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Danny Boyle pleased the Brits enormously, but didn't seem to earn the international praise that his two predecessors did.

I've noticed that many on this forums seem to suggest that only the brits enjoyed the opening ceremony immensely, and I couldn't disagree more.

In my subjective opinion it was without a doubt the most enjoyable and re-watchable opening ceremony of all times. It's probably the only one that will really stick with me as a piece of artistic expression, even if only the better pieces of it. Pandemonium, the 'Mortality' segment (which inexplicably was cut short in the us), the cauldron, the Queen, Mr. Bond, Mr Bean and the Chariots of Fire and many other parts were just sublime.

It had a sense of humanity and story telling that usually belongs to other cultural scenes than the cliche-ridden boom-bang, orchestrated, no room for error opening ceremonies of national pride and might.

However, I can't disagree with an impression, but I can disagree with the observation that the reception was lukewarm outside of britain. In my country I believe we all loved it and I can't imagine that it would be much different for most other western european countries. From the rest of the world, I've seen so many positive reviews, but from reading this forums I get a completely different impression.

That the americans didn't enjoy it, doesn't really come as a surprise. There's a big gap in culture, expectation and reference across the pond. This was certainly not a show tailored for the americas, which I don't really see as Boyle's problem.

I'm a bit more suprised that some of the major themes seem to go over the head of the audience, as demonstrated in several comments that I've read on this forums which presumably is one of geeks and thus educated people.

Is the significance of the industrial revolution no longer taught? It is the underlying event that has shaped and created the premises for the modern world. It was a nasty process, it was ridden with disease, unfairness, inequality, suppression, but yet it paved the way for all those issues to be improved and ultimately forged a better society. Boyle illuminates this by showing the suffragist movement, worker's rights, healthcare as a civil right (though in a different segment, but it's no coincidence that the industrial revolution is the defining segment of the show; the other segments can all relate to it) and the social transformation that happened in such a never-before-seen pace and that has continued to this day.

Having the people's movements, the beatles and the industrial revolution in the same segment makes sense if you understand the significance of the latter. The forging of the symbols is a powerful symbolic act that reflects the progression through times and ties the coming together of the world through the modern olympics to the coming together of modern society itself.

Therefore it just saddens me when I read the comments from the other side of the pond. Maybe Boyle could have been clearer, but this is how directors usually do things (stage theatres, musicals). They don't overstate the themes and they're not supposed to. The motives are there to resonate with the audience, but of course all cultural appreciation requires some contextual knowledge and references.

Boyle's theme is definitely not exclusively british. It is one that should resonate around the world.

No, the show wasn't perfect, but it didn't need to be.

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But that's such a faulty philosophy. "It wasn't enjoyed outside of the native country; but it's OK because it was made for the natives, etc., etc." It's a GLOBAL show heralding a GLOBAL event. It should have resonances with as many viewers as it can reach. It should be made to appeal as universally as possible because corporations have paid BILLIONS of dollars to bring what is hopefully a truly worthy show into your homes. That it failed to meet wider acceptance and the excuses behind it, is a big copout.

Why seek out the...supposedly best names in the business? why harness the efforts of 10,000 people for a venture which has no other purpose than to merely beat the drum the wildest -- if you AREN'T going for the best and not making all sorts of excuses that it was "...fine for us. and "...that U.S. audiences didn't understand the show." Then maybe it should've NOT been aired on a worldwide basis. Maybe it should've been purely shown for domestic consumption, n'c'est pas?

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That it failed to meet wider acceptance and the excuses behind it, is a big copout.

It didn't "fail to meet wider acceptance" though. Some people here seem to think their circle of friends represents the world. Firstly, most reviews of the show in the world's press were pretty positive.People from all over the world have said they've liked it (off the top of my head in this thread alone that includes Americans, Belgians, Indonesians, Norwegians, Australians, Germans, Canadians, Brazilians), and people from all over the world have said the exact opposite too. It was a change in direction in many ways, so it's not surprising they didn't manage to please everybody and that some were completely turned-off by it. But we've had people from just about every corner of the globe saying they enjoyed it. That's enough to prove to me it wasn't "made for the natives".

