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February 23, 2006

Olympic Ice


Better [to learn of something wonderful] late than never, say I.

Yesterday's USA Today had a story about the above–titled show, which airs at 6 p.m. (ET) on the USA Network (channel 242 on DirecTV).

Sounded pretty good so I watched last night.

Hey, it's much better than good.

If you're a figure skating fan, it's pure Olympic gold.

The thing that makes it wonderful that wasn't even mentioned in the newspaper is that much of the show is devoted to the final practice sessions of the skaters, which are almost dress rehearsals — in casual dress, true, but at full speed with all the difficult triples and moves that you won't see in the final programs tonight when the skaters go for the gold.

5 stars.

Here's Robert Bianco's February 22 USA Today story.

    Host spins sharp commentary on 'Ice'

    Carillo enlivens USA's coverage of figure skating

    At these Olympics, the best show is clearly on ice.

    Hosted by the breakout star of these TV games, the martini-dry Mary Carillo, USA Network's Olympic Ice (6 p.m. ET/PT) is a tiny corner of subversive humor in a locked-down, pre-programmed Olympic universe.

    What could have been your standard collection of pre-event speculation and post-event gushing is instead a freewheeling hour that is playful without being childish and critical without being caustic.

    Best of all, despite being taped hours before it airs, this daily figure-skating roundup feels fresh and alive — particularly when compared with NBC's prime-time broadcast, which often seems to have the speed and maneuverability of a glacier.

    OI, as the show's stars call it, feels like an ongoing experiment, as if the producers were inventing it before our eyes.

    Surely for fans of figure skating, OI has become invaluable.

    It does anything any skating fan could wish: It explains what happened the night before and tells you what is likely to happen in the night to come.

    But it also does something rare and invaluable at these Olympics: It captures some of the fun and flavor of the event.

    With record speed, it has made itself the can't-miss place to go the day after a big skating competition.

    Any OI fan who watched the ladies' short program Tuesday has to be eager to get the replay lowdown tonight from Carillo and her medal-winning team: Jamie Salé, David Pelletier, Scott Hamilton and Tracy Wilson.

    Best of all, we're also scheduled to hear from the irrepressible Dick Button, who gets a nightly e-mail question-and-answer session called "Push Dick's Button."

    What you can expect is a mix of serious analysis and gentle sarcasm, with barbs aimed at any skater who misbehaved and any costume that shocked the senses.

    Outrageous costumes are a Carillo pet peeve, along with overly theatrical ice dancers and phony blather of all sorts. ("She's suiting up in that outfit and she's saying, 'I'm going to go conservative?' " Carillo said about one ice-dance travesty. "I love this sport!")

    Monday's show, for example, got great comic mileage out of Sunday's post-fall staring match between Italian ice dancers Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio.

    "These are my people, and this is just a classic stare-down," Carillo said, comparing it to a "cheesy soap opera on Telemundo."

    OI does have its misfires.

    Carillo can sometimes play the bemused outsider card too heavily, and the show can become a little silly.

    And while U.S. skater Johnny Weir went along with the built-in joke in his Weir Eye for the Skate Guy segment, it was still in questionable taste.

    If sportscasters think his sexuality is newsworthy, then ask him about it.

    Don't make snide references or wink-wink, nudge-nudge puns.

    Still, those are tiny flaws in an otherwise sparkling program that generally maintains a witty mix of insight and irreverence.

    As Carillo likes to say, it's "cracklin' good television."

    If you haven't already watched, get crackin'.


Here's a link to a story USA Today ran about the show last week; clearly I'm not on the ball.

Maybe I'll go take it out on my crack research team; I mean, it's their job to flag stuff like this... isn't it?

February 23, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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I adored Olympic Ice and wonder if anyone knows the name of the song (and the artist) that played during the tribute to Michele Kwan. I would greatly appreciate it if someone out their knows. Thanks!

Posted by: grace | Mar 16, 2006 10:30:44 PM

Watched Olympic Ice every day throughout the Olympics. It was the best coverage of ice skating in the Olympics ever, and the combination of Mary, Scott, Dick, Jamie, and David somehow worked out perfectly. May I suggest they take the same team to cover gymnastics at the summer games? I know, I know....these folks aren't gymnasts, but they did SUCH a good job with the skating coverage.

Posted by: Stuart | Feb 27, 2006 12:59:14 PM

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