The Animal Planet used to be a nice place to get away from people. Let CBS fill its schedule with murder and depravity; Animal Planet was the place to find “Puppy Bowl,” ‘‘Meerkat Manor” and “Puppies vs. Babies.” Such programming made the network a safe, soft haven for families with children, as well as for adults who have had it up to here with the human race.
I remember noting that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Animal Planet was one of the few networks not showing repetitive footage of the trauma. And that made it a welcome choice for parents worried about their kids ingesting more violence than they could handle.
Tonight, the network launches “Saved” (7 p.m.), a series of overlapping tales about troubled and traumatized people whose lives were transformed, given meaning and even saved by their pets.
In the story of Justin Rollins, a family copes with the loss of their son in combat by caring for the abandoned dog that he found in an Iraqi alley days before his death. Pali Boucher chronicles a childhood of abandonment by her drug-addicted, alcoholic mother and her own harrowing ordeal of decades on the street as a speed addict. Only the love of a loyal dog gave her a reason to survive. She has since become an advocate for animal adoption.
Both stories are uplifting in their own way, but both are more about people — and the particular ills of the human condition — than the animals they extol. And I’m not sure people tune into the Animal Planet for that.
• Diane Sawyer will interview U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on a “20/20” (9 p.m., ABC) special. Giffords was shot in the head while addressing her Tucson, Ariz., constituents and has taken months to recover from her near- fatal injuries. Six people were killed in the attack. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, also will speak with Sawyer.
• In a rare admission that life is not one long shopping spree, Bravo acknowledges the reality of unemployment with the one-hour special “The Headhuntress” (9 p.m.). Host Wendy Doulton is a Hollywood power broker and a brash, no-nonsense adviser to job seekers. She expresses brutally frank snap judgments about folks’ attire, attitudes, resumes and interview skills. It’s like having a female Simon Cowell as your career counselor. Are we surprised she has a British accent?
Tonight’s other highlights
• The top five perform R&B; classics on “The Sing-Off” (7 p.m., NBC).
• Maddy’s new dream internship is not without peril on “Terra Nova” (7 p.m., Fox).
• A would-be second-generation performer is struck down on “House” (8 p.m., Fox).
• Something borrowed and blue on “Bored to Death” (8 p.m., HBO).
• A friend from therapy (Robin Wright) visits on “Enlightened” (8:30 p.m., HBO).
• Altered evidence is found in a car’s trunk on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).
• Scheduled on “Rock Center With Brian Williams” (9 p.m., NBC): Bob Costas, Annie Leibovitz, Alabama’s immigration law and a review of military meals.