Zoobiquity (FOX) pilot preview: Animals and television never get along well…


Created and executive produced by Stephen Nathan (Bones, Joan of Arcadia) & Jonathan Collier (Bones, Monk, King of the Hill, The Simpsons). Based on Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz & Kathryn Bowers. Also executive produced by Spencer Medof. For FOX & 20th Century FOX Television. 60 pages.

Description: Dr Kara Martins is a successful, driven cardiologist, who risks career suicide by teaming with a socially-challenged veterinarian, Lucas Cort, who relates better to animals than people. They try to put aside their competitive natures to cure the incurable using a unique and controversial blend of cross-species medicine that’s never been tried before…

With Peter Facinelli (Supergirl, Nurse Jackie, Damages, Twilight), Marsha Thomason (White Collar, Las Vegas, Lost), Kim Raver (24, Grey’s Anatomy, Lipstick Jungle, Third Watch), Antonia Bernath (The Astronaut Wives Club, Downton Abbey) Ben Rappaport (Mr Robot, The Good Wife, Outsourced)…

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FOX recently decided to bury Bones, at last. Next season, the 12th, will be the last. In the meantime, they have to find their next endless procedural since so boring Rosewood, as expected, doesn’t do the job this season with depressing numbers when Empire is not around; not that bad Second Chance is already dead; and funny Lucifer does okay but is not valuable enough for the network because it’s not produced by 20th Century FOX Television but Warner Bros. Television. So they asked Bones‘ writers and executive producers Stephen Nathan & Jon Collier to come up with an idea, which is adaptating the best-selling book Zoobiquity into a “light and unconventional medical procedural” as they describe it. And it’s true. It’s VERY light. Unconventional? To some extent. That’s one way to put it. They could have said “ridiculous” instead. Would have worked too.

You know, I have not much love and time to give to procedural shows but when they’re good, efficient, I have no problem saying it and enjoy them. I did with Forever, Lucifer and recently Presence (read the preview here). They need to be different to be worth an investment from the audience, especially with this peak TV thing. And Zoobiquity is different. But you can’t do anything. Some ideas should better stay ideas and some books should never be adapted. It makes me think of Zoo, the painful to watch CBS summer show (also adapted from a book). Animals and television never get along well. Remember NBC comedy Animal Practice? Cancelled even before you get to watch it. Most of unscripted shows with animals don’t work either. I don’t know why. So, can Zoobiquity defy the odds? In fact, it’s cool to do an episode of a medical show with animals. Every one of them -the good ones I mean- did it. ER did. Grey’s Anatomy too. Maybe St. Elsewhere. Code Black? Whoops, I said good ones! My point is, you can do it once or twice, for fun, but a whole show based on cases where humans are saved by animals-it can also work the other way around- I don’t buy it. In the pilot, an unknown epidemy is killing both people and animals. Our reluctantly, newly formed team has to tackle this tricky case as quickly as possible since, yeah, people and animals are dying. And they do it brilliantly. I was bored to death after two acts, though.

What is Zoobiquity in a nutshell? A procedural with some deaths but no murders, mostly sick people and sick animals treated by good looking doctors who are supposed to hate each others until they fall in love. Kara Martins (Marsha Thomason), the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, is very smart, tough, agressive, a beauty, the tigress of the jungle; while Lucas Cort (Peter Facinelli) is a compelling, feral, good-looking veterinarian, the alpha wolf of the pack (he takes of his shirt after two minutes in the opening sequence in order to show how strong and manly he is). Of course, they don’t like each other at first, then they sniff each other’s butt and if the show lasts long enough they’ll make wild love sooner or later. Riveting stuff, hum? The actors are good and if they have chemistry, the pair can be attractive enough to sell the whole thing initially. But what’s gonna happen then?

I’m much more interested in the secondary characters but Kim Raver’s one is not one of them. The role was, until they cast her -instead of a man- and decide they have to beef up the character so she can become a third lead. In the version of the script I read, she’s just a pain in the ass for everyone as the hospital’s chief who’s not okay with this cross-species medicine. Yes, she deserves better. A better role. But also a better show! Don’t know what she’s doing with her career but since she departed Grey’s Anatomy, she makes wrong choices. Or maybe she isn’t given the best choices? It’s funny because at some point she says “I never imagined you were the type of person who was foolish enough to throw away her career. Because that’s what you’re doing.“LOL. Most of the other characters are funny/cute/beautiful and make it less painful to read. But it’s not enough. At least for me.

Zoobiquity doesn’t seem like a show that could work for years, which is what FOX is looking for with this kind of unambitious projects. If it was a crime procedural where animals were used to do god knows why that could help the investigators finding the culprit, it would ne ridiculous too but maybe it would stand a chance. But a medical procedural based on the cross-species medicine? I don’t believe in it. At all.

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