As part of their Olympic previews, on Sunday NBC broadcasted pilot episode of “Animal Practice” – a short form “broad audience” comedy prepared for Wednesday 8pm slot. The premise and setup are simple – bunch of doctors and nurses in veterinarian clinic is joined by new owner, who shares romantic past with main doctor. For added laughs the clinic is visited by patients in need of special care – be it – suicidal cats or dogs with owners that are willing to pay to put them down behind their daughters back. As you can see the bar is not exactly set very high.
“Animal Practice” was picked up to series in May 2012, and in the same time Irish actress Amy Huberman who played female lead role in the original pitch pilot was replaced by Joanna Garcia-Swisher (“Reba”, “Privileged”). Joining Joanna Garcia is “Weeds” regular Justin Kirk as a capable vet and keen women psyche observer Dr George Coleman, sidekicked by a team of most intolerable and lame animal clinic staff in northern hemisphere. You know the show is in trouble when capuchin – Crystal The Monkey (“Night At The Museum”, “The Hangover II”) is the least annoying and, most of the time, best actor out of the lot.
It’s quite clear that creators of the show tried to borrow some of the “Scrubs” light-headed white coat magic and sprinkle it around cute animals, but the effect is less than flattering. The male leads (Kirk as Dr. Coleman and Tyler Labine as Dr. Doug Jackson) come across are unlikable douches. The supporting cast attempts to do familiar copycat routines (Betsy Sodaro as Angela – the obligatory office “creep” and Bobby Lee as Dr. Kim Yamamoto in what seems to be endless Senior Chang routine on steroids) but comes across as psychotic and unstable. The female lead (Garcia) attempts to provide some likability among the bad and ugly but the two main characters (her and Kirk) have about as much chemistry and spark as a flat car battery.
“Animal Practice” feels like a missed attempt of “Not Another Teen Movie” style low brow pastiche of “doctor” comedies that failed by trying too hard. Majority of scenes rely on completely pointless chatter propped by cringe worthy jokes thrown around heavy handedly as if it was amateur comedy night on a cruise ship and you don’t even get a can laughter to prop your grimace upwards when Capuchin attempts to save the day. The humor is tired, the patient “cases” are just odd, the constant interruptions by background characters are more often creepy and bizarre than funny and at more than one occasion you even get a premonition of PETA storming the set at any moment.
For the first time on these pages, my advice is – do not waste your time. “Animal Practice” is a failure, unless the monkey can save the show single-handedly in episodes to come, this series is undoubtedly going to get binned. It is barely broadcastable. On your screens from Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 8:00/7:00c