Before I begin this review, I must confess something. I'm a 41-year-old married father of two and I still like cartoons just as much as when I was a kid. There, I said it! By now it's probably no secret that I have a soft spot in my heart for well-written and animated cartoons, but I can't stop. Hopefully I won't have to stop until I stop breathing!
So why this confession? Because I need to explain my fascination and admiration for Shaun the Sheep. HIT Entertainment has just released a new collection of shorts called Shaun the Sheep: Animal Antics, and I have to say it's one of my favorite collections since Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind. The DVD includes seven great stories this time covering everything from golf and garage sales to a persistent fox doing his best to find some dinner.
What? You don't know about Shaun? Well, let's remedy that.
Shaun the Sheep is a stop-motion animated series from Aardman Animations, the studio behind such great features as Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit, Chicken Run, and Flushed Away. Shaun himself is a smart sheep with more than a touch of creativity that gets him in and out of trouble. He first appeared in the Wallace & Gromit short feature A Close Shave when he saved his flock from an evil mechanical dog that wanted to turn the flock into dog food.
The Shaun the Sheep series started airing in the UK on the BBC back in 2007, but started gaining quite a following in the U.S. when the shorts started airing on the Disney Channel. Since then, HIT Entertainment has been releasing the shorts in DVD collections. Each short is painstakingly created frame by frame by animators working with actual sets and plasticine/clay figures that can be posed in myriad positions. If every second of an episode is composed of 24 frames, you're looking at 1,440 frames for one minute of animation - and each short is around five minutes long. That's a long process and I have an amazing amount of respect for the artists involved.