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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2011-2012 season, now in its sixth year! Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
FAMILY PRACTICE (BUSTED NBC PILOT)
(written by Dan Goor; directed by Ted Wass; TRT: 21:44)
The network's description: No official description was released.
What did they leave out? Audrey Esparza and Fahim Anwar were previously cast as Liz Stratton and Dr. Manish Patel, respectively, in the multi-camera pilot however their characters weren't featured in the presentation.
The plot in a nutshell: It's a big day for Dr. Adam Foote (Andrew J. West). After toiling away as a researcher in Boston, he's finally joining his family's medical practice - home to dad George (a mustachioed Jere Burns), mom Barbara (a raven haired Jean Smart) and grandfather Robert Passion Foote (Christopher Lloyd being Christopher Lloyd). But with his favored son status - brother Matt (Brad Morris), a successful bank manager, is forced make appointments and a co-pay to see George - comes the pressure of maintaining said cachet ("I was trying to give [rats] cancer," he notes about his old job. "If I messed up, they lived."). George and Barbara however prove to be more interested in infantilizing their golden child rather than treating him as a peer.
Adam conversely wants to prove his worth by diagnosing a particularly challenging patient named Roy (Eddie Pepitone). It's a situation that gets even worse after Matt lets it slip Adam only agreed to join the practice after breaking off his engagement to his girlfriend Irene, news Barbara can't believe he kept from her. The back-and-forth ultimately results in Barbara and Adam accidentally gluing themselves to the aforementioned Roy (don't ask) where they're forced to finally listen to each other. Along the way we meet the Foote's no-nonsense nurse Helen ("The Help's" Octavia Spencer, yes that Octavia Spencer) and an attractive drug rep named Chelsea (Courtney Henggeler) who takes Robert to task for his sample thieving.
What works: So yeah, it's pretty much...
What doesn't: ...as middling of you'd expect. Jokes about UI (Robert: "When I pee all that comes out is air!") and ED (Chelsea: "When most doctors meet me they think erections... I'm here to prove that we're bigger than just erections!") are the cattle calls for its lowest common denominator sense of humor while, when all else fails, yelling lines seems to elicit a wave of giggles from the laugh track (George: "Dad, do you have any advice for Adam as he joins the practice?" Robert: "Yes, don't ruin it!"). Or as a last resort, a bleeped f-bomb.
If anything, "Family Practice" seems content in firing off easy couplets (George: "Am I a good mother?" Barbara: "Is shingles a form of herpes?"; Roy: "Is anything wrong?" Adam: "No, noses are disgusting.") and overplayed silliness (that scamp Robert torments poor Adam with medical glue), an attitude that makes the show feel dreadfully slack and loutish. As a devout fan of the multi-camera format, nothing would thrill me more than to see the genre reinvent itself. But with characters declaring things like "Mom, keep your breasts off my face" and "When in doubt, slice it out" to the tune of piped in laughter...
The bottom line: ..."Family Practice" would not have been the show to do it.