Scary monsters and super creeps

The word "monster" originates from the Latin verb monere, meaning to warn, and so first meant a divine warning. A monster is thus, properly, a reminder of the arbitrary and puny place that humans occupy in the scheme of things. The best monsters also play on human self disgust: H R Giger's fabulous designs for the Alien films exploit our fear and revulsion of our own slimy bits.

And so do the creatures in a new cartoon series, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters (9.45am C4). A lovely elephant-type critter stops its trunk when it sneezes, so floods of mucus burst from its generous ears. The neighbouring monster licks it all up greedily. It's not exactly safe sex, but hopefully the kiddies watching won't make the connection in the first place.

The programme's monster school, deep under a rubbish dump, is presided over by the Gromble, who is prone to violent mood swings - in short, a Generation X Prozac candidate. Since the monsters are all more sympathetic than the nasty kids they frighten, the Gromble clearly embodies a forthright case against the invidious pharmaceutical alteration of personality. And when the Gromble is conducting the monster choir, he comes up with the line: "The point is to pierce ear-drum skin shields, and generally reduce humans to lumps of goo." Mmm. Now wash your hands.

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