Filmed by Klasky Csupo Inc. and Tomlin and Wagner Theatricalz. Overseas animation by Anivision. Executive producers, Lily Tomlin, Jane Wagner, Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo; producer, Sherry Gunther; director, Tamara Varga; writer, Wagner; creators, Tomlin, Wagner; character design, Jerry Richardson, John Holmquist, Igor Kovalyov, Sergei Shramkovski; Voices: Tomlin, Thom Sharp, Amy Ziff, Pamela Segall, Reno, Dan O’Day, Kath Soucie, Patti Edwards, Erin Chase, Alan Oppenheimer, Gregg Berger, Andy Houts, Walker Edmiston.
It takes a deft touch to talk to kids and parents about things like alcoholism, dysfunctional families and the homeless without getting preachy and tiresome, but the people behind “Edith Ann” possess that touch.
This second animated special adapting Lily Tomlin’s classic character is perhaps even grungier, quirkier and more socially aware than the first “Edith Ann” half-hour (January’s “A Few Pieces of the Puzzle”), though it’s also probably slightly less successful because “Homeless Go Home” is a bit less focused and personal than its predecessor.
Jane Wagner’s script follows Edith Ann on a day the neighborhood is being sprayed for a “Negfly” infestation. Edith Ann loses her house key at school, making her “a latch-key kid without a key.” She enlists the help of an oddball homeless woman called Twinkle to try to break into Edith Ann’s home, and they rather unavoidably end up downtown at the precinct station.
And though the script tries to accomplish too much, it does show real skill in dancing on the fringes of political correctness and almost never getting tiresome about it.
That’s largely because this world is pretty dark, cluttered and gross, to the point where a lot of kids and adults are going to be turning the channel early on. But for lots of others — viewers somewhat underserved by the usual network family fare — “Edith Ann” will be just right.
The cast of voices, led by Tomlin, does fine work, and the animation is effective, inventive and impressively multifaceted.
These specs use a process called “texture mapping” to work photographs into the animation, but you have to look pretty close to see the effect. It mostly just adds a crusty layer to the impressive, unique and grungy feel of “Edith Ann’s” world.