Saturday, July 28, 2012


I MAY BE ONE OF THE FEW CONTRARIANS on this planet who was not the least bit impressed with the Chinese Olympics Opening ceremonies extravaganza. I don't have much use for robotic, collectivist communist choreography. But this British show tonight was simply grand. It followed their traditions, their eccentricities, their art and culture with just the right balance of organized chaos and techie choreography. While their musical teen show through the decades was too long for my taste, the rest of the program was excellent. Some of my highlight picks:
  • The salute to the British National Health Service children's hospital, with real doctors and nurses! Call me crazy, but I loved how the Brits showed the entire world, particularly America, that health care isn't a privilege for those who can afford it, but a right of all people. And I LOVED how they celebrated universal health care instead of apologizing for it, as the right wing in this country claims. Universal health care is a cornerstone of a civilized society, and it was great to see the Brits rub it in our faces.
  • Everybody's pick, the Queen and James Bond. As Boyle said, it was a bit "surreal" for 007 to play a fictional character interacting with a real monarch. But they pulled it off without a hitch. The Queen is a natural.
  • How they sped up the parade of nations. That's the part of the program that can get old pretty soon unless they move it along. And they did. Bob Costas remarked it was the fastest he'd ever seen. Good Brit efficiency.
  • How the American athletes looked cute and kinda Frenchie in their berets, while the French contingent looked more Americanized in their uniforms. Loved the ironic political contrast!
  • The celebration of blue collar labor and infrastructure. These Olympics have provided an economic boon for London, revitalizing blighted urban areas and providing thousands of construction jobs for the new venues that were built, including tonight's Opening Ceremonies stadium. This was also Danny Boyle's favorite moment. While all that ELITIST JERK Meredith Vieira wanted to talk about was James Bond and the Queen, Boyle kept coming back to how moved he was to see the honor guard of workers who built the stadium applaud as the torch went by. Vieira never acknowledged it. At least we still have Bob Costas. It didn't happen by design, I'm sure, but Boyle gave us Americans a roadmap pageant on how to revitalize our economy: health care, infrastructure, construction jobs, education (the children's literature part, including J. K. Rowling), and community. 
  • Loved the contrast between Michelle Obama surrounded by smiling people, looking totally simpatica applauding Team USA as it entered the stadium, and the Romneys seated in what looked to be the nosebleed section, surrounded by empty seats. Might as well dub their section, "The Leper Colony!"
  • Nice moments: Lighting of the cauldron, and Paul McCartney (meh, not my favorite Beatle) who looks more like the walrus each time he pops up. He closed it out professionally with "Hey Jude."
Good job, Danny Boyle. Now it's on to the Games!

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