Duplass-Approved Animated Series Takes Flight

What started as a silly office pastime evolved into a festival-circuit comedy project that makes its television debut this week.

What started as a silly office pastime evolved into a festival-circuit comedy project that makes its television debut this week. Needless to say, Animals (Series Premiere, 11:30 p.m. Friday, HBO) is far from the typical adult animated show.

Creators Phil Matarese and Mike Luciano worked at a New York production company, where they’d joke around voicing the casual observations of the pigeons outside their office. Eventually, illustrator Matarese animated a short based on their riffs. Pigeons screened at comedy shows, South by Southwest, the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the New York Television Festival, where it won Best Comedy in 2013.

Jay and Mark Duplass — producers, directors, actors, brothers and all-around hilarious humans — took notice and encouraged the duo to create an independent animated series. Two episodes of Animals premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, becoming the first independently produced television series to do so. With the Duplass brothers on board to produce, HBO picked up two seasons of the series, which explores the perspectives of not only pigeons, but NYC’s many animal inhabitants — rats, police horses and bedbugs — via the voices of Matarese, Luciano, the Duplasses and a roster of guest stars from A$AP Rocky to Nick Kroll to Wanda Sykes.


Madoff (Miniseries Premiere, 8 p.m., ABC) – Richard Dreyfuss stars as the NASDAQ-chair-turned-con man in this two-night event that charts his rise and epic fall.

American Crime (10 p.m., ABC) – Eric reveals to police his side of the story: Taylor initiated their encounter, it was consensual and the drunken photos of Taylor were taken after the fact; Taylor must defend himself to the police in the wake of this new information. Anne struggles to accept Taylor’s sexuality.


Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – Fred moves to Austin, Texas; Carrie hosts a bunch of unexpected guests and learns what it feels like to be a mom.

Baskets (10 p.m., FX) – Chip steps in to help when one of Martha’s friends is murdered by another one of her friends.


Vice (Season Premiere, 11 p.m., HBO) – The Nigerian government sets out to eradicate Boko Haram, but the hunt for insurgents presents more danger; scientists have simplified the gene-editing method, making it easier than ever to retool human evolution.


Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Bernie Sanders doppelgänger Larry David hosts; The 1975 performs.


Super Bowl 50 (6:30 p.m., CBS) – The Carolina Panthers take on the Denver Broncos in basically the only thing on TV tonight. First-timers Coldplay and Super Bowl vets Beyoncé and Bruno Mars look to one-up Left Shark for the halftime entertainment.


Gay Skit Happens (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., Logo) – This new quarterly sketch comedy series kicks things off ahead of Valentine’s Day by diving into the topics of love, sex and relationships with guest host Daniel Franzese (aka Damian from Mean Girls).

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., TBS) – The longtime The Daily Show correspondent flies solo for this gig, in more ways than one — she’s now the only woman late-night talk show host.


New Girl (8 p.m., Fox) – The guys welcome a new roomie as the gorgeous pharma-rep Reagan (Megan Fox) sublets Jess’ room.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson  (10 p.m., FX) – Two words: White Bronco.

CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected], @jackern

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