I generally thought the NBC coverage of the Olympics was pretty good and I like Bob Costas as the central host — even though many objected to the delay in showing events to maximize NBC’s audience during the games. However, the goodwill almost evaporated in watching the coverage of the closing ceremonies. As I tweeted last night, I found it really irritating to have to listen to Seacrest and others talk over the music to add predictable and sometimes vapid comments. It appears I was not alone with critics piling on NBC on social media sites.
For many the most upsetting moment came when NBC cut away early to air a new television show,”Animal Practice.” That meant cutting out Ray Davies, Kate Bush, The Who and Muse in favor of an incredibly silly sitcom. NBC was given this contract with the understanding that it was responsible for sharing the games with the world — a responsibility that was supposed to temper the profit-maximizing inclinations of executives. It clearly failed to do so last night.
For me, the coverage was remarkably bad from both a technical and an artistic standpoint. The sound was not good and uneven. Cameras often caught their own crew moving in the frame or chose angles that denied the viewer an optimal view of the action. More importantly, NBC elected to cut away repeatedly to athletes screaming into the camera. It denied the viewers the chance to enjoy the artistic value of the show and create incongruous moments of athletes yelling into the camera at moving or powerful moments in the performance. This is a celebration of the achievement of the athletes but it is also a world event. I do not blame the athletes for such moments but I fail to understand why it was necessary in the midst of key moments or songs to add screaming athletes biting their medals or piling on each other. It not only denied the viewers a chance to experience the impressive ceremony but denied the organizers the opportunity to show their extraordinary creation with a semblance of continuity.
Then there was the constant talking of the anchors over the performers to add obvious or inane thoughts. Just was the show was unfolding into an amazing display, Costas proclaimed the Ryan Seacrest was here to explain it all. It was bizarre. There seemed to be an inability for anchors to allow the viewers to simply watch the event and insisted on arranging the ceremony around its own celebrities and their stream of conscious thoughts.
Cutting up the ceremony and then breaking off to show the sitcom was a betrayal of the trust given to NBC. I say this is great reluctance because I thought the network did a fantastic job in offering expert commentary during the competition and getting wonderful shots of the action. It was a stellar performance tarnished by the final ceremony. Of course, many of the athletes could have warned NBC that many of top performers were undone by a weak finish.
What did you think?