Everyone’s favorite claymation cheese-eating inventor is back, this time as host of a series on BBC One dedicated to inventions, gadgets, and gizmos. With the help of his faithful (but silent) canine companion, Gromit, Wallace plays presenter, while his pooch acts as camera-dog and general stage help. The two, who have been making fans through their hilarious claymation hijinx ever since 1989’s “A Grand Day Out,” have had their own theatrical movie with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and now serve as hosts and share the spotlight with other inventors. The famous basement at 62 West Wallaby Street has transformed from a laboratory and think tank, to a news room of sorts, with Wallace as a modern day Mr. Wizard.
Each of the six half-hour episodes begins with Wallace and Gromit in their familiar territory, and after a short intro by the duo, cuts to narrator Ashley Jensen who segues into the real life inventions. The contraptions are of all shapes and sizes, from wild to weird, and span the globe to show some of the most interesting and bizarre things being thought up the world over. In between segments, we get to check in with Wallace and Gromit to see what kind of shenanigans they are up to, but the focus stays mostly on the real life gadgets.
Each ep is themed, as with “Nature Knows Best,” in which scientists and deep-thinkers try to emulate aspects of God’s creations, like making helium balloons that fly like manta rays, or powering clocks with flies like a Venus Fly Trap. Other highlights include “Home Sweet Home,” which showcases inventions for the homestead, which began with humanoid maids (which failed), as well as “Getting from A to B,” which shows all kinds of crazy methods of travel, including a personal submarine. It’s all very clever and fun, but it feels like the inclusion of Wallace and Gromit was a sort of afterthought, and the two don’t really get that much screen time in each thirty minute episode.
The bonus features come by way of a six-part “Your World of Invention” segment. In it, host Ricky Martin (no, not that one) takes you step by step through how to make your own inventions like the ones shown in the series. The instructions are fast paced and tough to follow along with at times (not that I tried actually!), but could be a lot of fun if you have all the materials and time to invest. Martin shows how to make a Spy Camera, a Wind Powered Sprinkler, and an Air Rocket, among others, but there’s no sign of Wallace or Gromit to help put the finishing touches on your experiments.