Did you know that farm animals secretly throw parties when their farmer isn’t looking? Neither did I, but somehow those sneaky barnyard critters are doing their best to have a good time at the farmer’s expense.
Shaun the Sheep comes from the same minds at Aardman Animation who brought us the Wallace and Gromit shorts and films as well as the movies Chicken Run and Flushed Away. Through the power of clay and stop motion animation, Nick Park and his crew tell stories with a sense of humor and creative genius that’s hard to beat. For each five minute episode of Shaun the Sheep, it takes more than 7,000 individual shots where models and backgrounds are tweaked ever so slightly between each frame, so you can only imagine the number of frames necessary for a longer film. Every time we see a new production from Aardman, I’m reminded of what must be infinite patience of these talented animators.
Each episode of Shaun the Sheep focuses on the flock of sheep that lives on a farm with The Farmer and his dog Bitzer. Shaun is the leader of the flock, always looking for ways to have a good time. Shirley is the biggest sheep in the flock, always eating. Timmy is the baby of the flock, whose mother wears curlers in her hair and sometimes forgets to watch him. The Naughty Pigs live in their sty beside the flock’s field and are always trying to get the sheep in trouble. And there are many other characters who appear from time to time throughout the series.
What’s always amazing to me is that though no clear words are said and every character mumbles, barks/growls, baas, or snorts their way through a conversation – the person watching the episode typically understands what’s being said. It’s that non-verbal communication that makes the series equally humorous for kids and adults alike I think.
There are seven fun episodes included on the Shaun the Sheep: Party Animals DVD, as well as a couple of bonus features.
In “Party Animals,” the farmer plans a costume party for his birthday, but Bitzer manages to destroy the invitations on the way to the mailbox. So Shaun and the flock save the day by creating their own costumes and showing up at party time. The Farmer has a great time and somehow doesn’t figure out that his party guests aren’t human!
“Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow” made us laugh hysterically as the Farmer gets ready for his big date and breaks out his hairpiece. When Shaun tries it on, it blows off his head and he and Bitzer go on a quest to save it in time for the big date. The part that made us laugh uproariously was seeing The Farmer’s animated clay butt stick out of the shower curtains at the beginning. The poor guy is more than a little clueless and yet hilarious at the same time.
And in “Pig Swill Fly,” the farm inspector pays a visit and everything has to be perfect. Of course, “perfect” isn’t in the cards when the sheep and pigs literally start a war. Shaun and the flock build a cannon and the pigs steal the crop duster as the war escalates. Though Bitzer does his best to protect the Farmer and the inspector, nothing can quite save them from mud pies falling from the sky.
Also included are “Double Trouble,” “Operation Pidsley,” “Shaun Goes Potty,” and “Strictly No Dancing.” “Operation Pidsley” is the first time we encounter The Farmer’s pet cat Pidsley who just happens to be the arch enemy of Bitzer.
The extras include a “Building-a-Pig,” which shows you step by step how to make one of the Naughty Pigs out of clay, and a sneak peek of Timmy Time, which is a new show for kids starring Timmy the baby sheep of the flock. Though I have to say that the Timmy Time sneak peek gave me a bit of a headache with their song “Timmy’s Tune,” the feature detailing how to make a pig was very interesting.
As with all Shaun the Sheep DVDs so far, 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 at ShaunTheSheep.com for more information about the show and be sure to look for Shaun the Sheep: Party Animals at your favorite rental counter or retailer!