Originally making his first appearance in Aardman Animation’s Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave (1995), the inquisitive and clever Shaun the Sheep has become one of the company’s most popular supporting characters. Unfortunately, Shaun didn’t make an appearance in the duo’s first feature-length adventure—but Aardman hadn’t forgotten fans of the woolly hero. Later that year, a television series featuring Shaun hit the British airwaves, with Region 1 eventually catching up a short time after. Produced in the company’s trademark style of expert stop-motion animation, the aptly-named Shaun the Sheep reminds first-time viewers of classic Wile E. Coyote and Tom and Jerry cartoons: it’s wordless in a technical sense, utilizing clever sight gags and music to tell each seven-minute story.
Away from the bustling atmosphere and invention-fueled excitement of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun’s world is a non-descript farm with green pastures and wooden fences. Along with a flock of considerably less clever and athletically-inclined sheep, a strict but lazy guard dog, a somewhat witless farmer and a trio of mischievous pigs, Shaun tends to make the most of each day. Whether leading the flock in morning exercises, organizing a game of soccer, wrestling with the pigs or simply munching on grass (when the farmer’s around, of course), our hero’s bravery is sometimes outmatched by his own clumsiness—but more often than not, Shaun saves the day. Although this series is clearly aimed at younger audiences, it’s perfectly acceptable fare for those who enjoyed Wallace and Gromit, Creature Comforts…or, let’s face it, pretty much the entire Aardman back catalogue.
As mentioned earlier, each wordless seven-minute short is packed with laughs—and with such a strict timeframe, these adventures don’t overstay their welcome. Eight brief adventures are included here: “Off the Baa!”, “Timmy in a Tizzy”, “Buzz Off Bees”, “Who’s the Mummy?”, “Fleeced!”, “Mower Mouth”, “Shaun Shoots the Sheep” (with a camera, don’t worry), “Mountains out of Molehills”, and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. Culled almost randomly from Shaun the Sheep’s first season, this is only a fraction of what’s already available: Shaun and company have already completed their second season, with 40 shorts already in the bank. Fans across the pond have waited patiently for the woolly wunderkind to reach us on disc…but as time has taught us, there’s nothing like the sting of disappointment if our hopes are too high.