Sunday, 31 March 2013

S9 Ep.11: Thomas and The New Engine

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

THOMAS AND THE NEW ENGINE
Written by
Marc Seal 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
9/10/05

Plot:
A new engine named Neville arrived on the Island of Sodor. However Thomas saw him with 'Arry and Bert and he thought they were having a laugh. When Thomas told James, rumours went around and the engines started to dislike Neville. Meanwhile Thomas was to help the workmen to fix a broken bridge and was surprised to see Neville with Annie and Clarabel. However neither Thomas or Emily talked to him and felt left out. In the end, Toby told Thomas and Emily, from Salty, that 'Arry and Bert were laughing at him. Neville was dangling across the broken bridge and Thomas saved him and his coaches. 

PRO:
- Moral: Don't spread rumours. 

CON:
- Neville was given one dialogue in three scenes. 
- Edward would never like the engines to spread the rumour of Neville.
- A broken bridge would never hold Neville's weight.

Another poor episode. I like the basis they chose Neville, but its a shame that he was not used as much until his one second of fame in S12. He was never given a reason why he came to the Island in the first place and neither a personality. I also hate how he was given one dialogue in three scenes, two 'Hello' and 'Thank you!' it would be better if they give him more dialogue or focus the episode on him like they did to their other pointless character, Mighty Mac. Plus, Edward, the writer really butchered his persona up. A rumour was going around about the new engine, but he was one of them that started it. That's not the true Edward, like I said in previous HIT-era episodes, Edward is suppose to be kind and wise not teasing or spreading rumours about a new engine. And there's the bridge scene, it was just unrealistic. Though I do like the moral support of this episode about not spreading rumours. But to me this episode is just poor and they should've give Neville the entire episode himself. 

Rating: 1/5     

Saturday, 30 March 2013

S9 Ep.10: Rheneas and The Dinosaur

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

RHENEAS AND THE DINOSAUR 
Written by
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
2/10/05

Plot:
Dinosaur bones were found in the hills of Sodor and Rheneas was chosen to pull the train due to gentle shunting. But Skarloey was disappointed but it was due to excitement that he was rough with the trucks. However, Rheneas needs help from Skarloey after all. 

PRO:
- The Dinosaur bones were impressive 

CON:
- Skarloey should be wise enough to know that he can shunt trucks carefully.
- Rheneas should be wise enough to know that he's suppose to share the load.

And this is where I begin to hate the new personas of Skarloey and Rheneas. Skarloey has been shunting trucks all his life and he should at least know how to handle them carefully and Rheneas should also be wise enough to know that he needs to share the load whether the load is heavy or not. I'm glad that there persona's have now changed since 'Blue Mountain Mystery'. The dinosaur bones were impressive, but that doesn't make the episode worth the watch. 

Rating: 1/5  

Friday, 29 March 2013

DVD Review: Thomas and The Really Brave Engine and Other Adventures

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

THOMAS AND THE REALLY BRAVE ENGINE 
& OTHER ADVENTURES
Written by
Jan Page
Jenny McDade
George Tarry
Paul Larson

Episodes:

Directed by
David Mitton 

'Troublesome Trucks' 
Written and Composed by
Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell 

Bonus Features:
Sodor Spelling Game
Picture Puzzle Fun 
Character Gallery
Computer Fun - Coloring Fun 
The Midnight Ride of Thomas the Tank Engine read along

Release Date:
7/02/06

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Anchor Bay Entertainment

I didn't buy the DVD this year, I bought it back in the year 2011. Around this time the US were given more of classic episodes during the time of the new series under the HIT Entertainment banner and at the time Series 10 was about to be broadcasted later on that year (2006). So let's take a look shall we?

