Shaun the sheep
|Original title: Shaun the Sheep|
Characters: Shaun the sheep, Bitzer the dog, The farmer, The flock of sheep, Shirley the fat sheep, Timmy the little lamb, Timmy's mom, The 3 Pigs, the orange Cat.
Author: Richard Starzak, Nick Park
Production: Aardman Animation
Directed by: Richard Starzak, Christopher Sadler
Year: 5 March 2007
Broadcast in Italy: September 10, 2007
Gender: Comedian / Comedy
Episodes: 120 mm
Duration: 7 minutes
Recommended age: Children from 0 to 5 years old
Shaun - Vita da pecora (original title Shaun the Sheep) is an animated puppet series created and made in England between 2007 and 2010 and broadcast in Italy on Rai Yoyo starting from 2010.
The series created and produced by Aardman Animations with the stop motion technique, was born as a spin off of a lucky short film from 1995, made by the Oscar-winning couple Wallace and Gromit, entitled "A perfect shearing". In the film the sheep Shaun is a minor character but, thanks to his likeable appearance and his unconventional character, he managed to gain popularity and space to the point of becoming the protagonist not only of the animated series, but also of a flourishing merchandising, especially of products for the school.
The series consists of a first block of forty episodes (20 per season) followed by another 40 (the last currently in production). The first two seasons won the Emmy Award in the Children and Young People section. Precisely to celebrate this coveted recognition, obtained in 2009, the production company wanted to create and distribute a special episode on Youtube, visible exclusively through the content sharing platform.
The protagonist of the animated series is, in fact, the little Shaun, an out of the ordinary sheep because it does not follow the flock but, on the contrary, guides it through a series of incredible adventures because Shaun has the characteristic of often getting into trouble and dragging everyone with him his friends. His life spends on a small farm in the English countryside in the company of a dog and other farmyard animals and his days are spent trying to always invent new games and pastimes to overcome the boredom that the sheep's life imposes.
But having adventures alone wouldn't be so much fun and so, from time to time, Shaun also involves the other inhabitants of the farm, animals and otherwise. One of his favorite trouble mates is the mild-mannered Bitzer, a sheepdog who always shows up with a blue cap, whistle, and thermos for tea. Bitzer, like all watchdogs, should be in charge of controlling the flock and maintaining order, but in reality he gets involved very often in Shaun's adventures and, in general, is very tolerant and not authoritarian, establishing a friendship. with the animals he should control. In reality, he too hides a nonconformist soul and therefore he also willingly lets himself be involved by Shaun, just to overcome the boredom and repetitiveness that his role entails.
Then there is the farmer - one of the few humans present in the animated series - whose name is never mentioned. He is a placid and calm man, who works the land with satisfaction and does not notice the strangeness of his animals. He has no wife or children and spends all his time in the fields or at home, surrounded exclusively by his animals.
The flock of sheep of which Shaun belongs includes, among others, Shirley, a huge sheep that hides in its fleece objects of all kinds that - in the various adventures - always come in handy when needed; Timmy, a troublemaker lamb, who is kind of the flock's mascot; Timmy's mother, systematically with curlers on her head and the perennial apprehension of her son who is always ready to throw pranks.
As in the most typical tradition, even this flock is always ready to follow Shaun, a little for his charisma and a little for the desire to escape from the daily routine. They are never presented as thinking characters but they limit themselves, in all situations, to following what Shaun imposes, without ever making a critical analysis of the ideas of the nonconformist sheep.
Even in this story there are bad guys. Antagonists of Shaun and the flock are pigs, who live in a small pigsty in the main courtyard. Very mischievous and envious, they are always ready to get in the way of sheep's plans for the sole pleasure of annoying. But, very often, they only manage to receive disadvantages and problems from their sabotage attempts.
Finally, there is the cat who is purposely kept unnamed. Its main characteristic is to be an enemy of all other animals because it wants to be the only recipient of the attention and pampering of the farmer. In the first two series its appearance is sweeter but from the third series onwards it is enriched with a pair of protruding canines to make it even more spiteful. His favorite victim is Bitzer.
Another human presence that sometimes makes its appearance in the episodes is that of the postman, always chased by the dog who does not want to let him access the farm to deliver the correspondence.
After the first two series, new characters are introduced such as the ducks and the rooster who often become the protagonists of many episodes.
Characteristic of the series, moreover, is the fact that it is totally devoid of dialogues. Animals express themselves with their typical cries, while humans do it through incomprehensible mutterings because their speeches are heard from the point of view of animals.
But let's see some episodes together to better understand how the series unfolds.
