The Torch
7:06 am
Sat July 28, 2012

London's Opening Ceremony Gets Rave Reviews; NBC, Not So Much

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 7:15 am

The London Olympics are in full swing, after an opening ceremony Friday that was chock-full of historic and cultural imagery drawn from Britain's past. Critics are gushing over Queen Elizabeth's role in the spectacle — along with James Bond. But there is room for debate — especially among viewers here in the U.S.

As Eyder wrote last night, NBC came under fire for tape-delaying the event — and doing very little to help itself with the extra time the network gained to prepare its special coverage.

The AP simply called the event, "Brilliant. Cheeky, too." And our own Linda Holmes says the extravaganza had both flash and pageantry. But she also sees problems:

"The ability of an American television audience to enjoy the ceremonies was hampered by several things: flawed (and unrelenting) commentary, a tape-delay that prevented us from watching at the same time on both coasts, let alone at the same time as the rest of the world, and editing that apparently excised some of the content."

That's part of Linda's post for the Monkey See blog. Over at the sports site SBNation, Brian Floyd writes that NBC's given reason for delaying the broadcast was to allow its commentators to inject more "context" into the proceedings. But Floyd says the network failed to do that, citing the much-maligned moment in which viewers were told to Google Tim Berners-Lee to learn who he is.

Yahoo Sports was also critical of the decision to tape-delay the ceremony, but concluded that NBC's coverage was "top-notch."

For a more direct reaction to the event itself, Morning Edition executive producer (and Brit) Madhulika Sikka said that the ceremony had so many things going on that the recipe of ingredients would never seem to go together. But, she says:

"What was amazing about the whole thing was that it worked. It was dazzling and grand and heartwarming and emotional and fun all at the same time. And it was the fun that came through the most. People seemed to be having fun. Contrast that with the automaton nature of the Beijing performers and one could get misty eyed about the whole thing."

The opening ceremony brought plenty of great photo choices to our 'Day In Photos' feature, in which our photo editors pick their favorite shots of the day. In a way, I prefer to look at the extravaganza in still images, because it was so densely packed with imagery and sound. We'll have a 'Day In Photos' for each day of the London Olympics.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.