Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Closing Ceremony: NBC fucks up yet again!

What I love about the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics is that it’s a television event the whole world sees at once. Unless you’re on the East Coast of the United States watching NBC. In addition to editing out selected portions and allowing the insipid Ryan Seacrest to host, they broke away before the big finale and the Who to show the pilot of a new sitcom where the big joke was a monkey in a lab coat. There’s a reason NBC is the last network. Even in those rare (once every four years) instances when they get viewers they manage to royally piss them off.

Don’t they realize that interrupting the Closing Ceremonies with a sitcom is the same as flashing a half hour pop up ad? And how many people like pop up ads? When was the last time you bought a product you saw on a pop up ad? On the other hand, how many products have you boycotted because you resented the ad? And how many websites have you stopped visiting because you got tired of the relentless pop up ads?

Whatever goodwill NBC had amassed with their Olympic coverage (and most of it was excellent) they completely squandered. They just reinforced the public’s perception that NBC is clueless. And it breaks my heart. Having spent the better part of twenty years writing for CHEERS, FRASIER, and WINGS it was an honor to be part of the NBC family. They strove for quality. They strove for class. They were the HBO of network television.

And now they’re WHITNEY, comedies with monkeys, and the new face of the franchise is Ryan Seacrest. The once-proud Peacock has been totally plucked.

On the west coast the ceremony was not interrupted by the sneak pop up ad for ANIMAL PRACTICE. I’m guessing they took a raft of shit so quickly backtracked. I feel bad for the producers. How’d you like this deal?

Thirty million people are going to sample your pilot!


The only thing is – they’re all going to hate you.


Personally, I didn’t see it. I set my DVR for the Closing Ceremonies. It recorded 3 1/2 hours and cut off before the finale.

Of the 3 1/2 hours, an hour and half was recap and Olympic highlights. They couldn’t do that separately? And because they had to show all that rehash they chose to cut out performances by The Kinks’ Ray Davies, Muse, Kate Bush, the Royal Ballet, and a new song by George Michael. One of the big emotional moments apparently was when all the volunteers were saluted. We didn’t see that either, along with some performance pieces that I can’t describe because well…I didn’t see them.

What we did get was more Ryan Seacrest shoved down our throats. Bob Costas couldn’t introduce the Pet Shop Boys? At one point Bob said something to the effect of: “Well, we have Ryan Seacrest here. This might be a good time to use him.”

As for the ceremony itself, another giant Super Bowl halftime show. Like I tweeted, they made a big deal of the Spice Girls reunion. It was their first reunion since 2008. Wow! Four whole years! Not exactly Dean & Jerry after twenty years. And how could they pay tribute to the great recording artists of Great Britain and not close the show with Lulu? Although, maybe they did. My DVR cut out. And I imagine if you were watching on the East Coast you probably turned it off when the cat jumped off the skyscraper in ANIMAL PRACTICE.

Please stick around and read the post meant for today. Thanks.


Thomas said...

Here in the UK, once the ceremony was actually going, the commentators said perhaps 4 lines of explanation per 20 minutes - so, no big deal was made about how long the Spice Girls have been apart, for example. The show was allowed to speak for itself.
Truly, I feel bad for how awful NBC's coverage is in comparison.

That said, it was a lot more generic than the opening ceremony. The opening ceremony said, "we are going to push boundaries", while this was more sedate. Enjoyable, nonetheless, and my volunteer friend now has a hat with a lightbulb to keep.

Anonymous said...

I learned yesterday about 2:30 PDST that the closing ceremony was streaming live on the NBC Olympics site. Since I was home chilling, I fired up my computer and watched. While I missed about an hour of the festivites, I saw the rest WITHOUT COMMERCIALS & WITHOUT COMMENTARY. That's right - no Bob Costas, Ryan Seacrest, et. al. For that reason alone, it was fabulous.

GRayR said...

Thank you, thank you. It is good to see that a professional has the same opinion that I do.

NBC really does not do the Olympics well.

To tell you the truth I watched most of the Hell On Wheels marathon yesterday. I thought that was gripping drama.

Spice Girls, not so much.

Fenway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fenway said...

Here is what you missed

Brian said...