It certainly didn't fail to meet wider acceptance, but nor was it universally loved either.

Edited by RobH
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I just find fault with Schola's 'reasoning' (or lack of it).

No

You creates a straw-man version of Schola's reasoning:

"It wasn't enjoyed outside of the native country; but it's OK because it was made for the natives, etc., etc."

which was exactly the opposite of what Schola was actually saying (that his non-British nation seemed greatly to enjoy the 2012 OC).

NB: creates=created

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But that's such a faulty philosophy. "It wasn't enjoyed outside of the native country; but it's OK because it was made for the natives, etc., etc." It's a GLOBAL show heralding a GLOBAL event. It should have resonances with as many viewers as it can reach. It should be made to appeal as universally as possible because corporations have paid BILLIONS of dollars to bring what is hopefully a truly worthy show into your homes. That it failed to meet wider acceptance and the excuses behind it, is a big copout.

Why seek out the...supposedly best names in the business? why harness the efforts of 10,000 people for a venture which has no other purpose than to merely beat the drum the wildest -- if you AREN'T going for the best and not making all sorts of excuses that it was "...fine for us. and "...that U.S. audiences didn't understand the show." Then maybe it should've NOT been aired on a worldwide basis. Maybe it should've been purely shown for domestic consumption, n'c'est pas?

Uhm, well that it was only enjoyed in britain was the statement that I disagreed with, so when you represent my view with a statement completely opposite to reality, it's not surprising that you fail to recognize the reasoning.

It was not exclusive at all.

Sometimes, a director or writer just has to say, okay if you didn't get that, that's alright, but it's not my problem. Or else we could just watch two hours of fireworks display; I'm sure that would please everybody... It turns out, Boyle's show was very well received.

The "problem" here is not that it was for the british only (it was not), but that it took the story telling part a bit more seriously, which is completely expected when you hire someone who excels in that department.

And it was a great thing to do, for it gave the ceremony a human touch, made it cheaper to produce and in the end, substance outlasts pure flashy-ness.

That it didn't please everybody is just the way it is. Sometimes, the lowest common denominator isn't the only way, even for an olympic opening ceremony.

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

The ceremony was extremely well received around the world, having read up on wikipedia and as this thread has documented, it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion that it was actually a very good show.

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

The ceremony was extremely well received around the world, having read up on wikipedia and as this thread has documented, it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion that it was actually a very good show.

Say what you will.

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it has won loads of prizes and nominations. That's a pretty good (objective) suggestion...

I wouldn't go by that. I mean how Olympic opening ceremonies are there in a year? It's not like it was in a Best Picture category which had 9 films competing for the title. What other shows were there of the same magnitude and scale?? The closest would either be the Paralympic OC or the Super Bowl halftime show. But I don't think either were in the running, were they?

[Don't get me wrong, I gave the OC a 65% grade and had some enjoyable parts. But I still think Danny Boyle was not the right man to helm the project. But that's my opinion. ]

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Who's lost objectivity?

I reckon we're not talking about Lillehammer:-)

Exactly!

I'm confused by some of the responses to your post given that you're from Oslo and not a Brit. Very bizarre! At the very least your post further diminishes the myth that some here like to peddle that this ceremony was only enjoyed by Brits, but we get fingers in ears and accusations of lack of objectivity when people point out this isn't true.

Thanks Athensfan for reminding me why I've given this thread a wide berth for a while.

Edited by RobH
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It just cracks me up the way people lose objectivity when it come to their own country's Olympics. I'm happy to concede that this is universal (though I did think Atlanta was embarrassing).

I agree about Atlanta, but some parts of London made the 1996 OC look like a masterpiece (and i 'm not american). Especially Frank & June was the most unwatchable OC segment ever (imo).

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Especially Frank & June was the most unwatchable OC segment ever (imo).

