The Telefile
<i>Animal Practice</i>: Yes, the Show with the Monkey

I cannot begin to tell you how low my expectations were for Animal Practice, NBC's newest sitcom in which longtime Weeds actor Justin Kirk plays a wacky veterinarian. I have been suffering through Weeds for so many seasons that, frankly, this show sounded like some kind of sick joke my co-workers were playing on me and the addition of the monkey made the prank just plain sloppy.

While Animal Practice does in fact exist beyond my wildest nightmares, I'm relieved to say it isn't that bad, assuming you're a fan of Kirk (or at this point, just plain Andy Botwin, given he's essentially playing the same character), enjoy animals and don't hold a weird vendetta against NBC for firing Community's Dan Harmon and attempting to "dumb down its content" -- which, if you haven't heard, is definitely a thing.

That is to say, some of the best moments of the pilot were when we saw the day-to-day proceedings of the animal hospital where Dr. George Coleman (Kirk) and his team (played by Bobby Lee, Tyler Labine and Kym Whitley playing the same roles they always play) work. The cases we saw in the first episode -- including a tiger from the zoo that needed emergency surgery and a disgruntled dog owner (featuring a guest starring spot by the excellent Matt Walsh from Veep) who didn't want to drop major money on surgery, felt refreshing against the backdrop of the other million medical shows out there -- especially the moments when the Animal Practice didn't take itself too seriously and allowed the "drama" to feel more like parody than anything else.

On that note, what definitely didn't work was when the show adorably tried real hard to throw us into complicated personal relationships before it ever found its own voice as a comedy. I'm yet to care about the relationship between Dr. Coleman and his ex-girlfriend Dorothy Crane (JoAnna GarcĂ­a), probably due to the complete lack of chemistry between the actors, and I definitely want to see way less of Labine's characters' issue with his recent singledom. My tip to the writers: You are the show with the monkey. Embrace it and move on.

To the viewers out there who really hate the idea of a monkey being on a show: I'm not really sure what you were expecting, but I do understand... and generally just try to think of this show as a slightly guilty pleasure that will likely not lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it. For what it's worth, Hollywood has come to accept that this particular capuchin has what it takes to win our hearts. Even better is the fact that it's still early in the season and many of the fall comedies are in fact better than this... unless you freakin' love monkeys and are still disappointed, in which case you're pretty much screwed.

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