Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing Thoughts (NBC & the Olympics)

NBC has bought the rights to show every Olympic Games through 2020Played a little poker last night while watching the heavily-edited, frequently-interrupted, and frustratingly-abridged version of the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony on NBC.

Poker-wise much fun was had as Events No. 5 and 6 in the first season of the Hard-Boiled Poker league played out over at PokerStars (in my “Hard-Boiled Poker Home Game”).

There will be 20 events altogether during this inaugural HBP HG season, with two every Sunday night through the end of September. I was determined this week to grab a few points to try and move up a little in the league standings, having played four events without scoring any at all. The way the PokerStars points system works, you have to finish in the top third of a tourney to get any points.

I just missed making the points in Event No. 5, the PLO8 tourney, finishing fifth (of 12) despite playing several hands badly. I did get there in Event No. 6, though, the NLH turbo one in which I turned into a card rack near the end to finish runner-up (of 15).

Last night’s winners were LuckKey4Me (No. 5) and thejim2020 (No. 6). Psx120 managed to grab some points last night to sneak into first place in the Season 1 standings, just ahead of thejim2020 and Gambit 727. Still plenty of opportunities to catch the leaders and win the copy of Poker: Bets, Bluffs and Bad Beats by Al Alvarez (as I talked about Friday). Look to the right for info about joining my Home Game.

Meanwhile, I occasionally enjoyed some of the closing ceremony performances, with Eric Idle’s reprise of Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” a clear highlight. Overall the spectacle seemed more like a super-long, highly uneven Super Bowl halftime show than a logical conclusion to the Olympics narrative, but the bits shown between commercials -- 20 minutes’ worth per hour (no shinola) -- were mostly entertaining to listen to and watch.

London 2012Was definitely dismayed, though, by some of NBC’s cuts to the show, including the decision to drop Ray Davies doing “Waterloo Sunset.” Leaving out Muse’s performance of “Survival,” the official song of the London games, seemed another unfortunate omission. We didn’t get to see Kate Bush, either, doing “Running Up That Hill,” the opener from one of the best pop LPs ever, Hounds of Love.

Of course, even when Kate Bush was at her most popular here in the U.S. it was mostly just with a small category of folks, so I get NBC deciding to show other, more familiar acts (although some of those featured in truth aren’t all that big on this side of the pond).

I kept it on, though, as I knew from afternoon tweets that The Who would be coming on at the end to rock Wembley. But NBC weirdly decided to stop the show at 11 p.m. just prior to The Who’s appearance.

“That concludes the closing ceremony,” said host Bob Costas just as the U.K. band Take That finished their tune, “Rule the World,” adding “We’ll be back to wrap things up after this.”

What we were watching didn’t really conclude the closing ceremony, I thought. And that “we’ll be back” teaser made it sound like there was more to come. So with the poker tourneys having long ended, I continued to watch.

Immediately after Costas spoke, NBC began to show the premiere of a new situation comedy it has been incessantly hyping with commercials throughout the last two-and-a-half weeks, Animal Practice. I thought at first I was watching another commercial, but after two minutes realized it was an actual episode.

During that span I saw a woman calling to her cat, Giggles, from the balcony of her high-rise apartment. The cat then leaps from the ledge -- kind of an upsetting thing to see, actually. The show then cuts to the waiting room of an ER for animals, where a doctor soon explains to the cat’s owner that Giggles will survive the fall. The doctor absurdly adds the cat had attempted suicide because it was in heat and frustrated. He then seems to hit on the woman.

It was an especially unfunny and unpleasant couple of minutes. And as soon as I understood it wasn’t stopping after that lame opening, I shut the sucker off and went to bed. I see this morning that NBC apparently did air The Who’s performance an hour later, after the local news.

With Costas’ lead-in and the withholding of the finale, NBC had literally tried to trick some part of its large audience to watch the pilot of this surely-doomed sitcom. As @Franzgleekout tweeted last night “NBC pulling this Animal Practice stunt is like someone who's just stolen your wallet kicking you in the balls for good measure.” Indeed, NBC’s decision-making with regards to scheduling and audience manipulation headlined this morning’s coverage of the show.

I enjoyed following the Olympic Games as much as anyone, but found that other relentless game of hide-and-seek NBC played with its delayed, edited coverage incredibly wearisome. Such a mess, really, and probably symbolic in some way of our highly cynical, commercialized culture.

As a sports fan, I’m glad to be done with all that applesauce and move back to enjoying live sporting events in real time. I’m ready for some football.

What I’m saying is, I’ve got a fever. And the only prescription is...

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Blogger JMF said...

The morning and daytime coverage on the cable channels, much of it live, was generally fine. It was during prime time when NBC did its worst. I think the low point was interrupting an 800m swimming event (total time: just over eight minutes) for commercials, even though the event was taped and NBC knew an American would win. It will be interesting to see what they do in Rio, which is +1hr from New York time. I think it's a safe guess that Sochi 2014 will be done on the London template.

8/13/2012 11:46 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Ha, I remember that swimming event & your tweet at the start about whether they'd show it w/o interruption. And the interruption.

I agree about the daytime cable coverage -- I esp. liked having these basketball & soccer channels on which every game/match was shown live & then replayed. I've read a couple of articles this morning by pundits suggesting in 2016 they'll continue to do the delayed highlight reel shows in prime time, but will prob. no longer omit showing events live, too. We'll see.

8/13/2012 12:17 PM  

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