I have admittedly been spending entirely too much time watching the Olympics in the past few days. And, once again, I am distracted by the little in-studio vignettes that run between the actual sporting events where Bob Costas sits and talks with various guests. These are endlessly aggravating as we all know that we are missing significant portions of the athletics we are really tuning in for, not to mention that the whole time-delay issue makes these wee, precious chats particularly annoying. And, like the past Winter Olympics, the set is more interesing than the folks parading around in front of it.
After looking at these staid bookshelves and comfy club chairs, my conclusion is that NBC said, "hey, the Olympics are in London, let's make the set into something old schoolboy Englishy" and hence the television studio is formed into a kind of London Gentlemen's Club.
Bob is sitting around making small talk with his colleagues (how did they let a woman in here anyway) in the library of the club. I'm surprised not to see some stolid waiter with glacial but velvety quiet pace walking around with a silver tray of drinks. Or at least some dear-old-boy octogenarian snoozing quietly in some massive wing chair in the background dreaming of Empire and the white man's burden.
Of course this is all more reflective of what some tv execs think Americans need and want Britain to be rather than what it actually is. These gentlemen's clubs still exist, but I think the images referenced by the set designers have more to do with televised portraits of Sherlock and Watson sitting around Baker Street or something out of Downton Abbey or Brideshead. In fact, if you look closely, you will see a decanter of something amber sitting next to Bob on a small table. Mind you, no open books on the table, just laid aside as someone pops in for a chat, just the prop tomes on the faux mahogany shelves.