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
Shoebox Zoo is an enjoyable, yet flawed fantasy series. The enchanted creatures are the stealers, thanks to the talented vocal cast & the animators. The villain, Toledo, provides menace & humour in equal measure. However Marnie is a hateful protagonist, throwing tantrums at the slightest provocation & often mistreating the "Zoo." She is impossible to sympathise with. I also dislike Michael Scott, who also abuses the animals. I thought John Roberts, arrogant & mysterious, was the best of the children involved. The episodes are at their best when the creatures are on screen. The school scenes (excepting those with John Roberts) only bog down the story. The narration is irritating and unnecessary. There are some parts that are predictable for older viewers, but also some genuine surprises. I was disappointed by the ending though. However I will definitely be watching Season Two, if only for the delight of seeing & hearing the fantastic, animated ensemble.
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