Nick Park’s short film visualizing man-on-the-street interviews with animated animals is a sly, cleverly understated concept — for about three minutes. Stretched to a half-hour, it’s a tedious exercise, even as realized by the Aardman studio’s wide-eyed, amusing designs. CBS has little to lose in adapting the British version with U.S. voices, but it’s hard to imagine this surviving long past the first commercial break, much less beyond its run as a summer replacement.
Coming from the “Wallace & Gromit” creative team, “Creature Comforts” began as a series of commercials before being transformed into a hit series on the U.K.’s ITV1. And while there’s no reason the charm should have been lost in the translation, watching anthropomorphic bees say, “We haven’t snuggled in a long time,” porcupines debate whether one is afraid of needles or a discussion about a wine’s bouquet between dogs sniffing each other is cute at first — but grows old quickly.
Then again, Aardman’s entire American odyssey has been something of a disappointment since “Chicken Run,” from the box office drubbing experienced by the “Wallace & Gromit” feature — leaving DreamWorks awash in debt — to the unfortunately titled (unless you happen to be a headline writer) “Flushed Away.” It’s a shame, since the company’s best stuff exhibits considerable wit and visual flair — albeit in a realm that rests somewhat awkwardly between adult and children’s plush-toy palettes.
The main problem here is that “Creature Comforts” has nothing to sustain interest through even a half-hour — offering no narrative or story to connect the sight gags. Even the rapid-fire lunacy on “Family Guy” or “American Dad” provides a smidgen of glue to hold its madcap naughtiness together.
That said, this transplant might have enjoyed a better chance of sticking on Fox within the confines of its animated Sunday lineup. On CBS, by contrast, nobody should expect “Creatures” to hang around long enough for anyone to become too comfortable.