Are animals really taking over TV?
Think David Letterman’s stupid pet tricks are fun? Then it’s time to learn about Animal Planet, the basic cable network where critters have usurped center stage from boring old bipeds with animal-themed medical dramas, cop shows, and funny home videos.
To help you get started, here’s our take on six of the net’s most popular shows.
SHOW ”Emergency Vets”
WHAT IT’S LIKE NBC’s ”ER”
THE DISH As distraught pet owners weep in the waiting room, vets attack cases both benign (a balding kitten with ringworm) and heartbreaking (hit-and-run victims are common fatalities). If you thought ”ER” was gory, wait until you see a rottweiler with a rotting limb. And don’t forget, this docudrama’s for real.
WHY IT WORKS No matter how bad it gets, the patients never whine for more painkillers.
WHY IT DOESN’T For anyone who’s ever lost a pet, watching this show may require heavy sedation.
SHOW ”The Planet’s Funniest Animals”
WHAT IT’S LIKE ABC’s ”America’s Funniest Home Videos”
THE DISH You know the drill: both ”Animals” and ”Videos” ask every goober with a video camera and a lame sense of humor to send in a tape.
WHY IT WORKS A cat running around with a bucket on its head? Funny. A middle-aged, shirtless guy running around with a bucket on his head? Not so funny.
WHY IT DOESN’T There are only so many times you can watch a hamster do a backflip. Really.
SHOW ”The Pet Psychic”
IT’S LIKE the syndicated series ”Crossing Over with John Edward”
DISH Part-time etiquette coach (no, we didn’t make that up) Sonya Fitzpatrick uses her amazing powers to find out why Fifi won’t eat her liver snacks.
WHY IT WORKS Whether or not you believe in Fitzpatrick’s powers, watching a grown woman hold a conversation with a ferret is worth a laugh.
WHY IT DOESN’T If you thought Edwards’ chats with the dead were silly, you’re not likely to buy Fitzpatrick’s kitty chat.