Hanging with the Hendersons season 1 episode 1 review: Pilot

Photo provided by Animal Planet
Photo provided by Animal Planet /

Hanging with the Hendersons is a new Animal Planet show that follows a family of veterinarians at their family-run practice near Denver.

After singing veterinarian Dr. Ross Henderson rose to viral fame two years ago, Animal Planet created a reality TV series follow the staff of Colorado’s Fox Hollow Animal Hospital, Hanging with the Hendersons. 

Irish immigrant Dr. Tony Henderson left a well-paying and secure job in late 1996 to take a risk and open his own clinic in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. Fox Hollow began with one employee: his wife Debi.

Since that time, their four sons have grown into adults, and three of them work in the family practice: Dr. Ryan, Dr. Ross and Cole the lab tech.

“There’s three Dr. Hendersons here – I’m the tall one, Ryan’s the one who can grow facial hair, and Dad’s the knowledgeable one,” Dr. Ross said at one point during the episode.

Several family pets roam the halls of the office on a regular basis, including dogs Barrington and Charlie and Gregory the cat.

Episode highlights

In this pilot episode of Hanging with the Hendersons, one of the patients Dr. Ross deals with a Great Dane named Levi with a dislocated tail and his concerned owner Jessi. It turns out that Levi’s tail is actually broken, leading to a splint being placed on the tail to try to immobilize it as much as possible.

Dr. Ryan examines an elderly (12-year-old) cat named Miss Whispurrs who is rapidly losing weight, who belongs to a woman named Michelle. Instead of being diabetes or a kidney problem, as Michelle feared, Miss Whispurrs’ unexplained weight loss was caused by hyperthyroidism, which can be treated with medication.

Dr. Ross and his wife Becca visit a cat sanctuary, Cat Care Society, a no-kill shelter that temporarily allows those experiencing homelessness to board their cats there until things get a little better.

At the shelter, they bottle-feed a little of tiny kittens named after Phineas and Ferb characters, which Becca describes as a date that should definitely be repeated.

Back at the clinic, Dr. Ross tries to figure out a song for Debi as a Mother’s Day present, while Dr. Ryan offers suggestions. This is interrupted by the arrival of a gosling someone found abandoned by the lake, which he quickly examines and then recommends that the lady take the gosling to a different animal hospital who can care for him until he’s older.

Dr. Ryan’s fiancee Natalia has two pet chickens, one of which (Carmelia) developed an eye problem, so Dr. Ryan brought it into the clinic as a client, which everyone on staff thinks is pretty hilarious. Carmelia has something called Merek’s disease, which is common in backyard chickens and isn’t that concerning. An X-ray shows that she’s also eaten screws, which a chicken specialist assures everybody shouldn’t be a problem.

Dr. Tony and Debi go for a walk with Barrington; they met on a chaperoned blind date and were married three months later.

“Our family’s not perfect, we all have our ups and downs, but we always work through things, never give up, and at the end of the day, we are always there for each other,” Debi said.

A segment on Barrington, Dr. Tony’s very spoiled Golden Retriever who shoplifts stuffed animals from the store next door, follows.

For Mother’s Day, the whole family (Dr. Tony and Debi, Dr. Ryan and Natalia, Dr. Ross and Becca, youngest brother Cole the lab tech and oldest brother Kyle and his wife and kids), plus several dogs, all go the the cabin and spend hanging out, and Dr. Ross plays the song he was working on earlier.

Title cards over the end credits explained that Carmelia’s condition is stable (though she’s now on a no-hardware diet), Miss Whispurrs’ hyperthyroidism is under control and she’s regained nearly all the lost weight, and Levi’s broken tail healed up completely.

Hanging with the Hendersons: Our interview. dark. Next

Our thoughts

The background music is excellent; playful yet soothing, and consisting mainly of acoustic guitar, slide guitar and mandolin.

If you enjoyed the family dynamic of the sitcom Full House or the reality show Duck Dynasty, you’ll definitely enjoy this show. It’s very much worth watching.

Hanging with the Hendersons airs on Animal Planet on Friday nights at 9 p.m. ET.