OOCT 2012: Part Two

Welcome to OOCT 2012. Previously in Part 1, 5 & 13 managed to commentate without becoming intrusive (at least compared to the peacock’s crew).

Will they manage to do so during The Abide With Me section?

5 explains that it’s a memorial to everyone who couldn’t be there. (Already they’re one up on NBC who didn’t air this section, preferring to air an interview with Ryan Seacrest.)

5 uses “English” when he means “British.” He’d ought to know better.

David Beckham brings the torch in via speedboat. (The maturation of Cool Britannia.)

The Memorial dance is very touching. The use of colour is remarkable and striking choice.

5 & 13 haven’t said a single thing beyond introducing Emeli Sande’.

And now we get to the Parade of Nations.

Did the Greek team’s sheer joy at being there warm your heart as it did mine?

Gaze totally oblivious to the symbolism of Afghanistan and the fact that every team this year has female athletes, an Olympic first.

American Samoa: Yes, it’s part of the US, but every US Territory/commonwealth can participate on its own. Which is why I find it odd that the constituent nations of the UK don’t do so.

Angola: No mention of Black Gold.

Argentina: 5 says they got a warm welcome. I heard a dull roar myself.

Australia: Go Lauren. Yes, I choked up.

Shut up, Gaze.

They still look like private school uniforms.

5 & Co. go on and on about AOC facts, but it’s understandable at this point.

Austria, Azerbaijan, and several other countries skipped over, to land on Bahrain.

No mention of the turmoil there.

Bangladesh gets a cheer, no explanation by 5 & Co. In fact the camera stays on Lauren Jackson.

5 rattles off facts about Belgium, but the camera is still on Lauren Jackson.

Now 5 & Co. are getting annoying and offensive.

They get back on track with Bhutan, but the camera is still on the Australian flag, missing out on Bosnia.

Subtext to what 5 & Co. say about Brazil: They’re a threat to Australia, but if we don’t say it, maybe it won’t happen.

On some level, I think 5 & Co. wish Australia came further in the running order.

5 confuses Burundi with Burkina Faso and calls it “Upper Volta.”

Canada = old according to 13.

They start to play West End Girls. Finally.

PRC: Huge roar. 5 & Co. give the Brazilian subtext.

Camera focuses in on Brazilian flag. Hmm.

Cook Islands: They are in free association with NZ. Camera cuts quickly to Australian team. Hmm.

Cuba: Wish I could’ve heard the NBC commentary.

Czech Republic: I want those boots.

DPRK: Wink & miss by our numbers.

Ecuador: The numbers don’t mention Assange?

El Salvador: 13 reiterates Danny Boyle’s “for the people” theme.

Fiji: The numbers talk about the Bee Gees. Wow, that’s really cold.

France: Big cheer. They look as happy as the Greeks. The numbers just give facts.

Germany: Big cheer. Gaze gives facts. I’m floored by the bizarre uniforms.

Ghana: The team is rather morose, possibly because the president just died. No reference to it by the numbers.

Guam: See American Samoa.

Hong Kong, China: OUCH. The numbers miss this moment.

Iceland: Very austere.

Independent Olympic Athletes: The numbers don’t explain fully that these are athletes who for whatever reason, cannot be attached to a country (i.e. their country has no Olympic committee.)

India: Big reaction, but the numbers are slow to pick up.

Indonesia: Numbers miss out on any neighbour references.

Iraq: I think we are now at the point where Iraqi participation is normal and no one talks about the war.

Ireland: Huge cheer. Numbers give their facts.

Italy: More stylish uniforms than the French.

Japan totally skipped over!?

South Korea: The uniforms seem more like those from the tropics. Gaze gives an interesting story about one of the Korean athletes.

Kyrgyzstan: The flag bearer is jaw-droppingly handsome. The numbers give no detail.

Liberia: Understandably, this is just another country to the numbers, but I, personally, liked seeing the Liberians. Probably many other Americans were as well.

Libya: The numbers totally miss the significance.

Lithuania: Yes, Gaze, I get the guy is massive. Doesn’t excuse you lot missing Libya.

