Alright I lied. I'm starting my top television list today. It is in fact coming tomorrow, mostly because I've changed the list ever so slightly so that there are now only eleven places. This was because 11 is closer to 10 than 12 is and also it gave me this extra day to not worry about how I'm going to review all of the Christmas television without it becoming redundant. It does also mean that I have two specials to review today (Doctor Who and Wallace and Gromit) as well as a movie review (a movie which doesn't actually come out in the UK for a while so you can get an early recommendation from yours truly.
So on with the show. It's been 3 years since the last Wallace and Gromit adventure, and 10 years since the one before it. This also makes it the first "for television" Wallace and Gromit adventure in 13 years. That's longer than my brother has been alive for!!! Now if you live in Britain you'll know who Wallace and Gromit are, they're one of those institutions that we have in place. Like football, cups of tea, the Queen, Doctor Who and the BBC, Wallace and Gromit are just one of those quintessentially British things and they have never disappointed. So it was a joy to have them back in a brand new adventure. It's just a shame that the 30 minutes seemed to just fly past, because I wanted them back for so much more.
Now it has been 13 years since A Close Shave and even longer since The Wrong Trousers, which I'm fairly sure are not only two of the best pieces of stop animation ever, but also two of the best pieces of animation, period. They are decidedly up there with Toy Story, The Lion King and Snow White (note the fact that they're all Disney). So A Matter of Loaf and Death has a lot to live up to. Curse of the Were-Rabbit almost did but I do feel it fell short in a few places (don't ask me where it just didn't feel as whole as the two preceding shorts). So where does A Matter of Loaf and Death fall? Well above A Grand Day Out but just below Were-Rabbit, for reasons I will now go into.
A Close Shave and Wrong Trousers are perfect. They are incredibly funny and inventive. Chocked full of parody and little sight gags (I mean a penguin that puts a rubber glove on its head to become a chicken is just genius). Then there's the chase scene that ends each adventure. The Wrong Trousers has the incredible high-speed chase scene on the model railway (genius) whilst Close Shave has the whole sheep on a motorcycle followed by a flying sidecar and the chase inside the dog food machine (also genius). A Matter of Loaf and Death has a little bit of a chase inside the bakery with a giant bomb. I'm not saying it wasn't funny, it just lacked the inventiveness of the previous adventures.
Then there is the fact that it "felt" 30 minutes long. I know this seems an odd complaint, but I feel it's valid. For Wrong Trousers and Close Shave you could sit down and get lost in it and come out thinking "oh has it really only been 30 minutes?" because you just get lost in the excitement and inventiveness of it all. A Matter of Loaf Death felt 30 minutes, in fact it felt 20 minutes long. It was a great 20 minute feeling, it's just I wanted more. Something that would make me slap my head and go "damn that's fucking awesome!!" but it just didn't happen.
Now I'm saying it wasn't funny. All the film references were great (and there were a lot, Aliens, Ghost etc.) and so were Wallace and Gromit themselves (Gromit still rocks). The new characters didn't feel fleshed out enough though. Feathers McGraw was utter, utter genius (I'm saying that a lot) in Wrong Trousers. Shaun the Sheep was amazing, Wendolene was fleshed out enough and you just knew that Preston was an evil bastard in Close Shave. For this short Piella and Fluffles didn't feel as fully rounded.
Damn I keep complaining. Right if you want your humour from Wallace and Gromit you're still going to get it, a murderer you only wants to kill a bakers dozen, a bit of a romance sub plot and lots of bread puns. This Wallace and Gromit was incredibly funny from start to finish, but if you go in expecting Close Shave or Wrong Trousers prepare to be disappointed 8/10