Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: I hate the Olympics

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Watching the Olympics can be a painful experience. Photo / AP
Watching the Olympics can be a painful experience. Photo / AP

I hate the Olympics. Not because the plot's all over the place, or because there are too many coxswain jokes, or even because it goes on and on.

The real problem is that I can't stop watching.

For several hours I was even completely transfixed by the Olympic mosaic on Sky - it's the channel that features 12 channels squashed onto one screen. It's the natural progression in our age of the short attention span and information overload. But it's not really an Olympics mosaic, it's really a Sky Sport mosaic.

One night this week, the first box, Sky Sport 1, had the 2012 World Matchplay Darts championship - now that should be an Olympic sport. There was league on Sky Sport 2, and a replay of the Chiefs victory over the Crusaders on Sky Sport 3. It may have been Olympic week but every bar I've passed lately has screens with replays of that great game.

But the rest of the boxes on the mosaic were filled with actual Olympic activity. There were highlights of the New Zealand men's hockey team losing to a Korean team - who, surprisingly, seemed to be mostly gingers (These guys could bankrupt that misguided soft drink company dealt so cleverly by Campbell Live).

Earlier that day the New Zealand women beat Australia at the same sport. A great win, although outside of the Olympic setting, watching hockey is as appealing to me as watching the Christian channel Shine.

Actually I'd rate some of the oddball God-bothering programming above many of these sports on a normal day. But the Olympics are special. It's like a degustation of sport; a binge in which every flavour is savoured and usually unpalatable morsels go down easily.

Women's soccer? Yum. Archery? Yes please! Toffs on jumping horses? Sh*t yes. The genius of the mosaic is that the next course is waiting, like one of those pictures on a Chinese restaurant menu. "I'll have number 11 please."

As I'm writing this number 11 has gymnastics. Young woman running at speed and vaulting through the air - kind of like the antics you'll see down at the Viaduct on a Friday night but with a little more co-ordination. What they both share is that they can both end up on their arse looking a little pissed off.

I liked the female commentator, she said things like, "Full twist, bit of a wobble, bit of a bobble, she's a pocket rocket". But it was when I tried to select this delight and go "full-screen" I discovered what the mosaic is really about. It's about advertising Sky channels that you don't have access to in the hope that you'll realise you're missing out and grab the credit card.

I don't subscribe to the HD service, so therefore I don't get "full-screen" access to channels 9, 10 and 11. I'm now officially part of the Sky underclass and I spend more than $114 a month as it is. It sobered me up a little.

Then, just to make myself feel worse, I grabbed the calculator and made myself drunk again. If I round my age down to 30 and expect to keep watching Sky till I'm 90, I can look forward to coughing up ... $82,317.60. And that's in the very unlikely event that they don't put their prices up, which they will, so let's call it 100K.

The good news is that global warming or swine flu will no doubt deal to us by then.

But back to the Olympics. Firstly, I've noticed that there's a lot of arse.

Weightlifting has it all - the ritual, the facials, the falling on the arse.

Beach Volleyball is all about boobs/abs and the anticipation of waiting for the English weather to crap itself. And there's a lot of arse, which they also fall on. So that's good.

Water polo isn't such a good TV sport. I'm thinking it was better in the old days when they used horses. Another sport ruined by animal rights nutters no doubt. And if they do fall on their arses, who would know?

I clocked some women's skeet shooting the other night which was won buy a woman who looked like she'd walked in off an episode of Wife Swap. USA's Kimberly Rode has won gold before, proving that even white trash gun nuts can take home gold just like the ab-tastic super-athletes. I once fell on my arse while discharging a shotgun, but it's rare to see at Olympic level.

Rowing is the best sitting on your arse sport. I've watched heat after heat of this fascinated by the bobbing of the prows and fantasising about being one of those hipsters riding their bikes along the side of the course. My favourite so far is the slow-mo rower from Niger, Hamadou Djibo Issaka, who's only being rowing for three months. The winner of his men's single sculls heat came in at 7.44 he was 9.07. British tabloids have started calling him the "Sculling Sloth." Tune in Friday night, when the kiwis race for medals.

Best funny stuff:

Leigh Hart's Olympico (Comedy Central, Wednesday 9pm) is a wonderfully absurd companion piece to the games. It takes lo-fi to new lows and product placement even lower.

The Crowd Goes Wild really has been having a blinder. Best moment so far was James McOnie interviewing Zara Phillips after her silver medal-winning ride. "Congratulations your hotness, I mean your highness."

Week one has been great, well worth that 100 grand.

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