In Praise Of “Animal Practice”

The cast of the sitcom Animal Practice, which properly
debuts on September 26 at 8 PM EST on NBC.
(Photo credit: Robert Trachtenberg/NBC.)

For many Americans, it became the pilot that pre-empted The Who during the 2012 London Olympics. That’s probably not what NBC execs were hoping for when they chose to interrupt the closing ceremonies to preview Animal Practice, one of their hot new fall properties. But that ended up being the reality when they cut from the Olympics to the episode, pushing the Who to way back after the nightly news.

Don’t hold that blunder against Justin Kirk and his ensemble. Animal Practice is actually a fun show, and I say this as someone who generally loathes sitcoms. It may not be totally realistic, but I like its approach.

The premise is simple: Dr. George Coleman (Kirk) is a cranky veteran veterinarian at who loves helping his animal clients but generally dislikes their human owners. He has a system that works well — he helps animals and meets hot babes — until his ex-girlfriend Dorothy Crane (JoAnna Garcia Swisher) ends up taking over the hospital. They had a rather bad end to their relationship years ago, and now he is stuck having to deal with policy changes that she thinks will make the facility run more efficiently. She has some valid points, bur so does he. Naturally a personal and professional tug of war ensues, while we also get introduced to the hospital staff, their quirky personalities and their secret gambling pools on horse and turtle racing.

Why do I enjoy this comedy so much? Because I really do love animals and find that many pet owners are actually rather clueless about how to care for their loved ones, furry and otherwise. Dr. Coleman’s contempt for people is often justified, and he often breaks down human relationships in animal terms. Plus his monkey assistant Dr. Rizzo (Crystal the Monkey) is funny (and not overused), and the collection of critters that pass through the hospital fun eye candy.

Paging Dr. Rizzo and Dr. Coleman!
(Photo credit: Chris Haston/NBC.)

Some changes were made from the original pilot I received in June. The role of Dorothy has been recast. She was originally played by Irish actress Amy Huberman, who came off as a bit more cagey and less sympathetic but a good foil for Coleman. Swisher is also good in the role although a little less edgy. I guess the producers or executives wanted a lighter touch. We’ll see how that works out. And the name of Dr. Coleman’s monkey companion was originally Dr. Zaius, a hilarious reference to the Planet Of The Apes franchise. Perhaps copyright issues inspired the name change? Bummer.

Those gripes aside, the new pilot is still enjoyable, and I look forward to more animal hijinks this fall. It’s nice to see a show that’s not focused on whiny, self-absorbed people. Well, they’re still there on Animal Practice, but many of them get cut down to size. Awesome.

One Response

  1. Ayden

    Thanks for sharing your opinions on this show! I didn’t get a chance to see the pilot you’re talking about interrupting the Olympics, but it is good to hear I have reasons to be excited for this show to air anyways. Crystal the Monkey seems to be an interesting character to watch as well, but have you heard about the PETA issues surrounding the show? I haven’t looked too far into it, but my coworker at DISH did just tell me about it earlier today. I am an animal lover too though, so that’s probably why I’m more interested in watching this show instead of the other primetime shows that will record with my Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime feature. I love that I can turn my brain off and not have to worry about setting it up to record because of that feature! Not to mention I’ve loved Justin Kirk in “Weeds,” so I’m looking forward to good things! 🙂


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