Let the games begin, please

Kevin Cowherd

July 27, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

In between commercials for Chevrolet, commercials for McDonald's, commercials for American Express, commercials for Coca-Cola and various NBC promos for its fall shows, I've managed to get a glimpse or two of the Olympics thus far.

Not that it ever rivaled the D-day invasion site as a secret, buthis pretty much clears up NBC's strategy for televising the Games: Don't let the action get in the way of a good commercial.

Apparently the network's plan is to shoot out to a venue, allothe viewer to enjoy two minutes of boxing or what have you, and then quickly get back to the commercials, such as that stupid MCI spot where potential customers are giving up the phone numbers of friends and family members like the Gestapo is coming through the door.

Not to mention this one hideous commercial for Fruit of the Loounderwear which features -- stay with me here -- two actors dressed up as, um, Samson and Delilah.

Hoo, boy. And they say TV has become a cultural wastelandThe point is, NBC has these commercials stacked up like planes over O'Hare.

Intrusive? Maybe a tad. I was watching a boxing match betweea kid from Spain and a kid from South Africa -- during which, incidentally, announcer Bob Trumpy mentioned, oh, 22 times that Nelson Mandela of the African National Congress was in the stands.

(Trumpy, in his typically understated style, made thesannouncements about Mandela in the same way concert promoters used to intone: "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building . . .")

Anyway, the kid from Spain suddenly unleashed a flurry opunches and you could see he was just about to starch the kid from South Africa when -- figure this one out -- NBC went to a commercial!

I couldn't believe it. Here we had just watched the Spaniarthrow a right that started somewhere out in the Mediterranean, and the next thing you saw was a bunch of little brats converging on a well-stocked refrigerator, which turned out to be GE's latest addition to the wonderful world of appliances.

Or maybe it was a bunch of little brats modeling Macy'back-to-school clothes. Frankly, I was getting a little foggy at this point and might even have blacked out for several minutes, as I awoke face-down in a bowl of Wheat Thins.

The good news about these Olympics is that the openinceremonies are over, and with any luck we will never, ever have to sit through anything that bizarre again.

Wild-eyed dancers dressed as yellow birds, hideously deformemen with pyramids on their backs, an undulating cellophane sea, grinning, three-headed monsters, . . . what the hell was that?

It reminded me of something I saw many years ago in a collegdorm room. There were four of us sitting on the floor, a Doors album wailing in the background and a black light shimmering off a poster of Jimi Hendrix as we passed around a . . . well, let's just say the entire experience was unsettling.

Speaking of unsettling, I was watching the women's swimminwhen all of a sudden -- I know this sounds crazy -- Ivana Trump was talking to me!

My God, you talk about frightening! I came this close to dialin911 and gasping to the operator: I think it's a cerebral hemorrhage . . . "

Thankfully, it turned out to be -- surprise! -- another commercialthis one for something called Ultress by Clairol.

But the sight of The Donald's ex, all giggly and bubbly over hair coloring, left me shaken and in need of many beers.

Unfortunately, the contents of an entire Seagram's distillerwould not have put a rosy glow on what happened next.

To celebrate the worldwide demise of totalitarianism and thnewfound sense of global community that has made these the kinder, gentler Olympics, the USA men's basketball team went out and crushed Angola 466-32.

Charles Barkley, apparently gunning for the Albert SchweitzeHumanitarian Award, shoved one Angolan player and elbowed the other in the chest.

Kind of brought a tear to your eye. Whereas the Fruit of the Loocommercial just made you want to cry.

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