Picks and Pans Review: Winter Olympics

UPDATED 03/09/1998 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 03/09/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

CBS, Feb. 6-22

Bronze-minus

There was something Twilight Zoneish about CBS's 50-plus hours of prime-time coverage of the Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan. According to lackluster anchor Jim Nantz, events that had already happened were always "still ahead" or "coming up next." On the second-to-last night, Nantz really flummoxed us when he previewed the following night's closing ceremony by presenting tape of "last night's dress rehearsal." With the 14-hour difference between Nagano time and Eastern Standard, prime time was bound to be dominated by prerecorded material. But by hopping from one event to another, breaking up the athletic action to show human-interest features and packing the telecasts with teasers and promos (not to mention countless commercials), the network gave viewers a sensation of Olympus interruptus that was made even more frustrating by weather-related skiing delays. Nevertheless, CBS couldn't lose with the drama of Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan's Feb. 20 figure-skating duel (see page 42)—even if Lipinski's gold-medal victory wasn't quite the "upset of all upsets," as the normally insightful analyst Scott Hamilton gushed.

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