'Animal Practice' Review: A Comedy That Needs to Be Put Down
Friday, August 10, 2012
Animal Practice, NBC's new comedy, opens with a cat attempting to commit suicide by jumping off the balcony of a tall building. I envy the cat.
This is one of those shows so thoroughly uninspired and flat that it
will leave you wondering how or why NBC even bothered to put it on TV.
It's eerily similar to Free Agents, an NBC comedy from last season that you may not remember because it was canceled after four episodes. I'll be shocked if Animal Practice lasts much longer.
NBC is offering a sneak peek of the show on Sunday, August 12 following the Closing Ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics. It begins in its regular time slot (Wednesdays at 8pm) starting September 26.
The show centers on Dr. George Coleman (Weeds star Justin Kirk), a surly veterinarian who hates people but loves animals. He's being compared to Dr. Gregory House, but that's like comparing a lion to a tabby. Coleman isn't half as charming or whimsical as House, nor is any explanation given for his attitude. He's just a jerk for no discernible reason.
The problems with Animal Practice are so numerous that it's easier just to put the show to sleep than to fix it. Kirk lacks the charisma of a true leading man. He's fantastic on Weeds as the second banana, but he can't carry his own show. Then there's George ex-girlfriend Dorothy Crane (Joanna Garcia-Swisher) who inherits the hospital. Exes being forced to work together? It's such a painfully flimsy and cliched premise that the show may have been doomed from conception.
Worse yet, Garcia-Swisher is given nothing to do. Her character is a blank page and the reason for the couples' big break-up is positively puzzling. She's an incredibly gifted comedic actress (go back and watch Reba), but this is not the show she deserves.
The rest of the cast is also wasted. Tyler Labine and MadTV's Bobby Lee are doctors whose characters are so uninspired and pointless to the plot that criticizing them would be like a food critic writing a review of a glass of water.
I feel particularly bad for Labine, a likeable and talented comedic actor who has made a tragic series of bad show choices. In the last decade he's starred in six TV shows, and only one (the CW's Reaper) lasted more than a single season. There's a good chance Animal Practice will fall into the Mad Love/Sons of Tucson category, two shows Labine and I both probably wish never happened.
Then there's the headline-stealing monkey that wears a lab coat, a joke that wears thin after about 15 seconds. Worse yet, the show couldn't even secure the proper rights to call him Dr. Zaius, which was his original name and one of the few decent jokes on the show. Now the monkey is just Rizzo, a name which would only be funny if Stockard Channing provided voiceover narration as the monkeys' inner thoughts.
The only highlight of the show is UCB comedienne Betsy Sodaro as Angela, the crass, no-nonsense, ex-con nurse. She's delightfully unusual and offers the only lines that made me chuckle. I look forward to her next role after this show gets axed.
Animal Practice is the kind of show that you know will fail the moment you watch it. It's not overtly terrible or actively offensive, it's just not worth the time of day. The characters are unoriginal, the plot is predictable and the jokes are virtually non-existent. Unlike the suicidal cat, there's no chance Animal Practice will survive the fall.
(Image courtesy of NBC)