The major question of the day isn't whether Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can fend off the Pittsburgh Steelers' pass rush long enough to score a touchdown against the aggressive, kamikaze-style defense of wild-haired safety Troy Polamalu. Instead, the matter of greater importance is whether the 15-week-old pug mix Booda can find the end zone despite the relentless hounding (so to speak) of such stalwart defenders as the wild-haired 14-week-old Yorkshire terrier mix Maddie at this afternoon's seventh edition of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl. Pro football players like to spout cliches about their love of the game, but to the energetic young canines gamboling on the plastic gridiron today it really is a game, complete with plenty of licking, biting, scratching and gratuitous tail-wagging. In addition to regular features like the Water Bowl Cam (with an underwater camera strategically placed inside the bowl for slow-motion replays of rampant slurping action) and an Ice Breakers blimp helmed by death-defying hamsters, this year's Puppy Bowl introduces the concept of sassy chicken cheerleaders strutting their stuff on the sidelines. As with that other Super Bowl happening today in Arlington, many folks will tune in just to see the halftime show in this case, a glittery production featuring some of the world's cutest kittens, who likely will romp around randomly and frenetically at first, pumped up by adrenaline and catnip, before settling down for the most compellingly adorable napping ever documented on live TV. Nothing beats seeing the big game on the big screen, so this afternoon the Cinefamily hosts a combo broadcast, barbecue and pet adoption. The only drawback, sadly, is that you can't bring your own dog to the party.
Sun., Feb. 6, 2 p.m., 2011