In the US: Wednesdays, 8/7c, NBC. Starts 26 September
In the UK: Acquired by ITV2
Watching nothing but new NBC programmes, one after another, is like going three rounds with Mike Tyson.
First the left hook of The New Normal. Pow.
Then the fast right of Go On. Smash.
Then the killer uppercut of Revolution. Aargh.
I’m lying on the canvas now, the referee counting me out. But stand up before the fateful 10 I do.
And now I’ve been floored again by one of the most obvious of jabs. Animal Practice.
If I’d had more energy I could have taken it. I’d have seen it coming and known what to expect. An NBC comedy, set in a vets, with Tyber Labine (Reaper) and a comedy Asian (Bobby Lee) as sidekicks to the misanthropic vet (Justin Kirk) who hates people, loves animals and uses his practice as a pick-up joint. Then along comes Kirk’s ex-girlfriend, JoAnna Garcia (Privileged, Better With You), to take over the vets when she inherits it from her grandmother and turn it into a smooth-running business.
They have unfinished history. Kerpow.
Knock yourself out: here’s a trailer.
"Animal Practice" is a new comedy centering on Dr. George Coleman (Justin Kirk, "Weeds," "Angels in America"), a top veterinarian with an impressive list of famous animal patients at the Crane Animal Hospital – a bustling New York City veterinary practice where it often seems as if the patients are running the place. Despite his unorthodox style, George has an undeniable gift with animals of all kinds – except the human kind. Much to his chagrin, George recently learned that his ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Crane (JoAnna Garcia Swisher, "Better with You"), has inherited the family business and is now George’s boss. Whip-smart and ambitious, Dorothy shakes up the hospital as she brings order to the chaos and butts heads with George’s animal-friendly administration.
Tyler Labine ("Reaper," "Sons of Tucson") plays Dr. Doug Jackson, a vet who’s great with animals, but hapless in matters of the heart; Bobby Lee ("Harold & Kumar") stars as Dr. Yamamoto; Kym Whitley ("We Bought a Zoo") stars as Juanita; and newcomer Betsy Sodaro ("The Nick Show Kroll") stars as Nurse Angela. Dr. Rizzo, the resident capuchin monkey at Crane Animal Hospital and George’s closest companion is played by Crystal ("The Hangover II," NBC’s "Community").
Executive producers are Scot Armstrong ("The Hangover Part II," "Old School") and Ravi Nandan ("Best Friends Forever") of American Work Inc., along with Emmy Award winners Joe & Anthony Russo ("Community," "Arrested Development"), as well as Marco Pennette ("Desperate Housewives," "Ugly Betty"). "Animal Practice" was written by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka ("The Sitter"), who also serve as executive producers.
"Animal Practice" is a production of Universal Television and American Work Inc.
Is it any good?
It was obvious it was going to be rubbish before it started, but I persevered, trying hard not to pre-judge, even though it’s a comedy on NBC. And guess what?
If it had been a drama, it might have been fine. Joanna Garcia’s always good. Kirk’s deliciously deadpan and nasty. Together, a dark comedy-drama about the two of them could have worked, since their scenes are pretty good, well performed and pretty well written in terms of character.
But as a comedy, it stinks. Already the most hated programme on television before it’s even started, Animal Practice is a badly written, slightly racist, poorly acted, tepid, unfunny show that’s so bad at scraping the bottom of the barrel, it thinks the best bit of Friends to rip off is the comedy monkey. None of the supporting characters are either given characters or even actors worthy of the word to play them. Every comedy scene is obvious, puerile and IQ-loweringly stupid.
Recast since the pilot (as you can see from the original trailer), the only funny joke removed because of rights issues (the monkey was going to be called Dr Zaius) and with a new showrunner in place before the fourth episode was even written, let alone aired, this has the stench of failed choices and imminent death all over it. It’ll be cancelled within weeks. Don’t watch it: you’ll regret it.