The Olympic Buffet: Saturday, August 23

The “NBC giveth, and NBC taketh away” nature of US Olympic coverage continues, with a strangely piecemeal presentation of the decathlon. It’s pretty hard to build any sense of drama and suspense when you show only one competitor. And yet, showing the medal ceremony for the men’s 400m encapsulated the highs and lows of the Games in one well-framed shot, with stone-faced silver medalist Jeremy Wariner a stark contrast to glowing bronze medalist David Neville belting out the national anthem. Just when I write NBC off…

Saturday’s Blue Plate Special: The aforementoned Wariner and Neville are joined by gold medalist LaShawn Merritt in the finals of the men’s 4x400m relay (the women’s race is contested today, too). Since the baton passes in the longer relay aren’t blind passes, the drama comes from the running instead of the butterfingers (the heavily-favored Jamaican women were the latest to cough up the stick in the 4x100m; Usain Bolt, however, is made of gold and therefore magnetic, so the Jamaican men were okay). As is tradition, the 4×400 races are the last of the meet, so there should be a party atmosphere in the air (unless International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is around, as he apparently hates parties).

Saturday’s Chef’s Special: Since I’m not very bright and can’t read a schedule, we missed mentioning whitewater kayak and canoe (which meant not only missing the neat event where people have to change direction while drowning to paddle upstream but also missing Togo’s first Olympic medal). We’re on top of the last medals awarded in the flatwater events, however. “Paddle” sounds kind of quaint and adorable, but the quad teams move so fast they could pull a water skiier behind them. That’s…possibly not human. The “sprints” (500m) in doubles and singles for both canoe and kayak will be broadcast today, and while the solo and partner boats don’t fly quite as fast as the quads, they undoubtedly feel the burn. Daytime on NBC; the Olympic coverage goes most of the day, so you may have to keep checking in.

(We’d mention the synchronized swimming finals, but it makes us miss the Darling Mermaid Darlings. We need new Pushing Daisies. Is the new fall season here yet? Because the Olympics can’t keep us happy much longer.)

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