Seven Studio stylists have done a whiz of a job to make Pooch Perfect look gleaming.
Their Pooch Palace barn is inviting and colourful, from its white picket fence to its fashion parade “dog” walk.
Rebel Wilson, whose own family has a history of showing dogs, is a laid-back, gently-acerbic host ready to drop the puns, be they about a PG ‘doggy style’ or contestants being on a short leash for elimination. Her brown sidekick Russell the Brussel -diversity factor bonus- is well-trained to yap for reactions, or simply walk off set….
The format pits 10 pet groomers together in a styling round with three to face elimination before FIFO judges, US dog instructor Amber Lewin, and UK dog grooming expert Colin Taylor. Up for grabs is the title of Australia’s Greatest Pet Stylist, a shiny trophy and a $100,000
In the first round they wash, trim and style an array of dogs, sight unseen. This is the canine-equivalent of a MasterChef Mystery Box, and groomers are determined to puff and preen their way to the top and avoid elimination. And these people take things pretty seriously.
“Dogs remind me to live in the moment,” Brad tells us.
Annie reveals that, “Being a pet stylist you can actually change a dog’s life.”
Even Caitlin is a “third generational” dog groomer.
The affable Rebel wanders around dropping the quips, such as telling seasoned groomer Wendy she is “like the Bea Smith of Prisoner” (wouldn’t that make her top dog?). And there are also the stock-standard hero interviews with contestants emoting, as is prevalent in the genre.
Producers have cleverly pepped things up with catchy pop-tunes, drawing upon everything from “Happy Together” to Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend.”
An audience arrives for the ooh-ahh fashion show in which the finished mutts are paraded to applause. But folks, here is where I found myself as the guy at the party who didn’t get the joke. These makeovers are gross! These poor pets have been so pampered with ribbon bows and bling that they look like ready to become a Paris Hilton or Real Housewives accessory. I swear one has even been gunned with a Bedazzler hot glue. In seriousness, why aren’t we given diversity in styling approaches: from minimalist to over-the-top…. instead it’s very same-same?
3 couples then scissor their way through an elimination challenge on 3 rescue dogs, which is a cut-down (sorry) version of the previous challenge …. and I must also make note of Rebel too often appearing to be transfixed on the autocue when giving out challenge instructions.
To be fair the whole thing is light and inoffensive which is a welcome change from some of the reality shows dominating our screens. I actually think there is room in the schedule for a pet programme and Pooch Perfect should hopefully find an audience with kids and families. The embedded product placement is also a lot less than shows such as The Block.
But for all the cutesy canine makeovers, it is also struggling to sustain drama across 90 minutes which is why it was particularly concerning one contestant was left to talk about a deeply personal story, walking off set to be comforted by our host. The cynic in me worries this was a story producer’s idea, so I hope to god it was genuine and voluntary and I’m not going to read about his objections in the Daily Mail later.
On a Thursday night Pooch Perfect isn’t required to makeover Seven’s schedule. It’s neither Best in Show nor a Dog of a Show and if Programming is really, really lucky, Rebel may even Make You LOL.
7:30pm Thursday on Seven.