CBS discovered some exciting new technology called “high definition” for their broadcast of the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yes, 2010. NBC has been showing the parade in high-def since at least 2007. The HD picture lets me see details like the “Macy’s 84th Thanksgiving Day Parade Talent” buttons that lesser-known performers have to wear to get past the security guards. I noticed them when Victoria Justice lip-synced her song.
Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price from “The Early Show” returned as hosts on CBS. Perhaps the best line came from street correspondent Marissa Jaret Winokur. She said, “You know who’s coming up behind Spider-Man is Kanye West. Kanye, I’m gonna let you finish and you’re a great float but Spider-Man here is the greatest float of all time, Kanye. The greatest float.” I was going to cut her a little slack for saying that a balloon was a float because she was spoofing Kanye West, who probably would have made the same mistake. If she hadn’t continued to do so when the next balloons came by, I wouldn’t have called her out on Twitter. She graciously responded, which made me very happy.
The float/balloon mistake has been a recurring problem on CBS for the five years I’ve been griping about reviewing the parade coverage on my website. Winokur was ten times funnier than comedian Gary Valentine, who struggled with the same task. His performance made such an indelible impression on me that I was surprised to realize it’s been five years since his last appearance.
The CBS crew failed to mention that Alton Brown was seated atop the Tom Turkey float. Nor did they mention that singer Eric Hutchinson was on the float too. I never heard of Eric but I could read the banner with his name, thanks to their high-def cameras. Hutchinson shouldn’t feel bad. Maggie and Dave let Arlo Guthrie ride by on the Ocean Spray float without noticing. Yet they described each and every animal figure surrounding Guthrie. Ironically, one of the few float-riding celebrities that CBS did announce was Jimmy Fallon, whose show airs on NBC. Over on his own network, Fallon and The Roots sang “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” I thought he could have impersonated all the voices on the original recording but he played it straight.
Over on NBC, Al Roker walked backwards while the Seminole High School Warhawk Band marched toward him. Although it made me think that somebody at the network saw the weatherman in “Morning Glory” and decided to make Al do something more exciting than just interviewing stars of NBC series in the bleachers, the segment wasn’t bad. What made it work was the concentration of the band members who would have crashed into Roker had he not moved.
The first hour of NBC’s telecast is mostly Broadway filler. Performances by the casts of “American Idiot” and “Million Dollar Quartet” were good but not as ambitious as the scene from “Elf.” I was surprised by how good it was. The music and dancing reminded me of the old-school musicals that my parents loved.
As usual, Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer stuck to the script, which sounded like a long-form version of the banter written by presenters at Hollywood award shows. NBC’s telecast is must-see for the camera angles, not so much for the audio. It would be great if Vieira and Lauer lost their binders and had to ad-lib. And if they were forbidden from using “world’s most” or “world’s largest” to describe anything in the parade. According to them, the world’s most famous big red shoe car was carrying the world’s most famous clown with his world famous pals, the talented McKids. The Ronald McDonald balloon that followed was wearing the world’s largest pair of ice skates. The lameness of the script was most apparent as Matt & Meredith slogged their way through their “reaction” to the attempt by the “Despicable Me” minions to steal the Statue of Liberty float. To me, it looked like nothing happened.
The script failed Lauer again when he introduced the Grants Pass Marching Band: “Director Jason Garcia and his band, which is the first in decades to come to us from Oregon, play a patriotic piece called ‘A Fantasmic March.'” Patriotic? Maybe if you live in the Magic Kingdom. If ABC covered the parade, you can bet they would have recognized Mickey’s dream music. A bit later, an NBC camera focused on one of the Buzz Lightyear balloon handlers. Nothing was said about him but I thought he looked suspiciously like John Lasseter. Did anyone else notice him?