Animal Practice: TV Review

'Animal Practice' Cast

 Justin Kirk, Tyler Labine and Bobby Lee star in the single-camera comedy about the House-like vet who loves animals but hates their owners.

"House," with animals.

Can NBC’s screwball veterinary comedy survive the pitfalls of animal casting?

There has been a perception of late that NBC is shifting to broader comedies, has no love left for the edgy weirdness of Community or Parks and Recreation and all of a sudden will start throwing pies and spraying seltzer down our collective pants.

Animal Practice, which gets a sneak peak Aug. 12 as part of NBC’s Olympics coverage, might not be the show to counteract that perception.

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The strong cast includes Justin Kirk (Weeds), Tyler Labine and … a monkey (Crystal, the capuchin seen in The Hangover Part II and on Community). The use of multiple animals in, well, practically anything can really spook people. Animals as primary stars pretty much indicates exaggerated scenarios and broad-based humor -- and there’s plenty of that in Animal Practice. You can’t dress up a monkey as a doctor and have him jump around causing mayhem while pretending you’re tapping into the cerebral edge of the comedy spectrum.

The pilot struggles as it tries to set up the story of Dr. George Coleman (Kirk), who runs Crane Animal Hospital like it’s a singles bar. His ex-girlfriend, Dorothy Crane (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), reappears in George’s life because the hospital has brought her in to run the facility more professionally and thus annoy him in the process. You know, like House with animals.

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Like a lot of pilots, Animal Practice is messy, and if you don’t like the monkey, well, you’re probably not coming back. Then again, you don’t really know what can happen in another four or five episodes (which might be asking a lot in a crowded television universe). But if you squint a little and hope for less of Crystal riding on a toy ambulance with a siren, maybe the actors, and the material, can start to stand out.