Generally, NBC sucks at pretty much all news-type broadcasting. Specifically, the 2008 Summer Olympic coverage, from what I’ve seen, is atrocious. And the Olympics could be such a great chance for the US to show that we can produce quality content with global appeal.
Maybe it’s the fact that most of the coverage is heavy on either American athletes or athletes with well known international gossip stories. Or maybe its the seemingly endless commercial breaks. No – these things should have been expected, are in fact part of a long history of Olympic coverage aesthetics. I think what I’m most annoyed by are the self-important “Chinese Cultural” pieces that are peppered throughout the event coverage. Perhaps I should have expected this? Well, I didn’t.
Let me paint the scene. Bob Costas, poor man’s Jimmy Stewart, sits behind the announcers booth during a commentary segment. Mary Carillo, poor woman’s Martha Stewart, sits opposite him and guffaws her way through another Chinese slice-of-life piece. Neither look like they have much movement in the small muscles of their faces. And when they’re both smiling through their botox at each other during a discussion of Chinese culture it kind of feels like taking your grandparents backpacking through Asia with you. On this particular night, the theme was Chinese cuisine. Carillo says something about China living up to its reputation of eating anything with four legs besides a table and everything that flies besides a plane. What? Is that a known phrase? If so, Google’s never heard of it.
Cut to Mary taking it to the street. The camera follows her through an outdoor market where she’s challenged to try various Chinese delicacies. “Scorpions?! Are these jumbo scorpions?!” she shouts at a vendor who offers her some. He laughs at her, assumably because she looks and sounds like an idiot. It’s literally 3 minutes of her talking slowly and loudly at various food service workers, picking at their food, and then making awkward faces at them. It’s embarrassing.
Cut back to Bob at NBC Olympics home base. He’s looking nominally amused, I think. And then he looks more than displeased when Mary busts out another scorpion on a stick and thrusts it into his hands. This is hilarious! Scorpions! These people eat scorpions!
Lets get back to sports, NBC. I want to see the American men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team celebrate their pool-side victory over the French. Again. And Again.
UPDATE: The Today Show is also broadcasting live from Beijing during the Olympics. And guess what they had on the show yesterday morning? That’s right, folks. Scorpions. When searching for the video of this to link to, I stumbled across yet ANOTHER segment on eating scorpions. We’ll be lucky if the Chinese invite any of us back into the country once we’re done.
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