Bee buzzes to bad ratings

It seemed like a surefire hit: Combine cute kids, stressed parents, and difficult words in a two-hour educational blowout that was certain to leave audiences a third-place nonevent as it went up against reruns of The Office and the sputtering Game Show Marathon. Nobody will read this story.

Despite the success of movies like Spellbound and Akeelah and the Bee, Thursday night's airing of the final round of Spelling Bee on ABC took third place in its time slot. The earlier rounds were aired during the day on ESPN, where the Bee has gained a following over the past several years.

Despite featuring Lance Bass dressed in a banana suit, CBS's Game Show Marathon is sinking after a ho-hum start Wednesday. The series, hosted by Ricki Lake, runs five more nights. Each night is an homage to classic game shows such as The Price Is Right and Family Feud.

At 8 p.m., Fox landed at number one with 2.6 after asking audiences So You Think You Can Dance?, to which they responded, "We think we can *watch* So You Think You Can Dance? At number two was CBS, with a 2.3 for Game Show Marathon, followed by ABC's Bee tying with NBC's The Office at 2.0, Univision at 1.8 for fourth, and The WB and UPN tying for fifth with 0.9 for the hour, The WB with Smallville reruns and UPN with Everybody Hates Chris and Love, Inc. reruns.

During the 9 p.m. hour, Fox still Danced to first with a 4.3, CBS took second and 3.8 with a CSI repeat, ABC improved to a 2.6 and three with the Bee, NBC's Office nabbed a 2.4 and fourth, Unvision took fifth and 1.6 with its World Cup preview show Viva el Mundial, WB scored .08 and sixth for a rerun of Supernatural, and UPN came in seventh with 0.6 for Eve and Cuts reruns.

At 10 p.m., CBS's Without a Trace repeat took first with 3.2, ABC placed second with Primetime at 2.9, NBC's ER repeat earned third with 2.1 and Univision took fourth and 1.3 for the second hour of Mundial.

Overall, Fox won the night with a 3.4 rating/10 share, followed closely by CBS with 3.1/9, ABC with 2.5/7, NBC with 2.2/6, Univision with 1.6/5, WB with 0.9/3, and UPN with 0.7/2.

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