The Disney Channel (Sun., Aug. 15, 9 p.m. ET)
What NFL Films is to professional football, documentarian Bud Greenspan is to the Olympics: He doesn’t so much chronicle sports as he mythologizes them. Here Greenspan turns his exalting eye to last summer’s Games in Spain, focusing on personal, vivid vignettes.
There’s British sprinter Derek Redmond, after tearing a hamstring in the 400-meter semifinals, agonizingly limping around the track with the help of his father, Jim, who came down out of the stands to escort his son to his symbolic finish. There’s Moroccan distance runner Khalid Skah (who just recently set a new world record in the 2-mile) being jeered by the crowd in Barcelona, which felt that his victory in the 10,000-meter race came about because he and a teammate conspired to sandbag a Kenyan runner. (Skah’s gold medal in fact was stripped from him, then reinstated.)
Greenspan is slightly handicapped by a lack of great camera access to the actual competition. But it’s a testament to his heightened dramatic technique that often during his film you’ll find your heart thumping even though, in many cases, you already know how the race turns out.