Of course, if you listen to Mark Lazarus, everything was awesome for the last two weeks, no one missed anything and a "loud minority" is complaining about things that NBC might think about changing maybe in the future.

Pull the other leg and it plays Jingle Bells.

miglet said...

I watched the BBC feed in the afternoon which was glorious, and the West Coast NBC telecast last night which was insipid.

But I would like to note that the West Coast telecast did break away at 11pm to show "Animal Practice" and local news. They restarted at midnight with The Who and then a half hour wrap up.

Oh and Ryan Seacrest is a tool.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't only the closing ceremonies, NBC borked the entire two weeks.

Anonymous said...

I watched the live YouTube feed--complete with terrible audio. There were also 15 second Coke commercials dropped in every few minutes.

I ended up seeing the BBC feed, which was complete and wonderful. The extent to which the commentators were NOT speaking was quite startling (in a good way)!

I was astonished when I got in bed near midnight to see that NBC was just starting to broadcast the big finale (with The Who)--AFTER the local news. Amazing.

ABC (and Jim McKay) really set the standard when it comes to Olympic coverage...

Franklin said...

Kate Bush didn't perform live, anyway, which was just another disappointment of the whole thing.

badmonster said...

Why aren't we thanking NBC for not burdening us with the responsibility of expanding our horizons?

Anonymous said...

I'm on the West Coast, and they did interrupt the finale in favor of the (god-awful) Animal Practice premiere.

cadavra said...

Said it before, say it again: What do you expect from a network that cancelled its highest-rated scripted series because "only old people" were watching it?

tb said...

The monkey is a doctor? No, I MUST be wrong, please, God, tell me I'm wrong!

John Van Camp said...


point of correction, Animal Disaster aired at 11 West Coast time, The Who at midnight after pilot and Chuck and Coleen for 40 minutes, then The Who for 7 minutes, Ryan for a :30 second toss to field level reporters stopping the two athletes STILL in the stadium while the janitors were sweeping up. No George Michael 2nd number, no Kate Bush, no Muse (Olympic anthem recording artists for London 2012) no Ray Davies. Same treatment as East Coast, except Bob Costas signing off with , "that's it but join us in an hour or so for the party, after the premier of Animal Vomit"...pluck, pluck, pluck...

Mathias Hansson said...

So no Royal Ballet performance? With the only music written (by David Arnold!) especially for the Olympics closing ceremony and the extinguishing of the flame and it's Phoenix motif. The only thing that actually had a real connection to what the evening was about? *shake heads in disbelief*

Dave said...

I had to shake my head -- and fist -- at Costas last night when he gave shout-outs to Jim McKay, Roone Arledge, and Dick Ebersole when he credited them with being responsible for the way the games are televised.

One of these things is not like the other, Bob. Care to guess which one?

Hopefully, without Ebersole there in the future to screw things up, things will change at the Peacock in the future, but given the ratings, I know they won't.

D. McEwan said...

Russell Brand "singing" in The Olympic Closing Ceremonies: "What you'll see will defy explanation." Truer words were never strangled. What I was seeing did indeed defy explanation. Why was Russell Brand trying to sing? There is some question as to whether or not he is a comedian, but there is no debate at all over the fact that he can not sing.

Ryan Seachrest, an hour and a half into the Olympic Closing Ceremonies: "This is the comedic part of the show. I think you'll have fun watching this."

As opposed to the rest of the show?

"miglet said...
But I would like to note that the West Coast telecast did break away at 11pm to show 'Animal Practice' and local news. They restarted at midnight with The Who and then a half hour wrap up."

NOW you tell me? Was NBC operating under the insane delusion that we'd keep watching them once they broke away for that pilot? And actually, I was watching the whole thing at 2AM anyway, as you can't fast-forward through commercials, Seachrest, and bands I don't care about watching it live. So, by not reading NBC's "mind", I missed The Who? Drat!

And their coverage of the rest of the Olympics sucked also. I only watch the men's diving and gymnastics. I can't tell you how annoying it is when the coverage of an event BEGINS with "Here's what happened in the earlier rounds." Excuse me? I wanted to see ALL the rounds!

In the men's platform diving finals, the most interesting part of the entire match occurred in the first round with Tom Delay's redive, and it was long over before the coverage began, not that they didn't replay it over and over and over and over, and tell us about it every 5 minutes. In fact, they opened by telling us about it, showing the clip, and then telling us about it AGAIN, repeating all the exact same information, immediately after the clip, with no other information in between, telling us the exact same info twice in a row.

