Never heard of Sitting Ducks? Neither had I. And if a geek of my calibre hasn't heard of an animated TV series, alarm bells start going off. Fortunately, my trepidation was unjustified: Sitting Ducks is a decent enough show for the kids. I emphasise: for the kids.
It's a 3D computer-generated series based on a collection of picture books by writer/illustrator Michael Bedard, and apparently shown on the ABC. Set in a town populated by ducks, it stars Bill, a cheery but slightly neurotic young fellow who befriends a crocodile named Aldo. Needless to say, ducks and crocs don't usually mix - indeed, Aldo is hunting for his next meal when he meets Bill - and much of the humour and "conflict" of the series is generated by misunderstandings in which Bill and his friends think that Aldo has returned to his carnivorous ways.
There are some funny moral ironies that aren't really dwelt upon, but may amuse older viewers - like the fact that Aldo had doubtless eaten many of Bill's peers before he changed his ways, and indeed still worked as a chef serving roast duck for many of these episodes!
There are seven ten-minute episodes on the disc (well, eight actually, but one of them is counted as a "bonus extra").
The first, Running Ducks, sees the beginning of an unlikely friendship as Bill meets a hungry Aldo in a dark alley. Great White Hype sees the town polarised by a boxing match between a seemingly deluded duck and a huge crocodile. Bill discovers Aldo's shameful day job in All in a Day's Work, and in Ducks on Ice our heroes must win a game of ice hockey against a bunch of infant crocs or be eaten by their ravenous parents.
The computer animation won't make you forget Monsters Inc., but it's cute and polished; extremely impressive for low-budget made-for-TV product. Story-wise, Sitting Ducks is a bit too simplistic, preachy and cute to have any sort of crossover appeal, but the youngsters should love it.
We get a full-screen pan-and-scan image taken from a widescreen source, but in this case I doubt that viewers will really mind; the tots probably prefer a big picture without "those annoying black bars"! There is a very minor amount of grain present in some shots, but overall the transfer is clean, colourful and sharp.
Sitting Ducks is a sweet and wholesome diversion for the kiddies, but don't expect it to have the broader appeal of other family-oriented animations. If the little ones have worn out their copies of Shrek and Toy Story, this could be an ideal stocking filler...