I have to admit, I wasn't all that impressed with the British opening. The opening of a rural community running around their farms with sheep and whatnot was...odd, but not nearly as weird as the abandonment of agrarian culture for industrial enlightenment via interpretative dance. But fine, interpretative dance is a tradition nearly as old as the Olympics, so I'll live with it.
Was the Olympic ring meant to recall the Tolkien "One ring to rule them all"? That's instantly what I thought of as the hundreds of extras labored to forge a gigantic metal ring at the center of the stage. It totally recalled to me the Ents and those scenes of industrial distruction in Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. Plus, Tolkien's a giant of British literature. It would seem natural to include a reference to him!
I wish I had been there in the stadium, though, because NBC's nonsensical editing made the transition from industry to James Bond extremely sudden. I hope it somehow made sense in the context of the overall show.
So Daniel Craig/James Bond is sent to fetch the Queen of England in a helicopter and bring her to the games. Sure, why not? Queen Elizabeth II jumps out of said helicopter and parachutes into Olympic Stadium? Yeah. She's only in her mid-80s, so that's totally plausible. It was a little refreshing to see her take part in such a silly joke; who knew the old gal had a sense of humor?
From Craig we transition into a bizarre celebration of the National Health Service. Now, I'm not arguing against nationalized medicine because I think that it's not a bad idea, but it seemed a very odd choice for this world stage. Granted, I liked that the segment was also a celebration of children's literature, a genre that really did flower in the British Isles. (Thanks to the likes of Barrie and Rowling; am I the only one disappointed that there wasn't a shout out to Roald Dahl?) The giant balloon villains were great fun. Captain Hook, Voldermort, and the Queen of Hearts - great choices as representatives of British villainy. But Cruella de Vil? Really? I mean, I love her and all but I would rate her a second or third-level villainess at best. But when the flock of Mary Poppinses floated down to do battle, I was a happy child again. Best segment by far.
Then there was this weird ten minutes that celebrated the British contribution to 20th century music. That's fine - great even. What didn't work was that this was ostentatiously structured around a story of a boy and a girl falling in love via cell phone. That was just blatant product placement and it really didn't work for me at all.
Speaking of product placement, Mr. Bean also rocked out on a cell phone while performing the great musical classic "Chariots of Fire". It was that kind of night.
Congrats to David Beckham for rocking that boat down the Thames. Definitely the highlight of the evening right there.
Olympic fire raining down on an abstract map of London.
I think that's called 'symbolism'.