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Friday, June 24, 2016

Basic Biittner : A gold for the Brits

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A while back, I "warned" all of my readers (all five of you) that the British were coming this spring and summer, and I feel it is now my duty to advise you that the coast is clear. The Queen's official anniversary celebration has passed, and the Olympics are over.

At least I THINK they're over. I thought they were over when NBC left the Closing Ceremony coverage to present its viewers with an episode of their new comedy, "Animal Practice." I thought maybe I had somehow missed the appearance of one of my favorite groups, the Who (or at least what's left of them), Like many viewers (I suspect) I left my TV and went and did something else rather than watch "Animal Practice. Many people probably chose to go to bed at that time, if they hadn't already. The hour was pretty late for a "prime-time" show. At any rate, I went back to the t.v. later and was surprised to see the Closing Ceremony coverage had resumed, and the Who was sending the Olympics out with a bang. Glad I happened to catch it. I feel that whoever made the call at NBC to suspend the closing ceremony for an insipid half hour sitcom ranks right up there in stupidity with the guy back in the late '60s who decided the network should an exciting pro football game early, so that "Heidi" could start as scheduled.

With all the publicity, hype and coverage that the "peacock network" gave the London Olympics for several weeks, one would think that they would want to see it through to the finish. I mean, along with the Today Show and The Tonight Show, the Olympics are just about the only thing NBC has going for it - and they only happen every other year. "Animal Practice" may turn out to be a wonderful television series, maybe even a classic, but I wouldn't want to bet the house on it. Besides, it'll be on every week. Come on, NBC.

Back to the actual Olympics themselves. I am half - British (Scot and English) by heritage, and I feel my "countrymen" did us proud. This Olympics marked the final Games for several notable Olympians -most notable, of course, was Michael Phelps, with his 22 medals (18 gold) over an unbelievable four different Olympics. Also leaving the Olympic stage will be the USA Men's basketball Coach, Coach "K;" the 3-time Gold Medal Women's Beach Volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh (breaking up as a team, though Walsh may be back with another teammate in 2016); and possibly the self-proclaimed "Legend", the incomparable Usain Bolt, winner of three golds this year and only the second man to win the 100 meter-200 meter double in two different Olympics. Bolt hasn't said anything about not trying to come back in 2016, but sprinters can age fast. If, indeed, Bolt comes back and sweeps again in 2016, we might just have to award him the mythical title of "Greatest Olympian of All Time" that many journalists wanted to bestow on Phelps after this year's games.

Who knows what other athletes may return for the Rio Games? The women's swim team and gymnastics team each had some pretty young team members, so we might well see Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas and many of the others in four years.

I wasn't able to see any of the USA Olympic basketball coverage. I thought Sunday's Men's Gold Medal game was going to be on TV on Sunday night, but I guess it was on in the afternoon. Sunday AFTERNOON? I mean, who do they think they are? The NFL?

At any rate, if I wanted to - and I don't - I could see LeBron, Kobe, 'Melo, etc. many times throughout the very long NBA season, and I think he WNBA has some tv coverage, too, although that one interests me even less.

The Olympic events which got the most coverage - and drew the most interest - were events which only get a lot of prime time tv coverage in Olympic years, such as swimming, diving, volleyball, water polo and track and field, so though I say "Congratulations" to both the Men's and Women's basketball teams on their Gold Medals, I for one am glad that NBC chose to use their prime time coverage for these "other" sports.

Off the field of play, I think NBC's Mary Carillo did a nice job on her coverage of such things as Stonehenge and other British traditions, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies both had their spectacular moments - in particular the lighting of the Olympic Flame and other lighting effects around the stadium. I also enjoyed most of the tributes to Brit music and literature (although it did occur to me after that (I believe)none of the music of The Stones was included (although I admit I may be wrong about that).

My personal feeling is that future Olympic Opening and Closing ceremonies could be a bit shorter in length and it wouldn't bother me a bit. It's gotten to the point where each Olympics the host tries to outdo the last guy. Not necessary, people. Just put on a nice ceremony, briefly "tout" your country, and get on with providing viewers with a well-run athletic competition.

There - I've said my piece. For those of you who thrive on "All Olympics all the time", NBC Sports will be running London Olympic Highlights all week. For those of you who don't have access to that channel, the Olympics will be back before you know it, with the Winter Games in Russia in 2014.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner