Monday, July 14, 2008

TV Review – Greatest American Dog

Occasionally here at the Poop, we review TV shows so that you have time to walk your little buddies. (Why aren’t we walking our little buddies? It is 110 degrees outside. They will be walked again in October.) Today’s show: Greatest American Dog which premiered Thursday on CBS (check local listings for the time and channel in your area).

The first big problem with Greatest American Dog is the title. Twelve dogs, along with their owners, were selected to compete in Greatest American Dog, and not one of them is my dog.

You: Yeah, you’re right, they didn’t select my dog.
Me: No, not your dog, my dog.
You: Yeah, my dog.
Me: No, when I said “my dog”, I meant my “my dog”, not your “my dog”.
You: No, you said “my dog”. My dog is “my dog”.
Me: “My dog” is my dog. I wrote it.
You: Well now I am reading it and “my dog” is my dog.
Me: My dog is Couper. He should be the Greatest American Dog!
You: No! My dog is (whoever) . He/she is the Greatest American Dog!!
Me: You’re a moron!
You: Yeah, you’re a moron!

And so it goes. The point is everybody thinks his/her dog is the Greatest American Dog. If you
don’t, your dog should be taken away from you, you do not deserve one. (For the record, Godiva will qualify for Greatest American Dog when she stops pooping in the house and chewing my hand – don’t take her away!). The show really should be called Greatest American Dog of These Twelve or Second Greatest American Dog, After Yours (Mine).

The second big problem with Greatest American Dog is the dogs. Among the twelve contestants, there are no dachshunds. What, were they afraid that the most aggressive breed of dog would beat down the other dogs? If nothing else, that would make the show more interesting. And as we ramble on, you will see that this show needs all the interesting it can find.

The show starts with us meeting the contestants and their owners. I refuse to learn any of the names of the owners, names of the dogs, or the breeds of the dogs because I don’t care (this is the same attitude I took for the shows Friends, Starsky and Hutch, and Kate and Alley – why bother learning the characters names). We learn why each of the owners thinks that his or her dog is America’s Greatest. Most of them talked about bonding or being family or being a best friend or knowing a trick. Only one came to the table with the dog doing something heroic (saving his wife’s life). Worse yet, almost all of the dogs owned by women, and a couple owned by men, were dressed in people clothes. One woman (name definitely not to be learned) makes sure that her dog wears an outfit to match hers every day. We then see a shot of her at her sewing machine making that dog’s clothes for the day. Maybe what makes that dog special is that he is keeping his owner out of the psychiatric ward. At the very least the dog is keeping her off the streets and in the sewing room.

The dogs and the owners arrive in the classic one-by-one reality show style at the K-9 mansion where they will be staying together during the competition. The mansion is the most impressive
part of the show. First off it is huge. It makes the old Clampett mansion on the Beverly Hillbillies look like it belongs in East LA (the Compton Clampetts???). It has a giant yard where the bushes are all cut to look like dogs or fire hydrants. The inside is filled with dog furniture and people furniture that looks like dog furniture (a dog bone coffee table). As I told Couper/Godiva’s Mommy that someday we should have a house like that, the excitement of dreaming of a mansion like that, and the fear that I would actually have it decorated that way left her speechless.

The first competition for Greatest American Dog was musical chairs. Same game you played at your 5th birthday party, but the dogs were ushered along by their owners and had to sit on a platform. You could tell that even the producers found this boring when after the second round they started removing two platforms each time. I am looking forward to next week, where maybe the dogs will play Duck Duck Goose. This week’s winner (dog and owner unknown) got to stay in the Doggie Suite, which is a giant room even more obnoxiously dog themed. He also got to pick someone (dog and owner unknown) to stay in the Dog House (big dog house with sleeping bags) out in the yard.

In the elimination competition the dogs/owners formed groups of four to put on a doggie/human talent show. I won’t even attempt to describe the shows. My time would be better spent looking up a more powerful word for god-awful. Unfortunately, I am too lazy to do that, so god-awful it shall be.

