For the casual fan of the Olympics who doesn’t care all that much about badminton or archery or canoeing or the equestrian events or handball or judo or rowing or shooting or synchronized swimming or weightlifting and you can stop me any time I get to a sport you DO care about, the Opening Ceremony is one of the few can’t-miss events.
And while the London Games didn’t quite match the insanely over-the-top Beijing opener from 2012 for sheer spectacle, there was no shortage of breathtaking pyrotechnics, uplifting musical moments–and some terrific WTF moments as well.
To wit (or not to wit): Rowan Atkinson’s inexplicably enduring Mr. Bean character’s “Chariots of Fire” comedy routine, which weaved some admittedly clever onstage schtick with a filmed bit straight out of the Billy Crystal Oscars catalog.
Everyone seemed to love Danny Boyle’s short film featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond. In tux and in chracter, Craig dodged the royal Corgis as he picked up the Queen at Buckingham Palace and escorted her to a helicopter, from which they parachuted into the Olympic Stadium.
Well. Of course it wasn’t really Craig and the 86-year-old queen jumping out of the helicopter, because that probably would have killed one of them. (Deadpan sentence inserted into a lengthy story from Reuters about the bit: “The jump was performed by a stunt double.”) The actual jumpers are expert skydivers Mark Sutton (who doubled for Bond) and Gary Connery. The photos of Connery in helicopter, waring the Queen’s salmon-colored dress and replica jewelry and sporting a white wig, are…disturbing would be the word.
It was a brilliant bit, mainly because Queen Elizabeth is largely regarded as the Least Humorous Person in the World, and the fact that she would even go along with it made it work.
But for the routine to have achieved true “Naked Gun” classic status, they would have had to have talked the Queen to go along with filming the payoff–a long shot of the stunt doubles landing, followed by medium shots of Craig and the Queen untangling themselves from their parachutes.