Saturday, July 28, 2012

Disappointing NBC Olympic Opening Ceremony

NBC's broadcast of the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics was a miss for me.  I have to give director Danny Boyle a big thumbs up for the opening segment which portrayed England's transition from an agrarian society to an industrialized economy-- stunning images and very cinematically portrayed.

But the rest of the ceremony was lackluster and the middle section on rock and pop music came across as especially insipid and almost incomprehensible-- something about a boy and a girl meeting on the subway, a lost phone, hooking up at a party-- not sure.  The section was heavily reliant on pre-filmed segments and on-screen graphics . . . to the live audience, all that could be seen were a bunch of randomly-costumed teenagers dancing haphazardly around a house that served as essentially as a big-screen TV.



NBC's coverage and editorial decisions, however, completely ruined it for me.  One of the major sections of the ceremony was a homage to Britain's National Health Service-- and Costas, Lauer and Vieira were strangely silent on the subject-- only one or two sentences saying what the segment was about and what "NHS" stood for.  Their reticence on the subject was in marked contract to the rest of the broadcast, which featured incessant running of the mouth about even the most obvious on-screen events.  In my opinion, it was a deliberate editorial call in favor of political correctness and to avoid saying anything that would be criticized by the right wing.

Not seen on American TV: Tribute to 7/7 bombing victims
Another shocking omission was the complete elimination (from the tape-delayed broadcast) of the moving tribute to the victims of the London 7/7 bombing.  Scottish singer Emeli Sande performed a moving rendition of "Abide With Me" in memory of the bombing victims, but the song was edited out of NBC's coverage in favor of an inspid Ryan Seacrest interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. It appeared that Phelps actually started to laugh out loud at Seacrest's opening question.

Another black mark on the NBC broadcast was their coverage (or lack thereof) of the Saudi Arabian team's entrance during the Parade of Nations.  Costas mentioned that this was the first Olympics where every country had female athletes, but not only did the cameras not show any of the Saudi women, but Costas and crew also failed to mention that the Saudi team forced all the team's female members to march behind the male counterparts. Guess NBC doesn't want to risk pissing off the IOC or losing General Electric business to the Saudi princes.



Nevertheless, I will give Costas props due to his honoring Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics.   The International Olympic Committee had declined a request to hold a moment of silence during the ceremony to acknowledge the 11 slain Israeli athletes and coaches-- but Costas called that decision insensitive during an interview this month and during the broadcast had these words: "Still, for many, tonight with the world watching is the true time and place to remember those who were lost and how and why they died."  After a five-second pause, NBC cut to a commercial.

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