The talent show was judged by three people who I don’t know and I don’t care to remember. As
decreed by the Treaty of Paris at the end of the American Revolution, one of the judges was British. I believe the treaty, signed in 1783, looked like this:

Article 1: His Brittanic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz., New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, to be free sovereign and independent states, that he treats with them as such, and for himself, his heirs, and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, propriety, and territorial rights of the same and every part thereof.

Articles 2-10: Blah, blah, blah (paraphrasing)

Article 11: In all future United States national competitions, at least one of the three judges must be a British subject. Said judge(s) will be deemed the “nasty judge(s)” and shall have jurisdiction to demean and humiliate the American competitors regardless of any current or future rule of law.

I am not saying that the British judge on Greatest American Dog was any Simon, hell, I refuse to
even remember her name, but there was a lot to criticize anyhow. By the way, does it bother anybody else that America’s Got Talent has two British judges (or that the third is Hasslehoff?). Is this some kind of loophole in the Treaty of Paris that is keeping “America’s greatest talent competition” tied to British interests?

Back to Greatest American Dog, it turns out that the judges have the power to vote off one contestant. This may have been the most disappointing part of the show for me. I was really hoping that we, the American people would get to choose the Greatest American Dog. Isn’t that what this country was founded on? Do I have to quote the Constitution now? Besides, I was hoping for a way that I could write-in (call-in???) our dog, Couper, and make this competition live-up to its name. I guess that isn’t going to happen. The dream is over. The bad guys and dogs win. See if I vote for anything the rest of the year. Anyhow, the anonymous judges voted off the anonymous owner (well deserved) and his anonymous dog (victim of circumstance - I think they actually voted off the owner). The losers took a lap around the stage and left our lives forever.

All of which brings us to two crucial questions:

Could our dog (our “our dog” – Couper) actually win Greatest American Dog? Probably not. There is no way he would have made it through the first round of musical chairs. He would have had no interest in sitting on a platform when there were other dogs and people to bark at. And neither of us would have been good at the talent show, unless we could integrate him wildly knocking a soccer ball around (maybe that would impress the British judge?). In the end though, we know he is the Greatest American Dog. Why? It says so, right here on the internet.

Will we watch? Probably. We do like dogs and it has the added benefit of us thinking (knowing) our dogs (not your dogs) are better than those dogs. Hopefully though the producers will work the eliminations like they did the musical chairs and start getting rid of multiple dogs at a time. I am not sure I can take 10 more weeks of this.

On a much more positive note, and because this post is nowhere near long enough, there is a show that is fun for dog owners. It is called The Baby Borrowers (Wednesday, NBC – check local listings). The premise is great. They take teen couples who are thinking about having babies, move them into houses on a cul-de-sac, and give them babies. Not sacks of flour posing as babies. Actual human babies.

Now, the producers of this show go to great lengths to keep the show from crossing that fine line from edutainment to child abuse. The babies’ parents are allowed to monitor everything from another house and there is an in-house nanny who can act in case of emergencies – say if the teens put the baby in the dryer or something. However, as a new puppy owners, we wonder why they would go through the troubles and potential lawsuits when they could just go to the pound and get the teen couples a puppy – better yet, a dachshund puppy. Want the teens to experience screaming in the middle of the night? Check. Peeing and pooping anytime anyplace? Check. Teething? Check. Running around with no particular place to go? Check. Trying to get it to eat? Check.

I guess it is more powerful to show the teens with an actual baby and NBC has the power and money to make all parties “disappear” if a disaster happens (evidence? When’s the last time you saw Martha Stewart?). However, if an institution with a little less money, say, a high school, wanted to prove to potential parents that babies are difficult, they could go the puppy route. Last I checked, puppies poop and scream more than bags of flour.

The best part about the Baby Borrowers for us is that Godiva had her best night in the house
when we watched the show. We teamed up to watch her every move and kept her out of mischief. When she started sniffing, we scooped her up and hustled her outside to go potty. We made sure she did not torment Couper (or vice versa) too much. It was as if we were being challenged by the teens on the show and we made sure to outdo them. On the other hand, when we watched Greatest American Dog, Godiva peed twice in the house. Maybe she didn’t like not being in the competition either.

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