In network television, CBS is the top dog. But with “Dogs in the City” (7 p.m., TV-PG), it’s borrowing a series idea from “The Dog Whisperer,” a show that has migrated from National Geographic to Nat Geo Wild. That only goes to prove that in television, sometimes it’s the tail that wags the dog.
‘‘Dogs in the City” offers an East Coast, Big Apple twist on the old “Dog Whisperer” format. Star Justin Silver has a thick accent and a “fuhgetaboutit” attitude that contrasts with “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan’s vaguely New Age, Southern California vibe. Perhaps Silver’s show should be called “Dawgs in the City.” Both men know that dogs are lovable and trainable. Owners — otherwise known as people — are another story.
Silver’s dog training and counseling woes are complicated by New York’s more crowded urban canyons. Dogs are left alone in tiny apartments while their owners go to work for eight to 12 hours at a stretch. Hey, people, that’s what cats are for! Or, better yet, houseplants.
In addition to his skills as a dog trainer (and amateur psychotherapist), Silver raises money for animal shelters with an annual stand-up event: “Funny for Fido.”
• “Melissa & Joey” (7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., ABC Family) returns for a second season. For the uninitiated, Melissa Joan Hart stars as a local politician who hires Joe (Joey Lawrence) as a male nanny to help raise her teenage niece (Taylor Spreitler) and nephew (Nick Robinson).
With its stunt casting and contrived story, “Melissa & Joey” is a bit of a throwback. It occasionally tries to compensate for its retro status with outbreaks of fairly crude language and innuendo for a “family” show.
Tonight’s other highlights
• PBS goes into cold-blooded reptile repeat mode with “Black Mamba” on “Nature” (7 p.m.), “Venom: Nature’s Killer” on “NOVA” (8 p.m.) and “Monster Python” on “Inside Nature’s Giants” (9 p.m.).
• Game one of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Finals (7 p.m., NBC).
• Auditions move to Los Angeles on “So You Think You Can Dance” (7 p.m., Fox).
• On two episodes of “Modern Family” (ABC): Phil overhears unsettling news (8 p.m.), Cam’s Leap Day birthday (9:30 p.m.).
• A winner emerges on “America’s Next Top Model” (8 p.m., CW). A highlight reel (7 p.m.) precedes the finale.
• A New Year’s Day ends in battle on part three of “Hatfields & McCoys” (8 p.m., History).
• Foul play down on the farm on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).