'Greatest American Dog' Series Premiere Review: Put This Puppy to Sleep
'Greatest American Dog' Series Premiere Review: Put This Puppy to Sleep
The premise of CBS' Greatest American Dog sounds more like the plot of a Christopher Guest mockumentary than a compelling reality show.  Here's the setup: 12 people with strong personalities are thrown into a house along with their canines, where they're forced to put their pups through all sorts of wacky challenges.  Each week, judges Wendy Diamond, Allan Reznik and Victoria Stillwell eliminate an owner/dog team, until the one duo left yapping is awarded $250,000.

Despite my misgivings about watching a series that's basically Big Brother: Shih-Tzu Edition, I tuned in to Greatest American Dog with an open mind.  Read on to find out if CBS deserves a Best in Show trophy or a painful neutering for this reality experiment.

As the premiere episode begins, we're quickly introduced to all of the canines and their eccentric owners.  After moving into a house that's surrounded by creepy topiary animals straight out of The Shining, the dog lovers sniff each other's butts and quickly figure out that drama will soon erupt between them.  Who knew moving a bunch of strangers into a house together could create drama?  CBS is blazing trails with this one.

The first challenge is a game of doggie musical chairs.  As the dogs run around in circles, their owners try to convince them to jump on a stool and stay there when the music stops.  After J.D. and Galaxy win the competition they're rewarded with a night in the Dog Bone Suite, which is full of awesome amenities that only a canine could love.  J.D. also gets to force one of his teammates to sleep outside in a dog house all night, which immediately stirs up drama.  He chooses the inseparable duo of David and Elvis, who are co-dependent in a rather sad way.

The second challenge of each episode forces the owners to train their dogs certain tricks.  In the premiere, the humans have to team up with each other and train their pups to participate in a talent show for the judges.  The talent show consists of a puppy pep rally, a doggie luau, and a canine disco dancing extravaganza that features both sequins and afro wigs.  After viewing how each owner interacts with his/her pup, the judges decide to eliminate flamboyant Michael and his Boston terrier, Ezzie.  They didn't like the way Michael hogged the spotlight and tried to be the grand diva of the talent show.  This isn't Greatest American Dog Owner, after all.

As adorable as the dogs are, a show like this is only compelling if the humans are worth watching.  Unfortunately, all the owners on Greatest American Dog are as bland and forgettable as a Milk-Bone.  The show could have used some of the crazy personalities found on Bravo's Showdog Moms & Dads, which aired a few years ago and featured a slew of lovable weirdos.  The judges don't fare much better.  Everything about the trio is completely forgettable, with only Victoria Stillwell's accent standing out as interesting.

Even if you can get over the incredibly dull cast, the rest of the show is only mildly interesting.  On the plus side, the challenges are creative and entertaining, the dogs are lovable, and it's not every day that you see disco dancing pups on TV.  However, with bland judges, sleep-inducing contestants, a serious lack of human drama and not one comical use of the word "bitch," I have to recommend that Greatest American Dog be put down.  Play with a real dog for an hour each week until CBS cancels this puppy.  It's a much better way to spend your time.

- Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)