I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

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I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

You're right about it being a misguided conception, but, I think, completely wrong about how it was misguided. I've said before that I consider F&J "wildly over-ambitious" and I have to stand by that. It attempted to serve all the following functions:

a) The "recent past" section of the overall journey from Britain's past to future

B) The "adolescence" section of the parallel journey from ancestors to future generations

c) The "Miranda and Ferdinand" theme from "The Tempest"

d) A portrayal of British family life

e) Adding quirky popular music to the list of great British contributions to the world

f) Adding quirky music videos to the list of great British contributions to the world

g) Adding quirky films to the list of great British contributions to the world

h) Adding quirky fashion and cultural trends to the list of great British contributions to the world

i) Adding ARM processors (found in the majority of modern mobile electronic devices) to the list of great British contributions to the world

j) Quietly hinting (e.g. via the extract from the song "Enola Gay") that atomic fission was also a British contribution to the world

k) Adding the World Wide Web to the list of great British contributions to the world

l) Satirising the OC tradition of forming people into pretty patterns which only look really good from a blimp

m) Promoting Tommy Cooper

n) Promoting the BBC

o) Adding railways in general, and underground railways in particular, to the list of great British contributions to the world

p) Adding the Beck Underground Map design principles to the list of great British contributions to the world

q) Providing the stadium audience with a roller-coaster ride (I think this was the aspect which was most lost on TV; experiencing something so huge and breathless through a small flat window, particularly with commentary interrupting the flow of sound, was hopelessly inadequate)

So all in all, I think I'd be inclined to revise "misguided" to "utterly crazy".

PS: I just watched last night's BBC4 documentary about Mike Oldfield and "Tubular Bells", which included a contribution from Danny Boyle. For those lucky few who can access BBC iPlayer, it's

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03cw8g0/Tubular_Bells_The_Mike_Oldfield_Story/

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I've given this portion much thought and why it failed so miserably. I think it was, again, a misguided conception of Boyle and team. Where opening ceremonies also delve into larger themes and their bigger-than-life executions (allegorical references and a Day by the River; a salute to ancient Greece for Atlanta; the Great Barrier Reef, the wildfires, the immigrants of Sydney; the Giant head, history, nautical ties of Greece to the sea; China's history told via its 4 great inventions & contributions to civilization and inventive ways of telling it -- just to cite a few examples); London chose to honor another large abstract concept and its living inventor (probably a first there) but telling it with a very common love story; thereby reducing it to very jejeune, banal and lowest common denominator terms. I mean you go for grander things in an Olympic opening ceremony; and tell them grandly -- a digital puppy love story just wasn't convincing -- and not just with grungy looking people from Soho or some Bohemian neighborhood.

You don't pay hundreds of $$$ for something you can see for free when you want to go to town slumming -- or that is the culmination of a 4-year wait since the last eye-popping spectacle. The idea of an impersonal digital, therefore cold, lifestyle and a very personal and intimate emotion like first love--just didn't mix and come off convincingly. It just had too many gimmicks and cutesy tricks. And that's my analysis of why I think this segment, out of all the 2012 portions, failed to click with at least, a good number of regulars here.

I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

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I have to say that trying to draw parallels between Shakespeare and Frankie & June is most CERTAINLY a bridge too far. I see what JMark is saying about the generational theme, but seriously. As for the rest of JMark's commentary, the whole OC had an "everything but the kitchen sink" quality to it -- including F&J. Sometimes less really is more. I wish Danny Boyle were better at self-editing. I'm a fan of clarity, focus and organized thought. I just didn't get much of that out of London's OC.

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I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

On "creating visual focus"- try turning it round to "Danny Boyle did a very good job of filling the stadium with action". Sydney had managed some very effective stadium-filling scenes, but they were in a sense "tableaux vivants" rather than real action; Beijing used a similar approach, but with the addition of epic mass-movement framing the central tableaux.

