Judge Roy Hrab thinks this series is not baaaaad at all.
Shaun The Sheep: Off The Baa! is a spin-off from the deservedly popular Wallace And Gromit stop-motion series, specifically the "A Close Shave" episode that features the sheep in question. The Shaun series finds the intrepid sheep on a small farm in rural England operated by a dim, but kind, Farmer and his trusty sheepdog, Bitzer. Shaun is the ringleader the farm's flock, which includes the extremely woolly Shirley, and a baby lamb, Timmy. The three Naughty Pigs, who are an annoyance to the sheep, also reside on the farm.
This release of the adventures of Shaun and company contains 8 extremely funny episodes from Season 1 of the series:
"Off The Baa!": Shaun and the flock enjoy playing soccer with a stray head of cabbage. However, the pigs have some other ideas for the edible ball of leaves.
"Timmy In A Tizzy": The Farmer takes Timmy's teddy bear to amuse his cat. Shaun mobilizes a unit to recover the stuffed animal.
"Buzz Off Bees": Shaun stirs up trouble with a swarm of bees. The flock, Bitzer, and the Farmer get caught in the crossfire.
"Who's The Mummy": Shaun comes across a group of newly hatched chicks while the mother hen is away. The chicks believe Shaun to be their mother.
"Mower Mouth": The Farmer gets a goat. When the it accidentally gets on the loose the goat starts to eat everything in sight, dragging a hapless Shaun along for the ride.
"Fleeced": The Farmer wants to the shear the sheep, but Shaun and the flock have other ideas.
"Shaun Shoots The Sheep": When a pair of hikers lose their camera on the farm, the flock decides to take some photos.
"Mountains Out Of Molehills": A young mole digs his way into the flock's field, causing the sheep much irritation.
Shaun is a stripped down version of Wallace And Gromit. There is neither dialogue nor elaborate inventions. Instead, as the episode descriptions above indicate, each episode follow a simple construct: some human, animal, or thing is introduced causes problems or conflicts that are eventually solved by Shaun, usually with help from the flock and/or Bitzer. These episodes are only 7 minutes long. And yet, despite these limitations, or perhaps because of them, Shaun manages to retain all the cleverness, humor, and high-quality animation of its predecessor. I enjoyed a good laugh during every episode of this amusing series, filled with sight gags and slapstick comedy that will appeal to both the young and old. There's just something inherently funny about a dancing sheep. Anyways, without a doubt, Shaun puts to shame the increasingly tiresome and annoying children's fare being pumped out by Nickelodeon.
This release is presented in full frame format. However, the Region 2 DVD releases of Shaun The Sheep are presented in anamorphic widescreen. Why are North American audiences getting a cropped version of the show? The colors are fine. The surround sound is great. The animal noises, music, and sound effects come in loud and clear.
There is one short, unremarkable extra called "Meet The Animals," which follows a group of kids on a tour of the set. Not much value added.
I'm taking points off for the weak extra and cropping the picture, but this series is the real deal and a must see for fans of Nick Park's Aardman Animation productions (e.g., Wallace And Gromit, Creature Comforts, and Chicken Run) and for parents looking for something that they can actually enjoy with their young ones.
I can't wait for the next release of episodes. The show has aired two
seasons (40 episodes) in the UK.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: HIT Entertainment
• "Meet The Animals"
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