Fall 2012: NBC’s Animal Practice
I think the secret to approaching this pilot season is low expectations. For me. this outlook is working surprisingly well. At least for NBC. The end of the Olympics furnished us with a glimpse at a commercial-free Animal Practice, and I didn’t actively dislike it. If you like Andy on Weeds, then just imagine he ditches Nancy for veterinary school, and loses his people skills while retaining his ladykiller nature and you have his character, Dr. George Coleman, on Animal Practice. Like Go On, it didn’t cause me to burst into laughter but it also didn’t cause me to roll my eyes.
What I liked: Justin Kirk, of course. This role had his name all over it and is definitely in his wheelhouse. I also liked Joanna Garcia Swisher. I haven’t seen the original pilot where her role was portrayed by Amy Huberman but by all accounts, Swisher improves upon the part. Tyler Labine also seems at home with his character. Dr. Yamamoto (Bobby Lee) for me, has the most amusing character in that he is a people-pleasing, wimpy, downtrodden, yet quip monster with moxy. He is a mess of contradictions and it works for me. This episode also gets points for using my favorite song from Cats, “Magical Mr. Mistoffelees.” It gets double points for making an Arby’s a joke that also implies it is delicious. Which it is.
What I liked less: The balance between humans and their animal counterparts. The animals never failed to steal the thunder from the humans, even when the scene was working for the actors. I found myself thinking that this show would benefit from a truncated season rather than a traditional 22-episode season. Stretching this theme over 6-7 episodes would yield stronger material, I think. I can’t help but imagine how many of these jokes will be recycled ad nauseam by the time we reach February sweeps. I was also not a fan of the Nurse Angela character, who came close to ruining every scene she was included in. My greatest hope for this show revolves around greatly re-evaluating this character.
My first impression is that this is a quasi-Scrubs with animals and without the Bill Lawrence stamp of humor. I am just not as convinced that this formula can work without some sort of tangible quirk (and not just a stable of misfit characters), which Scrubs had in spades.