We love a good opening ceremony here at Shouting at the Telly (as you can see from our review of the opening of the Rio games back in 2016), but Winter Olympic opening ceremonies are usually better as they are madder. I think this is because the sports and the people who play them are so much madder.
Think about it; the vast majority of people who take part in winter sports live in cold places or at least places which have cold winters. The competitors in the winter games are used to the competing in sub-zero conditions. That must affect their brains. How else would they would have come up with these sports?
I wonder who was the first person to think “hmmm, I wonder what it would be like to throw myself down an icy chute on a tea tray?” and the person who then thought “that was ok, but it would be better to do it head first” and finally the person who thought “the tea tray thing is good, but it would be much better with three of my mates”. They are all mad; the person who thought falling down a mountainside with two (or one big) planks of wood strapped to their feet; the person who thought skiing and shooting were obvious bed fellows and the person who thought it was a bit dull playing hockey on grass…but on ice…now we are talking! All of them stark raving mad. The only non-mad game is curling which is essentially bowling and house work on ice. Actually, that is also a bit mad now I think about it.
So the opening ceremony is a culmination of all this madness. It started (in true Eurovision style) with an opening VT. But this was all about time travel and involved children representing the elements going on a journey and encountering mythical animals. Yep, they started high on the “mad scale” with that one. It does worry me that the commentator has to explain all this symbolism. I feel sorry for the people sat in the stadium. Do they have notes explaining what is going on or do they just have to work it out? Watching the opening I bet they thought they were watching the trail for the Korean version of Harry Potter.
With it being Asia we had amazing huge puppets…and drumming. Sooo much drumming. It is quite mesmerising though. The commentator made an interesting point that at home we were seeing augmented reality pictures of what was happening in the stadium. So at home we saw a constellation of stars in the stadium; in the stadium they saw a load of people gawping into space. And they have spent three hours sat in sub zero temperatures for this! I knew sport was always better on telly than being there, but it would appear now that the opening ceremonies are as well!
After the drumming shenanigans we has the entry of the athletes. One of the best things about things about this madness are the costumes of the name bearers of each country. In Sochi four years ago, the poor women came in with filigree satellite dishes on their heads; way back in 1992 in Albertville they wore snow globes and this year it was much more restrained and they were dressed relatively normally (for an Olympic opening ceremony) and were carrying a barren twig with the countries name on its (symbolic of the results of a nuclear winter if Korea’s neighbours get their way perhaps?)
There were fewer selfie sticks than Rio, but yes there was an oiled Tongan man, which now seems to be as much a part of the Olympics as a drugs scandal. The poor volunteers danced enthusiastically for over an hour in full cold weather gear, so they will have lost a stone in sweat before the Olympic flag is raised. Presumably this will become an exercise craze before long. Wint-aerobics.
After the athletes settled down, there were the usual speeches, then the ceremony continued with a routine that resembled a David Copperfield Las Vegas show involving doors and then THE moment. Every Olympic ceremony has one. THE moment when you go “please…no…stop”. They murdered John Lennon’s Imagine. I mean really murdered it. I’m not sure I will ever be able to listen to that song again in the same way. Not wanting a repeat of the “Dove BBQ” which happened at the 1988 Seoul opening ceremony the doves were released virtually. A bit more singing and dancing and we are off! The Olympic games are officially open. We just have to cope with 17 days of sport when we can enjoy an equally bonkers closing ceremony. See you then!
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