Luxembourg: Is that Clay Aitken representing the Duchy?

Madagascar: Gaze has finally shut up about the Lithuanian.

Malaysia: No news references.

Camera goes to bored Australian basketballers.

Malta skipped over.

Marshall Islands: Totally independent now.

Mexico: Huge cheer. Why? I don’t know.

Micronesia: Are they totally independent now or still in association?

Monaco: Prince Albert not competing.

Mongolia: Doing the tropical thing.

Myanmar: No political reference?

Nauru: 5 says “one of our neighbours” and leaves it at that. Not going to touch that hot potato.

Netherlands: Numbers start waking up because they know NZ is coming soon.

NZ: 13 does a very good job with her facts. Significance not quite acknowledged.

Camera focuses in on NZ team.

Norway: 5 does eulogise the Norwegian swimmer.

Palau: The flag bearer is wearing a George Washington wig? Hmm.

Palestine: Huge cheer. 13 & camera focus on Layne Beachley.

PNG: At least they get a “neighbours” reference from 5.

Australians acting up. Gaze jokingly admonishes them. Shut up, Gaze.

I have to give the odd-numbered network major credit for not going to an ad break.

Portugal: Now, 5 chooses to make a reference to the economic situation? Portuguese team looks quaintly happy in contrast.

Puerto Rico: I can hear the “why is Puerto Rico separate from the US” confusion in the Numbers voice.

Russia: When did Russia get tropical?

Rwanda: Finally an acknowledgement of the political strife.

Samoa: Only now do the Numbers acknowledge that people in Australia would be interested in teams other than Australia.

Attention Numbers: Slovakia is not Slovenia and v.v.

Somalia: The Numbers fail to make note of the significance.

South Africa: 5 talks about Castor Semenya. I’m dumbfounded on how they missed Somalia. Not even a “this is Somalia!” But yes, 5, Semenya is a controversial choice, like you lot ignoring what is likely the first team from Somalia since the 1980s or 90s.

Spain: Gaze drools about Pau Gasol. The Spanish team is upbeat, not up there with the French and the Greeks. 5 goes on about the Double Amputee from the RSA. Are you planning on taking Hot Seat to Cape Town, 5? WTF? You missed talking about SOMALIA and you’re still going on about the RSA and we’re already at Spain?!

13 talks about how the Spanish uniforms were donated.

Sri Lanka: 5 talks about the huge Sri Lankan community in Australia. (Huge Maltese one as well and you skipped over them.)

Sudan: The numbers talk about clothes and 5 makes a reference to the political situation. (You still missed SOMALIA!)

Sweden: They look like a really big Rowing club. 5 gives them the Brazilian commentary.

Switzerland: 5 gives them the Brazilian commentary as well. This is not good.

Syria: No reference to politics at all. (13? You co-present a breakfast show, you have the ability to go there and you couldn’t make any acknowledgement?)

Timor-Leste: No reference to politics or being a neighbour!?

Tonga: See Timor-Leste.

Trinidad & Tobago: No Nicki Minaj references…by the team.

Tunisia: 13 talks about the Arab Spring (you still missed Libya).

Turkey: 5 gives a very convoluted story about a defecting Turkish weightlifter back in 1956.

Tuvalu: “Halfway between Australia and Hawaii” says 13.

Dancing Australians.

Ukraine: The Ukrainian Andrew Gaze, I shudder at the thought.

The United States: I know I’ve made a big to-do about the traditional links between the US & France, but our formerly made-in-China by Ralph Lauren uniforms make us look more French than the actual French. Is this the US Olympic team or the staff for the Dover-Calais ferry?

Attention 5: The first name of the President of the US is pronounced “Bah-ROCK” not “Bah-RACK.” I know it’s spelled that way, but it’s not pronounced that way, y’see?

Gaze drools about the Dream Team.

The uniforms kind of lessen my emotion, but I’m proud of the team.

Venezuela: Gaze & 13 still in awe about the Dream Team. Multimillionaires they may be, but only a few years ago they got their egos fricasseed when they thought they were too cool to represent the US.

(US) Virgin Islands: See Puerto Rico.

