Thursday, 17 July 2014

Snails of Animation!

Before Dreamworks even came up with Turbo, snails haven't really made much of an impact in the animation world with so few being pushed as lead characters. But many have featured in secondary roles - Timon and Pumbaa made friends with "Speedy" (whose mannerisms were inspired by Bing Crosby), Mr. Harrison was one of the stars of 'Creepy Crawlies', Spongebob has his pet sea snail Gary, and of course there is that one little snail hidden in every episode of Adventure Time.

However, it's still a rare treat when a series based around this particular mollusc does turn up. In fact, there have been a few such cases that I remember well;

Snailympics, a Spanish / Canadian 2001 series, was based around a group of athletic snails training for their own tiny versions of the Olympic Games. Very little of this series can be found anywhere as it only had limited airings on YTV and Nick Jr / CBBC respectively, with regular airings overseas such as Japan. But from what I have seen of the show here and there, I found it quite amusing in terms of the premise and the fun character designs of this stop-motion animated show. And as with most shows centring on sports, it also encouraged kids the values of teamwork, perseverance and the importance of exercise.

Almost around the same time at 2003 came Snailsbury Tales from Maverick Entertainment. It focused on the odd goings-on of the residents of Snailsbury, from the pompous Mayor to skateboarding teen Eric. I found this show much more memorable as, being perfectly British, it had its own bizarre sense of humour - for instance, how it would take everyone from a week to 10 days to travel to the shops and back!
And the series itself did its creators very well, topping even Bob the Builder at the time it first aired. Mercifully, several of the best episodes survive today with two "rare" DVD releases floating somewhere in cyberspace...

And then in 2011, voice-actor and scriptwriter Tim Dann created Compost Corner for CITV. Continuing the mad British-type humour for kids, it's a series of short "skits" featuring old Major and young Moss as they embark on the impossible in their little home at the corner of a garden. While it features some brief "potty" humour for today's generation (farts, etc), the stylish models by Mackinnon and Saunders and the rapid-fire scripts have made it a memorable little series.
In fact, it gained additional attention in 2013 when it gave viewers the chance to design a third character to feature in the show - you can find out the results here!

There are very likely a few other snail-related characters I may have left out, but with Dreamworks pushing Turbo into the forefront with the attached-TV Series "Turbo FAST", would we see more snails putting their best foot forward? If so, then it could take a while at the pace they go...


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