You have unfortunately ignored all previous attempts to indicate that Danny Boyle's problem could not possibly be a lack of theatrical background (because he began his career in theatre, and directed a large-scale theatrical production immediately before starting work on the OC). You have also ignored all indications that the "theatrical audience" in the stadium for both rehearsals and the main event tended to find the experience thrilling. The lack of visual focus for TV viewers was thus a direct result of a decision not to short-change the stadium spectators for the convenience of the cameras.

In the particular case of "Frankie & June" there was one genuine timing error which had a regrettably high impact on the narrative (June's sister taking the call from Frankie). Otherwise, the main reasons for the story being unclear seem to have been (a ) the interruptions of TV commentators, and (b ) the presentation of some elements which the stadium spectators saw on the "big house" or the jumbotrons, as full-screen direct-video inserts for the TV audience, breaking the divisions between narrative spaces

I have to say that trying to draw parallels between Shakespeare and Frankie & June is most CERTAINLY a bridge too far. I see what JMark is saying about the generational theme, but seriously. As for the rest of JMark's commentary, the whole OC had an "everything but the kitchen sink" quality to it -- including F&J. Sometimes less really is more. I wish Danny Boyle were better at self-editing. I'm a fan of clarity, focus and organized thought. I just didn't get much of that out of London's OC.

You're exactly wrong on the Shakespeare; "The Tempest" provides the underlying themes for the whole OC.

I don't know what you're trying to imply in the words "but seriously".

As for "the whole OC had an 'everything but the kitchen sink' quality to it", that goes back to the "filling the stadium with action" concept. The traditional OC presents a series of tableaux, one after another. In Athens this was taken to its ultmate, in the float parade of legend and history- ten whole minutes of performers being dragged past the camera while the commentators gabbled to keep up. London probably had fewer separate scenes than that float parade, but allowed them to overlap.

The 2012 OC was indeed the enemy of "clarity, focus and organized thought"- but not by accident. Athens and Beijing had gone so far down that route, in their different ways, that somebody had to present an alternative.

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I totally agree with the above.

I would also add that there were big technical problems with realizing the concept. I don't mean technological problems -- technical problems. It was very difficult to discern the storyline. Danny Boyle did a very poor job of creating visual focus (something both Papaioannou and Zhang Yimou excelled at). There was also no rhythm or pacing to the segment. I don't mean musical rhythm, I'm talking about theatrical rhythm. It didn't flow, it didn't develop or build.

So basically it was a fatally flawed concept that was poorly executed from a technical standpoint as well. There was no saving it.

From my perspective, these technical deficiencies exposed Boyle's lack of theatrical (as opposed to cinematic) background and hampered the whole OC. I do acknowledge that I have only sat through the NBC broadcast and snippets from the BBC. i hear that NBC only made matters worse. The problem is that I really can't bring myself to watch the whole ceremony again.

i think you should watch it again. just to see if you still hate it

the dvd director's cut has more clarity with the pacing and story line

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You're right about it being a misguided conception, but, I think, completely wrong about how it was misguided. I've said before that I consider F&J "wildly over-ambitious" and I have to stand by that. It attempted to serve all the following functions:

a) The "recent past" section of the overall journey from Britain's past to future

B) The "adolescence" section of the parallel journey from ancestors to future generations

c) The "Miranda and Ferdinand" theme from "The Tempest"

d) A portrayal of British family life

e) Adding quirky popular music to the list of great British contributions to the world

f) Adding quirky music videos to the list of great British contributions to the world

g) Adding quirky films to the list of great British contributions to the world

h) Adding quirky fashion and cultural trends to the list of great British contributions to the world

i) Adding ARM processors (found in the majority of modern mobile electronic devices) to the list of great British contributions to the world

j) Quietly hinting (e.g. via the extract from the song "Enola Gay") that atomic fission was also a British contribution to the world

k) Adding the World Wide Web to the list of great British contributions to the world

l) Satirising the OC tradition of forming people into pretty patterns which only look really good from a blimp

m) Promoting Tommy Cooper

n) Promoting the BBC

o) Adding railways in general, and underground railways in particular, to the list of great British contributions to the world

p) Adding the Beck Underground Map design principles to the list of great British contributions to the world

q) Providing the stadium audience with a roller-coaster ride (I think this was the aspect which was most lost on TV; experiencing something so huge and breathless through a small flat window, particularly with commentary interrupting the flow of sound, was hopelessly inadequate)

So all in all, I think I'd be inclined to revise "misguided" to "utterly crazy".

