August 30th, 2012

Fishy Circumstances

Opening Ceremony

We didn't make it back home in time for the start of the Paralymics Opening Ceremony, so we had the surreal experience of listening to the first half hour of it on the radio. BBC Radio 5 Live is a sports channel, and sports commentators were the ones tackling the challenge. It made for a very different kind of commentary.

With the exception of "God Save the Queen", music was for commentating over continually. They talked about general background information - cost of the show and its budget history; inspirationalness of the Paralymics; some individual stories; that Stephen Hawking had coached a rowing team at Oxford. Occasionally, they read from the program to tell us what was happening. More rarely, they described what they saw.

It was something of a relief to finally be able to see what the "Moon Stage" was, and how the stadium was set up for the event, as the sports commentators had not given me much to work with that way. Instead, Channel 4 gave us a hilariously disconnected set of commentators, with Jon Snow, news commentator, noting with increasing promptness and weariness the arrival of another delegation from yet another war-torn country into the stadium, in contrast to a past Paralympian's notes on the challenges of helping to improve equipment in under-funded Paralympic countries.

I assume that, as with the Olympics, the video feed was courtesy of the Paralymic Infrastructure and not specific to Channel 4. If so, the moment I realized it could have been so much better was when the dance-like, elegant signing which accompanied solo numbers kept being visually cut off by camera close-ups.

Coverage quality apart, it was a much more coherent show than the opening ceremonies for the Olympics, lovely, full of history of science moments. I loved that the flame arrived via zip wire (especially after the Boris moment of the other week). I loved the book seagulls. And I think that the dancing of David Toole in particular will stay with me for a long time.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the first 40 minutes of the show visually at some point!