EPISODES
The episodes are all from the seventh series and no they're not in CGI, I think the DVD cover and release date can show you that. I only had one con with the episode and that is when Fergus didn't have any roles after 'Thomas and The Search For Fergus' or 'Fergus Breaks The Rules' if you're from the UK or Australia. I would say that Fergus didn't break any rules, but I think there is, not following orders, even though it was a trick made by Diesel. 'Bad Day at Castle Loch' is good but in my opinion, not strong comparing to other episodes focusing on Donald and Douglas, but it was nice to show their scottish heritage but its a shame that they argue like Bill and Ben, a bit of character reversals. As for Michael Brandon's 'scottish' voice, there's more about it in my review of the episode. 'Toby and The Windmill' half and half for me, not bad but not perfect, it was of course Toby's driver's fault to ram into the trucks after all the engines on Sodor, before S9-16, had a crew on board. 

'The Runaway Elephant' was unrealistic but certainly shows why a brake van is in need of place on a train. 'James and the Queen of Sodor' I like the grunts at the end and the story is simple and nice, but I think James should've known about the barges' existence, but if he have that then no plot :P 'Oliver the Snow Engine' or 'Snow Engine' in the UK/AUS, is just filled with flaws and I think it's better if you read my review. But again MB's Oliver voice was just horrid and bland, I know he was trying to give him a western accent like a cowboy, but it really didn't suit him.

The episodes are good choices, but they don't have perfection but not everything needs that. You can read more of my views about them by clicking on the links of the episodes.

SPECIAL FEATURES
The episode is filled with music by Robert Hartshrone and Ed Welch, who are now separated since the show transformed to CGI. So the only thing you'll hear from the classic series, with music, is the 'Troublesome Trucks' music video. It's a fun song and it tell us about the trucks' tricks obviously. I still find a shame that they didn't keep the old music for the DVD releases, but with the new series on board at the time this was released, I think they don't want kids to be confused with the music?

It's got two fun games for kids, like the spelling and puzzle, teaches kids to spell the names of the engines and learn from the shape of the picture. Kids can be taught with these games before starting school. There's also the character gallery and of course the read-along, but this is where I find the narration by Robin Smith bland and uninteresting as well as his voices for the characters on the DVD's games, his Fergus voice was awful. 

OVERALL
The DVD is OK. Kids from the target range would like these stories, but the narration of Michael Brandon as well as the S8-12 music makes the classic episode seem off for some of the fans who grew up with the classic series with the Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell music and ditty's. The stories have some flaws in them, but I think they're OK and good. If you like entertaining stories for your kids, I suggest buying a copy of this DVD. 

Rating: 3/5

BUY A COPY

DVD Review: Schoolhouse Delivery

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

SCHOOLHOUSE DELIVERY
Written by
Jessica Sandys - Clarke
Rachel Dawson 
Sharon Miller

Episodes

Special Features
'The Mighty Magnet' game
'Guess Who!' puzzle

Directed by
Greg Tiernan

Produced by
Nicole Stinn

Release Date
10/07/12

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate

Taking a look back from last year with 'Schoolhouse Delivery' containing three season 14 episodes and one season 15 episode, some episodes are poor and two are decent. So let's take a look at one of the US' CGI releases. 

EPISODES
The only decent episodes I find good from this DVD is 'Being Percy' and 'Henry's Health and Safety', the moral (in 'Being Percy') was good for kids to learn from about 'Being yourself' and it worked well for Percy, even though it has been rehashed in a few more episodes around the two seasons (S14/15).  The other episodes, I find dull, they were poorly written and were given for the wrong characters. 'Diesel's Special Delivery', I find the episode to be poor because of Diesel's persona. For many years he's been called devious and in just this episode he was acting nice, sure he may want to be useful and I think that's OK, but his character has always been devious. 'Henry's Health and Safety' I think it's OK, it does show what can happen on a railway if anything got into an engines' way. 'Happy Hiro' is what I find poor. If Hiro wants to go home to his country, Japan, why not make an episode about it, instead of him being on the Island all the time feeling homesick? You can see more of my views of these episodes by clicking on the links of the titles. 

