Fox offers canine beauty pageant

Does a dog from New Jersey know that she's from New Jersey? And if she did, would she care? No, I'm not turning this into a philosophy column. I am just trying to make sense of "The First Annual Miss Dog Beauty Pageant" (7 p.m., Fox). John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld") is host of this four-legged competition, with a little help from Jillian Barberie.

"Miss Dog" follows the conventions of more august pageants. Fifty-one female pooches will represent the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each wears a sash identifying her home state. The beauties will be judged on looks, poise, talent and something called evening wear. In addition to the title of "Miss Dog," all 51 four-legged contestants will be competing for the titles of "Miss Congeniality" and "Most Photogenic." At least we won't have to endure harp recitals or hear speeches about world peace. I can't wait to hear what the PETA folks will make of this.

Viewers in search of a more exalted look at animals should consider "Life of Mammals" (7 p.m., Discovery) a six-hour, two-night documentary epic narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Like most Attenborough films, "Mammals" includes awe-inspiring photography and many "how-did-they-get-that-shot?" moments. Frequently imitated and even parodied, these nature films remain unequaled. Fans of the genre should not miss "Life."

Leave it to the wags behind "Will & Grace" (8:20 p.m., NBC) to create a funny episode about divorce and death. The show begins as Karen's bitter court battle with her never-seen husband enters a particularly fierce stage. "I gave that man the drunkest years of my life," she snaps. But litigation gives way to tears when she learns that Stan has expired in the arms of his new mistress (Minnie Driver).

A prolonged scene at Stan's memorial service gives all of the major characters a chance to show off their particular style of self-absorption. The climax comes with the reading of Stan's surprising will, a document that may change everyone's fortunes. It's a tad painful to watch Harry Connick Jr. as the fifth wheel here. Fortunately, his doctor character has decided to accept an assignment in an exotic locale.

This must be cable week on ABC. Last Sunday, the fourth network trotted out a sports blooper show produced by ESPN. Tonight's offering, "Favorite Stars: Then & Now -- An E! Entertainment Television Special" (7 p.m., ABC) has a similar pedigree. It's basically a "where are they now" special about Jeremy Miller ("Growing Pains"), Alex Michel ("The Bachelor") and the "Revenge of the Nerds" casts.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Eviction No. 12 on "Survivor: The Amazon" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Vin Diesel stars in the 2000 adventure "Pitch Black" (7 p.m., WB).
  • A lab fire and explosion destroys and compromises key evidence on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on "The Pulse" (8 p.m., Fox): High-speed chases; would-be cheerleaders; life in a polygamous cult.
  • Scheduled on a two-hour edition of "PrimeTime" (8 p.m., ABC): a scandal on the British version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."
  • "Frontline" (8 p.m., PBS) looks at the crooked Wall Street practices that resulted in the WorldCom debacle and other woes.

Late night

Megan Mullally and Marilyn Manson appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Keanu Reeves and Gisele on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

Paul Rudd and John Freyer appear on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Famke Janssen, Lokelani McMichael and The Ataris are booked on "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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