ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE: Turns out $42 million will buy you a fairly entertaining show. Photo courtesy Al Tielemans/SI

We knew we would have to endure the 4-plus hour spectacle that is the Opening Ceremonies, but this time around London and it’s ceremony’s coordinator Danny Boyle actually put on not a half-bad show.

Outside of the Parade of Nations, the festivities really just boiled down to a marathon paying homage to the United Kingdom. Starting with Agrarian England, Boyle’s choreographed show meticulously showed how his beloved homeland methodically swallowed up mother nature and laid down the groundwork for the industrial revolution.

As actors dressed in Victorian-era garb rolled up mats of artificial turf representing the undisturbed countryside (we could spend hours discussing the irony of just that one aspect), giant smoke stacks emerged from beneath the stage in a display that I can only imagine was meant to serve either as a metaphor for the rise of industry or a very inappropriate product placement for Viagra.

From there, the show deteriorated into a strange salute to the nation’s healthcare system. While I’m sure millions of Brits were enthralled with the spectacle, I sort of felt like I was being forced to look at photos from a cousin’s vacation (i.e. no one but them really cares).

Then the bed-littered stage turned the show from something awkward into something just downright creepy. Danny Boyle’s artistic direction brought to life his imaginings of a child’s nightmares and, no, long division was NOT a part of it. The segment’s highlight, though, came when a giant air-filled puppet of the Harry Potter villain Voldemort rose up at towered some 100 feet over the people below.

The slow, meandering play of sorts continued on but thankfully ended after a bizarre and confusing trip through the ’70’s, ’80’s, and modern day teen scene. I’m still not sure what happened here and, even now, all I know is some girl lost her phone and a guy chased her — apparently through time — to give it back and get a little action in thanks.

Then it was on to the usual Olympic moments: the Parade of Nations, the lighting of the torch, and, of course, the fireworks. In between the Arctic Monkeys covered ‘Come Together’, men with wings flew around on bicycles, and Paul McCartney rocked the world with ‘Hey Jude’.

But alas, those shenanigans are over and we can finally move on to what the Olympics are REALLY about: athletic competition. For the next two weeks, we’re all going to get crazy over sports we don’t usually care about and develop feuds with people were usually friends with. For the next two weeks, it’s every country versus the world and I, for one, can’t wait for it to get started.

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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter. Make sure you follow him @bclienesch!