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Creature Comforts: The Complete Second Season

(2005) *** Unrated
147 min. ITV.

Created by Nick Park (of Wallace & Gromit fame), Creature Comforts is an endearing series of animated shorts that put the musings of the British public into the mouths of all manner of non-human animals. Twelve new episodes produced by Aardman for the UK's ITV (nine minutes and twenty seconds each) don't fix what ain't broke.

Each built on a common topic of conversation, the episodes include "Beast in Show," "The Brood," "Pet Hates," "Impressions," "Animals in the 'Hood," "Sport!", "Monarchy Business," "Animal Magnetism," "Bed Time", "Self Image," "Communication", and "Safari Park." Director Richard "Goly" Goleszowski closely guides the development of the man-and-woman-and-kid-on-the-street interviews into animal scenes set in, on, and around kitchen corners, living-room couches, yards, streets, zoos, and even ice floes.

The wit of the show is in the clever transplanting of human situations to animal ones, which in turn reflect on the foibles of our daily lives. Two absurdly nonchalant judo practitioners become a sadistic cat trouncing a hapless mouse. A lovingly functional but constantly needling couple become a mismatched but complementary family cat and dog. Two dotty rest-home residents become a pair of upside-down bats.

For the home-video release of Creature Comforts—The Complete Second Season, now available at American retailers, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment serves up several eye-opening bonus features. "Eyeballs & Fish Lips: The Making of Creature Comforts Season 2" (37:42) reveals the series' process, from the interviews conducted on the fly by Dan St. Clair (who also hosts the documentary) to the circuit of the Creature Comforts offices, where we see writing, transcribing, storyboarding, sound editing, clay-molding, frame-by-frame animation photographing, and video editing contribute to the finished product.

The glimpses of the public being recorded expand for "The People Behind the Puppets" (8:52); we see St. Clair ingratiating himself to his interview subjects as tape rolls. The subjects also reflect on how they feel about being animated as animals (one of the old women requests only not to be depicted as a cow). "Animated Conversations" (11:47) is the most informal of the featurettes, with St. Clair chatting up his colleagues (mostly the animators) while they're doing their work—another interesting angle on the Creature Comforts process and workplace.

"Countryside Code" (1:01) is a British PSA that the Creature Comforts team produced to promote good etiquette and safety in natural settings. Both discs include previews for other family-friendly Sony discs, but the most notable extra is "Merry Christmas Everyone!" (24:10), a longer, bonus episode packaged as a bonus disc with "The Complete Second Season" or as its own stand-alone disc. Produced during Season Two, the half-hour finds the animals reflecting on the joys and nonsense of the yuletide season as each butchers "The Twelve Days of Christmas." It's cute, but goes on a bit repetitively, unlike the tighter nine-minute outings.

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Aspect ratios: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Number of discs: 2

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Street date: 10/24/2006

Distributor: Sony Home Entertainment

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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