This little blurb recently appeared on ESPN's web site, which I believe is espn.com, but I'm guessing:
You know it, you love it ... that's right, it's the National Spelling Bee, a spectacle that ranks alongside the Adult Video News Awards and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show as the most secretly captivating telecast on TV.
Pardon me if I don't share that viewpoint, but I just can't conjure up a lot of enthusiasm for kids who spell better than my Microsoft spell check program. Counted among the "spectacles" are such compelling choices as poker, cooking and the weather. They're all on TV somewhere, and it's 24/7 excitement for couch veggies everywhere.
There are so many channels on cable that I can't count them. Mostly because they skip over a lot of numbers, but otherwise, I just lose track. Usually, my attention is diverted somewhere near the Spanish channel, where even the most dramatic medical show can feature a large-breasted girl in a low-cut top doing something in Spanish that makes me wish I spoke the language - or needed a hernia operation.
But this isn't on cable - it's on ABC, June 1 at 8:00pm - right there in prime time! A real network with options for entertainment other than spelling, including Jim Belushi. Bee director Paige Kimble, who is also the 1981 National champion (oooh ... the goose pimples), says spellers like to think of themselves as "the original reality television programming." So, now we know whom to blame. After 12 years of low-key airings on ESPN, Kimble says America is finally ready for spelling bees in prime time. Maybe there's a reason the airings on ESPN were low-key?
To the boys at ABC, kids spelling on TV is why God made microwave popcorn. I'm sure it's in the Bible somewhere - right after he created cats and sunscreen. Last year, Anurag Kashyap clinched the title by managing to spell the word appoggiatura - which means melodic tone - correctly. Interesting, since most people in the audience couldn't spell the winner's name, let alone the word he spelled.
Second only to the Spelling Bee is the U.S. Paintball Championship. I don't know which is worse - the fact that there is a U.S. Paintball Championship, or the fact that the U.S. Paintball Championship is on television. Throw in a Spanish nurse in a low-cut top and it's Must-See TV. Just don't get any paint on the good parts.
ESPN promotes the spelling bee by telling us: "You learn dozens of words that could never be used under any circumstances. The tension during the contest becomes unbearable at times." OK, so I need to know how to spell words I will never use, and I'm supposed to watch something that is unbearable? Wait, while I inflate my air-cushion hemorrhoid donut so the constant sitting doesn't inflame my ass. If that's the best thing they can think of to promote a show, maybe it shouldn't be on TV in the first place. And to think, the "E" stands for Entertainment, and they're owned by Disney and ABC. Go figure.
For real drama, check the ratings on Friday. The spelling bee is on opposite the NBA playoffs on TNT, the NHL playoffs on OLN and the Yankees/Tigers on ESPN, not to mention the train-wreck So You Think You Can Dance on Fox. Chances are, the spelling show doubles the ratings for any of that other stuff, including the Cosby Show repeats on Nickelodeon.
Meanwhile, I'm busy checking to see which channel the Adult Video News Awards show is on. Now that's a spectacle!