Animal Practice 1

Apparently, it was too much to hope for: a smart TV comedy about a veterinary hospital.

I know, silly me.

I watched Animal Practice, which NBC canceled last week, thinking that it might include some funny plots that could actually happen in a veterinary setting.

It's supposedly about a gifted veterinarian, Dr. George Coleman, who cares more about his patients than the owners. Aside from the fact that it's hard to believe Dr. Coleman does indeed care about animals — his general demeanor, even when interacting with them, is arrogant indifference — the only heartbeat that he seems concerned about is the one associated with a skirt and heels.

The pilot opened with a hysterically funny (wink, wink) scene in which a cat throws herself off a balcony.

Dr. Coleman’s diagnosis: The cat tried to commit suicide because she’s in heat, and the best treatment is to let a male cat “grab her by the scruff of her neck and make her purr.” He then hits up the owner for a date.

Wow, makes me proud to be a veterinarian.

Why This Show Was Nothing Like the Real Deal

Granted, I probably get more caught up in the glaring inaccuracies than the average viewer. Take, for example, the bloodless surgeries. The all-male cast of generalist veterinarians who treat every aspect of dogs and cats, Bengal tigers, chickens, horses and penguins. And then there's the veterinary hospital that looks more like a human hospital.

I know that every medical program can’t be like the TV drama ER, which was created by Michael Crichton, who happened to have an M.D. from Harvard. At least those scripts were based on medical fact, so the dialogue and the procedures were fairly true to life.

But can’t Animal Practice make even a feeble attempt to be more realistic?

Animal Practice 2

A Comedy That's Seriously Not Funny

I’d be willing to give the writers some artistic license with the veterinary details for the sake of some honest belly laughs. If only there were some.

With the exception of Dr. Coleman, the other veterinarians are bumbling idiots who only serve to provide slapstick humor. There’s Dr. Jackson, who can’t seem to remove the funny bone from a game of Operation. A dog’s head has been pasted over the human face on the board game, and the red nose lights up every time the buzzer sounds. Ha-ha-ha.

The program seems to assume that viewers have even lower IQs, given the scene in which Dr. Yamamoto shrieks in fear at the sight of hand puppets.

Sadly, the only character that shows any depth is Dr. Rizzo, the scrubs-wearing Capuchin monkey who serves as Dr. Coleman’s sidekick — and rides a toy ambulance around the hospital. (Unfortunately, this will no doubt send some viewers in search of their own pet monkeys, which is not recommended.)

It’s hard to watch a program with one-dimensional characters that have no compassion, and animals who are just walk-on props for frat-boy gags. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt it was time to put Animal Practice out of its misery.