The best Olympic spectacle is Peacock’s chaotic “Tokyo Tonight”

Watch the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games is a strange experience. It’s been 2021 for over seven months now, and seeing the logo feels like you’re living in a time warp. Pandemic precautions mean there are very few people in the stands, so every event seems to take place after the apocalypse. Time zones are also a disservice to North American viewers. Tokyo is 13 to 16 hours ahead of the United States, so watching any competition in real time means staying up late or getting up horribly early.

Then there is the question of how to watch games in the first place. NBC likes to advertise its streaming service as “the place to be” to catch all the action, but the navigation in the app is so confusing that it has already made headlines like “Why is it?” so hard to use NBC’s peacock to watch the games? It also makes viewing any event in its entirety a bit of a nightmare. Peacock does, however, have a schedule that highlights all the quirkiness of the 2020 Games: Tokyo tonight.

Live broadcast of an unusually purple ensemble at NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, Tokyo tonight is notably not in Tokyo. Unable to report on location, hosts Kenny Mayne and Cari Champion fill their impressive 7:30 p.m. to midnight ET span with offbeat banter and quick pasting of covers on everything from BMX biking to whitewater kayaking. skateboard and table tennis. It’s the perfect thing to watch while scrolling through TikTok – and it’s a delight.

Champion is good-looking and witty, while Mayne exudes a cowardly boomer charisma and tends to approach his guests as if they were people he had just met by chance, asking random questions and providing strange anecdotes about his personal life. Above all, the two are surprisingly funny for anchors, so much so that it’s often hard to tell when they’re joking. After Mayne started asking guests, sharply and with little context, whether or not they liked the Pearl Jam group, Champion jumped into the action by asking their position on Beyoncé.

All this gives Tokyo tonight a puff of experimental public access charm never before seen in traditional coverage of the Olympics. Often times, Mayne and Champion appear onscreen, seemingly unaware that their mics are hot. “Am I supposed to be doing something right now?” Mayne asked Champion one evening last week, deep in the creek. ” I’m exhausted. “

Even in the finer parts of the show, a sense of whimsy persists. Mayne devoted one segment to a skit in which he claimed that a toddler was an elite gymnast. During “Shredding the Gnar With Mike Parsons,” Mayne interviewed the veteran American surfer in a conversation that bordered on surreal. “How many times have you been there and there was a shark near you?” Mayne asked Parsons, who was clearly baffled at having to estimate how many sharks he had shared an approximate location with in his five decades of surfing. (He was unable to provide an estimate.) Unperturbed, Mayne then informed Parsons and viewers that the waters of the world belonged to sharks, not humans. “His their ocean, ”he said.

Then he asked Parsons if he liked Pearl Jam.

Hardcore fans of the Olympics probably won’t like Tokyo tonight, partly because of its hopscotch format and partly because it doesn’t take itself very seriously. But for those who like to see elite athletes shine on the world stage but also feel a little sick to their stomach to watch a competition that really shouldn’t take place, and who like to watch coverage of the Olympics while watching social media, this is a perfect sample of short highlights presented by hosts who seem determined to make the less boring version of a highlight show possible.

If NBC continues to control coverage of the Olympics for American viewers, it will need to make some changes to keep people happy. He might as well preserve that kind of lawless fun. The ocean belongs to sharks, but my heart belongs to Tokyo tonight.

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