I’m sure this show, which pits 12 pooches, pictured, against each other for the title of “Greatest American Dog,” sounded like a good idea to someone, at some point. Kinda like EW’s December 3, 1993 cover of Frasier‘s dog, Eddie. (It’s true, y’all.) But somehow, it’s even less fun than you’d expect. (And read about the show’s shocking July 30 elimination by clicking here!)

The canine competitors and their owners live and train at the “Canine Academy.” Each episode, they’ll duke it out in a Dog Bone Challenge to determine which pair gets to stay in puppy paradise, a private luxury suite. The winner also gets to decide which pair will rough it in an outdoor dog house (slightly larger in size than a tent). The rest of the contestants and their pets will share communal bedrooms, which producers clearly hope provides some drama. In the premiere, the challenge was musical doggy chairs. When the music stopped, the owners had to get their dogs to jump up on a tiny platform and sit. Why was I surprised that I was seeing this on a major network? Each episode, there will also be an elimination challenge in which the dogs and owners perform in front of three judges — including an editor-at-large of Dog World and Dog Fancy.

This week, working in groups of four (or eight), the owners had to come up with a skit that would showcase their dogs’ basic skills (e.g. sit, play dead, pirouette, skateboard). Some rose to the challenge — like film producer Laura and her mohawk-rockin’ Pomeranian, Preston, from Team Aloha, which did an Hawaiian theme. Others crumbled: Aspiring comic Michael took it upon himself to emcee his team’s doggy disco and overshadowed his Boston Terrier, Ezzie. Judge Victoria Stilwell, host of It’s Me or the Dog, noted that Ezzie was licking her lips, which is a stress signal, and also cowering in Michael’s sequined presence. She didn’t look like she was having fun, Stilwell said. Michael choked back tears. The wind was literally knocked out of him when he eventually got the boot. I was sorta sad to see Michael and Ezzie go, following their “farewell lap” of the ring; she’d stolen English Bulldog Tillman’s skateboard while he was rehearsing and Michael had pretended to lift his leg on the furnishings in the Dog Bone Suite. They were promising.

After the jump, I pick the pooch who should’ve hit the road, and my early favorites (yes, I think the blogfather will make me keep watching).

The other two pairings in the bottom three this week were Beth Joy and her professional actress/soul mate mix breed, Bella Starlet, and Brandy and her Miniature Schnauzer, Beacon. Beth Joy lost control of Bella Starlet during their French-class routine at Bark Wag High. Though judge Allan Reznick of Dog Fancy fame praised Bella’s pirouettes, he wanted more than one trick. Perhaps he heard that Bella Starlet is the “Pam Anderson of dogs” (and that she and Beth Joy have matching swimsuits in their arsenal), because that mutt lived to bark another day. I was rooting for Brandy and Beacon to get gone. Nothing against Beacon, who admittedly had a problem with the commands to wag one’s tail and sit. I’m just over Brandy, who Stilwell called out for “physically manipulating” her dog. She pushed Beacon’s butt down to a sitting position — a big no-no. That was ironic since Brandy said earlier she is protective of Beacon and, “I won’t tolerate other people touching my dog.” At least we’ll have the chance for more awkward conversations between Brandy and Ron, Tillman’s owner, who said he couldn’t remember whether that was the day he was jumping in front of a train or drinking bleach when Brandy invited him to her dog-friendly wedding.

As for my early favorites, I’d say they are Preston and Tillman. (Tillman won me over when he refused to keep playing musical chairs; Preston’s owner, Laura, got me when she brought David and his beloved Parson Russell Terrier, Elvis, some blankets in the Dog House.) I’m also fond of Leroy, the Border Collie who jumped over a gate to be the first one to hit the pool (it IS a reality show!); Presley, the young Boxer with the hot owner, Travis; and Star, the Brittany who’d saved the life of her older owner Bill’s diabetic wife. Star needs a vet in next week’s episode. I couldn’t watch even if I wanted to!

Will you be tuning in next week? What are the odds that cocky J.D. and his English Border Collie, Galaxy, maintain residence in the Dog Bone Suite?