I previously wrote a non-review of the full Go On pilot that NBC aired following its coverage of the London Olympic games two nights before.
Toward the end of last Sunday night's Closing Ceremonies, NBC provided a similar promotional push for another one of its new fall entries, Animal Practice. Though originally intended to air AFTER the Closing Ceremonies, NBC (which Nikki Finke lovingly calls the Numbskull Broadcasting Network) opted instead to air the show commercial-free just before the final performance of the Closing Ceremonies by The Who. While this was most likely done to maximize audience potential, much of that audience was displeased with the last-minute move.
This came about a week or so another gaffe when a promo featuring a widely grinning Rizzo the monkey (pictured above with series star Justin Kirk of Weeds and Angels in America) aired immediately following a news piece about Gymnastics All-Around Champion Gabby Douglas.
NBC is either brilliant or just like those types of guys who can muck up and still come out ahead. But perhaps because NBC Prime is firmly entrenched in fourth place, they are not above doing anything to generate attention. But I can't imagine the show's stars and producers are all that pleased with being "the show that came before The Who" or "the show that inferred Gabby Douglas was a monkey."
Then again, they could all be involved. Who knows? No pun intended.
In a unique take on medical shows, Animal Practice is set at an animal hospital where Dr. George Coleman (Kirk) would rather deal with his patients than their owners. Similar in personality to the dearly departed Dr. Gregory House and with similar approaches to people and life, Coleman has been running the hospital rather autonomously for the last few years.
His hopes of continuing to do so are dashed when the hospital owner dies and leaves the practice to her granddaughter Dorothy, who comes in and wants to make changes despite George's protests. George and Dorothy have a prickly romantic history, which also plays into those protestations.
In the pilot, George threatens to leave over the handling of a terrier in need of surgery which its owner will not pay for. Seeing George's passion for animal care, Dorothy eventually comes around to understand his reasoning (for this case). Together they get the surgery done and, through a bit of blackmail, get the owner to pay.
While the premise has more legs than its Olympic preview counterpartGo On, there are more places for that series to go once its premise plays itself out. Such may not be case with Animal Practice. The inherent George and Dorothy conflict will make for some great "Huddy" interplay as long as it doesn't become a matter of the tired "will they or won't they?" I would much rather see "do it or don't and leave it at that".
My other concern for the series (as well as Go On, even though it makes some sense there) is the use of quirky supporting characters such as Dr. Kim Yamamoto (Bobby Lee of Mad TV) and newcomer Betsy Sodaro's Angela. Quirky supporting characters are becoming an overused comedy device that takes away from actual characterization and distract from more than add to the story -- much in the same way promotional glitches for the series might overlook the series itself.
Despite the concerns, Justin Kirk, like Hugh Laurie in House, is a strong actor who makes a likeable guy out of a what is an unlikeable one on paper.
Animal Practice also features are Tyler Labine as Dr. Doug Jackson and comedienne Kym Whitley as Juanita.