Nat Geo WILD has a robust lineup of endearing, animal-centric reality programming, a trend that continues apace with the premiere of Dr. T, Lone Star Vet. The series is perhaps the most charming new series on the cable network this year, as it follows Dr. Lauren Thielen, and her co-workers, as they care for a never-ending stream of exotic animals — many of them pets — in one of Texas’s largest animal hospitals. Though going to the vet is a lot like going to the doctor — it’s not something anyone really wants to do, for fear of bad news — the cast and crew of Dr. T takes great pains to not only make their expansive clinic look and feel less intimidating, but also to provide a bit of comfort to all its guests, exotic animal and otherwise.
At the center of the series is Dr. Lauren Thielen, who, in addition to being a skilled and knowledgeable veterinarian is also incredibly engaging as the star of her own reality TV program. That rare combination of smarts and on-screen charisma makes Lone Star Vet easy, even comfortable viewing, even though every episode has high emotional stakes that can sometimes be difficult to watch.
Thankfully that’s not the case in the series premiere, ‘The Terrible Turkey Trot,’ which, despite its title, spends only a small portion of its runtime on the titular terrible turkeys. But, to the show’s credit, it at least knows how to approach caring for a pair of overly aggressive male turkeys with a smile on its face. In this case, Dr. T is called out to a ranch whose male owner is attacked by the wild birds whenever he gets near. Though he’s not really in any real physical danger (though the series makes it clear accidents do happen), the attacks the poor man must endure are a source of humor to the women on the ranch, none of whom have any problems with the birds.
Dr. T takes it upon herself to witness the attacks in person, and the show succeeds in framing them as more funny than dangerous. Still, it’s behavior that Dr. T and the ranch owners would like to see modified, which she does in surprisingly quick fashion. As it turns out, the turkeys have an overabundance of testosterone, which she’s able to curb with a simple implant.
The terrible turkey scenario unfolds about half-way through the episode, and by then the audience will be well acquainted with the format of the show, which introduces the pet, the problem, and the possible solution in quick succession. It’s a good bet that future episodes won’t run as smoothly for all of Dr. T’s patients, but it’s probably a smart idea to begin with a series of happy endings for the turkeys (or at least the human target of their aggression), an older hedgehog with some dental issues, some adorable baby raccoons, and an African grey parrot who may or may not have a cancerous growth on her neck.
Though the appeal of the series is the animal patients and knowing that they will be well taken care of by Dr. T, Lone Star Vet actually makes as compelling a case for its human cast as it does the ailing creatures. Case in point: the woman who brings in the African grey parrot is faced with the prospect of losing the friend and companion she’s had for the past 28 years. And though it can be difficult to watch someone go through that experience and process a potential loss in advance, it will speak to animal lovers everywhere to see the lengths to which a person will go to ensure their pet is happy and healthy.
It works in the favor of Dr. T, Lone Star Vet that the series is centralized in the enormous clinic designed specifically to care for these exotic animals. Not only does it provide ample room for a wide variety of creatures to walk through the door, but it also gives the series the means by which it can witness the treatment of some equally exotic ailments. That, coupled with the fact that the large hospital staff is a veritable cast of characters in its own — not to mention the people bringing their animals in to be cared for — makes Nat Geo WILD’s newest series one worth tuning in for.
Dr. T, Lone Star Vet premieres on Nat Geo WILD this Sunday, October 13th @9/8c.