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By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

We're into the poetic zone, where the narration refers to ''capacious piazzas'' and the music swells behind a reference to ''a vivaciuous brand of excellence'' -- and behind everything else. Athletes most viewers have never heard of, and some of fame, are wrapped in splendid images and grand teases of tales of drama and heroism. Oh, sorry. I momentarily fell into the narrative rhythm. But the HD transmission is unbelievably gorgeous.


Jim Lampley speaks. The spell is broken.


Bode Miller, Shaun White (the kid from ''Olympic Zone'') and Michelle Kwan get the early showcase, with Kwan in a recorded interview with Mary Carillo. The sound is glitching out here and there, for a sylllable or so. If this keeps up, I may have to go to the analog feed to see if it's better. Carillo's got a Tina Fey look; for some reason, her interviewing style is making me think of Frank Deford on HBO.


All right, I've gone analog. Sound is much better. But I miss the snazzy widescreen picture.


Back to Lampley, who frames the argument for Kwan being on the team and her ''decade of contributions'' to U.S. figure skating. In other words, people know her and will watch how she does.


Actual sport! Skiing, training run, and a chance to show off Bode Miller.


Now we're at the important stuff: A spot promoting ''Conviction,'' an NBC series premiering after the Olympics. Get ready for lots of such spots, as struggling NBC hopes the Olympics crowd will come back for things like ''Conviction'' in March.


More training runs. NBC wants us to care because spots on the Olympics team are on the line. Also because they have four hours to fill, and you can only do so many shots of the torch on its way,

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