This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Network: Cartoon Network
Best For Ages: 9-12, 12 and up
This wacky postmodern show centered loosely around the adventures of an escaped sheep who is sought by the military for an experimental weapon, but only wants to be free to date a poodle.
Educational Value: Out to recess. Though visually imaginative and offbeat, kids won't learn anything of substance.
Entertainment Value: Phony commercials and self-referential jokes enliven these very silly stories of a sheep in the urban jungle. A ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE-style narrator holds the segments together.
Profanity: Mild oaths.
Violence: General Specific wants to use Sheep as a part in a ray gun. Lady Richington beats Sheep with her hairpiece.
Sex: Sheep lusts after a poodle who prefers bulldogs. Two army officers sing a duet with vague suggestions of gay bonding.
Gender/Racial Issues: Stereotypes of Arabs, Swedes, and other ethnic groups.
Mature Themes: Money and the evils of capitalism often come up as targets of ridicule.
Questionable Behavior: Sheep breaks the rules of the farm and tries to avoid being drafted.
Though there's nothing terribly inappropriate for children in SHEEP IN THE BIG CITY, most kids won't get the sophisticated irony of this inconsistent series. It features SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE-style fake commercials throughout, and always ends with a "ranting Swede" complaining about something irrelevant to the story. Each episode is divided into several parts with their own titles (usually sheep puns like "Ewe Fleece in the Sky with Diamonds"). In between, faux "sponsors" discuss lavish vacation spots and parody soap operas.
The Bob Dylan-esque theme song, talk show-style interruptions, and narrative asides to the audience contribute to the humor, which seems reminiscent of MONTY PYTHON skits and Steve Martin's old comic act. Sheep flees his job jumping over a fence to help insomniacs and ends up in a city full of rich egotists, including snobby Lady Richington and her beautiful pink poodle Swanky. Sheep falls in love, but since General Specific is pursuing him for a mutton-powered ray gun, he must avoid being seen gazing at wool sweaters in shop windows.
General Specific, who has little patience for arc stories, announces the he will use a Plot Device to move the story along when things get slow. The narrator occasionally clashes with a competing omniscient voice, like the Sultan of Swing's private P.R. announcer. "Get that sheep before the freeze frame!" the Sultan cries when Sheep inadvertently swallows his prize diamond, worth "834 zillion dollars." Even Queen Victoria is impressed when she unexpectedly turns up in the modern world to see the gemstone.
This is the sort of lunacy that audiences will either love or despise. Pre-teen viewers who fell asleep one week laughed hysterically the next at the spectacle of Sheep turned into a piece of jewelry, though they didn't get the jokes connecting net worth to sex appeal. For audiences who prefer less zany social commentary, try THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.
Children's Television Reviews