Apparently NBC sportscasters all assume that sports fans are idiots who can not retain information for more than 10 seconds. It's insulting, and makes me glad once again that I watch sports only once every four years. How do you sports fans stand sports coverage?

D. McEwan said...

My mind is still boggling. NBC showed me Russell Brand singing but not The Who.

Johnny Walker said...

The Closing Ceremony definitely got a lot more mixed reviews here than the Opening Ceremony did. (This sums up a lot of people's feelings very well, and is also hilarious: 45-year-old salesman apologises for closing ceremony)

That said, everyone agreed that there were good moments in there. The ending was easily the best best. I felt a bit choked up when the flames were extinguished, and I couldn't help but clap from my sofa for all the volunteers. (The volunteers were awesome, I have to say.)

It felt alternately sombre and upbeat, and sounds like you NBC watchers had all the best bits cut out... Yikes!

One more thing: Everyone else in the world seems to calculate the Olympic Standings on a cascade system, including the official Olympic website.

Doing this means that, for example, if America got 50 Gold Medals (and nothing else), and China got 51 Bronze medals (and nothing else), that America would still win. Because Gold is worth more than Bronze.

NBC's website calculated all the medals equally, so in the above scenario, China would win.

What an idiotic system!

Also (and this is perhaps why it upset me so), it means my country wasn't listed in its rightfully third place ahead of Russia on NBC's site -- and presumably on their televised coverage. I hate you, NBC.

Patrick said...

I don't know what all you guys are talking about. We have DIRECTV...technical problems for a good 50% of the broadcast!

Johnny Walker said...

If anyone wants to see some pics from a Londoner who got to go to the park a few times during the Games, here they are:

It was a wonderful atmosphere, in all. Even the most cynical seem to have been won over in the end.

On to the Paralympics, the arguably more impressive of the two events!

(Although it's not being screened in the US...?)

Gary said...

Nice pics Mr. Walker.

joncr said...

NBC thinks people tuned in to watch NBC. BBC knows people tuned in to watch the Olympics.

David Wolper's Ghost said...

I enjoyed the plain wrapped live feed via the net with a British gent and an Aussie gal who were understated in their enthusiasm, and I mean in a good way. The constant insertion of :10 second coke ads was an irritant as was the reference quality audio, I’m guessing a good mix from the truck takes too much bandwidth?

It was live and included everything but in the end I couldn’t help but remember the old show business saying: “Always leave ‘em wanting more”

DJ said...

Deadspin had video links to a number of things that NBC, in its idiocy, didn't show.

The awarding of the medals for the men's marathon

Ray Davies singing Waterloo Station

Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" interspersed with extraordinary slo-mo shots of the competition, changing from black and white to color at the climax of the song.

The prelude to the actual dousing of the flame, as former principal ballerina from the Royal Ballet Darcy Bussell played the Phoenix.

NBC's problem is that they think their audience is as stupid, incurious, and ignorant as they are. We're not. And even if we were, shouldn't you want to enlighten and uplift us?

DJ said...

Gah. That should have been "Waterloo Sunset."

RCP said...

Overall, I enjoyed the Olympics despite some of the idiotic commentary and the Peoples United--sponsored (lying) political commercials running nearly every break - at least where I live.

tb said...

"The monkey is a doctor? No, I MUST be wrong, please, God, tell me I'm wrong!"

tb - you HAVE watched television before, haven't you?

D. McEwan said...

"In the men's platform diving finals, the most interesting part of the entire match occurred in the first round with Tom Delay's redive..."

Two lashes of the cat 'o nine tails for daring to confuse diver Tom Daley with lard-infested criminal Tom Delay. No, I just thought of a worse punishment: visualize Delay in a speedo for 10 minutes.

Christopher said...

The thing is that NBC can't even plead 'oops, we didnt know' with this.

They did the same thing during the Vancouver Closing Ceremony with 'The Marriage Ref' -- and was widely chastised for doing it then too

Mike said...

Glorious Socialist television from the BBC: no adverts, sparse commentary.

