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Dr. Rizzo from NBC’s ‘Animal Practice’ and 5 More Famous TV Primates

Rudi the Chimpanzee
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
NBC will debut the new comedy 'Animal Practice' after the Olympics set in a fictional New York City veterinary office. The comedy will revolve around the animals who really run the show including the simian Dr. Rizzo played by Crystal. This isn't the first time that cute primates have taken the lead on TV shows. We look at Dr. Rizzo, a Capuchin monkey and five famous TV chimpanzees.


Lancelot Link Secret Chip

 
 

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp was a spy comedy that ran on ABC in 1970. Lance was a member for the Agency to Prevent Evil (APE) and was opposed by the Criminal Headquarters for the Underworld's Master Plan (CHUMP). The series was done with a completely chimpanzee cast - no humans appeared in any episode.

 

Me and the Chimp

 
 

CBS's 1972 series 'Me And the Chimp' is remembered as one of the worst shows in history, when it's remembered at all. Buttons the chimpanzee was a reject from the space program; remember when we used to send dogs and monkeys into orbit? Buttons came to live with a dentist (Ted Bissel) and his family. 'Me and the Chimp' is so far relegated to the cultural dustbin of history that we can't find any YouTube clips of the show to share with you.

 
CBS
CBS

BJ and the Bear

 
 

What's better than Ice Road Trucking? Hauling cargo with a chimpanzee as your co-pilot. That's the premise of the 1979 sitcom 'BJ and The Bear' that ran for three seasons on NBC. BJ was actor Greg Evigan while his pet The Bear was named after Alabama football coach Bear Bryant. The show was part of a late 70s cultural fascination with the trucking lifestyle - think the song 'Convoy' and 'Smokey and the Bandit' series of movies.

 

The Chimp Channel

 
 

Similar to 'Lancelot Link,' the 'Chimp Channel' had an all primate cast. The sketch comedy series ran for one season on Superstation TBS in 1999. Based around a fictional TV network The Chimp Channel or TCC, the show revolved around behind the scenes antics at the network and parodies of TV shows like 'Wheel of Fortune' in the video below.

 

Tarzan

 
 

Cheeta was the name of Tarzan's animal companion and appeared in the numerous movies and TV shows based on the characters originated by Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote the Tarzan novels. There were many monkeys who portrayed Cheeta over the years, the most famous being Jiggs. The video below is from a 1991-1994 Tarzan that was produced for French television and ran in syndication in the US and Canada. In that series Tarzan and Jane were environmentalists.

 

Animal Practice

 
 

A new addition to NBC's Fall 2012 line-up is 'Animal Practice' based on the goings on of a NYC veternary practice. No doubt that Dr. Rizzo will steal the show, as adorable animals always do. Portrayed by a monkey named Crystal, Dr. Rizzo is the constant compantion of the practice's lead doctor. Crystal is certainly Hollywood's 'It Capuchin' having appeared in 'Night at the Museum' and as the cigarette smoking monkey in 'The Hangover II.'

 

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