Here's what I asked Peter Kasting, from the Chrome team: "If nothing can be done about the new interface, my only request would be to show a static version of the animated doodles and click a button to start the animation. That would be a big improvement. It's really annoying to see the same animation over and over again when opening a new tab page."
The good news is that Google did exactly that. The updated new tab page now shows a static version of the doodle and you need to click a "play" button to start the animation.