There's a fine line between being crazy about your dog and being just plain crazy.
That seems to be the message of "Off the Leash" (7 p.m., Lifetime), the newest variation on the "America's Next Top Model" talent-hunt genre. Let's call it "Project Dog Run."
The action takes place at Le Paws, a Hollywood pet agency dedicated to casting canines in movies, TV shows and commercials. In search of the next Benji, they organize an open-kennel casting call. Seven lucky pets make the final cut and enter a six-episode competition that can only be considered dog-eat-dog.
While animals on "Off the Leash" are pleasant enough, nearly half the owners are bona-fide freaks. Or is that bone-a-fido?
Pity poor Miss Kisses. She's a perfectly nice Maltese tethered to a human named Kitten who fancies herself a modern-day Doris Day. She dyes everything in her possession pink. Including Miss Kisses.
Buddy, a beautiful Bedlington terrier, is owned by a woman so high strung she has to pop anti-anxiety medication before visits to Le Paws. Yorkie Mello has become an accessory for a motorcycle mama, and Connie's tricked-out Chihuahua, Bella, may be too Hiltonesque for many tastes. I'm partial to Pugs, but Boo does not exactly do the breed proud. In his very first close-up, he lifts his leg and irrigates the talent agency's carpet.
May the best dog win.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ The new weekly series "Engineering an Empire" (8 p.m., History) looks at great civilizations of the past from the point of view of the men and minds behind their most enduring structures. Tonight's installment looks at ancient Egypt. Future "Empires" looks at the Aztecs, Greece, Carthage and Byzantium.
¢ Have you noticed how many grown-up musicians sneak into kids shows? Alicia Keys performs an original number on "The Backyardigans" (9:30 a.m., Nickelodeon).
¢ If a Major League Baseball divisional playoff series game is not required, Fox will air repeats of "Prison Break" (7 p.m.) and "Justice" (8 p.m.).
¢ The Broncos host the Raiders in NFL action (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
¢ Claire's superpowers play havoc with her social life on "Heroes" (8 p.m.).
¢ It's going to take more than three coins in the fountain to subsidize "The Bachelor: Rome" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ The 1987 civil-rights documentary "Eyes on the Prize" continues on "American Experience" (8 p.m., PBS).