In the episode Cheetah Cheating (original title Cheetah Cheater), the cat is in the house with the farmer and sees on television a program about the life of the cheetah. The speed and ferocity of the animal push him to have a new idea to permanently eliminate the sheep from the farm: he will disguise himself as a cheetah to make them frighten and escape from the pen. To achieve his goal, he leaves fake cheetah footprints along the outer wall of the farm, clearly visible to the sheep. And it doesn't take too long before the sheep actually see these tracks and, frightened, run to Bitzer who, however, laughs at them well aware that the English countryside is not the natural habitat of the cheetah. But at a certain point from the barn a frightening roar rises and Bitzer, armed with a pitchfork, is forced to go and check who or what that sound comes from, followed by Shaun and the other sheep. A play of shadows, well concocted by the cat, makes it seem that there is indeed a cheetah and Bitzer runs away in fear.
At this point Shaun intervenes who, as brave as ever, decides to take matters into his own hands. Helped by the other sheep in the flock, she sets a trap. Arrange a row of mouth-watering treats outside the barn door so that the creature hiding inside can be pushed out out of greed. Once lured out, she will then be run over by a bush pulled by a rope whose end is held in her mouth by Shirley. But the cat realizes the trap and tempts Shirley with a cake: the sheep lets go of the rope and the bush overwhelms Shaun.
The little nonconformist sheep, however, does not give up and devises another plan. This time Bitzer in sheep's clothing will act as bait and as soon as the cheetah approaches the other sheep, hiding in a tree near Bitzer, will throw themselves on the animal just before it can eat the dog. Again, however, something goes wrong and the cat manages to escape the ambush.
Meanwhile, it's time for food and the farmer calls the cat's attention to his bowl of food. Except that the cat forgets that he is still wearing the cheetah disguise and thus approaches the farmer who, having understood what happened, begins to get very angry and forces the cat to stitch up exactly in the original version his clothes that he had shredded to make the cheetah disguise. While the cat sews under the farmer's reproaches, Shaun and the flock look satisfied from the window: once again they have won.
In the episode Ewe Has Been Framed (original title Ewe've been Framed), the farmer is ready for another hard day of work in the fields but his tractor doesn't want to leave. He calls Bitzer for help but all they can get is a squirt of oil right in the eye. While the farmer tries to clean up, the phone rings in the house and he, helping himself with his hands seeing absolutely nothing, drags himself into the house to answer. Shaun takes the opportunity to steal the farmer's eyeglasses, which have now turned all black from engine oil, and wearing them starts dancing to the rhythm of rock with the other sheep. Except, clumsy as she is, she ends up breaking her glasses.
What trouble ... and now how do you avoid incurring the wrath of the farmer? We need an idea right away and, above all, we must avoid that in the meantime the farmer in turn gets into trouble by trying to carry out normal daily tasks without seeing anything. Shaun and Bitzer run to the chicken coop where the farmer is breaking all the eggs laid by the hens in an attempt to place them in the basket. Then they save little Tammy who has been hanging out to dry in the sun along with the freshly washed laundry. They prevent the cat from drinking the machine oil from the bowl that the farmer has mistakenly poured into him, convinced that it was freshly milked milk. Finally, they set out in pursuit of the farmer who, finally managing to restart the tractor, started driving without seeing. When they realize that the farmer is about to engage in a fight with a scarecrow, convinced that it is a man who tries to block his way, Shaun and Bitzer realize that the time has really come to resolve the situation.
With a stratagem they manage to lock it in the house and are convinced that, at least for that evening, they are protected from any kind of problem. But just when they retire to the fold ready to spend the night, here comes the farmer armed with a razor to shear the sheep. There is no longer a moment to lose ... the glasses must be fixed and immediately! Shaun runs into the tool shed where he can find some glass that, fixed and worked, can replace broken lenses. A moment before the farmer manages to shear Bitzer, Shaun manages to put the new lenses on his nose and so the farmer not only realizes that he was about to shear the wrong animal but also that the moon is now high in the sky and it's time to go to sleep.
Everything seems to be over for the best. Shaun and Bitzer throw the razor in the trash can to avoid future dangers and the tired farmer returns home to finally go to sleep. But just as he is about to get under the covers, the glasses slip from the bedside table, end up on the ground and are reduced to a thousand pieces.
What will happen as soon as the sun rises again? What day awaits Shaun and Bitzer when the farmer is again without glasses? We will find out in the next episode!
Shaun the Sheep is copyright © Nick Park, Aardman Animations and rights holders. The images are used exclusively for cognitive and informative purposes.