SPECIAL FEATURES
Some of the games aren't as special then the ones Anchor Bay released last decade, before Lionsgate took over the home entertainment releases. But I bought a few last year and some of the games are fun and better like the one on the Christmas DVD and the one, this year, on 'Go Go Thomas'. The game here 'The Mighty Magnet' is OK, all you have to do is to use Butch to pick anything that is metal, more likely they should've kept the game for 'Sticky Situations'. It's simple, but I think kids will enjoy the game. 'Guess Who' puzzles are good for the kids too with guessing the characters like Thomas, Henry and Hiro, simple but fun for kids. 

The Mr. Perkins segments are fun to watch as well and he's a likeable character too. Kids will enjoy the special features on this DVD. 

OVERALL
Despite it being a four episode release, before HIT introduced five on the US' DVDs now, there are two poorly written stories and two good ones. Little kids from the target audience will like them but they might fine some of the episode unentertaining, but If they do enjoy them that is fine by me. 

Rating: 3/5

BUY A COPY

S9 Ep.9: Tuneful Toots

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

TUNEFUL TOOTS
Written by
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
25/09/05

Plot:
Before the Fat Controller and Lady Hatt arrive for the party, Rusty is to take the brass band around the hills. But later on, he ran out of fuel and stopped and he needed to get to the concert! So Rusty and the brass band played music and the narrow gauge engines brought the two controllers and Lady Hatt up towards the lake. 

PRO:
- A two tone horn, nice feature for a diesel engine.

CON:
- Rusty's horn sound was getting annoying


The episode is not great but OK. I have to admit the two horn sound was really getting annoying but it was a nice feature in the show, many diesels in the UK have two toned horns. 

Rating: 3/5 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

S9 Ep.8: Thomas and The Birthday Picnic

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE 

THOMAS AND THE BIRTHDAY PICNIC
Written by
Sharon Miller

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
25/09/05

Plot:
It was Dowager Hatt's, the Fat Controller Birthday and the Fat Controller chose Thomas to take them for a birthday picnic, however with the field being plower, the castle being repaired and giving them the most uncomfortable ride. But in the end Thomas and his friends gave Dowager Hatt the best birthday party ever. 

PRO:
- The three strikes isn't that bad to be honest
- Great to see that The Fat Controller's mother was given a name

CON:
- Why can't the Fat Controller decided a place for his mother and not one of his engines.
- You can hear the rhyming and alliteration in this episode. 

I find this episode a decent one and yet it was Sharon Miller's first contribution towards the show. The three strikes aren't that bad but they will of course be painfully oblivious to see between S13-16. However you can hear the early stages of rhyming and alliteration in this episode mainly at the end. 

Rating: 3/5  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

S9 Ep.7: Respect For Gordon

THESE ARE SOLY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE 

RESPECT FOR GORDON
Written by
James Mason 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
18/09/05

Plot:
Gordon's firebox is making noise and this made the other engines teasing. Gordon had enough and wanted all the engines to show him respect. However he had an accident with some tanker wagons of jam. 

PRO:
- I like how they showed Gordon's sign of old age.

CON:
- In reality, I believe fireboxes don't gurgle. 
- There would've been an explanation of the tanker wagons
- Henry and Emily should know that the express is heavy.

The episode is OK, it tried its best. I do love how they show the signs of old age to Gordon, but with his rattled firebox, I'm pretty sure with firebox problems it would be like low steam pressure or something. Plus there would've been an explanation of why the tanker wagons were left on the main line. As with Emily and Henry's criticism about the express being heavy, they should at least know that it's heavy. Henry had been pulling the express for years in the RWS and TV series and Emily had pulled the express for Gordon in Season 8. But then again, this episode is OK. 

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

S9 Ep.6: Thomas and The Toy Shop

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

THOMAS AND THE TOY SHOP
Written by
James Mason 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
25/10/05

Plot:
A new toyshop is to be opened at Knapford and all the toys from the factory are to be delivered to the shop. On the day of the opening, Emily is to take the children and Henry is to take a new machine to the toy factory and later on the toys to the shop. This made Thomas sad. However, Emily broke down and Thomas is to take the children after he's done with his jobs. Meanwhile at the harbour, a crate had fallen right in front of Henry and Thomas is to take the toys as well, but as they approached the hill, Thomas found out that the load was too heavy. 

