(ANIMAL TELEVISION)  “Saved” begins Mondays on the Animal Planet, and will showcase real stories of animals that have changed people’s lives in their greatest time of need. From soldiers overseas to homeless people in America, animals have provided emotional comfort and touched many lives. Read more on this new Animal Planet television show. — Global Animal
"Saved" on Animal Planet, Monday at 8 p.m., Eastern and Pacific times, 7, Central time, features the family of Specialist Justin Rollins, right. Photo credit: Rollins Family

New York Times, Neil Genzlinger

Animal Planet is familiar as the home of garish shows like “Fatal Attractions” and “My Extreme Animal Phobia.” On Monday night, though, it goes for the touching rather than the tacky with “Saved,” a new series about people who were in need of some kind of spiritual boost and received it from an animal.

Each episode features two real-life tales, and the ones in the premiere are certainly likely to tug a lot of heartstrings. The first revolves around the family of Specialist Justin A. Rollins of Newport, N.H., who was killed in March 2007 while serving in Iraq.

Just before he died, he e-mailed pictures home in which he and other soldiers were playing with some puppies that had been living on the streets. His parents asked the Army if one of the puppies could be brought to them in New Hampshire, and two months later the red tape had been cut, and the dog, given the name Hero, arrived.

The second vignette is about a San Francisco woman named Pali Boucher who for years was homeless, unable to shake her drug addiction, until she met a hound dog in a pound and bonding occurred. She saved the dog, which was on the list to be euthanized, but, she says, the dog actually saved her.

“When he became a part of my life, it just filled my whole soul,” she says. “I was anchored to this world again.”

Ms. Boucher went on to found Rocket Dog Rescue, an organization that promotes animal adoption.

All the people who relate these tales exhibit Ms. Boucher’s eloquence, and the program’s producers — in contrast to the hyperbolic tone of other Animal Planet shows — let the stories speak for themselves. The main flaw of “Saved,” though it sounds a bit trivial given what the humans in this show have gone through, is that we don’t see enough of the animals. After all the detail we’re given about the people, it would be nice to get to know the creatures they credit with so much.

More New York Times: http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/arts/television/saved-on-animal-planet-review.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss