Under ABC's Spell

I don't know whether or not it was serendipity, but I was tickled by the fact that ABC's coverage, live from Washington, of the National Spelling Bee–sorry, the Scripps National Spelling Bee–was scheduled opposite Fox's Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.

I'm certainly not smarter than any of those kids. I love this show, though it may be an acquired taste.

"Bouleuterion" tripped up Anqui Dong, whose name would be hard enough to spell itself, and Jonathan Horton was felled by "girolle," which is a device for shaping cheese.

Joseph Henares lit up the room with his comment that he would prefer spelling the definition for "punaise," which was "bedbug," then spelled it correctly anyway, much to his apparent surprise.

"Urgrund," a primal cause for ultimate cosmic principle, was a cause for primal angst for Claire Zhang.

I can't wait to see the ratings on this show. They wouldn't have to be stellar to beat any number of programs on the networks these days. It has novelty and rooting interest going for it.

Kavya Shivashankar was a fan favorite, but wasn't so happy to have gotten the word "cilice," which sent her packing.

Most of these kids make you feel pretty good about the next generation and about the value of diversity to our culture.

ESPN may be the Disney sports brand and sporting an increasing number of big-ticket competitions, but ABC has spelling, and did it up right with the kind of up close and personal athlete (or are they "esthete") profiles that helped put ABC Sports on the map.

By John Eggerton

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.