PRO:
- A nice RWS easter egg with the picture from 'Tank Engine Thomas Again'

CON:
- Thomas should've realised that he can't pull heavy loads on his own. 
- Surely the workmen would've cleaned up the mess straight away? 


This episode is alright, but has its usual flaws. But I do like how they've added the picture of Thomas with Annie and Clarabel from 'Tank Engine Thomas Again' a nice easter egg for the older viewers, even if it is from a drab season. 

Rating: 4/5

Monday, 25 March 2013

DVD Review: New Friends For Thomas & Other Adventures

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

NEW FRIENDS FOR THOMAS 
& OTHER ADVENTURES
Written by
Paul Larson 
Jan Page
Phil Ferhle
Johnathan Trueman 
Abi Grant 

Episodes

Directed by
David Mitton

'Five New Engines In The Shed' 
Written and Composed by
Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell 

Bonus Features:
- A Day At The Works
- Really Useful Engines
- Really Useful Places
- Scrapbook 
- Web Fun 

Release Date:
16/03/04 (Anchor Bay)
2009 (Lionsgate)

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Anchor Bay Entertainment

2004 was the year when I discovered the new Thomas episodes from S7, one of my favourite 'Post-Awdry' series of the classic series, along with season six. During that same year ABC Kids had aired them later on and released 'Engines To The Rescue' on DVD, which was delayed by ABC shops in October but somehow Big W managed to have it in stock. But to my surprise as well that this was Michael Angelis' only time narrating for the US and somehow got bad reception from buyers when the DVD and VHS (remember them?) saying that he was 'horrible'. But we'll get to that later, let's take a look at the DVD of Thomas' new friends.

EPISODES
These episodes are from my two favourite underrated seasons of the post-Awdry era from the classic series. I find the episodes nice and simple and it has the old/modern feeling of the early seasons of the show. But some episode may've need a bit more work, for example, 'The Spotless Record', it would be much more better if say Arthur got a bit conceited about his record that way Thomas' cheekiness would be a lot more explainable, but despite that the episode does show that not everyone is perfect at something. As for the song, it was nice and catchy and visually amazing with some deleted scenes or specially made shots, which were a great gem during the classic era of the show. If you like to see more of my views of the episodes, click the titles to see my reviews.

MICHAEL ANGELIS BAD?
I remember when this came out nine years ago, parents were complaining about the narration of the episodes being bad and it turns out it was Michael Angelis who was the star of the VHS and DVD. As of course I grew up with MA since I was a kid and I think he's a good narrator during S3-8 with many accents for the engines such as Donald and Douglas, around S9-16 he was getting less enthused and bland for the series, but I don't hate him for that. 

I do know the US had grew up with big names such as Ringo Starr, George Carlin and Alec Baldwin and they were more energetic then Angelis in the DVD and that people, like the parents, knew who they are before the show became to existance. But of course the real reason is no one in the US even heard of Michael Angelis until this came out. But in this DVD and in the two series that these episodes were in, Michael Angelis does have some energetic narration in these episodes along with some nice gentle narration as well and I'll say this, I prefer him over Baldwin's narration, Alec Baldwin is a great and funny actor, but in my views his narration was quite bland and plain to listen too.
 
SPECIAL FEATURES
 
Thier are three bonus DVD games are good for kids to teach about colours and solving and there the scrapbook of the characters as well and the sing-a-long music video.
 
OVERALL
The DVD is nice, not great though. If you're familiar with the UK storytelling then check this out. Like the Ten Years DVD, this one has no CGI series episodes nor its made with CGI. Its got good simple episodes that kids will love and great characters too.
 
 
Rating: 4/5
 
BUY A COPY
 

S9 Ep.5: Mighty Mac

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

MIGHTY MAC
Written by
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
11/09/05

Plot:
A new engine named Mighty Mac came to the Island during the summer season. However the double ended engine were having a hard time on which way to go. 

