Shaun The Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas: Release Date, Plot, And More

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Who says you need dialogue to create a wonderful character? Not Aardman Animations, the British studio that gave the world Gromit — the silent yet highly expressive and often flustered dog who has accompanied his owner, wayward inventor Wallace, on all kinds of ridiculous adventures. The stop motion animated duo's Oscar-winning 1995 short "A Close Shave" also introduced another modern non-speaking comedic icon: Shaun, a mischievous sheep who proved so popular that he went on to headline his own TV series for a whopping six seasons.

Shaun has additionally starred in a pair of feature-length films, the first of which was simply called "Shaun the Sheep Movie" and the second of which boasted the marvelous title "A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon." He's now in the process of getting his own winter holiday special, dubbed "Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas." Here's what we know about it so far.

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas Release Date and Where You Can Watch It

"Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas" is coming to Netflix on December 3, 2021. It's one of two Aardman Animations projects scheduled to debut on the streaming giant between now and the end of the year, along with the short "Robin Robin" (which premieres less than two weeks earlier on November 24).

Aardman's partnership with Netflix began on "Farmageddon," which was originally going to receive a theatrical release in the U.S. (courtesy of Lionsgate) before being sold to the streamer. Netflix has also landed the exclusive rights to Aardman's "Chicken Run 2," the upcoming sequel to the studio's beloved first feature-length animated film (an homage to "The Great Escape" about a flock of chickens trying to avoid being turned into pies). While it's nice to know Aardman's fans in the U.S. will continue to have access to their work thanks to Netflix, it's also a bittersweet reminder that the studio's movies have seen increasingly poor returns at the domestic box office since "Chicken Run" came out in 2000, despite earning consistently positive reviews from critics.

What Is Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas?

According to its synopsis, "Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas" finds Shaun and his fellow farm animals getting ready for the winter holidays. However, "Shaun's seasonal excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get bigger stockings for the Flock inadvertently leads to Timmy going missing," and leaves Shaun scrambling to get him back before "he becomes someone else's present." (Timmy, for those unaware, is the tiniest sheep in Shaun's flock, as well as its biggest troublemaker.) Expect lessons about the true meaning of Christmas and all that jazz to ensue.

Interestingly, "The Flight Before Christmas" was originally called "A Winter's Tale From Shaun the Sheep" when Aardman announced the special in February 2020. Perhaps to avoid misleading anyone into presuming this is a reinterpretation of William Shakespeare's "A Winter's Tale" featuring Shaun the Sheep (as fabulous as that sounds), Aardman has since gone with an alternate but fittingly zany title for the project.

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas Director, Writers, and More

Steve Cox is directing "Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas," having previously helmed a handful of episodes from the sixth season of the "Shaun the Sheep" TV series, "Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom," and served as an animator on Aardman's feature-length animated films "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," "Early Man," and "Shaun the Sheep Movie." Cox is working from a script by Giles Pillbrow (another veteran of the "Shaun the Sheep" TV show), with Aardman stalwarts Richard Beek, Mark Burton, Sarah Cox, and Carla Shelley acting as producers on the project.

As mentioned earlier, Aardman is pretty steadfast in the quality of its output, and even its worst projects generally have some redeeming qualities (be they terrific sight gags, richly-detailed claymation visuals, or just an admirable dedication to non-stop silliness). Only time will tell if "The Flight Before Christmas" joins the ranks of the greatest winter holiday specials of all time, but Shaun's "silent" shenanigans have rarely (if ever) disappointed so far.