Wallace and Gromit, that lovable dog and human combination from the Wallace & Gromit series are regularly coming up with insane contraptions… it's kind of their thing. It therefore makes great sense for them to host a television series about other people inventing things. Or, at the very least, it makes sense in the way that a claymated set of characters hosting any television series about real people makes sense. Whether it makes a ton of sense or not though, Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention works.
While Nick Park's creations do have some funny bits going on over the course of this six episode series, most of the time it focuses on people who have invented absurdly cool (or weird) things. Each episode has a different theme (nature, the sky, home life, safety, transportation, and sensory invention), regular correspondents appear, and Ashley Jensen narrates the reports.
A typical episode opens with Wallace informing the viewer what that episode will be about and then handing it off to Ashley's disembodied voice to narrate a field piece. Once the field piece is done we go back to Wallace who says something vaguely wacky, weird, or informative and who then pitches to Ashley or, occasionally, another correspondent.
Put another way, there is very little reason really for Wallace to be there. Well, more accurately, there is very little for it to be Wallace, there is very little reason for this to be a Wallace & Gromit thing. It regularly feels as though this is simply a way to extend the franchise than to really do something new and different and fun with the characters.
What the series does do well are two different things. First, some of the wraparounds they handle work well – the ones in which they are telling part of a larger story (an elephant factors heavily in the best of these). Second, the actual stories of incredible inventions are great. The things people invent are truly astounding (and sometimes exceptionally foolish). Could an invisibility cloak really work? Do astronauts have to wear exceptionally thick spacesuits or is there a better way? Did Hedy Lamarr invent a torpedo communication system?
The problem is that the Wallace bits don't really gel well with the actual stories. Each individual set of moments may work, but they don't fit together. Beyond that, the show, on at least one occasion, repeats a bit of background information in two different episodes. Of course, the producers have to allow for the fact that not everyone will have seen every episode, but on DVD (and coming so close together) it instead feels as though they simply didn't do enough research or broaden their set of topics as much as is needed and for a six episode series that is disappointing.