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‘The Greatest American Dog’ still chases its tail

By Kevin McDonough

United Feature Syndicate

You know you’ve stepped in some funky summer programming when the schedule offers something called "The Greatest American Dog" (7 p.m., CBS).

I think I know dogs (or at least pugs) and live with two them. While they can be proud, I’m not sure the notion of "greatest" really enters their tiny minds. To our dog Peter Francis, the idea of "the greatest" is finding an unexpected piece of pepperoni on the street and wolfing it down before I can stop him, or rolling in something the deer left behind. He’d gladly give up money, prizes and honor for another shot at the pepperoni.

This televised contest pits 12 teams of dogs and trainer/owners against each other in contests of intelligence, skill and obedience. Every week, a panel of expert judges will eliminate one team until a winner emerges with $250,000 and the title of America’s greatest dog.

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You don’t need to be a fan of the comedy "Best in Show" to find this all a little silly. One of the judges edits a "lifestyle" magazine called "Animal Fair." If sleeping 22 hours a day is a "lifestyle," then our dog Peggy is some kind of trend-setter. Zoologist Jarod Miller hosts, and he’ll probably have his hands full managing the human end of the leash.

• The new series "The Works" (9 p.m., History) takes a nuts-and-bolts approach to products and processes that we take for granted, like tonight’s topic: garbage. Host Daniel H. Wilson explores landfills, works a sanitation-department compactor and visits an enormous recycling center.

"The Works" offers many thought-provoking facts. Did you know that nearly a third of most landfills are filled with paper, stuff that really doesn’t belong there? Or that ancient Roman junk piles are still leeching waste water after 2,000 years? Or that New York City sanitation workers suffer more fatalities than New York City police officers? And that one of their biggest concerns is bees?

• "Burn Notice" (9 p.m., USA, TV-14) returns for a second season. Jeffrey Donovan stars as Michael Weston, a spy dumped by the agency and cut off from resources in a less-than-glamorous Miami neighborhood. There, he teams up with a shaggy ex-colleague played by cult film star Bruce Campbell. Gabrielle Anwar co-stars as his exasperated love interest, and Sharon Gless pops up from time to time as his neurotic, chain-smoking mother, whose mantra seems to be "spy-or-no-spy, why don’t you call?" For all of the exploding cars and gun play, "Burn Notice" keeps the violence and blood to a minimum, and, like "Psych" and "Monk," keeps the emphasis on the absurd.

Other highlights

• Catch four episodes of the 2002 apocalyptic thriller "Jeremiah" (6 p.m., Sci Fi, TV-14), starring Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.

• Evidence points to a man behind bars on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14,V).

• Betty placates Daniel on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG).

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• A boxing ring competition on "Last Comic Standing" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Trina’s old pal irks Tom on "Swingtown" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14,V).

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