It may seem like a silly statement, but it's one of those things that is all too often forgotten – perhaps the most important thing in creating a television show or film is the ability to tell a good story. Many times storytelling takes a backseat to production styles, editing techniques, or performances. All of those things are, unquestionably, important, but when it comes right down to it, if a creative team can't tell the story there is going to be something fundamentally lacking in whatever gets produced. And, looked at from the opposite side, if one has the ability to tell a great story to tell it, it can be forgiven if some of the other elements are not as sharp as, perhaps they should be. In the end, it is the performances, the editing, the production style, and all the other ancillary things that ought to be put into service to tell the story, not vice versa. Importantly, very importantly, the story itself need not be the greatest, deepest, most profound story ever, it just needs to be well told.
The upcoming DVD release Shaun the Sheep: Back in the Ba-a-ath, produced by Nick Park and Aardman Animation (the folks behind Wallace & Gromit) features storytelling at its finest. The series, which has appeared on the Disney Channel, features brief episodes, each approximately (on average) six to seven minutes in length. Featured in the series is Shaun, his sheep friends, Bitzer the sheepdog, The Farmer, and The Naughty Pigs.
Filmed using the same sort of stop-motion techniques Aardman has used to great success in Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit, and other Aardman work. And, just as in those other Aardman works, there is a sense of wit and cleverness in each of the eight episodes of Shaun the Sheep included on this DVD.
Shaun, for those who don't know, first appeared in the Wallace & Gromit short "A Close Shave." He subsequently appeared in Cracking Contraptions before finally being given a chance to shine by himself, and shine he does. Though " just" a sheep, Shaun, as with all of Aardman's animals, is highly anthropomorphized. Shaun and the rest of the Flock spend the vast majority of their time trying to outwit The Farmer, Bitzer, and anyone else who might get in their way.