NBC's opening poetic moment was not gaggy this is a first. NBC gets gold for not letting their usual hacks wax poetic. They must have put their opening segment in the hands of professional word smiths. It was moving, sweet, encompassing and thoughtful.
In the past NBC's poetic passages were cringe worthy. Not so for 2012. This is indeed an auspicious beginning.
On to the opening ceremonies with 204 participating countries, 81 of which have never won a single Olympic medal. Yet they still come, they mount a team, sometimes as few as two people, but they march behind their flag and proudly represent their county. And this year there are more women athletes than men. Before the parade of nations and torch lighting ceremonies, there has to be the time filling reason for charging huge ticket prices for the opening ceremony. The show.
The big question for the past several weeks has been "how is movie director Danny Boyle going to top the Beijing opening ceremonies?" Fortunately he did not try.
The stadium has been transformed into a storybook pasture with low hanging puffy clouds, that looked nothing like China.
Newly crowed Tour de France winner Brit Bradley Wiggins rings the big bell and the volunteer army of actors and sheep swarmed across the field. Actor Kenneth Brannaugh rattled off some Shakespeare warning the assembly that there would be some forthcoming noise. Choirs sang, drums were beaten and time passed. Apparently time began with the agrarian era and quickly moved into the industrial revolution.
The fields disappeared, the smokestacks rose and molten iron was poured into the Olympic ring formation all directed by a clutch of SUITS. But this was high concept that soon devolved into a bed knob and broomsticks kind of nightmare of children, nurses, and monsters dispelled by Mary Poppins. It was Boyle's homage to two of Britain's most successful industries -- children's publishing and the National Health Service.
Yeah, it was a tortured pairing. But it was over quickly. And sometime between the sheep and the sleepy time QE was dropped into the stadium via a helicopter. Her escort, Daniel Craig, as James Bond, disappeared after delivery of the monarch. It was obviously not really the queen as the double was shown wearing sensible black shoes with a peach evening frock and the queen would never pair black with peach.
All of this was quite reminiscent of those history pageants that are put on annually in small towns and are a beloved and divisive community ordeal.
Next up was Britain's musical contribution to the 1960s - 1990s. An awkward but long overdue tribute was made to Tim Berners-Lee, the British man who developed and staunchly insisted the World Wide Web remain free. Well the announcers said it was for him.
A comic interlude was provided by Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) sort of playing the Chariots of Fire theme and then David Beckhan arrived with the Olympic torch and the parade of athletes for the Three Kisses Olympics began. Hurrah.