Ken felt that the Opening Ceremony contained cultural references aimed at the USA, in particular our Socialist Health Service.

Well, the Closing Ceremony DID contain cultural references aimed at the USA. These were:
a) John Lennon, referencing the need for Gun Control (Thank you, Harry Nilsson).
b) Yoko Ono edited out of the Lennon video, referencing the internment of Japanese-Americans in WW2.
c) Poor Darcey Bussell lynched into the air and set on fire, referencing... well, I'd better leave that one to you, but there were some red-hooded Klansmen riding on bicycles earlier.

In other news, it seems our disloyal Rock Royalty were disinclined to appear. They're not all tax exiles.

Jake Mabe said...

I wished I could have watched the Olympic coverage on the BBC for comparison.

That being said, here's a Friday question for you, Mr. Levine:

What is your favorite episode of "M*A*S*H" and why?

SB said...

Gotta agree with John Van Camp - not only was The Who delayed for that lame sitcom, but we ALSO had to endure endless Channel 4 non-news Olympic blather. It wasn't just that NBC did this, but it was all handled so poorly. I literally thought the ceremony was over, and just happened to stumble upon The Who set much later.

In regards to "Animal Practice", this begs the question: is it really a good idea to promo a pilot when it's so obviously lame? "Animal Practice" MIGHT find its voice after a few episodes, but I'll never be back after viewing that first episode.

Oliver said...

From UK newspaper The Guardian's liveblog on the closing ceremony: "Just think: two weeks ago the world thought we were rubbish at sport and great at music"

Michael said...

When I wasn't wondering why Ryan Seacrest was there, I kept trying to figure out which looks worse: Bob Costas's botox and toupee or Al Michaels's dye job.

Phillip B said...

NBC claims to know the audience better than critics like us, and made a ton of money with that knowledge. And the ratings were good - peeking at a 26 share for the closing ceremonies

The production of the events themselves was great - don't know how much of it was actually shot by the BBC. And the on-line streaming site was actually pretty neat, and could be an indication we'll be able to watch without a network filter the next time around.

But the hosted segments were colorless (did anyone tune in to find out what these guys would say or do?) They should have had the damn monkey on the set in between Costas and Seacrest rather than on the sitcom.

So maybe they were right to tell us what we could see -- if only they would let us see it - and then take it away.

But there were telltale signs on ineptness - most glaring for me was the lack of comment on the part of the closing ceremonies produced by Rio de Janeiro (who were those people and what were they singing about?)

You have to have a lot of viewers to piss them off so thoroughly, but have a good enough product to piss them off and be assured they kept watching....

Phillip B said...

Second take on my last sentence -

You have to have a lot of viewers and a good enough product to piss people off so thoroughly and be assured they would keep watching....

BTW - some doofus counted everyone in America who watched any portion of the Olympics on NBC and then claimed they had a 81% share. A great moment in public relations.

Anonymous said...

Wait... I missed the divine Miss Kate Bush, as well as Ray Davies doing my favourite Kinks song?! Urge to kill... rising...




Anonymous said...

Ah. Upon further examination, it seems I missed a *video* of Kate. Not so bad. However, I DID miss Annie Lennox singing, which blows.

And as much as I adore him and wish he was still performing, I'm glad that Bowie chose not to involve himself in it, especially to sing "Heroes", even if it is an un-official theme song of the GB team. Because wow... that's a *love* song, you fools.

Never seeing Bowie perform live, never laying eyes on him or hearing his voice in person is one of the great regrets of my life. I envy all who have. (cue D. McEwan-- tell me about the Hollywood Bowl Ziggy show, darling? ;)



Charlie O'Brien said...

Oh woe are the American TV watchers forced to swallow NBC's garbage.
As a Canadian viewer in Windsor,Ontario (in the shadow of Detroit) we got to avoid NBC totally and watch the CTV group's coverage LIVE from 4am eastern until 6pm everyday. Then, a masterful and intelligent evening re-cap show with pro Brian Williams (not NBC's B.W.)
You may remember the 2 Brian's bit at the Vancouver Olympics when they did the 2 network cross-over bit.

The Closing cermonies started at 4pm eastern time and ran uncut - until they FINISHED. Nice!
Next Olypmics have been awarded to the CBC Network - but you can count on the coverage being as fair and complete.
Didn't spend more than a minute or two switching to the local NBC station across the river. Why would you? We'd seen it live hours before on CTV.

