That's right! Shaun, Bitzer, the Farmer, and all the rest of the gang are back for another set of adventures on Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind.
For those of you who might not have heard of Shaun the Sheep before, it's a series of stop-motion animated shorts that revolve around a flock of sheep on a farm. Created by Nick Park and Aardman Animation, this series is from the same creative folks who brought you the Wallace & Gromit series as well as the movies Chicken Run and Flushed Away.
Unlike traditional hand- or computer-drawn animation, stop-motion animation requires physical models and sets for every scene. A picture is taken which will be one frame of the final film, the creators verify that everything looks right, and then they painstakingly move the clay models the tiniest amounts in preparation for the next frame. At 24 frames per second, it takes quite a long time to film each five minute episode.
As far as the characters in the show go, Shaun is, of course, the star of the show and the leader of the flock. He's a clever little sheep and can find ways to have fun and get out of trouble when needed. Bitzer is the sheepdog and Shaun's friend. Bitzer makes sure the flock stays where they need to be and don't get into too much trouble. And the Farmer owns the farm where Shaun, Bitzer, and the rest of the gang hang out. He seems completely oblivious to the fact that his dog and sheep are probably smarter than he.
What makes the series entertaining is the combination of slapstick comedy, simple stories, and the complete lack of actual speech by any characters. There are grunts, grumbles, and groans that approximate a conversation, but nothing understandable by the audience. The slapstick humor is appropriate for everyone from ages zero to 100. Though shown most often to kids, I think there's plenty for adults to love as well.
Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind is a collection of six hilarious episodes from the series. Included are "Shaun Encounters," "The Bull," "Hiccups," "Bitzer Puts His Foot In It," "Save the Tree," and "The Visitor." You get everything from aliens to unstoppable hiccups; the dangers of letting concrete dry around curious sheep; and the power of a flock working together to save the biggest, most beautiful tree on their field.
While I won't go into each episode, I will give my picks for the top three.
"Shaun Encounters" pits Shaun, Bitzer, and the flock against two little aliens out to have a good time. The aliens are cute — with a single eye on the top of their heads and butts that squeak when they walk, and all they're looking for is fun. The devious pair dives into Shirley's (the biggest sheep in the flock and a real eating machine) wool and makes her float in the air. Well, she floats until Shaun tries to save her and they both fall to the ground.
I was entertained by the "spooky" piano music at the beginning of the episode that reminded me of that of the Halloween movies in the 1980s. Plus, I learned something new as well. I had no idea the Farmer wore dentures!
In "The Bull," we meet the bull who also lives on the farm and somehow gets into the flock's field. When Shaun tries to get him to go home, the bull takes offense and poor Shaun gets catapulted into the pig sty with the three Naughty Pigs. Things get further out of hand when the Pigs toss a can of red paint into the flock's bathtub and you have a whole flock of red targets for the bull to chase. But never fear, Shaun comes up with a plan and saves the day playing a matador to save his friends.
This is the first episode of Shaun the Sheep that I have ever had to rewind and watch a part over again because I didn't believe what I was seeing. I had to watch in slow motion as the red-dyed sheep get the poop scared out of them by the bull. That really made me laugh.
Finally, in "The Visitor" we get a combination of "Shaun Encounters" and a new interstellar biofuel for space travel. When an alien crash lands in the flock's grazing area, the sheep help fix up his spaceship so he can go home. As he's out of gas, they look around the Farm for things he can use to power his ship. Eventually they find that sheep poop makes a perfect fuel source (why can't we run cars on the stuff?)!
In addition to the six episodes, you also get a couple of bonus features. With "Sing-Along With Shaun" you can sing, karaoke-style, along with the Shaun the Sheep theme song… "He's Shaun the Sheep / He even mucks about with those who cannot bleat / Keep it in mind / He's one of a kind / Oh… life's a treat with Shaun the Sheep!" And with the "Whack-a-Pig" game, you try to throw vegetables at the pigs.
As with all Shaun the Sheep DVDs, I laughed through all the episodes with my family. It's perfect for kids and parents and there's plenty of funny to go around. Check out the series' website for more information about the show and definitely look to pick up a copy of the DVD.