Picture Perfect represents a slice of 10 episodes from the fourth series of Shaun the Sheep. Business on Mossy Bottom Farm is very much as usual with Shaun, his flock, best friend and occasional adversary Bitzer the dog and the unwitting Farmer getting into and out of everyday disasters.
The short tales are cleverly-composed, slapstick-heavy comic stories that continue to amuse because of the charm of the characters, the artful silliness of the stories, the clever little touches and details of the animation. There is nothing new here, but our cast (and they are a cast of characters, not clods of clay) still come together to share great adventures that come from nowhere and nothing to become magnificent battles and triumphs.
So in Picture Perfect we see situations including the flock and Bitzer bested by some grumpy ducks (Duck), the flock putting on an impromptu talent show (Hidden Talent), a crow who fails to be scared by the farmer or Bitzer and Shaun and proceeds to create havoc on the farm (The Intruder), Mowermouth the goat hypnotising the flock (The Stare) and recurrent villain the Sly Fox attempting to take advantage of the flock’s preoccupation with a game of ping pong to infiltrate the chickens (Ping Pong Predator).
The frequent ridiculousness and occasional danger that ensues lead to the revelation of great ingenuity, inventiveness or personal folly in their resolution. In Save The Dump, the flock bicker over Bitzer destroying their rubbish dump playground so the Farmer can turn it into a golf course and impress a well-to-do acquaintance, proceed to destroy the entire field and then turn the ploughed up ruined ground into a crazy golf course just before the acquaintance’s sportscar pulls in.
All of the problems are eventually fixed by (or for) our heroes, but they don’t win every time. At the end of Duck, Shaun and the flock have been shut out of the barn by the ducks and Mowermouth the goat’s stare has the last slightly sinister silent word in The Stare.
The educational value of this children’s programme is a bit vague beyond remaining loyal to your flock, farmer and sheepdog and working together as a loyal team. Nobody speaks audible words, nobody learns any life lessons that can be used outside of a flock-related situation and nobody demonstrates or acquires any useful skills (though the problem-solving skills frequently demonstrated are inspired, even if the problems solved wouldn’t occur anywhere but Mossy Bottom Farm).
But the entertainment value of Shaun the Sheep: Picture Perfect is priceless.
Review by Esther Sadler
[SRA value=”4.5″ type=”YN”]
Shaun the Sheep: Picture Perfect is out on DVD on 30 March. Buy from Amazon