Stupid TV Tricks


Imagine the pitch meeting: "Boss, we’ve got it! Dancing With the Stars meets David Letterman’s ‘Stupid Pet Tricks’! That’s right! People dancing with animals—and getting judged! We’re rich!"

Yes, the folks at Animal Planet must be wagging their tails over Dancing Pet Stars, a one-hour special premiering June 24 at 8 p.m. ET. Hosted by Mario Lopez of Saved by the Bell fame (and here we use "fame" loosely), the show assembles dancing clips from the network’s animal-tricks show Pet Stars and ranks the top 20 hoofers.

Typically on Pet Stars, a panel of celebrity judges—including Best in Show judge Fred Willard and ex-Baywatcher Gena Lee Nolin—decides the fates of the beasts and their masters.

An Animal spokeswoman assures us that this isn’t just people dragging dogs around by the front paws. Remarking on a "jive-dancing" golden retriever, she says, "The choreography was complicated."

We reviewed a few clips on the network’s Website. We loved the kilt-wearing, Scottish-jig–dancing German shepherd. But we’re setting our TiVos for the horse, of course, that does the hokey-pokey.

But does the Discovery-owned channel really expect to unleash a dancing-pet rage? "Well, there is a huge dance craze now," the spokeswoman insists. "And it’s a fun way to connect with your pet."

We’re sure the pets feel the same way.


Big Trick

As the broadcast networks retreat from conventions, cable attempts a magic act: getting viewers to watch