After Olympic hockey high, closing ceremony painful to watch
If the Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony is the explosive action scene that kicks off a movie, the closing ceremony is the end credits sequence. You’re sticking around to acknowledge all the people who made it happen, and maybe hoping for a surprise partway through.
But you’re also just kind of waiting for it to be over.
And for many of us Canuck folks in particular, Sunday’s closing ceremony broadcast was a tough one to watch. I don’t know about you, but a raging hangover, four hours of sleep and the emotional high of seeing the Canadian men win gold in hockey two hours earlier did not exactly fuel my motivation engine when it came to tuning in.
As with the opening ceremony, CBC had the North American live broadcast exclusive on the show, with NBC apparently convinced American audiences would rather watch infomercials than say farewell to their athletes in real time. Those Slankets aren’t going to sell themselves.
But if the closing ceremony is meant to be a more casual, more fun experience, CBC’s decision to have Sports Weekend’s Scott Russell and news anchor Diana Swain host it was a bit odd. Yeah, they’re both veterans in their fields, and yeah they hosted Beijing’s closer. But it was like listening to your friend’s earnest but painfully unhip parents tell stories at the dinner table.
“Happy Men’s Day, Scott!” said Swain, upon learning Sunday was a national holiday in Russia. “Thanks Diana, I really appreciate that!” replied Russell, in banter so forced you could practically hear the strained grunts.
Stop you two, my knee can’t take any more slapping. (Though I really did laugh out loud during the closing ceremony preamble show, when Russell said, “We’re about an hour away from the opening ceremony of these magnificent games!” Opening ceremony? You had one job, Scott. One job.)
And if you needed any more proof that the closing ceremony is the unloved stepbrother of the grand opening, look no further than the relentless commercial breaks.
While we got to watch the opening ceremony largely without interruption, CBC went to the first commercial not five minutes into the closing, and then yanked us out of the action again and again, usually in the middle of something happening on screen. At one point they cut to commercial as the athlete representatives (including Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser) were on stage receiving accolades, and came back to a scene of upside-down floating villages and animals on stilts. Segue much?
Even if the final half-hour was more unnecessarily drawn out than ending of the last Lord of the Rings movie, there were a few moments that made the show worth watching. Like organizers riffing on the opening ceremony rings mishap, the return of those giant, creepy animatronic mascots and occasional shots of Vladimir Putin, a man of exactly one facial expression.
But now that the credits have rolled? Four years to catch up on sleep. Because we’re going to be getting up even earlier to watch hockey on South Korea time.