When your colony of pet rabbits accidentally eats magic mushrooms, who you gonna call? Hopefully not the characters on Animal Control, the new sitcom that debuted on Fox in February. Responding to that situation in one early episode, the officers eventually corral the tripping bunnies, then decide to confiscate the rest of the unfortunate owner’s shroom stash for their personal use.

Asset forfeiture is no laughing matter. But the show uses the low-stakes environment of animal control duty to poke fun at the real problems of self-interested cops and the unaccountable public systems that protect them. Main character Frank Shaw (Joel McHale) is a former policeman who got drummed out of the force for trying to report corruption. He’s understandably bitter about it.

Having McHale’s overqualified and grumpy character surrounded by a bunch of goofballs and underachievers seems like a deliberate attempt to replicate the formula of Community, the brilliantly inventive sitcom that starred McHale and was a springboard for Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Ken Jeong, Dan Harmon, and the Russo brothers. Animal Control seems unlikely to soar as high, but it’s good for a few laughs at the expense of incompetent and negligent public officials.

Eric Boehm

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