Mixed Reviews for 2010 Olympic Opener

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.

4 Responses to “Mixed Reviews for 2010 Olympic Opener”

  1. I agree it might have been lengthy to some degree; the kid flying through the air, the aboriginal dancing, perhaps. But the ‘punk’ poem? Brilliant. The solo tapper? Brilliant. Lang’s musical moment, the best. Far surpassed the lip-snychs of the others. It was a shame that the towers hit a glitch at the end.
    Overall, Canadians can be proud of the display on opening night.

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  2. Foreign viewers of the opening ceremonies could easily assume Canada is a nation of aboriginal tribes, Mounties and fiddle players. Didn’t seem too concerned about representing most of the Canadians I know…

    And what’s with the ubiquitous Donald Sutherland? Not only did he voice the countless commercials CTV ran running up to the opening – he also narrated segments of the proceedings, and then he turns up carrying a flag in the ceremony! Does Canada not have other actors – ones that, say, might actually LIVE here?

    The phallic-shaped totems, torches and inflatable bears popping up (literally) throughout the ceremony were a bit much. I ain’t a psychologist, but it seems the set designers had more on their mind than just winter sports.

    And you couldn’t help feel bad for poor old Wayne Gretsky as he was exiled from the stadium and sent off in a meandering motorcade to light a second flame somewhere across town. He seemed embarrassed by the whole thing… The lighting of the second flame was not only redundant, it was also incredibly anticlimactic. Shouldn’t the lighting of the flame be the centerpiece to such an event? This seemed like an afterthought – and a rather boring one at that.

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  3. “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”

    Stay classy.

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  4. Wow…I guess the reaction in here is as Canadian as the how. Personally, as a naturalized Canadian who chose this country, didn’t ut get stuk being born here…and someone who has lived south of the boarder as well as in two countries abroad, I think it was a splendid tribute to what we aspire to be…and the failed fourth phalus was, actually, a metaphor for how Canada succeeds despite imperfections…like the reviews here 😉

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