PRO:
- N/A

CON:
- Visual errors with Mighty Mac
- They need a signalman to know the right lines.
- The way that Mighty Mac shoved the rocks out of the way was unrealistic.

There's nothing good about this episode. It's a shame that this was the Skarloey Railway's comeback and they get a bad episode. There were many visual errors in the episode. Mighty pulled the train from the transfer yards to the dead end and then when it was getting late, Mac was pulling the train away from the dead end and then Mighty took the train into the camp site. Plus, I hate how in the new series we see the engines don't need railway workers to help out. It makes Sodor more like a universal place and not a realistic place. Yes, I know the show is intended for kids but when the Rev.W.Awdry made the Railway Series all of his stories shows realism from the workmen to the driver. No matter how powerful an engine is they can get derailed from shoving rocks and that scene shows so much unrealism. This is never intended as a favourite to me and it worth to be shown once. 

Rating: 1/5

Sunday, 24 March 2013

S9 Ep.4: Thomas' Milkshake Muddle

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

THOMAS' MILKSHAKE MUDDLE
Written by
Marc Seal 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
11/09/05

Plot:
Thomas is dismayed when he has to get ingredients to make ice cream.

PRO:
- I like how they show how milk turns into butter

CON:
- What's wrong with the milk tankers?
- Emily's persona
- Why make cakes on the day of the party?

This episode is never a favourite. One thing, I do like how they show how milk turns to butter, when I first saw this I had no idea that happened. But as usual, the flaws of the episodes. Here we see milk churns in open wagons, over the years and even in S8, we've seen many engines hauling Milk tanker wagons. What is wrong with that? The milk churns would be spilt all over the place, but if we have tankers then there would be no plot :P 

I hate Emily, not the basis, but I hate her persona that they've gave her, she was suppose to be a kind and sweet loving engine but when HIT took over they butchered her up, what are the female audience are suppose to learn from her with that kind of attitude? Teasing Thomas its pathetic. I'm more into her persona around S7. 

This is also stupid, why make cakes on the day of the party? It would take the whole day to bake cakes in one day, they should at least make them the day or week before, but then again, if we have that no plot. I never like this episode and its not worth watching. 

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, 23 March 2013

S9 Ep.3: Molly's Special Special

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

MOLLY'S SPECIAL SPECIAL
Written by
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
18/09/05

Plot:
Thomas is to meet a new engine named Molly at the flour mill. But Molly was sad because Emily had teased her for taking empty trucks. Thomas wanted to help her out and found tarpaulins which would make her feel like special. However, it ended in disaster when she showed to Emily, Gordon and Percy. Thomas felt bad but in the end when they made their way to the coaling plant, Edward, Henry and James need more empty trucks and that made her feel special. 

PRO:
- Molly's basis

CON:
- Empty trucks are always taken to places in the past and no engine cares. 
- The express is far more important then empty trucks. 

Half and half for this episode. I do love Molly's basis she looks wonderful. She was stuck close towards the GER D56:

But despite the wonderful choice of basis, there are the usual cons. I don't like it how Molly was bullied because she's taking empty trucks. Engines take empties all the time as the trucks need to be transferred from places so they can be used for other loads and I hate it how they mentioned that the empty trucks are more important then the express. Express trains are more important, there are passengers who need to get to their destinations on time, they should at least end it with Emily or any character with a slow goods or just themselves. The episode is on a scale of OK and bad, but its half and half for me. 

Rating: 2.5/5 

Friday, 22 March 2013

S9 Ep.2: Thomas and The Rainbow

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

THOMAS AND THE RAINBOW
Written by
Abi Grant

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
4/09/05

Plot:
After a storm, the Fat Controller had sent Thomas to take the workmen to fix the telegraph poles. However Thomas spotted a rainbow in the sky and wanted to to catch it. But what Thomas didn't know is that a telegraph pole was blocking the line and derailed him! 

