The Black Box: “Animal Practice”

Television pilots are tough to make. It’s hard to introduce the concept and entire cast of characters of a show in one episode and still have that episode hold up on it’s own. But just because something’s hard doesn’t make it any more excusable when you fail spectacularly at doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Black Box, where we check out pilots that crashed and burned to see exactly what went wrong.

This week, I am still not sure whether or not I should be reviewing this.


“Animal Practice” was a sitcom that premiered on August 12th, 2012 on NBC. The series followed the staff of an animal hospital and all the wacky hi jinx they went through while going through their daily duties. The series ran for 9 episodes before getting cancelled. And this show confuses the living hell out of me.

What they did right: Either nothing or everything, depending.

What they did wrong: Ok, here’s the thing; I cannot tell for the life of me whether or not this is supposed to be ridiculous. In fact, I had this show on my original list of shows to review but I removed it, assuming it was supposed to be this bad, like an Adult Swim anti-comedy type of show. But, after I was advised to take another look at it by a friend, I found that I think it’s actually supposed to be good. Weird, right?

We open on the attempted suicide of a cat. In case you were wondering, this was the point I stopped watching the first time. The cat is rushed to the hospital, where we meet the star of our program, Dr. George Coleman, the head of the hospital.


Sir, please don’t have that look on your face while you’re holding a dog. It’s unseemly.

He’s this show’s attempt at a Jeff Winger. he’s sarcastic and dickish but unfortunately fails to be charming. Also, while something like “Lawyer” or “Doctor”lends itself to the “charming dickhead” character type, “Veterinarian” just doesn’t. At all. He just seems like a dick.

Dr. Coleman is dispatched out to the lobby to meet…


She’s too happy to be someone in this show.

…Dorothy Crane. Dorothy is the new owner of the hospital and she and Coleman used to date. We know this because they directly tell us word for word exactly that. I swear to god, if I have an arch nemesis, it’s exposition. other doctors include Dr. Yamamoto…


                         Nothin’ out of the ordinary about this photo at all.

who is our resident sad sack and weird and Doctor Jackson who seems to be the only normal one in the series. Also, we have our resident “wacky side character” Angela.

Animal Practice - Season 1
ANIMAL PRACTICE — Season: 1 — Pictured: Betsy Sodaro as Nurse Angela — (Photo by: Robert Trachtenberg/NBC)

                                                 Goddamn autocaptions.

I really don’t like Nurse Angela. At all. It’s not the actresses fault, it’s just that the way the character is written really gets on my nerves. She’s just like the most annoying parts of four or five different characters rolled into one super-annoyance.

Ok, fine, I guess it’s time to talk about the monkey. Yes, that monkey in the above photos is a main character. No, he is not a patient. yes, he is a hospital pet who helps out around the hospital and drives around in a little remote controlled ambulance. No, I am not making any of that up.

Upon seeing that monkey for the first time, I assume you thought something along the lines of “Hey, that monkey looks like the monkey from the Night at the Museum movies, I wonder if it’s the same one? No, that’s stupid, why would I assume that? Is it because I think all monkeys look alike? Am I monkey-racist?”

Yes, it actually IS the same monkey from the Night at the Museum movies. You are not monkey-racist. That is not even a real thing.

Finally, let’s speed up and deal with the episode’s plot. The main plot revolves around a man who takes his dog in, but when he’s told how costly the surgery would be, he opts to have the dog put down. Instead, Dr. Coleman dognaps the dog (motherFUCKER even in “The Black Box” I can’t get away from dognapping) and performs the surgery on it anyway. The dog lives and they give it back to its owner along with the bill.

Now, I love dogs. I love dogs probably more than is socially acceptable. But here’s the thing: Sometimes someone can’t AFFORD to save their pet’s life. Surgery is expensive as hell, especially on a pet and when you have a kid to take care of (like this pet owner does) sometimes you have to make a hard choice and when some jackass vet decides to fuck all that up, you could have a problem.

It’s worse, because the show celebrates Coleman for his actions, without any thoughts as to this unfortunate subtext. It just bothers me, is all. Like the monkey. The monkey really bothers me.

Ah well, Next week is the start of our super holiday spectacular month, so I got something special for y’all.

You buncha monkey-racists, you.


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