DVD
I Am Not an Animal

Starring (voices): Steve Coogan, Julia Davis, Simon Pegg and Kevin Eldon
BBC DVD
RRP: 15.99
BBCDVD 1627
Certificate: 15
Available 29 March 2005


Deep inside the laboratories at Vivi-Sec UK, scientist Mike Simmons runs the top secret Project S - an experiment to create talking animals. Duped into thinking they live in a cosy home, the animals have human personalities and names, wear specially designed clothes, hold pseudo-intellectual conversations, drink fine wine, eat gourmet foods and dream of one day visiting that 'special place' London. All is well until a bungling group of animal rights activists raid the lab, and the animals escape into the real world...

I Am Not An Animal is a rather bizarre animated comedy which follows the lives of a collection of animals (an ambitious right-wing sparrow, a bulldog obsessed with settling down, a horse with literary pretensions, a sex-crazed monkey, a slutty rat, and a rabbit who survived earlier, less successful experiments) that are super intelligent. These creatures are the subject of a secret experiment at an animal testing laboratory. They live a cosy life, being exposed to the finer things in life (like vintage wines, the best foods, the latest technology and keeping up to date with media events) and like nothing better than an evening reading the latest Hollywood gossip on Tim Robbins, debating films they've never seen and discussing James Herbert's novel The Fog.

They dream of one day going to London, shopping on Oxford Street and hosting the finest dinner parties. However, when an animal activist group breaks into the lab and sets all of the prisoners free, the pampered animals have to adjust to living in the real world.

The first episode (London Calling) is a great introduction to the main characters and their rather pampered lifestyle - which is akin to rich North Londoners. They are rather naive about the real world and how things actually work (again like rich North Londoners).

My favourite episode was A Star is Hatched. This sees Mark Andrews (stage name Glenn Belt), the sparrow, launch his music career after he plagiarises the chorus for his song from a 14 year old Japanese girl he meets on the Internet. Looks like Mark will finally be the superstar he's always dreamed of... Now all he's got to do is work out how he can change his appearance so that he doesn't look like a short, fat sparrow.

Extras on this collection include a 'Making of' documentary and audio commentaries on three episodes.

The audio commentaries revealed numerous insights into the making of the show as well as providing some interesting bits of trivia including: The fact that the title for the series comes from a line in the movie Elephant Man; Peter Baynham mentions his brother Charlie (who Fist of Fun fans will remember he used to mention in his sketches) sleeping on his floor; Steve Coogan explains where the Apple Computer logo (the apple with the bite mark) comes from; and some characters that appear briefly in A Star is Hatched were actually metallic Coronation Street figures that they found in a charity shop and painted.

It really is a shame that the BBC didn't recommission this show. This is a very intelligent and entertaining series and as the BBC hasn't produced any animation for years you would have thought they would have been eager to have backed another series. However the last episode, Home, does sort of wrap things up, so it's not as though there are unresolved story lines.

Certainly a DVD I'd recommend adding to your collection.

Nick Smithson

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£11.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
£13.49 (MVC.co.uk)
   
£10.99 (Powerplaydirect.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.