In network television, CBS is the top dog. But with "Dogs in the City" (8 p.m., TV-PG), it's borrowing a series idea from "The Dog Whisperer," a show that has migrated from National Geographic to Nat Geo Wild. That only goes to prove that in television, sometimes it's the tail that wags the dog.
"Dogs in the City" offers an East Coast, Big Apple twist on the old "Dog Whisperer" format. Star Justin Silver has a thick accent and a "fuhget-
aboutit" attitude that contrasts with "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan's vaguely New Age, Southern California vibe. Perhaps Silver's show should be called "Dawgs in the City."
Both men know that dogs are lovable and trainable. Owners -- otherwise known as people -- are another story. Silver's dog training and counseling woes are complicated by New York's more crowded urban canyons. Dogs are left alone in tiny apartments while their owners go to work for eight to 12 hours at a stretch. Hey, people, that's what cats are for! Or, better yet, house plants.
Among Silver's first challenges is therapy for a dog whose recently divorced owners insist on joint custody. Another canine psychodrama involves a woman who won't move in with her boyfriend because she's afraid of his big dog. Can this non-marriage be saved?
In addition to his skills as a dog trainer (and amateur psychotherapist), Silver raises money for animal shelters with an annual stand-up event: "Funny for Fido."
---If CBS can borrow from cable, then surely cable channels can borrow from one
another. Formerly broadcast on TLC, "BBQ Pitmasters" (10 p.m.) joins the Destination America schedule.
For those of you who never heard of this channel, it used to be called Planet Green. That network was originally dedi-
cated to environmental programming but then lost focus, or interest, in the whole green thing. Rest assured, the pitmasters smoking beef brisket and pork shoulders over
smoldering hickory and mesquite aren't exactly torturing themselves over their carbon footprints.
In another sign of cable confusion, "The Fabulous Beek man Boys," once the most popular show on Planet Green, will be migrating to the Cooking Channel. Shouldn't that network be broadcasting shows like "Pitmasters"? And isn't the Beekman Boys' fabulous farm a "Destination"? I give up.
---"Melissa & Joey" (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14) returns for a second season. For the uninitiated, Melissa Joan Hart stars as a local politician who hires Joe (Joey Lawrence) as a male nanny to help raise her teenage niece (Taylor Spreitler) and nephew (Nick Robinson).
With its stunt casting and contrived story, "Melissa & Joey" is a bit of a throwback. It occasionally tries to compensate for its retro status with outbreaks of fairly crude
language and innuendo for a "family" show. Look for Debi Mazar ("Entourage"), Cody Linley ("Dancing With the Stars"), Gregg Sulkin ("Wiz ards of Waverly Place") and comedian Rita Rudner to guest star this season.
---PBS goes into cold-blooded reptile repeat mode with "Black Mamba" on "Nature" (8 p.m.), "Venom: Nature's Killer" on "NOVA" (9 p.m.) and "Monster Python" on "Inside Nature's Giants" (10 p.m.).
---New Jersey hosts Los Angeles in game one of the 2012 Stan ley Cup Finals (8 p.m., NBC).
---Auditions move to Los Angeles on "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG).
---On two episodes of "Modern Family" (ABC, r, TV-14): Phil overhears unsettling news (9 p.m.), Cam's Leap Day birthday (10:30 p.m.).
---A winner emerges on "Amer ica's Next Top Model" (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG). A highlight reel (8 p.m.) precedes the finale.
---A New Year's Day ends in battle on part three of "Hatfields & McCoys" (9 p.m., History, TV-14).
---Foul play down on the farm on "CSI" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
A New Orleans business owner (Shelley Winters) pursues her
father's killers in the 1950 mystery "Frenchie" (2:45 a.m., TCM), also starring Joel McCrea.
---A stirring sermon on "The Middle" (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG).
---Dallas' divorce on "Suburga tory" (8:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
---Ritual murders in New Jersey on "Criminal Minds" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Wedding bells on "Happy Endings" (9:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
---An awkward setup on "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
---Dan Rather is scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stew art" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---John Krasinski, Jenny Slate and Evanescence appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS, r).
---Karmin, Jeff Wild, Natasha Leggero and Kerri Kenney-Silver are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Alan Alda sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Robin Williams and Andrew Luck appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).
---Jay Leno welcomes Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Donny Deutsch and Karmin on "The To night Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC, r).
---President Barack Obama and Dave Matthews visit "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Howie Mandel on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.