LONDON - Good show, London. Long, but good.
The Queen in her screen acting debut as a James Bond girl, certainly an opening ceremony first. Rowan Atkinson running with the lads from Chariots of Fire. Harry Potter and William Shakespeare and Paul McCartney. Bicycles made up to be doves, Muhammad Ali holding the Olympic flag.
And in the end, the flame lit not by a famous face but seven young people, igniting more than 200 copper petals - one for each country - that converged into a burning flower of Olympic best wishes and hopes.
It wasn't Beijing. Not as exotic, not as magical. And not as expensive. This opening ceremony was quirky and fun and loud and British.
There were not the wow moments of Beijing, just many very cool ones among the 3½ hours. There was more humor than we usually see from an opening ceremony, with puns and pop culture among the pomp and circumstance.
During the athletes' parade, Fiji marched in to the music of the Bee Gees. And was that really dozens of Mary Poppins floating in from the sky?
It was a show that did not take itself too seriously. The guess is that played well on television back in the colonies.
Queen Elizabeth and Daniel Craig sharing a scene was not to be missed. "It's believed this is the first time Her Majesty has acted on film," the program noted.
Atkinson banging out the Chariots of Fire theme with one finger on a piano and then somehow showing up on the beach running with the track team was priceless.
The infield turning from a quiet countryside with sheepdogs and horses and ducks into an industrialized city with belching smokestacks was gold medal set design.
The torch lighting was a deft twist in the road, an artistic wonder that put the attention on the moment itself, rather than whoever was doing it. Probably not everyone's cup of English tea.
The dropping of 7 billion pieces of paper from a helicopter onto the assembled teams - representing every person on the planet - was inspired. Except to the clean-up crew. That's going to take a lot of brooms.
The collage of pictures of lost family members - spectators were invited to provide them - was moving, but one wonders about the thoughts of the Israeli delegation, which repeatedly has been shunned by the IOC in its request for a moment of silence at the opening ceremony for the victims of the 1972 Munich massacre.
And there was the same show-stopper every other city gets. The parade of athletes never goes out of style, though if more countries keep coming, it will take longer than the marathon. The organizers tried to move things along by playing music at 120 beats per minute to promote quicker walking by the athletes, but Greece started the march at 10:21 p.m. local time and the home team from Great Britain did not enter the stadium to end it until 11:54 p.m., to the music of David Bowie.
It's one of the nights of their lives. Who wants to hurry?
The flag bearers for the countries might have been the 205 proudest people in the world Friday night, and their diversity was a snapshot of the tapestry of the Games.
There were wealthy professional tennis players; Maria Sharapova for Russia and Novak Djokovic for Serbia. But also the archer from Bhutan, Sherab Zam's biography claiming she practices every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There was Jamaica's Usain Bolt, who runs for world records and fame. And shooting's Bahya Mansour Al Hamad - the first female Olympian ever from Qatar - who says she hopes to encourage other women.
Only two men's basketball players were picked; Spain's Pau Gasol and China's Yi Jianlian.
But 11 taekwondo athletes were chosen.
North Korea track athlete Song-Chol Pak led his delegation, and it was comforting to see they had handed him the correct flag.
The USA chose a fencer from Notre Dame, Mariel Zagunis. The Americans came in snazzy blue and white outfits. China, the nation that produced them, should be proud.
And for a poignant history lesson, the Israel team marched in behind sailing's Shahar Zubari, 40 years after Munich. His uncle Gad Zubari was a wrestler in 1972, and the only Israeli to escape from the terrorists.
Ceremony director Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars, so he didn't need this to pay the bills. It must be a little nerve-wracking to have your work judged by an audience of 4 billion. He said he took on the Olympics partly because his father was such a big fan of the Games.
His father died 18 months ago. Friday would have been his birthday.
He'd have had reason to be proud. Good show, indeed.