bibelot #2: NBC
I’ll say much more about the opening ceremonies later, but this needs to be said now: NBC’s coverage of the ceremony was abominable. The five hour tape delay (on the East Coast). Matt Lauer/Meredith Vieira’s bungled, tedious, and at times exuberantly ignorant or factually inaccurate narration of Danny Boyle’s display—with the ultimate low of Matt Lauer reporting as fact the idea that 86-year-old Queen Elizabeth II had parachuted into the stadium. Bob Costas’s trite and at times offensive Parade of Nations facts—what did Albania do to deserve the note that some countries are just there to participate? The constant chatter of Lauer and Costas during various parts that they announced as highlights, ensuring that American viewers wouldn’t be able to see the wonder uninterrupted. The constant and poorly timed commercial breaks that broke up the drama—seriously, NBC, you can’t make it through a five-minute torch relay without taking a break? The subsequent rushing through of countries who had the misfortune of entering the stadium in the middle of a made-up commercial break. (It seemed as though Jamaica was going to be a victim of this, but apparently the group of Italy-Jamaica-Japan were too important to get the rush treatment—the first “commercial-break” nations to not be breezed over.) And worse, the realization after I emerged from my media blackout that NBC had not just broken up the ceremony, it had edited things out, including longer (and probably more sensical) music sections and a memorial tribute that included the 7/7 victims and Danny Boyle’s own father. There’s no question that my slightly negative impressions about the ceremony were due in large part to NBC’s horrifically inept presentation. Shameful.
[Edit: I forgot to mention what NBC deemed more important than the memorial tribute. It was more important, apparently, that we see Ryan Seacrest do an utterly banal interview with Michael Phelps than we take a moment to honor those lost, including those lost the day after London was announced as the host for the 2012 Olympics. Unbelievable.]