This is the most predictable night of the Olympics: Opening Ceremonies, and nothing but Opening Ceremonies. And although NBC didn’t choose to let the cat out of the bag — or the dog out of the cage, as it were — by showing it live, it’s still not hard to know what to expect.
The telecast, which begins at 7:30 p.m ET, will start with an introduction of nearly seven minutes by Peter Dinklage, the marvelous actor who plays Tyrion Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” the HBO show whose motto is “Winter is Coming.” Of course, that’s the motto of the House of Stark, and Tyrion belongs to the House of Lannister, so it’s confusing unless you don’t watch “Game of Thrones,” in which case, never mind.
The opening “tease,” as NBC calls is, was a year in the making, and the network went to Sochi. Moscow, St. Petersburg and apparently Casterly Rock. (That joke will kill among “GoT” fans. Really, if you like the Games, you’d like “GoT.” It features Olympic sports such as fencing and corruption.)
After the Peacock’s treacle, we turn to Russia’s treacle. There will be an adorable child, who will replicate into adorable children. There will be tributes celebrating the host country’s contributions to history, the arts, the sciences, space exploration, petroleum and supermodel manufacturing. There will be singing and dancing, audience participation and technological marvels. (Getting the WiFi to work would be a technological marvel worth singing and dancing about.) If matryoshkas (nesting dolls) aren’t involved, it will be an Olympic travesty.
And then there will be the Parade of Nations. (You either love the Parade of Nations or you are a heartless isolationist who won’t be watching the Opening Ceremonies anyway, so good day, sir. I said good day!) Granted, 88 countries have to pass by the viewing area, where a hopefully shirted Vladimir Putin will smile and wave. Or balefully glare. Just so long as he’s shirted. So it’s not as fast as, say, a luge run. But the luge doesn’t start till Saturday; this is what we’ve got tonight, folks.
overlords hosts — Matt Lauer, Meredith Viera, David Remnick and Bob Costas — will remind us that Greece goes first because it is the home of the ancient and modern Games, which gives it “cuts” for all time. The parade then proceeds according to the Russian alphabet, so look for the United States to come between Slovenia and Tajikistan. The U.S. flagbearer is Todd Lodwick, who competes in Nordic combined, probably the greatest sport in the Winter Olympics. Seriously. All hail Todd Lodwick!
The Russians, of course, are last into the stadium and will receive a huge welcome. Once all the athletes have filed in and found their seats, the program will commence with more children, singing, dancing, waving and all the usual features. We’ll see the mascots — the hare, polar bear and snow leopard. We’ll see dancing onion domes and — if we’re sleepy enough by then, we might see dancing onions. We’ll see imperial Russia and the revolution and the boom of industry — shades of London’s show. There will be speeches made and oaths taken and cauldrons lit — not by the dragons of Daenerys Targaryen, which would have been a nice touch, but by figure skater Irina Rodnina and goalie Vladislav Tretiak.
And now that the giant porchlight has been turned on, we can leave the world of fantasy and turn to the harsh reality of the Games. What harsh reality? The nine-hour time difference, which means things kick off Saturday morning at 3 a.m. ET. Set those alarms!