Yeah, too much for so little time. JMark, none of us were sitting there with our copy of "Danny Boyle's Guide to His Ideas for Opening Ceremony 2012 - 101" in hand.

Edited by baron-pierreIV
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Anybody who couldn't just go with the flow was doomed. Not ideal.

Then again- you can't say you weren't warned. The ultra-high-speed River Thames journey at the beginning (and indeed, for those who saw it, the 60-second countdown just before the official start of the live world feed) emphasised "go with the flow".

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On "creating visual focus"- try turning it round to "Danny Boyle did a very good job of filling the stadium with action". Sydney had managed some very effective stadium-filling scenes, but they were in a sense "tableaux vivants" rather than real action; Beijing used a similar approach, but with the addition of epic mass-movement framing the central tableaux.

You have unfortunately ignored all previous attempts to indicate that Danny Boyle's problem could not possibly be a lack of theatrical background (because he began his career in theatre, and directed a large-scale theatrical production immediately before starting work on the OC). You have also ignored all indications that the "theatrical audience" in the stadium for both rehearsals and the main event tended to find the experience thrilling. The lack of visual focus for TV viewers was thus a direct result of a decision not to short-change the stadium spectators for the convenience of the cameras.

In the particular case of "Frankie & June" there was one genuine timing error which had a regrettably high impact on the narrative (June's sister taking the call from Frankie). Otherwise, the main reasons for the story being unclear seem to have been (a ) the interruptions of TV commentators, and (b ) the presentation of some elements which the stadium spectators saw on the "big house" or the jumbotrons, as full-screen direct-video inserts for the TV audience, breaking the divisions between narrative spaces

You're exactly wrong on the Shakespeare; "The Tempest" provides the underlying themes for the whole OC.

I don't know what you're trying to imply in the words "but seriously".

As for "the whole OC had an 'everything but the kitchen sink' quality to it", that goes back to the "filling the stadium with action" concept. The traditional OC presents a series of tableaux, one after another. In Athens this was taken to its ultmate, in the float parade of legend and history- ten whole minutes of performers being dragged past the camera while the commentators gabbled to keep up. London probably had fewer separate scenes than that float parade, but allowed them to overlap.

The 2012 OC was indeed the enemy of "clarity, focus and organized thought"- but not by accident. Athens and Beijing had gone so far down that route, in their different ways, that somebody had to present an alternative.

If by "action" you mean chaos, fine.

I'm well aware of Frankenstein. Some (minimal) past experience does not translate to a sure hand on a dramatically larger scale. Clearly.

So you're saying F&J were brilliant and it's all NBC's fault it sucked? Talk about a "London can do no wrong" attitude.

I've got a Master's in Shakespeare. Tempest connections in the OC are forced and tenuous at best and would be totally lost if not for Branagh's momentary Brunel cum Caliban.

London's OC was "the enemy of clarity, focus and organized thought." Finally we agree on something. It sounds as though you just said "Athens and Beijing did a such a beautiful job that we were left with no choice but to be totally haphazard and call it art while hoping no one would notice." According to you, the strategy paid off with most people. It did not work on me.

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It sounds as though you just said "Athens and Beijing did a such a beautiful job that we were left with no choice but to be totally haphazard and call it art while hoping no one would notice." According to you, the strategy paid off with most people.

With a more experienced hand other than Boyle, the evening could've been great art. As it was, it barely squeaked by in Boyle's hands.

Wonder how it would've worked if Kim Gavin did the Opening and Danny worked on the Closing.

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