Archive for Friday, February 24, 2006

XX Olympic Winter Games ratings fizzle

February 24, 2006

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The XX Olympic Winter Games (8 p.m., NBC) continues. Scheduled events include the figure-skating champions gala, alpine skiing (the women's giant slalom gold medal final), four-man bobsled and the men's 10,000 meter gold medal speed-skating event.

Over the course of the games, much has been made of the fact that the Games have failed to capture a dominant TV audience. "American Idol" and, to a lesser extent, "Dancing with the Stars" received far higher ratings than the Turin games.

NBC clearly invested too much in the stories of Bode Miller and Michelle Kwan. But, as a sports fan, you have to love it when games fail to follow a predictable script. That's what makes sports, and the Olympics in particular, the best reality television of all.

And the broadcast's dependence on American "stars" was simply not in the spirit of the Games. In the past, Olympic broadcasts have made household stars of the most interesting, accomplished and colorful athletes, regardless of nationality. In 1972, viewers put the Cold War on hold and made Olga Korbut the darling of the Munich Games. The Soviet gymnast's popularity inspired a generation of Americans to take to the balance beam. During the 1968 Winter Games, the world fixated on French skiing gold medalist Jean-Claude Killy. He made skiing seem sexy, and his success inspired millions to take to the slopes.

I wonder what great stories we've missed as NBC focused so much attention on the shenanigans in Miller's mobile home?

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Even the dead find their birth mothers on "Ghost Whisperer" (8 p.m., CBS).

¢ The First Lady asserts herself during a two-hour "24" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins star in the 1991 horror film "The Silence of the Lambs" (8 p.m., AMC), directed by Jonathan Demme.

¢ Darwyn advises a youngster to stay away from suspected terrorists on a repeat of "Sleeper Cell" (9 p.m., Showtime).

¢ A major hitch in a hit-and-run case on "Close to Home" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Suspicious static during an antiterror drill points to sabotage on "Numb3rs" (10 p.m., CBS).

¢ Scheduled on "20/20" (10 p.m., ABC): inside "Dancing with the Stars."

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