In the first, our heroes win not millions of pounds, but the city of Birmingham, which they shrink with a special ray gun, proceeding to collect other cities and towns from around England. In the second, the duplicitous friends are actually aliens who look like Easter Island statues and drag Rex off to win an intergalactic bet. In the third, Bob and co. set up a rival clinic, Bob's International Hiccup Centre which earns the heroes a fortune, but threatens their friendship.
The friends are dogs: Rex, the 'normal' one, who presents the narratives as a TV-anchorman; Wendy, a cynical, bored, unstable, endearing Northern girl; Bob, a wayward, gun-toting, eye-patch-wearing big softy; and their, um, dog, Vince, who has Pavorotti-syndrome which means he has unexpected spasms of the Barber of Seville's opening notes.
The great pleasure of the series is the way it combines flat, normal, suburban English reality (sort of heightened Mike Leigh if you like) - with such mundane concerns as not having anything in the house to eat, or being bored with the telly - with outrageous flights of fantasy which see our heroes in outer space, in a time machine, an exotic South Sea island, or FANTASTIC VOYAGE-style, inside Vince's stomach. This fantasy is very English, devoid of magic or wonder, very down-to-earth and silly, yet remarkably inventive ad full of strange metaphysical conceits if you care to look for them.
The film belongs to the MONTY PYTHON tradition in this way, and is full of puns, word-games, visual flourishes and bizarre literalisations, showing how manically surreal the everyday is. Although domestic, nothing is fixed, the plots and possiblilties are as plasticine as the characters themselves, anything can happen just by someone mouthing a cliche, and the filmmakers literalising it. For instance, one extraordinary nightmare episode derives from the thought of what's under the bed.
And yet, this anything-goes spirit belies the fact that everything does remain the same; no matter what adventures, our heroes always come back home, with the same personalities. The pressure of this suburban conformity is eventually too much, and in the final episode, sparked off, appropriately by the misuse of an everyday implement, the fixed characters and their unfixed world finally collide, and multifarious identity is asserted.
The animation and colour, seemingly stilted, yet pliably imaginative, are a treat, as is the music, which unexpectedly, through pastiche, nears a melancholy pitch. If all this wasn't enough, there are guest voices from the likes of Bob Monkhouse, Eddie Izzard, Kathy Burke and the godlike Antoine De Caunes (Lola Ferrari, RIP).