PRO:
- Moral: Friends are special

CON:
- Thomas would know what a rainbow is!
- Wouldn't there be technicians on the island?
- Nothing is said about the workmen. 

A bad episode, with all the rain and storm they have on the Island to think Thomas knows what a rainbow is, plus why would the workmen be at the docks, surely there are technicians on the island as well and not from the mainland. Also, there was not even one mention of workmen being injured after the crash. The episode is a bit cheesy at the end in my opinion about friends, but it adds a nice moral too saying that friends are special. But its still a bad episode and not worth the watch and this episode is  really more suited to the younger audiences as intended. 

Rating: 1/5

Thursday, 21 March 2013

S9 Ep.1: Percy and The Oil Painting

2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the Railway Series and so with celebrations lining up such as the unsuccessful Hatfield House celebration, which was to be the biggest event in the calendar, the release of 'Calling All Engines!' which was a nice way to celebrate the year and the 9th series of Thomas the Tank Engine or Thomas & Friends. So is it a success or a flop? Let's find out, but first:

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

PERCY AND THE OIL PAINTING
Written by
Abi Grant

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
4/09/05

Plot:
Percy was given the job to bring a famous painter and show him around the island to show him the spirit of Sodor. However, the artist didn't like the locations that Percy brought him too and that made him cross until the painter decided to paint Percy. 

PRO:
- Nice to see Percy passionate about the island
- The painting 

CON:
- All the stuff that the artist was carrying would never fit in Percy's cab.


Well, we come to the first episode of the ninth series and it was an alright episode. Percy's passion about the island is nice to see and it shows that he's not afraid to speak his mind, as the artist said it in the episode. I also like the painting, whoever did that did an exquisite job. Though I do have to say, a brake and vent van would be good to take, visually as the stuff that the artist was carrying is too much for Percy's cab. But the episode is alright and its a bit enjoyable. 

 Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

S8 Ep.26: Percy and The Magic Carpet+Overall

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINION AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

PERCY AND THE MAGIC CARPET
Written by
Abi Grant

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
24/10/04

Plot:
A carpet is to be delivered to the opening of the 'Sodor Flower Show' as Alicia Botti, the world famous opera singer, is coming to give the prize to the winner. However, Percy thought the carpet could be magical, thanks to Salty, as the wind blew it away. Percy chased after it but it landed on Murdoch's goods train, Toby's roof and blocking the line for Thomas! 

PRO:
- Gordon bringing one coach for Alicia Botti

CON:
- Percy's stupidity
- Why can't the carpet be tied down to Percy's flatbed in the first place?! 

I find this episode bad, first off it's Percy's stupidity. How come Percy has to act stupid into believing that a carpet can fly? And its also stupid how it was not tied down in the first place, then I think we would not have any plot for this episode :P But I do like visually that they gave Gordon one coach to pull for a special instead of a dozen coaches for one passenger unlike 'Paint Pots and Queens'. But this episode is bad and its not worth watching again. 

Rating: 1/5

OVERALL 

Over the years everyone is saying that this is a bad season, but in my eyes, this is one underrated season. Sure there are good and bad episodes and character personalities being stupid, but at least they're not as bad as the ones from S9-16 and despite the errors in this season, the writers had actually tried their best to write good quality episodes unlike the lazily written episodes from S13-16. The episodes are filled with great morals that kids can easily understand and not in a confusing way like the the rest of the series under HIT. With the narration, Michael Angelis does sound like he has some enthusiasm for the narration and his character voices are spot on. As of Brandon, well, I've bought some US videos back in '04 but his narration is all nasally and goofy and some of the characters like the tuba player sounds like a robot. Young fans at the time would enjoy the narration, but he got better when the show turned to CGI. 

Yes, I understand that Duck was not in the series or in any of HIT's episodes until S12, minus the S10 music video. But when fans say 'Emily replaced Duck', I find that pathetic. Duck is a good character, but Emily is too, with her S7 persona. One other thing is that not a new character was made for this season and is just the focus of the 'Steam Team' characters. The music, I don't mind it all and at the time, I enjoyed the new theme song but it gets annoying when you hear it all the time. The music is enjoyable and give the refurbished series a new breath of fresh air, but I still like the Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell music, but I do think HIT shouldn't use the new music on the S7 episodes for the US and UK episodes as they have the archival tape of their music according to Mike O' Donnell.

