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singing sheep Posted: Apr 19th 2009

A review of Christmas Day's Wallace and Gromit's latest adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Equally nonsensical as Dr Who – if a smidgeon less wonderful – was Wallace & Gromit: a Matter of Loaf and Death. It was 13 years since the Plasticine pair’s last TV adventure, but little had changed: their communal home was still a Heath Robinson wonderland, this time devoted to the art of baking; Wallace was still falling head over heels for unsuitable women; and Gromit still had to save the day. The attention to detail was equally consistent, from the sight gags – Gromit’s possession of a Dan Dare-style comic called The Beagle – to the pitch-perfect pastiches of other films (the theft of a bomb-dropping gag from the 1960s Batman series was particularly inspired).

Yet unlike Wallace and Gromit’s bread, something here felt slightly stale. The plot ticked along as if on rails: Wallace fell head-first for Sally Lindsay’s Piella Bakewell, who justified Gromit’s suspicions by turning out to be a baker-hating serial killer. It was all good fun, but there was none of the slow-burning menace of The Wrong Trousers, still the duo’s finest (half-)hour, and Wallace seemed to be treated as even more of a dope than usual, utterly dependent on the long-suffering Gromit to save him from himself.

The Lancastrian is also turning into a rather unlikely lothario: what with his previous romance, in the Hollywood-funded Curse of the Were-Rabbit, airing a few hours earlier, it was sometimes hard to tell whether the BBC was celebrating Christmas or Valentine’s Day. But here again Wallace was eclipsed by his pet: by far the most affecting part of the story was the completely silent romance between Gromit and Piella’s poor, abused pooch, Fluffles. Cheesy? Oh, yes. But cracking cheese, all the same.

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