Great Britain: Why aren’t they the United Kingdom? If the US looked odd, the UK looks peculiar. Is it an homage to Sir Elton? The numbers give more facts per second than humanly possible.

Random rock band mumbles their way through a song. I pick up the words “1984,” “Rio,” and “looking.”

Oh, that’s the Arctic Monkeys? Do. Not. Live. Up. To. The. Hype. In my view.

Cycling doves to Come Together Pleasantly trippy.

Go away Arctic Monkeys though.

Lord Coe makes hay of his 15 minutes.

One day we’ll have an IOC president who can speak English clearly.

HM:TQ finally gets to open the games.

The Numbers try to explain who the UN Goodwill Ambassadors are, but are drowned out by the announcers doing the exact same thing.

Yes, 5, we know who Muhammad Ali is.


Surely Becks and the torch must be there already, and indeed, here comes the final part of the relay.

Olympic oath. And it goes on and on and on.

Torch finally enters stadium and we all know what happened next.

Well, the Numbers really let themselves down with this section.

And I’m still perplexed by the US & UK uniforms.

So if that’s the button you’re looking for, blame Ralph Lauren


OOCT 2012

After what felt like the longest preamble in ages (I think Odd-Numbered Network has been taking hints from NBC on the sly instead of ABC-US who is their “official” partner), we finally get on with it.

If you want to read Olympics Opening Ceremony Thoughts (OOCT) on the preamble before the actual ceremony, go to my Facebook page.

A preamble–don’t worry, I’ll keep it short–time-shifted as my viewing of the opening ceremony may be (2 days after), it’s still going to be live-blogged. As such, the likelihood of spelling mistakes and factual errors is up there. I’m also invoking my personal 2 minute maximum pause on the television, so if I get suddenly terse, that’s why.

And now Eddie & Leila.

Stadium shots as Eddie & Leila (who I’m now going to call 5 & 13, for sheer nepotistic audacity) carp on about the atmosphere. They bring in Andrew Gaze because he’s an Olympian and because neither 5 nor 13 can do wide-eyed optimism anymore with any sincerity. Gaze can, just look at his surname.

5 quotes Shakespeare before he rambles off the London 2012 Opening Ceremony press release, without crediting it. I don’t know if he’s actually quoting the press release or not but some quotes could be interpreted as imperialism.

Yep, 5’s quoting Danny Boyle, who will always be known to me as the director of the film version of Trainspotting, which was EVERYWHERE during my first year at Luton. If Iggy Pop doesn’t appear somewhere shaking his desiccated self, I’ll be miffed.

Whether or not 5 & 13 intend to, there is a certain “those deluded Poms” tone to their recital of Boyle’s remarks. NBC most likely had Lauer & Costas alternate between solemn, upbeat, and “Geez, I don’t think we’ve said another pointless fact about this year’s Team USA” when they really ought to be telling us what the hell is going on.

5 & 13 don’t have that problem, because they have the press release and they are sticking to it like glue.

5 can do a good countdown.

Filmed part of the opening:

Natural Britain. Children playing in a muddy river, which leads to bustling village.

British Rail transport: what looks like a GNER train speeds past a field with the Olympic rings.

Continued to be pleasantly shocked by the absence of narration. Costas would be telling us about his ride to Bristol or Bath, etc.

We follow the river to London where the Elizabeth Tower’s clock goes haywire along with that piece of music by Andrew Lloyd Webber which became the theme of the South Bank Show.

Camera zooms up and it’s the theme to EastEnders. (Yep, Costas & Lauer would be working double time to explain that one without appearing like they are promoting PBS programming.)

Underwater. The Tube. A collection of posters from various Olympics over the years and we are back in the stadium and the bucolic village green.

And from this point onwards, I’m switching from description to reaction.

The popped balloon countdown was twee.

Wiggins subdued. (Take note, Armstrong.)

13 says the 4 nations that represent Britain will be represented in song. Northern Ireland sings Danny Boy.

Does anyone else get thrown when you see a children’s choir in an outdoor setting and they don’t sing I Still Call Australia Home?

Scotland is blink and miss. Wales isn’t in Welsh!

