"Shaun The Sheep--Saturday Night Shaun": These Are The Cartoon Heroes
Wallace & Gromit’s wooly chum now has a third DVD collection out. Returning with a further eight episodes of claymation slapstick, Shaun, Bitzer and all their friends prove that them there country folk know how to have a good time.
The focus is still on voiceless comedy escapes, hanging on a seven-minute premise. As with previous discs in the series, some shine better than others. The titular episode has the flock taking on the farmer’s recently abandoned old record player and opening a barn night club. This really allows the creators to show their multi-generational wit as we get a send up weekend pub crawls. Shaun mans the decks, Bitzer plays bouncer and the Naughty Pigs are perfectly cast as wannabe-rude-boy chav thugs.
The next episode, “Stick With Me,” once again uses an old cartoon standby—industrial strength glue. An attempt to fix the farmer’s broken glasses ends with the flock becoming a rolling ball of wooly doom. “Sheep On The Loose” also proves a favourite with me, including some well-timed surrealist humour.
Slightly less impressive is “Tidy Up,” in which the flock are recruited to help Bitzer sort the farm’s mountain of rubbish. The plot isn’t that exciting, putting even more strain on the gags to hold things together.
The series continues to impress in packaging and menus. Whilst keeping the overall white theme of the previous two discs, the cover sports more muted black tones to suggest night. The volume’s individual title is spelt in gold foil, along with the declaration “Fleece Is The Word!” Chuckle worthy, even if it does rob me of a cheap gag title for this review. Inserts are limited to a flyer advertising Titan’s Shaun comic/magazine. A word search puzzle is included along with how to buy a subscription. Not really at my reading level but I’m sure kids enjoy further adventures of the flock.
The discs menus are based around dancing; Shaun grooves alone on the main one and does a Riverdance-wannabe with some other sheep on the episode selection menu. Simple and effective and certainly more fun than just a static image.
One extra is included on the disc and yet again it’s aimed at kids. “Snout, Trotter & A Curly Tail—How To Build A Pig” is a roughly five-minute feature in which an Aardman model maker instructs children in how to make their own plastacine Naughty Pig. As with the last disc, I’m conflicted. I would love to see something in-depth on the show, like the documentaries on the various Wallace & Gromit DVDs. At the same time, I’m sure this is fun for kids and with more and more people ignoring traditional hand model-making in favour of CGI I’m sure it works in Aardman’s favour to try and get people interested in it as young as possible. I can remember any number of shows I grew up with that inspired the same in me, including Aardman stuff like Morph. So as my inner child remembers playing with an old licensed Wallace & Gromit sculpting kit, this is a decent extra in my book.
Shaun continues to impress, with a lack of focus on the older audience being the only real ‘complaint’ I can make. But in general, as always, it’s a treat.