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 V.17 No.17 | April 24 - 30, 2008 

Idiot Box

Dog Tired

“Groomer Has It” on Animal Planet

Of all the post-“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” careers, host Jai Rodriguez’ is the most in need of, well, a makeover. Jai just wrapped up his prestigious stint as host of “America’s Prom Queen.” Now he’s deeply intrenched in the intrigue and drama of “Groomer Has It,” an elimination competition aimed at finding America’s next great dog groomer.

Most people, if they’re being totally honest with themselves, don’t actually care who Donald Trump’s next Apprentice will be. They have no real stake in who gets crowned America’s Next Top Model. It doesn’t affect them one way or the other who this season’s Top Chef ends up being. And they aren’t really concerned with who wins “American Idol,” because they aren’t going to buy the album anyway. (Challenge me on that; show me your copy of Taylor Hicks’ self-titled CD.) So can even the most indiscriminate of TV viewers trick themselves into getting worked up over who gets chosen as our nation’s most competent clipper of doggie nails?

The premise for “Groomer Has It” (a show that seems to have been developed on the cutesy appeal of its title alone) is a simple one. Like every reality show competition from “Big Brother” to “Miss America: Reality Check,” “Groomer” takes its 12 contestants and tosses them into a fancy house together (here, cleverly labeled “The Dog House”). Each show, the contestants face “Quick Sniff Challenges” (ew). Can these would-be pet shampooers, for example, identify a particular breed of dog while blindfolded? Can they shear sheep? Can they groom puppies? Puppies, for crying out loud! ... Yeah, gripping TV this ain’t.

A group of snooty judges offers cutting comments on the groomers’ work, and one person is eliminated each week. The sole survivor will eventually win $50,000 and a mobile pet salon (aka a van) so they can live out their dream of becoming a professional pet groomer. The losers, meanwhile, will have to go back to their crummy day jobs working as professional pet groomers.

The hyped-up emotions and interpersonal conflicts here seem particularly out of whack with the situation. What’s with all the crying? This isn’t “Rock of Love,” people. Like all reality shows in the “Real World” mold, “Groomer Has It” seems to suggest that living with another person for a couple of weeks is akin to being thrown into a Cambodian prison camp. At least there’s no drunken hot tub sex. Given Jai’s penchant for uttering the dorkiest of canine clichés (“Put your tail between your legs.” “Every dog has its day.”), I’d hate to see what sort of silliness he’d be forced to mouth if the contestants were going at it doggie-style.

As an amusing “Mad TV” parody of reality show competitions, “Groomer Has It” is worth one amused glance. Unless you’re a full-on, smacked-out reality show junkie, however, you’re not likely to give this runt of the litter a second chance.

“Groomer Has It” airs every Saturday Night at 7 p.m. on Animal Planet.


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