Creature Comforts was originally a 1989 short film made in United Kingdom about how animals feel about living in a zoo, and later became a series of commercials for Heat Electric. In 2003 a television series in the same style was released.
The film shows various animals in a zoo being interviewed about their living conditions. These include turtles, a female gorilla, a family of polar bears and a melancholic jaguar who complains about the "lack of space" and the "grass with pollen that gives me hay fever every day!"
The dialogue was created by interviewing residents of a housing development, an old folks' home and a family that lived in a local shop (the polar bears). Clay animation was then created that attributed the answers to zoo animals. One of the most popular characters was the jaguar. He was in fact a Brazilian student who lived in a hotel and was talking about his own situation. (Source: DVD audio commentary).
This soon led to a series of British television commercials for the Electricity Board which were made in the same style, featuring a closing voice-over by Johnny Morris. Ironically, many members of the public mistakenly believed these commercials were advertising gas heating, the main competitor to electricity.
A 30-minute special in which the regular characters attempt to perform and interpret the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was first aired on 25 December 2005. The special was broadcast in Canada on the CBC on 26 December 2005.
Humour pervades all aspects of the series, for example:
The series gently mocks the constructed performance sometimes given by members of the general public when being interviewed for television vox-pops and documentaries. This includes the attempts to present a cogent but simple conclusive answer to a general question — a sound bite — and the attempts to present a cheery spin on a complex issue while the subject attempts to hide their personal issues and problems with the issue.
Starting June 2007, CBS planned to broadcast seven episodes of an Americanized version of the show, featuring ordinary American people providing the voices, in the same vein as the British original. The series was titled Creature Comforts and was seen Monday nights at 8PM ET/PT from 4 June to 18 June 2007 (only three episodes were broadcast due to low ratings, and was replaced with reruns of The New Adventures Of Old Christine); the series was also simulcast in Canada on the CH system.
CBS also created a web presence with the help of the Creature Comforts staff. A behind-the-scenes collaborative account/blog of each episode was posted in conjunction with the 3 short-lived airings.
The American version was co-produced by Aardman Animations and The Gotham Group.
Seven episodes of this series were produced. However, the series ran for only three episodes before being cancelled by CBS due to low ratings. Its remaining episodes were later premiered on Animal Planet in 2008 (see below).
A standard DVD of the show's seven episodes was released on 9 October 2007 by Sony, now entitled Creature Comforts America. Currently there is no Blu-Ray version, even though the show was mastered in 1080 HD 16x9.
On 8 February 2008, the show won an Annie Award for "Best Animated Television Production" of 2007.
In Australia, public broadcaster ABC Television began airing the American season in Australia on 18 February 2008, having aired the original British version since its inception on both ABC1 and the digital only ABC2.
On 24 April 2008, Animal Planet picked-up the first season of the American version. It was broadcast in both SD letterbox and native HD formats. Episodes 1&2 premiered on 24 April, Episodes 3&4 premiered on 1 May and Episodes 5&6 premiered on 9 May.
Creature Comforts was nominated for an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour)" but on 13 September 2008, it lost out to The Simpsons. Teresa Drilling, one of the show's many animators, won an individual Emmy Award for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation".
|DVD Title||Country of Release||Region||Date of Release||DVD company||Catalog Number||Notes|
|Creature Comforts||1||28 November 2000||Image Entertainment||ID0106CUDVD||The original 1989 film presented in widescreen. Also includes the other Aardman animations Wat's Pig, Not Without My Handbag and Adam|
|Creature Comforts - Series 1, Part 1||2||17 November 2003||Momentum Pictures||The first half of Series 1, the original 1989 film, and other extras|
|Creature Comforts - Series 1, Part 2||2||5 April 2004||Momentum Pictures||The second half of Series 1, featuring many extras including ITV 1 indents, Heat Electric ads, and more|
|Creature Comforts - The Complete First Season||1||27 September 2005||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment||08694||Features the original 1989 film in fullscreen as an extra|
|Creature Comforts - Complete Series 1||2||31 October 2005||Momentum Pictures||2-disc set of the first series.|
|Creature Comforts - Series 2, Part 1||2||21 November 2005||Momentum Pictures||First half of Series 2, plus many making of extras.|
|Creature Comforts - Series 2, Part 2||2||20 February 2006||Momentum Pictures||Second half of Series 2, plus extras|
|Creature Comforts - The Complete Second Season||1||24 October 2006||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment||14823||2-disc set of the Second Series and the "Merry Christmas, Everybody" DVD release [see below]|
|Creature Comforts - Merry Christmas Everybody||1||24 October 2006||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment||Also included in the Second Series DVD release|
|Creature Comforts - The Complete First and Second Seasons||1||24 October 2006||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment||2-Disc set of the First and Second Series|
|Creature Comforts - Complete Series 2||2||6 November 2006||Momentum Pictures||3-disc set of the Second Series and "Merry Christmas Everybody"|
|Creature Comforts America - The Complete First Season||1||9 October 2007||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment||The seven episodes made for the cancelled American version|