'Spell-Mageddon' review: ABC Family's spelling bee game show is an icky mess

"Spell-Mageddon" is a new kind of spelling bee, coming July 24 to ABC Family.

GAME SHOW "Spell-Mageddon"

WHEN|WHERE Premieres Wednesday night at 9 on ABC Family

WHY TO WATCH If your one of us whose had it with bad spellers, here's your chance to see 'em suffer. (Do not adjust your eyes. That sentence was pathetic on purpose.)


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WHAT IT'S ABOUT Here's a spelling bee for the "Double Dare" generation. Let's see YOU try to pronounce the letters in "loquacious" while being bombarded with squirting water, smoke bombs, mild shocks, dodge balls and bloo goo -- er, blue goo, in place of the old Nickelodeon messfest's green slime.

Amiable agony announces itself in this hour's first round, as seven adult contestants appear in helmets and goggles, slipping across a sort of water-filled bounce ramp to ring in to spell the likes of "explain." One says he got tasered to prepare for this. Well, it wasn't enough. There are log-smacks in the face. A dunking chamber filled with icy water. Surprise hands-from-behind. (Yowsa!) And "climatology." Cries one panicked player, "I don't even know what that is!"

Suffer, they do.

MY SAY And how I love it. If I see one more you're/your error online, I'm going to scream, possibly in the little-girl screech emanating from large men during tonight's icy-dunk round. Relaxed host Alfonso Ribeiro gleefully welcomes his millennial-generation crew of students and stay-at-home dads, teachers and opera singers. (Those whose job self-description includes "unemployed" get an especially warm live-audience welcome.) All are reduced to quivering dupes by the ongoing ick assault -- yet, surprisingly, manage to spell pretty well.

And they're clearly having fun. This is friendly torture, voluntary torture, allowing us to laugh at these giddy people's plight in a non-demeaning way. It's guilt-free humiliation, and a satisfying virtual comeuppance for all those careless errors that reading today forces us to indure. (There's one.) Call me vengefull. (There's two.) That's only you're opinnion. (Oh, forget it.)

BOTTOM LINE Bad spelling really does make a mess of things.

GRADE B+

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