awed, hoping to be overcome by emotion, dazzled by the spectacle – and if you were I am happy for you and somewhat envious.
All that said…
I thought the Opening Ceremonies were the world’s longest graduation ceremony combined with the most overblown Orange Bowl Halftime Show ever.
I’m sorry. I was soooo exhausted after four-and-a-half hours of being bombarded by pomp & circumstance, and costumes, and running commentary that by the show’s end I felt like I had run the marathon.
I did however, love the faces of the young athletes. I know how hard and long they’ve trained for this and what an extraordinary accomplishment it is for them just to be there. I could feel their pride and was thrilled for each and every one of them, regardless of country, politics, or quality of their foreign films. But Jesus, there were over 200 of these countries. By Italy I was spent.
The show was seen around the world, and depending upon where you are the coverage might’ve been quite different. I can only speak for NBC and the U.S. feed.
Now NBC paid more for the rights to these games than the national budget of probably 136 of the competing nations, so it’s understandable that they'd want to squeeze in as many commercials as they could. So the program began at 7:30 with the first half hour being nothing but filler. Bob Costas talking to Tom Brokaw about security. Long filmed pieces about London. Zzzzzzzz. Noted sports authority, Ryan Seacrest interviewing athletes. I was sure he was going to ask one, “So what are you going to sing for us tonight?”
Then the ceremony began hosted by Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera. If NBC loves Savannah Guthrie so much how come she didn’t co-host instead of Viera? Matt was his usual smooth polished self. Meredith was a ditz. Every five minutes she was saying, “I didn’t know that.” Well, you’re the commentator. You’re supposed to know!
If you’ve taped the show and haven’t seen it yet, here’s a fun drinking game: Take a swig every time someone says, “This is a moment he/she will always remember.” You’ll be smashed in an hour.
I thought the burning Olympic Rings hovering over the stadium was a cool effect, marred however by the NBC logo in the corner of the screen. At least they didn't also have a crawl that read "WHITNEY MOVES TO FRIDAY."
Funny bit with Daniel Craig as James Bond supposedly fetching the Queen and then the Queen making her entrance via parachute. But that was the last laugh I got from the entire evening – including the tepid Rowan Atkinson bit.
I did love the subtle message Great Britain sent to the United States by doing an entire production number on the value of National Health Care. Otherwise, I don’t know why the bit was there. Billed as a salute to Children’s Literature, we saw thousands of children jumping on beds. Who cares? And at one point villains of Children’s Literature appeared – Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Vil. Knowing NBC, I was surprised they didn’t slip in the monsters from GRIMM.
Then came four decades of British music along with a boy-meets-girl scenario surrounded by dancers that felt like a half hour Dr. Pepper commercial.
Once it was time for the Parade of Athletes, NBC mercifully replaced Meredith Viera with Bob Costas. He and Matt tried their darndest to find interesting things to say about each passing country but after awhile everything blended to where I thought they said kids from Jordan speak Korean.
Finally the torch was lit. Thank you NBC for just showing us the last two miles of someone running with it and not the entire 12,000. I know that was tempting. Think of all the extra Matt Perry GO ON promos you could have shown!
And what better way to end this overly-long show than by having Sir Paul McCartney sing the longest Beatles song they ever recorded, HEY JUDE? As he was singing, I was thinking – a week ago Ringo Starr performed at Humphreys, an outdoor lawn venue in San Diego. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney sings at the Olympics Opening Ceremony for one billion people.
Let the games begin… already.
What did you think? I’d be especially interested in hearing from readers in other countries. What was your coverage like? Whoever your co-host for the Opening Ceremony was, we’ll trade you Meredith Viera for her.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM