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Is 'Animal Practice' fall TV's first fail?

Is 'Animal Practice' fall TV's first fail?NBC is wisely using the Summer Olympics as a springboard to promote some of its new fall shows, including “Animal Practice,” a zany new comedy starring Justin Kirk (“Weeds”) as a grumpy veterinarian, which gets a special post-Olympics sneak peek this weekend. But maybe the Peacock Network would’ve been better served running pole-vault reruns instead, because all signs point to “Practice” being one of this fall’s biggest fails. In fact, here are five compelling reasons why we think “Animal Practice” might be one of the first new fall shows to face the cancellation axe. (Update your Fall TV Death Pools accordingly.) 

Its biggest star is a monkey
It’s never a great sign when your new TV show is known as “the one with the monkey.” Yes, one of “Practice’s” main cast members is a capuchin monkey named Crystal, who plays the vet’s medical assistant Dr. Rizzo -- and who you’ve probably seen before in movies like “The Hangover Part II.” Most of the ads for “Practice” focus on Dr. Rizzo and his adorable antics, which doesn’t bode well for the show’s human dialogue. At least the monkey’s being paid handsomely: We learned this week that Crystal is pulling in $12,000 an episode. If “Practice” lasts a full season, that adds up to more than a quarter-million dollars. (We hope Crystal doesn’t blow it all on bananas, though; this show may not be around that long.)

The cast includes two certified show-killers
In TV parlance, a “show-killer” is an actor whose presence in a show's cast virtually guarantees that it's getting canceled. “Animal Practice” has not one but two of these: Tyler Labine, who struck out with “Reaper,” “Sons of Tuscon,” and “Mad Love,” and JoAnna Garcia Swisher, who followed up the hit “Reba” with duds like “Welcome to the Captain,” “Privileged,” and “Better With You.” (Yes, we can assure you those were all actual TV shows.) And Garcia Swisher was actually a recent addition to the cast, replacing Amy Huberman, who co-starred in the original pilot. Don’t feel bad, Amy; you may have actually dodged a bullet here.

Get a sneak peek at "Animal Practice" from the show's cast and crew right here:



We’re already sick of it

Since we’ve been watching a lot of Olympics coverage over the past two weeks, we can tell you that NBC has run approximately one zillion promos for “Animal Practice,” which has only made us start to hate the show before it even airs. Sure, it makes sense to take advantage of all those Olympic eyeballs to give your new shows a boost, but we think we’ve seen more of that damn monkey than we’ve seen of Michael Phelps at this point. Annoyance is not the feeling you want viewers to have when they think of your new show.

It hasn’t been screened for critics
It’s standard practice for the networks to send all of their fall TV pilots to critics in advance, months before they air. But NBC still hasn’t provided a look at “Animal Practice” yet, beyond a few brief clips. In fact, we can’t remember another time in recent years when a major network show wasn’t screened for critics before airing. It kind of feels like when a movie studio dumps a Katherine Heigl movie into theaters without letting critics see it first; maybe they just want to get it out there before the bad reviews can sink it? 


And oh yeah, it looks terrible
All of these factors aside, “Animal Practice” sounds like a classic three-episodes-and-out bomb. We love Justin Kirk, but he just seems to be sleepwalking through a pale imitation of Hugh Laurie as Dr. House here. Garcia Swisher feels out-of-place as Kirk’s ex who -- what a coincidence! -- happens to have inherited his hospital, making her his boss. (Conflict!) The supporting cast is full of stereotypes like Juanita the sassy black nurse (Kym Whitley) and Angela the weirdo animal lover (Betsy Sodaro). And did we mention it co-stars a monkey? We're animal lovers, too, but we can’t see “Animal Practice” surviving much longer than your average pet-store goldfish.


A special sneak preview of “Animal Practice” airs Sunday, 8/12 at 10:30 PM on NBC.