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Homeentertainment'Animal Control' review: Joel McHale's fox-taming workplace sitcom

'Animal Control' review: Joel McHale's fox-taming workplace sitcom

You’ve seen Fox’s Animal Control before, even though you couldn’t possibly have seen Fox’s Animal Control because it is a brand new series. From the opening seconds, every aspect of the comedy feels familiar, from the character types to the relationships to the pacing of the predictable punchlines.

This is not necessarily a complaint. Sitcoms often thrive on the reliability of well-worn formulas, and in that regard, Animal Control knows how to deliver exactly what one expects from them. What it didn’t figure out, at least in the first three-and-a-half hours it sent to critics, was how to provide that extra oomph that would set it apart from all the other shows offering variations of the same thing. Animal Control

Bottom line could be wilder.

Air date: Thursday, February 9pm (fox)

Cast: Joel McHale , Michael Rowland, Ravi Patel, Vella Lovell, Grace Palmer by Bob Fisher, Rob Greenberg, Dan Sterling

it The premise is simple; think Brooklyn Nine-Nine if the characters were police creatures and not other humans. Joel McHale stars as Frank, an employee of Seattle’s Animal Control Department who is perhaps best described as the Joel McHale type — smug , sarcastic, too smart, but not as smart as he thinks he is. In the premiere’s first scene, he meets his new partner, Fred (Michael Rowland), a former professional snowboarder, and gleefully declares, “I’m going to beat you, bro!” Marked as the opposite of Frank. And so begins a classic jovial dynamic, la Ron and Leslie from Parks and Recreation, JD from Scrubs and Dr. Cox and even Jimmy and Paul were contracted last month .

Fred and Frank’s associates include fretful family man Amit (Ravi Patel) and eccentric party girl Victoria (Grace Palmer). ), who get along despite their very different lifestyles; their lovable but incompetent boss, Emily (Vella Lovell, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend); Manager Dolores (Kelli Ogmundson); Rival Precinct Chief Templeton (Gerry Dee); and Dr. Summers (Alvina August), best known simply as “Hot Vet” . What ensues are the inside jokes, rancor, and shenanigans that rife any office comedy, as well as weekly animal adventures like a battle with a gang of violently drugged rabbits.

Animal Control runs with the fluidity of a more mature show that stands in contrast to the awkwardness that plagues so many other fledgling comedies Compared. It knows who these characters are and meticulously grounds their arcs — including sowing seeds in backstory that could lead to future episodes, like Frank’s previous experience as a police officer, as blown The whistle was sounded. The jokes it pulls from them range from funny to innocuous, rarely as downright painful or harsh. It’s all too clear that sometimes the best punchlines aren’t some overwritten clip, but the simple sight of a CG kangaroo punching a guy.

Just not that interesting, or at least this reviewer didn’t think so. Animal Control Capable but not lively enough, despite a relatively novel premise, one can justifiably see the grandeur of a still cougar or the farce of an ostrich chasing a frightened and bewildered one. The series doesn’t seem to say anything in particular about the workplaces it portrays, or the people in them, other than a vague acknowledgment that animals are indeed weird. It has just the right amount of humor, with little attempt to push the boundaries of the outrageous, the dirty, or just plain silly.

There isn’t a single personality big enough to pop off the screen, and none sharp enough to be quoted or imprinted into the cultural consciousness. (Animal Control could have used a character like Abbott Elementary‘s Ava badly to steal the scene and sow chaos .) The show didn’t benefit from super chemistry either, though all the characters seemed to get along pretty well. Even the willingness they’ve established in the first few episodes — they won’t — is more obligatory than organic in the land. While Fred and Emily say all the right things about how attractive they find each other, the lack of spark between Rowland and Lovell tells a different story.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Maybe you like McHale’s signature smarm more than I do. Maybe you’ll enjoy Amit’s ridiculous subplots about parenting more than I do, like the first episode where he and the kid sing a song about poop on the phone – only to have the whole office ringing because they listen He sang so many damn songs. PossiblyAnimal Control half-hearted silliness, like a slow motion shot of a gang in riot gear and carrying a carrot instead of a weapon, hits your personal location, Looking for comedy comfort food.

After a while though, the smooth vibe of Animal Control starts to strike me as almost a weakness , rather than strength. If the series had been more unbalanced and unruly, it might have been easier to see where it could have grown into something weirder or more ambitious or visceral—more special, frankly. To be fair, it probably still is; the early three episodes can’t dictate the course of the series as a whole, and very good series grow from inauspicious beginnings. But at the moment, ironically, Animal Control is too tame.



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