The drumming that calls forth the industrial revolution was rather stirring, but one must wonder if there will be an ecological message to balance.

5 reads his copy to explain why we feel a touch of melancholy in the drumming. That is helpful narration.

Yay! Suffragettes!

5 goes a mile a minute to explain who Underworld are and Danny Boyle’s connection to them, but here’s the story that a lot of people are missing from this Olympics: This is Cool Britannia matured. Underworld, Danny Boyle, etc. These are all names that were bandied about as examples of Cool Britannia.

The poppies and WW1 deaths would need explaining to a US audience, but there’s no need for 5 to start rattling off casualties to an Australian audience.

5 starts describing the trade unionists and suffragettes and I don’t think he realises how political this is.

Beijing 2008 was designed to make the world think “China is powerful but benevolent.” London 2012 seems to be saying “we know our past, we know our pomp, we’re ever-changing.” It’s also a very emotional response to previous ceremonies which were “shock & awe” underlined with triple exclamation points.

Branagh as Brunel looks somewhat sinister and proud at the same time.

It takes forever for 5 and 13 to point out the obvious: they’re building big Olympic rings made out of metal.

This is a reboot of the UK via the Summer Olympics. That’s the first and most striking thought I have. They’re rebooting the UK.

And now a film:

Happy & Glorious? Expect that to become a clothing label soon.

13 tells us the obvious: it’s Buckingham Palace and then spills the secret that most of the world had managed to keep: HM acts.

I want know why a bunch of Brazilian schoolchildren are visiting Buckingham Palace.

HM acquits herself.

This film is twee. The score for some reason takes on a madcap 1960s comedy tone.

(US readers: Did Lauer or Costas make a reference to Dick Van Dyke at this point? I know you could probably do a drinking game with how often his name will be mentioned.)

Statue of Churchill waves at Bond & HM. Bulldog not able to be used because of copyright.

This really is a homage to 1950s-1960s comedy. Terry-Thomas’s ghost better show up.

Whatever gripes people have with 5 & 13, understand that probably the only silence NBC’s viewers would’ve had is that beat before HM’s line.

13’s gaffe and subsequent quiet makes me think she’s gone “oh (expletive)!”

I know suspension of disbelief and all that, but when Bond & HM leave Buckingham Palace it’s bright day and when they get to the stadium it’s night. And they’re in a helicopter. This is London, the city can’t expand much more, so they ought to be over France if they’ve been flying for that long.

The graphic says “Her Majesty THE QUEEN.” This is one of the funny things about the English language. It could imply that HM is effectively Queen of all Queens and all existence. Is that a gaffe or protocol? I’m inclined to think it’s an Odd-numbered network gaffe.

If you ever wonder about how retconning works, here’s an example: When they start to sing God Save The Queen, I have to remind myself that they are not singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee (lyrics written in 1831), one of the old de facto US national anthems which are all odes to glories of being a republic. (The US did not have an official anthem until the 20th Century. We still do not have an official language, English is official language of some states and it’s the de facto national language, but I doubt–at least in my lifetime–it will ever gain official status. What language the US would become the national language was a contentious issue amongst the Founding Fathers.)

Hoo boy! I would love to hear how NBC dealt with the section dealing with the National Health Service and combining it with children’s literature! That would be grim, to put it mildly. I imagine the director or EP yelling in Costas & Lauer’s earpieces: “Oh (expletive).”

Why would this be a horrible prospect? Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh are all Disney properties. Disney owns ABC-USA, which used to air the Olympics for some time. NBC would effectively give Disney films & parks a huge chunk of free advertising.

As for the National Health Service: the US is only just getting one now and it is contentious.

5 & 13? They basically go “eh?” and talk about how Tubular Bells launched the career of Sir Richard Branson.

5 tells us that GOSH is an acronym for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and yes, I admit, I needed to do that in my head. 5 also tells us that it was funded by the royalties from Peter Pan. Were it not for the fact that in Australia, exclusivity and being the “official” XYZ is rather fluid, I could easily see someone yelling to 5 & 13, “don’t make them think Disneyland.”

