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Featured TV on DVD Review: Wallace and Gromit: World of Invention

March 23rd, 2012

Wallace & Gromit: World of Invention - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Wallace & Gromit's short, A Grand Day Out, was released in 1989 and was a huge hit with critics and even earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short. Since then, Wallace & Gromit has become one of the most beloved comedy duos around. Their latest project was a six-episode TV series called World of Invention, which came out on DVD and Blu-ray. So how does it compare to their shorts and features?

The Show

The first thing you need to know about World of Invention is not a series of invention-power adventures, but a science show that looks at real world inventions. This means Wallace and Gromit are secondary characters in their own show and this is an important caveat for fans of the duo.

  1. Nature Knows Best
    The first episode looks at inventions inspired by nature from flying machines inspired by Manta Rays to machines that run on insects to artificial gills.
  2. Reach for the Sky
    A poorly named episode, as it talks about space travel almost as much as sky bound flight. We see home made rockets and space suits for Mars travel, as well as more Earth bound methods of flight, some of which failed quite spectacularly.
  3. Home Sweet Home
    Inventions that help you around the house, like cleaning robots... from the 1940s. There's an inspirational story about a 14-year old boy living in rural Africa who built a windmill to bring electricity to his village. And then there's the high school girl who designed a fridge that doesn't use electricity.
  4. Come to Your Senses
    Inventions that deal with your five senses. There's the long-sought goal of invisibility, a mobile phone from the turn of the last century, using the sense of taste to help the blind see.
  5. Better Safe Than Sorry
    The episode looks at ejector seats, pigeon mounted cameras that might have been used during World War I, and a torpedo designed by actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil.
  6. From A to B
    The final episode is about transportation. It starts with a pedal powered car designed and built by a man from Russia during the the hardline communist era. A new look at at electric cars. The career of Sir Clive Sinclair is also profiled.

The Extras

Extras are limited to six contraption instructional videos that teach you how to make an Air Rocket, a wind powered sprinkler, spy camera, and more. There are no exclusive extras on the Blu-ray. The video presentation is mixed, as there's quite a bit of archival footage, which obviously doesn't benefit from the added resolution or color depth. The footage shot for the show is much better and looks sharp. The audio is clear, but for the most party uncomplicated. On the other hand, the DVD and the Blu-ray cost the same at $10.99.

The Verdict

Wallace & Gromit: World of Invention fits in the edutainment genre of TV shows. It's not full on science like Bill Nye the Science Guy, but kids will learn whilst being entertained. The price-per-minute is better than a lot of TV shows aimed at kids and the DVD or the Blu-ray are worth picking up.

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