'American Stuffers' saves your pets for posterity 

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Debuts 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5

Animal Planet

One of the saddest things in the world is that every bit of love you get from a pet is tempered with the knowledge that it's all going to come to an end sooner rather than later. With cats and dogs, you get 10 good years at best, and that's if they don't run out into the street and get creamed by a passing car. That short time is doubly sad when you realize that for a lot of folks, their pets are like their children. It's understandable, then, that when Fluffy, Rex or Lord Pontchartrain kicks the bucket, some start thinking of taxidermy-ing the little sucker. No more walks and feedings, just regular dusting, a swipe with a damp cloth every once in a while, and the thousand-yard stare that says: "Let me go, stupid." In this new show from Animal Planet, Daniel Ross — the owner and operator of Romance, Ark., stuff shop Xtreme Taxidermy — helps grieving pet owners cheat the reaper by mounting their dead pets in lifelike poses. I had a chance to watch some previews online, and let me tell ya: If you've ever loved a dog or cat, "American Stuffers" is going to make you want to scream and jump backwards through a plate glass window. That's because for every shot of pet lovers being tearfully reunited with Fido, there's at least a couple minutes of Ross and Co. going to town on Fido's furry little corpse with scalpels, picks, knives and other assorted pointy objects, and the camera doesn't cut away much. Is this the first time the phrase "go ahead and remove the eyeball" has been uttered on cable TV? Probably not, but it should be the last. Too — and I understand I'm going to hell for this, but I accept my punishment — I couldn't stop chuckling at some of the seemingly-heartwarming situations captured in the clips I saw, including Ross and a dog owner discussing how to mount an aged pooch while the dog was actually there and still running around, and another family who kept their dead dogs (yes, plural) in the freezer beside the frozen peas for FOUR YEARS before bringing them in for stuffing. I get it. Losing a pet hurts. But just let it go, man. Let it go.


Debuts 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8

The History Channel

If you've watched even a single frame of History Channel's big hit reality series "Pawn Stars," you know exactly how every transaction on their new spinoff "Cajun Pawn Stars" is going to go. Some guy brings a shard of the One True Cross into the shop, along with a letter of authenticity from the Vatican and a notarized letter from Jesus Christ stating that it is, in fact, a shard of the True Cross on which He was crucified. Pawnbroker asks the seller what he wants for it. SELLER: "I was, uh, hoping to get $300 dollars." PAWNDUDE: "Whoa, whoa, whoa there. Slow your roll, Daddy Gotrocks. I've gotta make a profit on this thing, it's got to sit in the shop, and the right collector might never come in to buy it. How about $5?" The show then cuts to a shot of Pawndude in the storage room saying: "If I can make this deal, I can turn this around and make a LOTTA money on this. I know exactly the guy I'm going to sell this to." And, scene. As if celebrating that kind of industrial-strength greed wasn't bad enough, it's even worse considering that — due to Discovery's penchant for considering the word "reality" as more of a guideline than a rule — you never really know if what you're looking at is an actual Royal F'ing, or just a simulated, scripted Royal F'ing performed by plants and shills. Given that, I'll probably be changing the channel when "Cajun Pawn Stars" comes on. That doesn't mean you should, though. The show, set at Silver Dollar Pawn in Alexandria, La., features veteran pawnbroker Jimmie DeRamus — a.k.a. "Big Daddy" — and his family as they try to get the best return on their money. Got a Van Gogh your grandpa stole from Hitler? The silver codpiece George Washington wore anytime he wanted to get frisky with Martha? The sled from "Citizen Kane"? Don't take it to Sotheby's, stupid! Bring it to a PAWN SHOP in Louisiana! Just don't expect to get retail prices, pal. They're trying to run a business, not a charity.



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