'Animal Practice' premiere review: Can humans be as funny as a monkey? This show suggests... not

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Image Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

Animal Practice, a new fall show that premiered Sunday night after the Olympics, stars Weeds‘s Justin Kirk, JoAnna Garcia-Swisher (Reba, Privileged), and the monkey Crystal, who has arguably the most impressive credits of all, having co-starred in The Hangover II and who portrays Annie’s Boobs in Community. Together, they are the key characters in a sitcom about a veterinary practice full of animals both domestic and wild, and humor both wild and lame. 

It’s dismaying that such a good cast (Kirk has seen me through the weakest moments of Weeds and of course of great in HBO’s version of Angels in America, and who doesn’t like JoAnna Garcia?), with such good producers (among them Community and Arrested Development‘s Joe and Anthony Russo) laboring through such a tiresome show. The premise is that Kirk’s Dr. George Coleman is good with animals but lousy when interacting with people, while Garcia-Swisher’s Dorothy is good with people (she’s inherited this chaotic vet practice from her deceased grandmother and is turning the business-side around) but… well, less good with Dr. George, with whome she has a rocky romantic past.

This former-relationship set-up is so trite, other characters remarked on it in the pilot — it was the show’s way of proving it knew it had a banal concept, but that self-knowledge didn’t redeem it in any way. And among the other characters is Tyler Labine, who’s playing basically the same guy he played on Reaper, except he had to feign putting his hand up a dog’s wazoo (‘scuse me — expressing its glands). To say the role is thankless gives “thanks” a poor connotation. 

I’d suggest we all hope that Animal Practice is canceled quickly so that everyone involved can move on to better projects, but who knows, maybe they love doing this show and want it to be a big hit. I’m reasonably sure Crystal, as Dr. Rizzo, is a lot happier in a white lab coat stealing scenes here than he is scuttling through ducts and vents on the Community community campus.

Practice has a vaguely Scrubs-ish vibe, what with the sour wisecracks from Dr. George, the absurd sight gags (a Bengal tiger and a python in the waiting room?), but the jokes are nowhere near as quick and prickly. There’s always the chance, given the talent involved that it will improve past this pilot episode.

Let me know what you think of this show’s future, won’t you?
Twitter: @kentucker

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