Series eight is underrated and I do find the series to be enjoyable. Now on with Series 9. 

OVERALL RATING:
88.5/100

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

DVD Review: Ten Years of Thomas & Friends

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

TEN YEARS OF THOMAS & FRIENDS
Written Originally By
The Rev.W.Awdry

'All At Sea' written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Episodes:

Directed by
David Mitton 

Produced by
Britt Allcroft, David Mitton and Robert D. Cardona

'Thomas Antheme' 
Written and Composed by
Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell

Bonus Features:
Breakfast Time For Thomas
Bios of your Favourite Engine
Build an Engine Game
Link to the official website

Release Date
23/08/05

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Anchor Bay Entertainment

In 1999, Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends had great success in the United States for ten years when it was debuted on 'Shining Time Station' in 1989 with Ringo Starr and Didi Conn. A special VHS tape was made to celebrate with interviews from the younger fans of the show and their parents filmed at the Strasburg Railroad in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania during a 'Day Out With Thomas' event which still runs even to this day. I remember buying a VHS tape from a seller on Amazon in 2007 and now I have the DVD. So let's take a look at the ten years of the show's success in the USA, which is now 24 years.

EPISODES + PRESENTATION
Just to let parents know that this DVD does not contain CGI episodes and is not in CGI. Just letting you know so to avoid dissapointment. The episodes are from the first - fourth series all narrated by the late George Carlin. During each episode break, we're given a special presentation of interviews from children and their parents about their perpecstive about the show and what it shows for them and their kids and also it shows their ERTL toys, which back in the 1990's was one of the most well-known toy lines before Take Along and Take-N-Play came into the merchandising range, so it was a bit nostalgic to look back at. 
It even shows us the SRR's Thomas going along the Railroad in the countryside. It even shows the activities of the event with face painting, meet and greet Sir Topham Hatt, photos with Thomas and a display of Tomy merchandise, most notably the battery operated train that ran between the 1990's - 2007, when the UK were discontinuing it in favor of Trackmaster.

SPECIAL FEATURES
The special features give us a read-a-long of 'Breakfast Time For Thomas' a book adaptation of Rev.W.Awdry's Railway series story from 'Branch Line Engines' narrated by Robin Smith, I have to say I usually find his narration bland in some DVD releases but here he sounds energetic in the story. The illustrations are nice and friendly too by Owen Bell, who also provided the cover of the DVD. I have to say he is my second favourite non-Railway Series illustrator with David Palmer being on the no.1 spot. Here's an example of Bell's work:


Though I don't know why they've used BoCo in the story as his introduction was much different. The real diesel was of course Daisy. But you can't turn the clock now. But it is good for kids to learn to read and to understand what the story is saying. You can even read along yourself with your child. 

The other two are good for kids as well, the 'Build an Engine' game teaches the kids about shapes and sizes and the bios are to their to teach kids to know the characters well from the television series. 

OVERALL
These types of DVD's with interviews from young Thomas fans telling us their favourite story or character are a gem to have in a collection of Thomas DVDs. Nowadays with DVD's to commemorate an event in Thomas history, you have a collection of Thomas episodes and that's all like 'The Greatest Stories' (2010) I recommend this DVD to any Thomas fan young or old, it has a good segments of children (who are now in their older age now) talking about their interest in Thomas from their favorite character to story. If any representative from HIT Entertainment is reading this, please, one day in future whether its the 30th anniversary of the television series next year or the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, please make a DVD commemorating that event with young Thomas fans telling us their favourite Thomas story or character, that way we can have that as a gem too. 

