I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
Adult animation is a booming TV business, taking what Family Guy, South Park and King of the Hill achieved and trying to recreate it with many other shows. HBO have got in on the act as well with a small-scale animated show called Animals, about exactly that, animals living in New York but going through the same types of lives, issues and problems that their human counterparts would.
It makes for a surreal but at times very clever TV series. Pigeon’s have issues with gender or steroids, a rat discovers the pit-falls of fame while a Christmas Turkey plots his revenge against the humans who killed his wife. It sounds strange and bizarre but works because it is played so straight and written so well.
There are some ridiculous jokes and crude material but below this is very intelligent writing, sometimes with dramatic punches too. One episode plays the life of two flies across one day and compares it to the life of a human, showing their friendship evolve, drift apart but find each other again. Alongside visual jokes with humanising flies comes some very good dramatic writing.
There is even some larger scale episodes which have an epic feel to them. The squirrels trying to find their way out of their fallen tree is a traditional quest story, with strange characters, dangers and excitement. It all works on a very strange but somehow successful level.
This is down to the way that creators (and lead voice artists) Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese have put the show together. It doesn’t apologise for the crude content but also tries to tackle some other controversial topics, like fathers abandoning their children or serial killer cats.
The animation will put some people off. It has a crude style, the mouths on the characters don’t move and it won’t win any awards for it’s design but this also adds something to the overall tone of the show. If the animation was any smoother, it wouldn’t fit and the tone would be strange so the jarring technique may just compliment what the show is trying to do.
Overall, Animals is a very funny, well written and unique TV show. It has some great drama in the episodes to accompany some of the cruder jokes and even cruder animation. Stick with it though and you’ll find a diamond in the rough.
Best Episode – Flies: A perfect example of how to balance humour and drama with such a bizarre concept.
Best performance – Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese as Mike and Phil
Should there be another season? – Definitely. There are many more animals and so many more stories.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)