"Animal Practice" should really just be called "We Have A Monkey." Seriously -- even though the re-shot pilot added Joanna Garcia Swisher in the lead female role, the true stars of this sitcom are the animals, most notably Crystal the Monkey.

Yes, the "highest testing character" coming to NBC's fall schedule is a monkey named Crystal. "She's just super cool," star Justin Kirk said at the "Animal Practice" TCA panel. "She's the most famous monkey in Hollywood, so you try to be cool around her."

On hand at the panel were Kirk, Garcia Swisher and costars Bobby Lee, Kym Whitley and Betsy Sodaro, and executive producers Scot Armstrong, Anthony Russo, Alessandro Tanaka, Brian Gatewood and Gail Lerner, all of whom claim to be animal lovers in real life.

"I have two rescue dogs," Armstrong said, "and one of them is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. That's one of the reasons that we decided to do a show that celebrates animals."

Sadly missing for most of the panel was Crystal, a.k.a. Dr. Rizzo, who drove in on her battery-operated ambulance for a surprise appearance at the end of the session, reminding the assembled critics and journalists of the show's funniest moments.

But the old adage is that you should never work with kids (see NBC's other new sitcom "Guys With Kids" for more on that) or animals, so how tricky has it been?

"It's almost unnoticeable -- the company, Birds and Animals, that we use is an amazing company with amazing trainers," Tanaka said. "The environment that we maintain on set is very pet-friendly and calm."

"I'm sometimes late to my mark, but the animals are there, they're ready," joked Lee, who has a scene in the pilot where he's being choked by a boa constrictor. "I saw a light, I saw my grandfather, and then I heard 'cut!'"

There's also a line in the pilot about breeding a cat, something that brought out a few claws from critics, but rest assured that the show will try to send positive animal messages. "We will not support that on 'Animal Practice.' Spay and neuter your pets, Bob Barker, etcetera, etcetera," Kirk quipped.

"It's so easy to be like, 'Oh, why don't we have a dog start tap dancing,'" Tanaka said. "At the end of the day, this is an animal hospital. With all this comedy, we're also dealing with life and death situations ... in order to keep those stakes and keep the drama, we have to keep it grounded in reality."

So they're aware that they shouldn't go too broad with the animal hijinks, but Garcia Swisher says it's the actors that need to be reigned in. We're sure Crystal, the professional that she is, will keep them in line.

Tell us: Will you watch 'Animal Practice'?

For more on NBC's new 2012-2013 shows, check out the slideshow below:

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  • 1600 Penn

    Benjamin Stockham as Xander, Martha MacIsaac as Becca (seated), Bill Pullman as President Dale Gilchrist (seated), Amara Miller as Marigold, Josh Gad as Skip, Jenna Elfman as Emily Gilchrist (seated), Andre Holland as Marshall Malloy

  • 1600 Penn

    Amara Miller as Marigold; Jenna Elfman as First Lady Emily Gilchrist; Bill Pullman as President Dale Gilchrist; Martha MacIsaac as Becca; Josh Gad as Skip; Benjamin Stockham as Xander

  • Go On

    Allison Miller as Carrie, Khary Payton as Don, Suzy Nakamura as Yolanda, Matthew Perry as Ryan, Laura Benanti as Lauren, Julie White as Anne

  • Go On

    Matthew Perry as Ryan King

  • Revolution

    Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie, Anna Lise Phillips as Maggie , Zak Orth as Aaron

  • Revolution

    JD Pardo as Nate, Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie, Zak Orth as Aaron, Anna Lise Phillips as Maggie

  • Revolution

    Billy Burke as Miles

  • Revolution

    Anna Lise Phillips as Maggie, Graham Rogers as Danny, Tim Guiee as Ben, David Lyons as Bass Monroe, Billy Burke as Miles, Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie, Andrea Roth as Rachel, Maria Howell as Grace, JD Pardo as Nate, Zak Orth as Aaron, Giancarlo Esposito as Lt. Neville

  • The New Normal

    Ellen Barkin as Jane, Andrew Rannells as Bryan, Georgia King as Goldie, Bebe Wood as Shania, Justin Bartha as David

  • The New Normal

    Bebe Wood as Shania; Andrew Rannells as Bryan; Justin Bartha as David; Georgia King as Goldie

  • The New Normal

    Andrew Rannells as Bryan, Ellen Barkin as Jane, Nene Leakes as Rocky

  • Save Me

    Anne Heche as Beth

  • Save Me

    Anne Heche as Beth Waring

  • Save Me

    Heather Burns as Jenna, Alexandra Breckenridge as Carly, Michael Landes as Tom Waring, Anne Heche as Beth Waring, Madison Davenport as Emily Waring, Lamman Rucker as John

  • Chicago Fire

    Teri Reeves as Hallie, David Eigenberg as Christopher Hermann, Charlie Barnett as Peter Mills, Lauren German as Leslie Shay, Monica Raymund as Gabriella Dawson, Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide, Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey, Eamonn Walker as Battalion Chief Walter Boden and Merle Dandridge as Kay Fitori

  • Deception

    Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto

  • Deception

    Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto

  • Deception

    Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto, Victor Garber as Robert Bowers

  • Deception

    Victor Garber as Robert Bowers, Meagan Good as Joanna Locasto, Katherine LaNasa as Sofia Bowers, Tate Donovan as Edward Bowers, Laz Alonso as Will Moreno

  • Guys With Kids

    Anthony Anderson as Gary, Tempestt Bledsoe as Marny

  • Guys With Kids

    Anthony Anderson as Gary, Jesse Bradford as Chris, Zach Cregger as Nick

  • Guys With Kids

    Jamie Lynn Sigler as Emily, Zach Cregger as Nick, Tempestt Bledsoe as Marny, Anthony Anderson as Gary, Sara Rue as Sheila, Jesse Bradford as Chris

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