It's hard to imagine that the Brits would outdo the Canadians for "worst opening ceremony in memory," but they found a way to do it. Slow, boring, disjointed, everyone at my viewing party was left yawning and we eventually were forced into a game of "Wits and Wagers" to keep from falling asleep.
The Opening Ceremony began with 10 minutes of a lovely pastoral scene from How Green Was My Valley. If only Walter Pidgeon had shown up. Shots of the quiet, boring scene were spliced inexplicably with random shots of rugby.
Then we got to watch the clean-up crew remove the pastoral scene for the next 10 minutes. They tried to distract us with weird dance moves by Abraham Lincoln. I was marginally entertained counting all of the black people in the ceremony, when there were probably about six Africans in all of England during the time being depicted.
When the "Industrial Revolution" set was finally revealed, one person in the room asked honestly, "Is it supposed to be a joke?” At a price tag of over $40 million, maybe.
Next up was a dream sequence with 10 minutes of spinning beds and a giant blow-up sex doll we were told was the "Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland." OK.
It's funny that so much of the ceremony featured beds, because it was putting me to sleep.
When we were told in the next set piece that we were watching a love story for the digital age, it felt like a parade that was going nowhere. Instead of a thousand dancers moving in unison, we saw little vignettes here and there across the stage. There was no greatness, no power to the pieces. And if they were going with some quaint charm, it was certainly lost on me.
By the way, if we were watching a love story for the digital age, complete with cell phones and text messages, why was most of it set in the 1960s? Bi-zarre.
The grand finale, the moment I was waiting for most, was the revealing of the lighter of the flame. So many great options were floated out there ... and they chose one more boring and more forced than any other I'd heard: Seven no-name young athletes. I'm sorry, you've got to earn that honor. You've got to achieve greatness before you get to light the Olympic flame. You've got to inspire a nation. Instead, the event producers decided to hand the honor to a bunch of kids. Snooooooooooooooooze.
There were some good moments, to be sure. I dug the bit with the Queen and "James Bond" (though Daniel Craig really should do these things shirtless). And the raising of the Olympic rings was a very nice moment. But by and large ... maybe we should just have the Chinese produce all of the Opening Ceremonies going forward.
Maybe Paul McCartney got laryngitis the day before the ceremony. Maybe he stuffed a half-dozen marbles in his mouth before he performed. I don't know. But it was a fitting end to a deeply disappointing four hours of my life that I'll never get back. By the way, is it me or does McCartney look like his "Girl Is Mine" cohort Michael Jackson with all that plastic surgery?
Near the end, Bob Costas said, "Wow might be an understatement." I agree that "Wow" doesn't sum it up, but "understatement" might be the biggest overstatement of the night.
As my friends left (actually, they left before McCartney performed; they just couldn't take it anymore), one of them turned to me and said, "Wow, that was terribly boring."
Thank heavens the competitions start Saturday.
For more on the Olympics, check out SB Nation's London 2012 Olympics Hub.