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More Warm-Up, ''Olympic Zone''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 10, 2006

The USA special is over, so there's a little break here. I am so far fighting the urge to read the online reports about the opening ceremonies, so that I can watch it fresh. I thought about watching more of Saturday's ''Saturday Night Live,'' but my wife is not a fan and what I have seen so far hasn't been that good. (Exceptions: The opening bit, with Steve Martin trying to kill Alec Baldwin, and Maya Rudolph's Oprah -- dead-on impression without pushing too far into caricature. Good to have Maya back.) So we're watching a little bit of the Cavs game on FSN until 7:30 when ''Olympic Zone'' comes on.

Back to the Channel 3, ''your Olympic station,'' for ''Olympic Zone.'' Jim Donovan sits in a set of wintry blues and mountain images. Could be worse. Think of those segments where the hosts have to sit by fireplaces. Donovan is telling me that the hottest sport at the games is snowboarding, leading into a canned report -- ''Chevrolet Presents the NBC Primetime Olympic Spotlight.'' Already I'm tired of the sponsor placement. The snowboarder they're profiling is long-haired and scruffy -- a thought that reminds me once again that I have become my father.

Sequence of athletes talking about how great it is to be in the Olympics. Donovan agrees. Now we're on to Key Bank's presentation of ''the keys to NBC's prime-time coverage.'' That's a schedule. Now many more days do we have to listen to this?

Donovan introduces more NBC material, this time on the Thailand team, all one of him. I am a sucker for such guys -- the gutsy underdogs who will never be more than gutsy underdogs, who are closer to us viewers than the well-heeled, well-trained stars of the marquee sports. But let's face it, we watch for the magic to be made by those stars, with occasional breaks to celebrate the gutsy underdogs.

Back from a commercial break (not counting the product promotion during the show itself). We're getting a tour of the Olympic village from Julie Foudy, They've got foosball.

After another commercial break, we're getting a couple of segments showcasing athletes with Ohio connections. The sound goes bad during one. More commercials. Donovan introduces a national piece about great moments in the opening ceremonies. There's Ali! Still chokes me up.

Hey, a segment where Donovan actually seems to talk to someone! Or at least leads into a clip.

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