It's hard to imagine any opening ceremony in my lifetime living up to the overwhelming spectacle that was at the Beijing Olympics. Just the sheer magnitude of what they were able to do was mindboggling. That said, while London didn't take my breath away with its big displays, it actually really impressed me by adding a lot of humor to an event that is usually dreadfully serious and filled with tradition. Sure, director Danny Boyle infused the 2012 opening with the proper amount of history (and a tribute to the National Health Service), but it was the quirkier moments that will still be talked about when it is Rio's turn to wow the world in 2016. Here are our favorite moments of the night:
The 2012 Summer Olympics finally kick off in London tonight with a massive opening ceremony, but the spectacle of the interpretive dancing and fireworks isn't the only part of this two-week sporting extravaganza that's worth watching. Even if you don't know Usain Bolt from Michael Phelps, here are plenty of reasons to tune in:
I know that there have been a lot of complaints all over the blogosphere about the tape delay (especially for the West Coasters) used for the Olympics, and even though I don't necessarily agree with the logic used to defend it, it seems futile to keep beating that dead horse. They aren't going to change it, so I just deal with it by avoiding the local news, Twitter updates or Internet sport sites until late at night. However, I do have some other issues with the telecasts, particularly during primetime, that are really starting to take some of the joy out of the Winter Games for me.
As I noted in my preview for this ceremony, there was really no way that this could ever compare to the overwhelming spectacle that was the Beijing Olympics. That was evident right off the bat when instead of giant footprint-shaped fireworks (fake or not) leading up to the venue, we get a snowboarder busting through the Olympic rings. Still impressive in its own right, but lacking the big wow factor. But I'm not going to spend too much time quibbling, especially considering that Bob Coastas at one point said that Vancouver's budget was about $30-40 million dollars compared to the $300-400 million that Beijing spent. And this is the Winter Olympics, which is traditionally smaller in scale anyway. So instead I'm going to focus on how they spent their cash and if it was worth it....
Is it wrong that I got a little teary-eyed during the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics this weekend? Not just because they were beautiful and stunning (which they were) but because I kind of feel like there is no way that any Olympics in my lifetime are going to be able to top these in terms of scale and drama. London's a great city and all, but I can't imagine them getting the amount of volunteers (which they estimate to be about 1 million people, some of whom trained for nine months) or spending the amount of cash (which they estimate to be about 40 billion dollars, if you include infrastructure and everything) to create something so very special. From the Opening ceremonies, which left me breathless, to the action in the pool and on the track, which had me on the edge of my seat, to the creative closing ceremonies which turned an oft forgettable event into something magnificently wonderful.
The Olympics have pretty much been unavoidable -- they're all over the internet, TV, and the news, and some of it has been thrilling, some scandalous and some just disappointing. It's been the big topic of conversation around the water cooler and, frankly, it's exhausting to try and keep up with it all and sound intelligent, especially if you had to watch an average of about, say, 10 hours of coverage a day so you could write a daily blog. (Just as an example...) So while we've enjoyed the hype and the fun, we're glad this only comes around every four years (or two, if you count winter, and really, do we need to start counting that?) because we're just looking forward to getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. And that thing... what's it called again? Oh yeah, a life.
I can't say for sure that the fact that there's nothing live (and a semi-final of beach volleyball does not count at all) is making my enthusiasm for the Olympics wane ever so slightly, but given that some of my favorite sports were airing last night and I wasn't screaming at the TV and cheering along, I'd say that it makes a big difference. Especially if, for instance, you are looking up how to spell a Jamaican athlete's name and just happen to see a big screaming news story that says "Nastia Liukin upset on uneven bars," like I was yesterday. This crap should have spoiler alerts in big letters. Huge. (Speaking of which, during the course of writing this post and trying to figure out how to properly spell the names of pole vaulters, I came across the results of tonight's Olympic balance beam competition. Fan-freakin'-tastic. I'm so angry right now. Not that I'm unhappy with the results, I'm just irritated to know. This is just like the Nagano Olympics and the Tara Lipinski thing all over again. Ugh.) I know it has technically been completed and therefore is not a spoiler, but I didn't have any opportunity to see it on any of the twelve channels playing Olympics all day, every day at my desk, so therefore, it is spoiler alert-worthy. So I spent the entire night basically watching the uneven bars just waiting to see the big judging scandal that has rocked the Olympic world this week.
Trying to have a life and watch as much Olympics primetime coverage as possible don't really work together. Last night I attempted to see a Broadway show and be social with a friend and then go home and watch the Olympics. Let's just say this didn't exactly work out. Not just because I was up until two o'clock in the morning trying to watch the entire primetime broadcast. Not just because I had to skip over a qualifying round of men's beach volleyball in order to finish at a "reasonable" time. But because by the time I got to the end of the airing that I had DVR'd, I discovered that it ran over and into the time slotted for the "news" and I didn't get to watch the Chinese or American Women's Gymnastics team compete in the majority of the floor exercises. TiVo cut off right after Alicia Sacramone fell on her butt, and when I switched to live TV the Team USA girls were all being interviewed about their Olympic silver medal win. Sigh. I try so hard to avoid Olympic "spoilers."
I didn't sleep much this weekend. All I did was watch Olympics and obsessively read the Twilight saga of books. I think I was equally balanced between them (enjoyment wise and time spent wise), but if you are going to watch the Olympics, especially "live" (meaning without taping and fast-forwarding through commercials) you are going to need to have some reading material, or have a computer handy. I mean, between the never-ending breaks touting NBC's new shows and their other sponsors (who I could probably name by heart now) compounded with the repetitive little segments about spotlighted athletes, it is nice to have something to do during the down time. And it helps keep my mind alert at 1 AM when I just can't make myself turn the TV off.
So I'm far from the only person excited the the Olympics are starting tomorrow night, but around here in the TWoP offices I'm pretty much a rarity. My copy of Time with its helpful article on the 100 athletes to watch has garnered me a few quizzical looks, and I quickly have to change the subject to "Hey, did you see what happened on Project Runway last night?" in order to stop them from thinking that I've suddenly turned into a sports obsessed freak. However, I think there are quite a number or events (which I'll be babbling about annoyingly ad nauseam for the next two and half weeks) that I think might actually appeal to my fellow TV junkies out there. While nothing will be quite as fun as The Office's Olympics... this might keep you entertained for a few days at least.
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