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B.J. Novak’s pet project a boon to ‘Lessons in Chemistry’

Brie Larson as Elizabeth, with her adopted goldendoodle, Six Thirty, voiced by B.J. Novak, in "Lessons in Chemistry."Michael Becker/Apple TV+

If you’re watching “Lessons in Chemistry” on Apple TV+, you know that Brie Larson’s Elizabeth adopted a goldendoodle and named him Six Thirty. You also know that he narrates episode 3, called “Living Dead Things.” That episode includes a backstory flashback of Six Thirty at a military camp being trained to protect. “I was a coward, and I hated myself for it.” We see him escape the camp and meet Elizabeth while going through her trash for food. “Love, it can change things,” he says.

What you may not know is that Six Thirty is voiced by none other than B.J. Novak, the Boston-area actor, screenwriter, and author from “The Office” and, most recently, “The Premise.” He brings a lovely sensitivity and grief — and guilt —  to his part, as Six Thirty loses someone very important to him (not spoiling here). Both Novak and “Lessons in Chemistry” creator Lee Eisenberg were in “The Office” trenches, so Novak’s voice appearance forms a small “Office” reunion — one that will grow when Rainn Wilson shows up in the miniseries as Elizabeth’s sexist boss.


Doing dog voices is always a risk, but “Lessons in Chemistry” succeeds nicely. My favorite talking dog on TV is from the short-lived ABC series “Downward Dog,” a comedy about the tightly woven lives of a dog named Martin and his owner, Allison Tolman’s Nan. Martin speaks directly to us, the audience, in mockumentary form, and it is sweetly funny. Voiced uniquely by show co-creator Samm Hodges, Martin is not your stereotypical dog — he’s not quite heroic, he’s not necessarily loyal, and he lapses into funny bouts of narcissism. Sadly, the eight-episode show is only available to stream on Amazon, Apple, and a few other places at a price per episode.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him @MatthewGilbert.