Again, I’m surprisingly defending 5, because when he reads out the motto of the NHS, I can only think about the many bullets being sweated over at the NBC camp, who are wishing that those nurses and orderlies would stop dancing.

5 gets out a snarky remark about Medicare, and frankly, all I have to say to anyone who complains about Medicare & the NHS is “at least you have to never worry about being covered.” Any basic public health coverage that you would receive in Australia & The UK you would not receive in the US unless you are: over 65, veteran, and/or terminally ill (less than a year left). Everything else you need private health.

Ok, the NHS section: very heartwarming.

J.K. Rowling appears. Harried NBC EP likely breathing a sigh of relief.*

*(NBC is part of Universal which owns Universal Studios, which does have a Harry Potter attraction.)

She reads from Peter Pan. (Harried NBC EP: “(expletive)”)

Tubular Bells still playing, and I (and many more) associate the song with The Exorcist, so there’s this layer of ominous on top of everything.

And the sense of foreboding was correct as various sundry villains appear out of the beds.

Then there’s the flotilla of Mary Poppins. (HNBCEP: “Crap! Talk about Dick Van Dyke.”)

13 goes on about the Australian connection to a rather uninterested 5. Admittedly, I didn’t know it, so I found it interesting.

Again, I don’t know why everyone thinks 5 & 13 talk too much. I don’t find them nearly as obtrusive as Lauer & Costas were.

Tribute to British film: I want to see how they handle Trainspotting. Scottish Heroin addicts aren’t family friendly.

How Rowan Atkinson avoided carpal tunnel is remarkable.

(Personal disclaimer: I have never been a major fan of physical comedy, but the section worked.)

Frankie & June say “Thanks Tim?” Are things going to get trippy?

Yes, they are. I think it’s a tribute to British pop music and television.

5 says “this is Frankie,” but doesn’t elaborate, so I still have no clue.

I can’t even figure out if we’re in the 80s or now. (Ah, this is the homage to Trainspotting.)

13 tells us that Frankie (now clarified to be male) tries to find June through a series of nightclubs which celebrate the British music industry. 13 was very helpful there, at least to me.

I do not recall the 1984 Olympics (I was 5 and probably indifferent), but I don’t think the opening ceremonies would’ve included a tribute to the US music industry (it’s the red-headed stepchild to film & television). This tribute is sweet and sentimental without being cloying.

Graphics onscreen explain that we’re going to the 70s.

I’ve said this on The Full Catastrophe previously, the 70s were mostly disco, easy listening, and soft rock in the US, at least based upon my conversations. Alice Cooper would be the closest thing to Glam Rock.

The captioner just gives up during the songs.

What’s really interesting to me is that I occasionally have to remind myself that this is part of the Olympics. I really love what I’m watching, but I wonder if we’re getting a bit far off from the reason why we’re all hear.

Patiently waiting for Madchester, which they skip over by jumping from the Eurythmics to Prodigy.

And now Born Slippy. This is more of an appropriate tribute to Trainspotting given that the soundtrack was on the charts for ages.

What’s really refreshing about present-day UK (and France is the only other country that does this) is that it doesn’t bang on about multiculturalism as much as understanding that national identity does not have to have a racial component. This section illustrates that perfectly. The female protagonist is of blended background. Dizzee Rascal performs a version of Bonkers that incorporates Indian pop. There is no underlining, there is just doing.

13 then gives a rather superfluous summary of everything that we just saw (seriously, I can forgive them one or two unnecessary commentaries) was made possible by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who created the World Wide Web.

He is the eponymous Tim who Frankie & June thank, and to their credit, 5 & 13 do not explain it to anyone who hadn’t gotten it.

That impressed me.

More OOCT 2012 to come.

First of the Year

2012 for me will be a year of looking forward. Never before can I recall feeling so optimistic.

(And it’s not just residual good feelings from the Eurovision chats with Andrew Bell.)

Perhaps setting the tone has been…Hold on, I might be contradicting myself there. I’ll clarify:

Let this be a year where we embrace good things with very little reservation. Where we assume the best of humanity and the best of ourselves, because well, we all are rather great. All of us.