Colorado-born eleven year old Marnie McBride is mourning the loss of her beloved mother as she settles into her new home in Scotland with her widowed father, who takes her to a run-down junk shop on her eleventh birthday. There, she is given a box of toy animals by a mysterious old man, which spring to life the next morning. She soon learns from these creatures that they are on an important quest to find an ancient book that holds a dark magical power within its pages, and need to find it before the evil shape shifter, Toledo does first. Marnie reluctantly offers to help, but finds she has her own fair share of problems to deal with, as she tries to make some friends at her new school, as well as put up with the classroom bullies. Written by
Season 1 of 'Shoebox Zoo' (I assume there's more to come after the disappointing end episode) started with an interesting premise - Canadian kid Marnie (played by the inanimate Vivien Endicott Douglas, a young actress of limited range and irritating accent) inherits a zoo of toy animals who actually prove to be alive and representative of human souls trapped in time.
This all has something to do with her mother, who has now passed, and a mystic named Michael Scot (Peter Mullan, playing the role with too much sincerity). There's a devil representative - the reptile-like Toledo (Tony Donaldson, overacting badly), and there's a starry cast voicing the animals (Rik Mayall, Siobhan Redmond - superior voice talent as the snake, Simon Callow, and Alan Cumming).
Why it doesn't all come together is a mystery. The special effects are basic and the lead role is all wrong, but there's a much better show trying to get out of this one. It tries to be all encompassing, deadly serious, and indicative of Celtic myth, but all the talk of a mysterious book, 'The Chosen One', and the disparate accents (lots of Scots alongside the Canadian drawl) makes it more of a miss than a hit.
I really wanted this show to work. It does have appeal beyond its target audience on children's TV, but it doesn't quite hit the spot.
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