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Creature Comforts (US)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will like this claymation series (based on the same-named British hit) for its mix of cute animal characters and silly potty humor (a bird poops from his swing, dogs sniff each other's butt, etc.). The ironic nature of how the unscripted dialogue is matched up with the animals' behavior (a male dachshund lamenting the fact that his girlfriend is so much taller than he is, for example) will likely go straight over their head. Still, keep an ear out for mild sexual references and some language ("ass," "damn," etc.).
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What's the story?
Beginning its life in 1990 as an Academy Award-winning short film by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, CREATURE COMFORTS became a hit British TV series in 2003, finding humor by putting regular Brits' social and political commentary into the mouths of claymation animals of all shapes and sizes. Now Americans get to have their say, too. Like the original, the U.S. version of Creature Comforts pairs excerpts from man-on-the-street interviews with animated scenes featuring critters of the mammalian, crustacean, and reptilian kind.
Is it any good?
In scene after scene, birds, geckos, horses, baboons, and more open up for the camera. Viewers often catch a glimpse of a microphone in the corner of the screen, and occasionally an interviewer's off-camera voice prompts the interviewee to stay on topic, but for the most part, it's the interviewees who run the show. All are happy to share their thoughts on everything from visiting the doctor to keeping good secrets. The characters -- whose features and surroundings are often exaggerated for humor -- are matched with dialogue to create ironic comedy of the highest degree.
Adults will love the hilarious irony in the juxtaposition of the commentary and the claymation characters. For example, an argument over a fear of needles takes on a whole new meaning when it's between porcupines, and it's tough not to feel for the goldfish who's plagued by chronic dry skin. And here's hoping that the male stick bug -- who admits that what he really wants is a woman of adequate enough stature that she "wouldn't get broken in half" -- can find his not-so-twiggy soul mate. While kids will miss most of the show's subtler humor, they'll love the cute characters and the silly potty humor (like a portly lovebird who poops on camera). But depending on your child, the show's occasional strong language and mild sexual references may not sail right over their head the same way the irony does, so it's probably best for tweens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the meaning of words can change with other influences. How do the animals' appearances and surroundings affect the meaning of what they're saying? How would the words seem different if your kids saw the actual human speaker? Can you imagine what the real interviewees are like by hearing their voices? Do you think this series uses stereotypes in any way (showing pigs discussing weight loss, for example). If so, how? Is it OK to laugh at stereotypes on TV?