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Sunday, December 28, 2008
WALLACE & GROMIT ARE BACK!
Yowzah!

That's just like me: one hand on the remote, the other on a ...

Standing tall in the BBC1 Christmas schedule sat the new Wallace & Gromit adventure, A Matter Of Loaf & Death (formerly Trouble At Mill fact fans!) whilst also receiving a tremendous amount of publicity (including a glorious Radio Times cover). So, my expectations were high for this festive treat.

Nice baps!

But first, let me contextualise my relationship with these little plasticine bastids. Way back in the winter of 19, let me think, 90 was my introduction to W&G in the form of the excellent A Grand Day Out. Bizarrely, it was on Channel 4 and, even more bizarrely, it was transmitted late in the evening, around 11pm. It formed part of the Aardman Animation season that the channel were doing along with the perfect Creature Comforts.

The Eighties were tough on the duo...

It had a huge effect on me even though I was a cynical 16 year old (I wrote a song that included a quote from it). I couldn't believe something that good had been chucked on C4, late at night with little hype (those were the days!). The young me thought it was destined to be forgotten and never aired again ('cos that's what happened to stuff I liked) but how wrong I was...

Salis got £50 for doing A Grand Day Out!

It took a few years but it saw a VHS release in '93 and imagine my surprise when it was the BEEB who released it, not Channel 4. I still don't know why this was the case but there we go. The same year also saw their return in The Wrong Trousers. Now, get this: at the time there was no way that I thought it would in any way come close to the quality of A Grand Day Out. I was just happy to see them back and on telly at an appropriate time and channel.

If only Toby Young was that appealing...

How glad I was to eat my hat, cane and shoes on that occasion. Of course, it was even better and still remains the pinnacle of plasticine perfection. My joy was bolted a few months later when Nick Park received another OSCAR for the production. By now, Wallace & Gromit were no longer a cult item, they were the real deal. Happy times!

You should see where he's put the other bow~tie..

Next followed A Close Shave which I have to admit is the weakest of the first three but it's still a ripping, *coughs*, yarn. But my lurve for them, and Nick Park, never stopped. Even the movie, The Curse Of The Were~Rabbit (oddly, getting almost 8 million people watching it on Christmas Day here in the UK) is a supreme piece of work. Not quite as charming perhaps due to the more cinematic style, extra characters and narrative but Were~Rabbit is a corker of a watch.

Insert Bone~r gag here.

And so to A Matter Of Loaf & Death. I will say that I thought it was a bit odd that it should be screened so late in the evening (8.30pm in the UK) especially considering Doctor Who was broadcast at 6pm! Anyway, what do I know? W&G won comprehensively (and quite rightly so) the Christmas Day ratings 'war' with almost 15 million tuning in. It seems the BEEB does know what they are doing after all. But what was it like?

Gromit suddenly remembers The Seeds Of Doom...

Right from the 'get~go' you know you're onto a winner with a top pre~credits sequence which then melges (is that a word?) into a familiar waking up routing for Wallace. Very quickly we are then thrust into the 'mystery' with Gromit being our man in the know. Mainly thanks to another dog, the irresistable little pooch, Fluffles - a poodle that belongs to nasty biatch Piella Bakewell (voiced brilliantly by Sally Lindsay).

"Phew old chum, Cam likes it!"

As always with W&G there are so many visual gags, film references and in~jokes that one viewing is simply not enough with future viewings guaranteed. It's very difficult to fault this outing for Britain's two most lurveable animated creations and whilst not the best (not yet anyway), it certainly sits higher than both the movie and A Close Shave in the W&G 'charts'. Curiously, it took only seven months (compared to seven years for their first outing) to put this together. Will the BEEB coerce Park & Co. into getting another one onto our screens soon? Let's hope so. Now, when's REX THE RUNT coming back?

Insert D'oh gag here (I am getting lazy).
'Til the next time,
C.


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