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To NBC: Now is the Winter Olympics of our discontent

Bob Costas jumps on a stuffed moose during a taping of
Bob Costas jumps on a stuffed moose during a taping of "The Colbert Report" in Vancouver -- or is it Passaic, N.J.? (Marcio Sanchez/associated Press)
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By NORMAN CHAD
Monday, February 22, 2010

For those of you watching the Winter Olympics -- and apparently there are millions of lost souls doing just that -- you may have noticed, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein's famous line about Oakland, there's no there there, only it's colder. NBC is giving us 17 straight nights of winter inactivity -- imagine if you had tuned in to "Roots" in 1977 for eight consecutive evenings and Kunta Kinte never got off the couch.

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I have nothing against biathlon or speedskating or luge. The problem is: There are only a dozen or so Winter Olympic sports spread out over hundreds of TV hours and thousands of commercials. It's like going to a three-ring circus with only one ring in operation.

Here are the major story lines of these Winter Games:

-- Johnny Weir is not wearing fur.

-- Apolo Anton Ohno won "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007.

-- Lindsey Vonn is nursing a bruised shin suffered while training for Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.

It's reached the point where I look forward to that Weather Channel fella coming into NBC's Olympic studio to update the weather -- he's exciting to watch and I keep thinking he might even give a five-day forecast for L.A.

On a positive note, NBC is losing so much money on the Winter Olympics, it might need a bailout from Jay Leno.

(Incidentally, if NBC wanted higher ratings, it should have marketed these Games as emanating from Vancouver-o.)

And who can argue with any event that sidelines the National Hockey League for two weeks?

(The NHL shuts down during the Olympics and MLS stops play during the World Cup. So can't we get the WNBA to go on hiatus during QVC's Fashion Week?)

As much as I dread sitting down daily for a long day's journey into nightmarish nothingness, I can find little fault with NBC's primary studio broadcasters. It's nice to see MLB Network lend its top voice, Bob Costas, to NBC for a fortnight, and it's nice to see Al Michaels working more than 16 Sundays a year. But, frankly, I'd rather hear Costas interviewing Willie Mays about The Catch in 1954 than Evan Lysacek about The Quadruple Jump in 2010.


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