Last week CBS slipped a surprising show onto its primetime lineup: Dogs in the City. It’s surprising because we don’t generally see dog shows on network TV at dinnertime, and we haven’t for years, maybe not even since Greatest American Dog in 2008. What’s even more surprising is that the dog-training show led the time slot, with 6.7 million viewers, edging out So You Think You Can Dance with host Cat Deeley. (Hah! Dogs beat Cat! Er, sorry.)
It also beat the Stanley Cup finals, which surprised no one, because the Stanley Cup finals is a hockey game.
So, it must be pretty good, huh? Well, sorta. Here’s five of the best things about the show, which can also be the worst things, if you’re more into hatewatching dog-training shows instead of just watching them.
1. City Dog Montages
I don’t know about you, but I can sit around all day and watch montages of city people walking around with their city dogs, carefully crossing streets, getting waved to by doormen, eating hot dogs, having breakfast at Tiffany’s, paddling rowboats in Central Park. Well, maybe not all day. To tell you the truth, by the end of Dogs in the City I was worried that my interest in montages of frolicking city dogs was about to wane — I had seen so very many of these montages in the past hour, you see. You have a good thing with your montages of dogs in the city, Dogs in the City. Try not to overdo it.
2. Host Justin Silver
Affable, handsome, funny, with a New Yawk accent barreling through at the right moments, Silver seems like a star cable host who got kicked up to the big leagues. He’s a dog trainer, to be sure, but he’s also a stand-up comic and a former personal trainer, so he knows how to talk to people and put them at ease. Who knows how well he can train, though. Dog-training shows are all smoke and mirrors and massive editing, anyway. All the dogs get trained in the end, period. It’s in the contract. In any case, Silver trains dogs by training people. Which brings us to:
3. City People Are Fancy and Crazy
To make a show work, you need super interesting and/or crazy people just as much as super cute and/or crazy dogs, and it picked the right city, because NYC is full of super interesting and/or crazy everything.
In the three segments, we get a retired cop living with the most precocious and witty 9-year-old you’ve ever seen outside of a Wes Anderson movie (but who is likely average among Upper East Side peers); striving newlyweds, in which the groom seems more in love with his famous skateboarding Bulldog than his bride (yes, famous skateboarding Bulldogs live in nice apartments in NYC); and the most perfect New York person ever: a crazily defensive working woman who brings her aggressive dog to work. Where does she work? She owns a model-staffing agency.
4. The Crazily Defensive Model-Staffing Woman
More on this NYC diamond. She is wonderful. Her dog lunges at everyone who enters the office — models, mostly — and poor, crazily defensive model-staffing boss simply can’t have all these attacks taking place, taking up valuable time. What is wrong with all these people, getting bitten? “STOP MAKING MY DOG BITE YOU!” she screams at an H&M catalog model. Well not really, but very close.
Anyway, Silver gets her to realize that she is the problem, and she peers into her soul and descends into madness. Well, no. They tie up the dog inside the office — WHAT AN IDEA! — and problem solved. Or is it? I would have liked to see how they were doing later, like after the crazily defensive model-staffing woman watched this premiere and woke up her psychiatrist by screaming outside his window at 4 a.m.
5. It Hardly Shows Any Dog Training
This is not necessary the best thing! It is likely the worst thing, if you care about dog training and really want to learn something. But be reasonable. This is CBS. This is primetime. Like all reality shows, Dogs in the City is really about the drama — the crazily defensive model-staffing woman, the rocky newlyweds, the 9-year-old ABSOLUTE GENIUS living with a retired city cop (that’s another show right there), and the dogs are there to make you go, Awwww, look at the widdle puppy wibbing in New York Widdy! Silver does some training montages and — poof — dogs are suddenly trained, but mostly his job is fix the owners and charm middle America.
I’m pretty charmed. Not fully charmed, but charmed enough to tune in next week. Are you, too? Let us know in the comments!