DVD REVIEW: SHAUN THE SHEEP – FLOCK TO THE FLOOR / DIRECTOR: RICHARD GOLESZOWSKI, CHRISTOPHER SADLER / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JOHN SPARKES, JUSTIN FLETCHER / RELEASED: JANUARY 26TH
If you’re of the opinion that Wallace and Gromit just don’t get out enough and you just need a bit more of Aardman’s stop-motion in your life, then you’re probably aware of Shaun the Sheep. Just in case you’re not, Shaun debuted in A Close Shave (1995) and has been the titular ruminant in his own CBBC spin-off series since 2007. Apparently it’s aimed at the four to seven age-group but, in all honesty, we can’t imagine that anyone of any age isn’t going to find Shaun’s exploits charming and funny.
The set-up is that Shaun is the leader of his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm (and that’s funny before we even start). It’s all a bit surreal but, basically, the sheep behave liked bored British POWs in a WWII flick and relieve that boredom by getting into all manner of scrapes, with the farmer completely oblivious to their human-like intelligence. You know the sort of thing: they walk on their hind legs and hold discos but they’re on all fours chewing grass whenever the farmer looks at them. Bitzer is the sheep dog who’s in on the act but is supposed to be in charge despite the fact that he usually gets dragged into their schemes. Curiously, the farmer just accepts the fact that Bitzer walks on his hind legs and wears a woolly hat. Like Wallace and Gromit, all the references are terribly British and you’d have thought the rest of the world wouldn’t get it. But apparently they do and, as the humans just mumble and the sheep just bleat, the BBC have flogged Shaun all over the world.
This DVD represents the second ten episodes of Series 4 and it’s all you’ve come to expect from the series. But just to prove there’s more to Shaun the Sheep than meets the eye, the episode “Wildlife Watch” riffs on the absurd self-referential notion that a natural history film crew would come to film a rare bird on the farm while Shaun and the rest of the flock are playing cricket in the next field (with Bitzer umpiring). And there’s a sheep-playing-the-violin gag in the horror-themed “Phoney Farmer” that the kids just won’t get but you will (and it actually got an audible laugh from this jaded reviewer). Needless to say, the younger viewers will love this and we even got this reviewer’s son to take an hour-long Boxing Day break from Minecraft to watch it. You have no idea how remarkable an achievement that is. Family viewing that really does appeal to everyone is no easy task but Shaun the Sheep nails it.
Special Features: Morph episodes / Shaun the Sheep movie trailer
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