Bloodshot Eyes on Beijing
After too many hours of watching the Olympics, here are...
...Some things I still can't get enough of:
-- Those mesmerizing aerial shots of the Great Wall.
-- Replays of the men's 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
-- Slo-mo replays of Michael Phelps's victory in the 100-meter butterfly. He won by how much? Still hard to believe.
-- Bob Costas's smooth, smart stylings as emcee of NBC's primetime broadcasts. The man never oversells (take a lesson, gymnastics crew), and always has something useful and informative to say. He's every bit as good as ABC's sainted Olympic host Jim McKay was, with a better sense of humor to boot.
...Some things that there's not enough of:
-- The American men's basketball team in primetime.
-- The American men's volleyball team in primetime.
...Some things I've had enough of:
-- Reaction shots of Phelps's mom. Okay, she's proud of her son -- we get it (And why won't NBC say a word about the whereabouts of Phelps's dad?).
-- Synchronized anything.
-- Classic rock and pop at beach volleyball (Last night, they played "Kung Fu Fighting," which contains the oh-so-racially sensitive lyric, "There was funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown...").
-- Incessant commentary about how much "pressure" the Chinese gymnasts are under. What, the Americans, the Japanese, the Russians and the who-knows-whats aren't under pressure? And wouldn't the pressure the Chinese are allegedly under be offset by their home-court advantage?
-- Teeny, tiny mini-scandals (scandalettes?) such as the Lip-Syncgate, the flap about the fake fireworks and this little business about using ethnically incorrect stand-ins at the Opening Ceremonies. Yes, the West reads these episodes as metaphors for something more sinister -- the Chinese government's authoritarianism and perfectionism -- but even a cynic (who, me?) should be unimpressed by the degree of "trickery" involved and the harm (if any) done. Said cynic would also have to admit that the organizers are running a perfectly nice Olympic Games so far.
-- Morgan Freeman's voiceovers for Visa. Shouldn't he be recuperating?
-- Advertisers who claim their products "unite" the world. Yeah? Can you do something about Russia and Georgia, McDonald's?
-- Preemptions. NBC cut away from an exciting men's volleyball match at a critical juncture Friday night. It did the same with some of the long swimming and bike races. It'll likely do it with the distance-running events. Hate it when that happens.
-- Rowdy Gaines's repeated use of the phrase "left in the tank" to describe swimmers entering their final lap. As in, "I don't think he has anything left in the tank, Dan."
-- Cris Collinsworth hanging around with Michael Phelps's mom.
-- Cris Collinsworth doing anything at the Olympics. Admit it, NBC: He's human product placement for Sunday Night Football. Send him home.
-- Almost all of NBC's promos for its fall shows. Snippets of sex and violence for the whole family! And are they serious about the claim for the new sitcom "Kath and Kim," that it's "based on Australia's No. 1 show"? That's worth bragging about?
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