For a short while, it appeared that NBC’s strategy of using a captive Summer Olympics audience to launch the network’s “broader” fall comedies was actually going to work out. Go On and Animal Practice both debuted to respectable numbers during the London games, with the former carrying enough lingering enthusiasm for Matthew Perry and Scott Silveri’s work on Friends to hold its own against actual competition this week.
But it turns out that preempting the closing ceremonies wasn’t the best way to extend Animal Practice’s brief brush with success: The show fell to a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 in its timeslot première last night, a cruel mirror image of the 4.1 it earned by fooling viewers into thinking Justin Kirk and Crystal The Monkey are now the rhythm section for The Who. NBC’s Guys With Kids, meanwhile, improved incrementally on its lead-in with a 1.6 18-49 rating—though it drew 4.8 million viewers to Animal Practice’s 5.2 million.
Over on a network that does know how to program comedies with wide appeal, ABC’s hour-long bet on The Middle paid some dividends, attracting nearly 9 million viewers and 2.8 rating in the demo—not that far off from the Survivor première’s 3.0. Mind you it did this by leading off the entire night—as opposed to The Neighbors, which drafted off of Modern Family to numbers that look the same (9.3 million viewers, 3.3 18-49) but ooze green liquid. Modern Family, of course, continues to be Modern Family, earning the best numbers of the week for a comedy: 14.2 million viewers, 5.5 18-49. Maybe Animal Practice should follow its lead and push a bunch of its supporting cast over the side of a boat.