One of the greatest strengths of Aardman Animations is that the stop-motion tales they deliver are amusing to every age group. Watching an entry in the Wallace & Gromit franchise or an episode of Shaun the Sheep is something you can do with your whole family – from young children to grandparents – and everyone involved will gain something from the experience. The tales are fun, clever, and often very witty. Aardman now has a spinoff of a spinoff with their new (to this side of the pond) Timmy Time, and unlike other Aardman fare, it’s specifically geared towards a younger crowd.
Fans of other Aardman productions may already be familiar with Timmy, the youngest sheep in the flock on Shaun the Sheep (itself a spinoff of Wallace & Gromit).
In this new series, the lamb is sent off to preschool with various other farm animals. Every episode features Timmy learning some important preschool-appropriate lessons – stuff about taking turns, being nice to others, listening to teachers, etc.
It is a concept that certainly has some merit and as a parent I can certainly say that my child likes to see things relatable to her life on television. With the bright, simplistic sets and varied other, identifiable, animals in the stories, it is easy to think that a young audience will gravitate towards Timmy Time and, perchance, learn an important thing or two. However, while the show may be imparting positive messages to youngsters and doing so in a way they will enjoy, it does little to convince an adult audience that they at all want to sit down with their offspring (or the preschoolers for whom they care) and watch with them. The episodes are short, each runs about 10 minutes, but will certainly feel longer for the adults watching.
The issue doesn’t seem to revolve around a lack of forethought, creativity, or some sort of deficit in production values. In fact, Timmy Time appears to be up to Aardman’s high standards in all those regards. Each animal seems perfectly conceived and executed as do the backgrounds, foregrounds, and plots. Perhaps the entire program is a little too over-thought; perhaps in their effort to make a preschooler appropriate series, one that might help teach kids, they succeeded in crafting a brilliant series for that audience… at the complete exclusion of any other one.
Timmy Time is airing as a part of the Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney lineup, an entire set of programs designed specifically to attract a younger audience. The series certainly feels like a good fit with the rest of the programming on Playhouse Disney, some of which is more adult-friendly (but certainly not all of it). It is difficult to believe that as a part of that lineup Timmy Time won’t find an audience and that said audience won’t be head-over-heels in love with the little guy.
As for parents, they will certainly admire the series for what it is and what it does, they simply won’t want to watch it as they would with other work from Aardman.
Timmy Time aired a special sneak preview this past Tuesday and will begin airing regularly on September 13.