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NBC's Comedy Problem 

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In their race for fall viewership, the major networks have to pull out the big guns. They market new shows to death, hoping to make us want to help them increase their ratings. And these desperate times — of cable competition, inexplicable CBS comedy domination, etc. — call for desperate measures.

That led perpetual last-placer NBC to up the ante this August, debuting not one but two of its new sitcoms in post-Olympics coverage — Matthew Perry’s Go On, and Animal Practice, starring Justin Kirk. This seemed to be a daring tactic: providing exposure to two shows that would never have seen the numbers they did any other way (Go On: 16.1 million; Animal Practice: 12.8 million), and potentially inspiring viewers to make sure to tune in again come fall! It was brilliant, right?

Or, it would have been if the shows had been better.

Instead, the broad stroke of would-be genius by a network in need of a serious non-reality show facelift wound up accomplishing the opposite. Give up our obsessions with timeslot buddies Happy Endings and/or New Girl (Tuesdays at 9 pm) for NBC’s third attempt at re-creating Matthew Perry’s glory days — especially now that we’ve already seen the results? Nahhh.

Go On isn’t without charm. A mixed bag of personalities tossed together in a therapy session format could be better with some tweaking. Like, making the grumbly central character just a wee bit more likable. And pairing him with a cast to match, of course.

In truth, Perry would be better off in Animal Practice’s slot (Wednesdays at 8 pm), where he could find some Gen-Yer pity amongst the tired Survivor and revamped X Factor. And, because, really... just forget about Animal Practice.

The hybrid Scrubs-meets-Dr. Doolittle (huh?) show has so many irksome characters per minute that it’s almost unwatchable. There’s nothing wrong with a show about animals — anybody else remember Second Noah?! Come on, it was great, but this thing is all over the place. Adding insult to injury, its poorly timed airing cut into NBC’s Olympic closing ceremony coverage, in the process nixing performances by Muse and Ray Davies. Smooth moves, Peacock Network...

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