When nations unite in the name of good hot love, the spawn of such binational breeding can sure be spectacular.
As anyone who's cooed over a Panda-Cam can attest, the buzz over the U.S.-Sino fuzzball that is Tai Shan has been considerable. But give another telegenic zoo critter an inherently hilarious Brit accent and -- crikey! -- the animal's appeal goes right through the barred roof.
That realization keeps popping up like a prairie dog while you watch the Claymation creations populating "Creature Comforts," a collection of film shorts by the brilliant minds (and hands) behind the Wallace and Gromit characters. And this across-the-pond partnership between British animators and BBC America, on which the series debuts tonight at 11, feeds the critical and commercial love for these dry-wit descendants of Gumby and Mr. Bill.
In this series, created by Oscar-winning Nick Park, viewers are soon charmed by a menagerie of zoo denizens, including a diet-conscious snake that is part python, part "Monty Python." Which raises the question: Do we really need any further proof that nearly every Brit voice comes bundled with an abundance of wit?
The shorts are voiced by the British "general public," with whom real interviews were conducted. The filmmakers use plasticine animals to mouth the responses, and the results are charmingly inventive.
In perhaps the most inspired episode, "Self Image," the creatures discuss their issues with weight and food. After one slug describes the Atkins diet as consisting of bacon, sausage and eggs, his pal retorts, in high Brit: "That's the Fatkins diet."
Animals also misinterpret the word Botox, as a horse whinnies: "Viva buttocks! . . . The more the merrier." And a dog advises that Botox injections shouldn't have been given to humans first for experimentation, but rather to Shar-Peis.
With verbal wrinkles as winningly clever as those, it's the zoo creatures who hold us captive.
Creature Comforts (30 minutes) debuts tonight at 11 on BBC America.