Channel: Channel 4
Transmission: 2001 - 2002
Pets are generally cute, furry (or fluffy) little fellows that bring a certain innocence into our corrupt, human lives. Yeah, sure, there's always the odd pet who's got a few emotional issues, but surely this makes them a little more human like, right? Sadly, it's this similarity which puts humans right off cantankerous pets.
Maybe the best solution, therefore, is to put like with like (much like human relationships) and it's a strand of social interest that was explored in Pets.
In amongst empty dog food tins, faeces covered walls and furniture soaked in various bodily fluids live the stars of Pets.
Hamish (voiced by Ian Angus Wilkie) is the sophisticated Red Setter who, on the whole, appears exasperated by the antics of his housemates. Perhaps due to his self-resolve gradually being eroded by the lunacy that surrounds him, Hamish seems quite content to go along with his fellow housemates' mad schemes.
Davina (Sally Elsden) is a scraggly haired persian blue with an insatiable hunger for prescription medicine and a nice line in quips about how she will inflict pain on those around her. Where does this rage come from though? Well, as with humans, there's a man to blame and, in this case, it's Davina's boyfriend, Vince, who's buggered off travelling round the globe.
Trevor (Andrew Barclay) is the cockney Bulldog with a mouth like a sewer and a libido which even a randy Spaniard would struggle to match. He'll literally try and have a bit of how's your father with anything that moves. No, scrub that last part. He'll have sex with anything - be it living or inanimate.
JP (Petros Emanuel) is the final housemate and is a curiously bald parrot (he lost his plumage in a card game to Trevor) who has a cheerful, but naive outlook on life. He's South African and has a rather frightful passion for drinking his own urine - this is nothing to do with being South African, okay?!
What do these pets get up to then? Chase sticks? Climb trees?
In fact, the world of Pets is an eccentric and surreal landscape where Satan is summoned, portals to parallel universes spring up in the airing cupboard and Hamish has to get to grips with constipation.
Looking after the Pets
Two 13x episode series' of Pets aired between 2001 - 02 in the graveyard slot and were all roughly 11 minutes long. The series was written by Andrew Barclay and Brian West aka Brian Luff.
Pets was produced by Fit2Fill productions and was somewhat of a minor, cult hit. It generated enough interest to be picked up by MTV Italy and Fox Australia.
Interest in a DVD of the series eventually led to a limited edition release on the official Pets website, but that site is now sadly defunct. Thankfully, the entire series with a few extra features is up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.
For a while, episodes of Pets were also available on iTunes as free download, but these no longer seem to be available.
Just How Cuddly Are These Pets?
Despite our love of late night Channel 4 cult hits we somehow completely missed Pets the first time round. Then, one day, a chance remark about the show on Twitter led us to investigating.
Foul mouthed puppets didn't sound highly original, but we decided to give it a chance and watch a few episodes.
And, oh man, did we love it!
From the opening credits which rip the piss out of Friends (which was still straddling the globe at this point) the episodes are a wonderful mixture of the lewd, the crude and the downright insane. The budget doesn't lend itself to CGI, but they somehow manage to take in concepts such as space-time portals and weave them convincingly into the script.
The swearing and violence is at the heart of most episodes, but you know, it never seems gratuitous as it's completely in step with the characters. JP is the only character who fails to swear regularly, but he's perhaps our favourite character. His cheerful (and regular) observation that he drinks his own urine is inescapably funny and helps layer the character with quirky depths.
In a way the series is indebted to The Young Ones with it's anarchic mix of surreal adventures bottled with comedy violence and potty mouths. There's even a homage to the curious little puppets of The Young Ones with Trevor's intestinal worms having a regular feature where they discuss the mundane.
Watching several episodes in a row there is a bit of repetition which can start to grate e.g. yes, we get it, Trevor likes to shag EVERYTHING, but this doesn't detract from the variety in the characters and their depth. It's a great little setup and one that deserved another series at least.
It's a show that's well worth checking out on YouTube and, hopefully, a full DVD release will follow one day.
PetsComedy - An amazing site dedicated to Pets