I even watched NBC clowntime, I mean the Today show. As always when the "gang" (as they like to refer to themselves) broadcasts from an Olympic site, they indulge in paroxysms of participatory, um, journalism.
The world will not soon forget the slapstick antics of Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Meredith Vieira, and Ryan Seacrest dressed in fluorescent tracksuits as they staged a Keystone Kops race-walking competition. Or playing beach volleyball in even more resplendent outfits against the U.S. team of Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers.
How about when Savannah and Meredith engaged in a boxing match - in high heels! My favorite was when the "gang" got on a "bicycle bar," a platform contraption that forced them to pedal while making forced small talk with a Queen Elizabeth impersonator. They snarled traffic on the Tower Bridge and all the passersby they enthusiastically cried out to seemed genuinely annoyed. Good times!
Olympics coverage is all about pre-packaging American heroes for our rapt admiration. But I found myself drawn to a number of athletes who labored outside the NBC spotlight.
Like Destinee Hooker, the airy but emphatic spiker for the U.S. women's volleyball team. And U.S. soccer player Lauren Cheney, who doesn't get camera time. She just fights ferociously for every loose ball on the field.
I had enormous respect for gymnast John Orozco, who didn't medal but competed with poise, resolve, and dignity. And I also dug his polar opposite, Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina, one of the most irascible and towering divas the sports world has ever seen.
Forget Gabby Douglas, Rebecca Soni, and Missy Franklin. The athlete who had the best Games was retired gymnast Shawn Johnson.
On opening day, she was introduced as a special social-media correspondent for Today. That gave her free rein to run around and have her picture taken mugging with people like Marti Malloy, the judo bronze medalist.
As long as she tweeted once in a while, like this entry from the women's all-around: "I feel numb. Hugging screaming crying with the whole Douglas family. @gabrielledoug I couldn't be prouder! #OlympicsTODAY."
A few days into the competition, it was announced that come September, Johnson will compete on Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars. (She won a previous round of the show with partner Mark Ballas, in 2009.) And Johnson was seen several times each night in promos for Matthew Perry's forthcoming NBC sitcom, Go On.
Taking full advantage of its summer prominence, NBC flogged its new shows relentlessly, giving them, whenever possible, an Olympics hook.
This got them in a bit of hot water on the night of Gabby's big win. After the event, with the gymnast's smiling and triumphant face on the screen, anchor Bob Costas went to commercial, saying, "There are some young African American girls out there who tonight are saying to themselves, 'Hey, I'd like to try that, too.' "
The next thing we saw on the screen was a capuchin monkey in a gymnastics outfit pulling herself up on the rings. It was Crystal, the comic relief in NBC's soon-to-debut sitcom Animal Practice.
Obviously inadvertent but insensitive, given that the network had most of a day to review and reorder its taped package.
At least NBC was running ads for shows that will soon be available. I must have seen 100 trailers this week for Wreck-It Ralph, an animated film that doesn't come out until November.
You wonder how our athletes got any training done. They seem to have been so busy shooting commercials in the months leading up to the games. My favorites were the CoverGirl spot with boxer Marlen Esparza hitting the heavy bag for LashBlast and Michael Phelps telling us he prepares for every race with two things: music and Head & Shoulders.
The big question is: who will land the first post-Olympics commercial campaign? Never mind. We have a winner. Kellogg's didn't wait for Gabby Douglas to get the chalk off her hands before rushing out a mock-up of a Corn Flakes box.
As Cornelius Vanderbilt used to say, gold begets gold.
Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552, email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.