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'A.P. Bio' review: It's not always sunny on NBC's new comedy

Glenn Howerton's latest project gets an A for effort, though.
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Glenn Howerton stars in "A.P. Bio." Photo by NBCUniversal

Broadcast television comedies like NBC's new series "A.P. Bio" always have to walk a fine line.

Concepts have to be fresh, yet familiar enough to entice a wide audience, and the raunch factor has to be reined in significantly in order to avoid any trouble with the FCC. While "A.P. Bio," which debuts Feb. 1 at 9:30 p.m., is a bold and beautifully shot addition to NBC's lineup, the network constraints seem to be holding the show back from reaching it's full potential.

Similar to his beloved "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" character, Glenn Howerton plays a psychotic, self-centered and sex-obsessed teacher named Jack. The Harvard educated philosophy scholar loses out on his Ivy League dream job, forcing him to move to Toledo, Ohio, to teach advanced placement biology to a bunch of wide-eyed high school students.

"A.P. Bio" plays out like a toned-down version of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fan fiction, but set in a "School of Rock"-style situation instead of in a bar with the gang concocting schemes. Whether it's leaving the kids alone to do whatever they want in the classroom or making his students come up with lines so he can catfish his nemesis, Jack clearly shares Dennis' delusional, DGAF attitude, but Howerton can only push the envelope so far with the character in a broadcast sitcom setting.

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The series is also missing a strong ensemble to go along with the zany lead. Although Patton Oswalt serves as a fantastic foil to Jack as the school's mild-mannered principle, the rest of the cast, especially the group of students, will need some time in order to find their comedic strengths.

Created by "Saturday Night Live" legends Seth Meyers, Mike O'Brien and Lorne Michaels, it's hard not to like "A.P. Bio," though. The show may play things a bit safe, however, it has a lot of potential to be a breakout hit as the show finds its footing. Overall, "A.P. Bio" deserves an A for effort.

"A.P. Bio" airs Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC.