Monkey Business: Best and Worst Uses of Monkeys on TV

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This image released by NBC shows Justin Kirk as Dr. George Coleman from the NBC comedy "Animal Practice." The series, which premiered last fall, was canceled by the network. (AP Photo/NBC, Chris Haston)
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This image released by NBC shows Justin Kirk as Dr. George Coleman from the NBC comedy "Animal Practice." The series, which premiered last fall, was canceled by the network. (AP Photo/NBC, Chris Haston)

As descendants of apes, it's no wonder people seem to have an innate fascination with monkeys. Perhaps that's why so many TV shows over the years have included a monkey as a regular cast member or as a featured guest star in one-off episodes. Unfortunately, not all TV shows make good use of their monkey stars. From period dramas to cutting-edge sitcoms, here are some of the best and worst uses of monkeys on TV.

BEST

"The Borgias"

In a period drama as sumptuous as "The Borgias," you could be forgiven for assuming that pet monkeys are just set dressing. However, monkeys have been used quite cleverly in Seasons 1 and 2. In the first season, Cesare brings a monkey to a banquet to taste food for poison. In the second season, Cardinal della Rovere uses the monkey for much the same purpose after Cesare tries to poison him. The little monkeys really underscore the intrigue and danger of the world.

WORST

"BJ and the Bear"

Only the '70s could have produced such a ludicrous sitcom. Following the adventures of a long-haul trucker and his pet chimp, this series is painfully cheesy from today's perspective. Now, if this show had co-starred an actual bear instead of a chimp, that would have been cool!

BEST

"Friends"

Ross had a lot of funny quirks over the years, but one of the most memorable was Marcel, his pet capuchin monkey. Later in the series, Marcel attained "Cybil Shepard-level" fame by starring in beer commercials and performing opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in the fictional film "Outbreak 2."

WORST

"Animal Practice"

Without question, "Animal Practice" was one of the most panned shows of the fall 2012 TV season. The low-rated comedy was roundly detested, with many fans joking that Crystal the monkey was the most likeable character on the show. Still, as popular as Crystal's character Dr. Rizzo was, she seemed like more of a gimmick than an asset.

BEST

"Community"

The capuchin monkey known as "Annie's Boobs" first made an appearance during the infamous "chicken finger mafia" episode of "Community," and later appeared as the kleptomaniac pen thief responsible for stealing Annie's school supplies. Used to great comedic effect, this monkey became a fan favorite almost instantly.

Interestingly enough, "Annie's Boobs" was played by Crystal the monkey, who also appeared on "Animal Practice." Crystal has also appeared in a number of feature films, such as "Night at the Museum," "Dr. Dolittle," and "The Hangover Part II."

WORST

"Dora the Explorer"

For parents who watch TV alongside their kids, there's likely no voice more annoying than that of Boots the monkey. This red-booted monkey's whining voice no doubt drives plenty of parents and older siblings crazy.

BEST

"Family Guy"

One of the show's longest-running gags has been the evil monkey that lives inside Chris Griffin's closet. Famous for his menacing glare and pointing finger, the monkey's tragic backstory was revealed in the episode "Hannah Banana." While he might not be a real monkey, this animated ape is highly amusing to fans of the show.
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