Mixed reviews are coming in on Friday night's three-plus hours Vancouver Olympic Games opening ceremonies. The Toronto Star had their theatre guy Richard Ouzounian review it and he ripped it like a bad opening on Broadway. "They eyes of the world were on us and we put them to sleep" was his lede. Then he got real nasty. Read his review here.
A much more positive take can be read here from veteran Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales, who thought Vancouver did a good job overcoming "a mounting array of unfortunate omens."
My take fell somewhat in between. Some elements could and should have been cut to bring this sucker in under two hours. That beefy "I AM CANADIAN" punk poetry dude seemed like something out of a Simpsons parody. A lot of the arial circus high wire stuff was impressive at first but went on five minutes too long.
When one of the four big boner-like torch totems failed to rise at the end, I was sure CTV would switch to a Viagra commercial. Maybe it was some sort of planned tribute to Adam Giambrone.
The whole aboriginal thing was a bit over the top, too, I thought. Nice that we roll out the red carpet for these folks and make them dance when company comes over, but how are they doing the rest of the year?
As for that rumour that a hologram of Terry Fox would rise up and light the Olympic caultron, well, I knew it didn't have a leg to stand on.
The deal could have used a shot or two of humour. If Mike Myers had read the poetry as Big Fat Bastard, then maybe you'd have had something.
That's why I prefered watching the opener on the NBC feed, where Bob Costas and Matt Lauer brought a free and easy energy to their booth duties. When Lauer gave some background on an elaborate fiddle display, you learned about how the routine was inspired by a production field trip to all those pubs out on St. John's, Newfoundland. You also learned from Lauer, that the producers were inspired as much by Screech as they were by fiddle music, and that Screech was something like "grain alchol--it can really mess you up."
They could have used a little Screech in the stiff CTV booth, were too many bodies led to a lot of dry, dull banter. The CTV show had a Reach For The Top quality, as if you might have to pay attention for a quiz later. Costas and Lauer were two smart guys hanging out at a bar, informing and entertaining.
For more on my take on the opening ceremonies, check out my review for The Canadian Press, posted here.