Aardman animation has gained a strong following over the years, with productions like the classic "Wallace and Gromit" series. "Creature Comforts" was originally a short directed by "Gromit"'s Nick Park that showed claymation creatures who were voiced by members of the British public. The short won an Academy Award and eventually lead to a British series, which is currently available on DVD.
In the Summer of 2007, CBS decided to air an American version of the series, with Americans interviewed about different topics and their chats turned into conversations between claymation animals. The series was meant to have a run of 7 episodes, but was pulled after a trio of them due to low ratings. Watching the series, it's not too hard to see why it didn't catch on, starting with the fact that adults probably thought it was a kids show, despite the fact that it is much more meant for adults.
The series also likely worked better as shorts, as although claymation animals with the voices of people talking about their everyday problems (topics include everything from Winter to self-image) is amusing at first, the concept starts to wear thin. This becomes even more of an issue due to the fact that some of the interviews simply aren't interesting and some seem to ramble on aimlessly. There are some interesting or funny interviews as people chat about topics like Winter and self-image, but I still felt like the episodes were longer than their approximately 22 minute running time.
Where the series succeeds most is the animation, as Aardman once again does a magnificent job. The claymation has fluid movement and the characters are both wonderfully expressive and superbly designed. Despite being a TV series, no expense seems to have been spared in creating not only the characters, but their environments, which are also quite detailed. There are quite a few instances where the animation is more entertaining than the interviews.
Overall, "Creature Comforts: America"'s animation is the highlight. The interviews that are being animated, however, are everyday conversations that are hit-and-miss in terms of being entertaining.
The set includes all 7 episodes.
VIDEO: "Creature Comforts" is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Aside from a few minor instances of edge enhancement, picture quality is just fine. Sharpness and detail are terrific, as every last little detail of the characters and their environments are crisply and clearly shown. Some slight edge enhancement was occasionally seen, but the presentation was otherwise without flaw. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, although it's clearly a dialogue-driven presentation, with little in the way of surround use. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: The extras are found on the second DVD. We get about 19 minutes of deleted/alternate scenes, several minutes of the live action interview footage and complilations of scenes of the different characters.
Final Thoughts: "Creature Comforts" sees Aardman once again hitting the ball out of the park when it comes to stop-motion animation quality. However, I thought the interviews just didn't hold my interest, as they're often the kind of chatter you hear anywhere. The DVD presentation offered fine audio/video quality and a few minor extras. A rental recommendation for Aardman fans.