Friday, June 13, 2003

-->> .. !! ..

Animal Planet's '50 Greatest Animals'


50 Greatest TV Animals. Saturday, 8 p.m., (check local listings) Animal Planet.

-N/Y/ Daily News

Show cites top critters, lets many get away

Who's the greatest TV animal of all time?

Bugs Bunny? Mister Ed? Flipper?

I'm not going to tell you who the top dog is, but Animal Planet has put together "50 Greatest TV Animals," a romp through television history that sets out to name the biggest creatures — real, animated and puppets — in small-screen history.

As far as that goes, this two-hour special, airing Saturday at 8, is a delight. But the spotlight is widened so much that puppets and cartoons and people in animal costumes are eligible for the competition, and TV commercial creatures as well. This dilutes the show's focus and impact. But with Mario Lopez as host and as produced by Michele Farinola, it's fun anyway.

"50 Greatest TV Animals" gets points for remembering some of the most striking real animals from TV history, including Fred the cockatoo from "Baretta" (No. 25), J. Fred Muggs the chimp from "Today" (No. 48) and even Bruce the ocelot from "Honey West" (No. 34). Rin Tin Tin is here (No. 14), and so is Clarence the cross-eyed lion from "Daktari" (No. 39).

Some of the choices are brilliant. The winning choice is perfect (we'll save the suspense on that one), and even Arnold the Pig from "Green Acres" gets his due. But with spots reserved for such undeserved creatures as the duck in the Aflac commercials and Chipper the dog (huh?) from "Land of the Giants" (double huh?), a lot of animals get unfairly neglected.

In the puppet universe, where are ALF, "Captain Kangaroo" stalwarts Mr. Moose and Bunny Rabbit, and Shari Lewis' Lamb Chop?

If Spot the dragon on "The Munsters" makes it, why not Ollie the dragon on "Kukla, Fran and Ollie"? And though Kermit the frog makes the Top 10, a dozen Muppet animals are missing, including Animal.

As for cartoon creatures, I miss Dino from "The Flintstones," Mickey Mouse and company from "The Mickey Mouse Club" and all four of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Huckleberry Hound and El Kabong, Top Cat — they're all overlooked, as is the NBC Peacock.

I don't expect the compilers of this list to treasure, as I do, Rancid the Devil Horse from "The Ernie Kovacs Show," or to remember Crusader Rabbit, or the hound dogs from "Columbo" and "Hee Haw." But no ALF? No Pokey from "Gumby"? No Barney? (Wait; that snub I like.)

No — gasp — Underdog?

Still, the ones who are ranked get impressively thorough and entertaining treatment. "50 Greatest TV Animals" is lots of fun to watch, even when it's infuriating for what you don't see.

..Toon in ta see if your Fave shell-back bunch made the top 50 !!

.. >v<


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