Breadbaker said...

CBC has the next Olympics? Woohoo! We don't get CTV in Seattle, just CBC. Both networks do superior coverage.

Jeremiah Avery said...

"On the other hand, how many products have you boycotted because you resented the ad? And how many websites have you stopped visiting because you got tired of the relentless pop up ads?" - I've done this quite a few times actually. If the ad is preventing me from reading what I came to the site to see, then I make it a point to not buy the product (or see the movie if it's that type of ad) and let others know.

NBC's shoddy coverage kept me from watching most of it. It was particularly aggravating when they'd cut to an event when it was almost over. When the announcers would go "The U.S. came back from a 4-point deficit to finally take the lead", I thought "Well, it would have been nice for me to have actually seen that instead of being told about it."

Other than "Community" I don't watch anything else from NBC and based on their tactless editing and condescending attitude, I have no intention of watching anything else from them. I look forward to when Univision finally overtakes them and have a great laugh (the first laugh NBC will have given me in years).

I enjoy watching my DVDs of "Frasier" though it's disconcerting to see how great the show was and think that the show could not have been made by today's NBC.

Mike Botula said...

Now, when we get to the paralympics...that's where Ryan Seacrest belongs!

Kevin Jq said...

NBC made another mistake and didn't fuck things up enough – they forgot about Jimmy Fallon. Seacrest and Fallon. I'll bet someone pitched that. The only problem might've been that if they'd hosted the ceremonies together they might've tried to jerk each other off.

During the 80's band tribute where were U2, The Police and Bowie? It sort of felt like we were watching the J.V. team.

Oliver said...

"The production of the events themselves was great - don't know how much of it was actually shot by the BBC"

The event coverage is by the IOC. All countries have access to the same video feeds.

Anonymous said...

Bowie declined, and his influence and genius were instead represented by models stomping down a "catwalk" to a recording of "Fashion". .



Kevin Jq said...

That whole sequence with 'Fashion' was bizarre.

Kevin Jq said...

Flight of the Conchords could've come up something better than that. Maybe they should have used their song instead.

Tom Galloway said...

U2 showing up would've probably caused a political incident. They're not a British band, but an Irish one from Dublin. Great Britain includes the bit of Northern Ireland, but the rest of Ireland is very much a separate country, and one not overly fond of the British/English in many ways due to their mutual history.

VP81955 said...

Apparently NBC sportscasters all assume that sports fans are idiots who can not retain information for more than 10 seconds. It's insulting, and makes me glad once again that I watch sports only once every four years. How do you sports fans stand sports coverage?

Correct, to a point. NBC assumes all Olympic fans are dimwitted old ladies who only care about the story and about events that reinforce gender stereotypes such as gymnastics and figure skating (most of them think other women's sports, especially team sports, are predominantly played by lesbians and thus can't be "feminine"). I'm diabetic, so I avoid this swill.

(I also note Gabby Douglas is making the rounds of the "Tonight Show" and such. Eventually, we'll be as sick of her as we were with Mary Lou Retton in 1985.)

Anonymous said...

dvolluWow,,,, NBC still is in bussiness? I thought they dissapeared after Hill Street blues left the air. Seriously they have been reduced to silly "reality shows" and constant repetitive and annoying ads. I think they stopped thinking last century as they fail to grasp the concepts of time shifting, DVR and streaming media. I wonder if the US government will bail out the networks like they had to do for the auto manufactuers. The concept of Primetime and daytime and latenight TV is completly out of date.

chuckcd said...

Now I am glad I missed watching the thing.

Lou H. said...

On Sunday, I was actually looking forward to the Olympics ending so NBC would get back to its normal programming.

Then I realized I don't really watch anything on NBC.

Lou H. said...

They really should have shown The Who earlier in the evening. Those of us in their demographic are well into our night's sleep at 12:30AM.

Doug said...

Here in Canada they showed the London Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony live and delayed on numerous channels.The Ceremony itself was an assault upon the senses.Just too much.And Lulu ... I still have the garter belt she through into the audience at the end of a London performance of Guys and Dolls.Being of Scottish heritage I always had a crush on Lulu!