What can television learn from the Internet? "The power and beauty of silence," says Mary McNamara. The Los Angeles Times television critic has discovered the joys of plain, unadorned Olympics footage--in particular Lindsey Vonn's gold-medal run: "The silence," says McNamara, "broken only by the sound of her skis on the snow and the distant rattle of the fans, marked not just the thrill of it all but the solemnity." Of course, she doesn't begrudge sportscasters for doing their jobs. She even admits that sports commentary may have a place when the sport is as esoteric to neophytes as curling. But in many cases, McNamara says,
the commentators are so busy talking, offering their own Olympic memories or the mini-Wikipedia entries of information provided them, that it seems like they are bored with what is actually happening. Which cannot be what the producers had in mind.Would the Olympics be better off simply ditching the commentators?
Even with the more restrained commentary, an air of participation inevitably creeps in ... [it] becomes more about entertainment than athleticism ... If that's what you're going for, then why not liberate Morgan Freeman from the Visa ads (which are, by the way, really terrific this year) and have him in the booth? Freeman can inject a sense of drama just by saying the athlete's name.