And the gold medal for coolest network promo goes to . . .

Tonight’s the big kickoff for the Olympics. But before you’re sick of NBC’s whole theme-songed, video-packaged enterprise (the network plans

Tonight’s the big kickoff for the Olympics. But before you’re sick of NBC’s whole theme-songed, video-packaged enterprise (the network plans 3,600 Hilton-Coke-ExxonMobil-sponsored multiplatform hours of coverage, the equivalent of four years of 24/7 broadcasting), check out this brief and fetchingly odd Web-video alternative.

Created as a promo for BBC Sport’s Olympics coverage, “Monkey” is the brainchild of Damon Albarn (lead singer of the band Blur) and Jamie Hewlett, the pair behind the virtual art-pop supergroup Gorillaz. The wryly animated video is based on the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West as well as the alt-rock opera Monkey: Journey to the West, another Albarn-Hewlett collaboration. It follows Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy as they travel to Beijing. Along the way they must battle various foes by using their skills in (naturally) swimming, javelin-tossing, running, pole-vaulting, and hurdle-jumping.

If we were giving out medals for network promos, there’d be no competition: BBC Sport’s Monkey would get the gold.

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