Rating: 5/5 

BUY A COPY:

S8 Ep.25: James Goes Too Far

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE 

JAMES GOES TOO FAR
Written by
James Mason 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
17/10/04

Plot:
It was winter and James has to deliver coal for the station waiting rooms across the island. However James was rather boastful about it and thinks his own job first then helping another engine, thanks to Salty for that. James learned his lesson and helped other engines in trouble. 

PRO:
- Moral: Think what comes first
- James helping Diesel out

CON:
- James' driver should at least force him to stop for water. 

I like the moral and I do like how James was happy enough to help Diesel, I know he has too, but, he wasn't moaning about the whole thing. With the moral, its good for kids to know that they should think what comes first like a family member or a friend. But even if the shows want to show that moral, the driver should at least force James to stop for water anyway. But its a good episode. 

Rating: 4/5


Monday, 18 March 2013

S8 Ep.24: Too Hot For Thomas

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINION AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

TOO HOT FOR THOMAS
Written by 
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
24/10/04

Plot:
The summer season arrived and the engines were taking holiday makers to seaside. But Thomas was helping out making deliveries to the Ice Cream factory. At the seaside, the ice cream ran out! So Thomas has to collect cream, strawberries and cocoa powder. But with him rushing his job, Thomas accidentally spilt the chocolate powder everywhere! 

PRO:
-N/A

CON:
- Thomas should care more about his job then taking children.
- The chocolate and strawberries are being loaded in an unhygienic way.


This episode is not great or good but its in an OK level. But the writer should at least make Thomas care more about his work then taking children to the seaside just like him back in the old days of the series and how the way the chocolate and strawberries were loaded onto the trucks was unhygienic, they should covered up with a tarpaulin or they should've been loaded onto a brake van. I know its a kids show now, but as I said before in my 'Gordon and Ferdinand' review last year, the Rev.W.Awdry focus his stories on railway realism and that is how Thomas started. This episode is OK, but it could've been done better. 

Rating: 2.5/5

Sunday, 17 March 2013

S8 Ep.23: Chickens To School

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

CHICKENS TO SCHOOL
Written by
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
17/10/04

Plot:
Thomas was tired after hauling coal trucks late at night. But Thomas volunteered to take chickens to market, sheep to the farm and children to school. However, due to Thomas tiredness, he forgot where to take his deliveries and they all ended up in the wrong place. 

PRO:
- Moral: Always ask others for help
- Emily's true persona

CON:
- Where's Thomas crew when this is all happening?

The episode feels like the typical three strikes movement from S9-16, but at least they're not as horrible or annoying in this episode. However, I do like moral about asking others to help you and I like Emily's true persona, shame we never get to see that again for a while. But even if Thomas is tired, his crew should help him out to know the locations. But the episode is OK. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, 16 March 2013

S8 Ep.22: You Can Do It, Toby!

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINION AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

YOU CAN DO IT, TOBY!
Written by
Paul Larson 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
10/10/04

Plot:
Toby is to help Gordon up the hill, but was worried because he feels he was not strong enough.

PRO:
- Moral: Don't give up.

CON:
- Toby losing his confidence

The episode is OK, but like Emily, Toby's the wrong character for this episode. If HIT's writers wanted  an engine to feel unconfident or scared, they could've picked Percy for this role. But unlike 'Percy's Big Mistake', I don't find this weak. The episode has a good moral about not giving up and its a good positive moral to show. But Toby losing his confidence due to his new persona just makes this episode off. I find the episode in the OK category, but they could've done Percy for this episode, but that's the way it is.

Rating: 3/5 

Friday, 15 March 2013

S8 Ep.21: Halloween

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

HALLOWEEN 
Written by
David Ignam 

Directed by
Steve Asquith 

Air Date:
10/10/04

Plot:
On Halloween night, Thomas and Emily were sent to the smelters yards to collect some scrap iron. However, 'Arry and Bert like to play tricks on them, but they soon got their own back when Emily was a ghost. 

PRO:
- An episode that doesn't focus to children or celebrations

CON:
- Wouldn't Thomas know it was Emily the whole time as the ghost engine? 

Probably the only episode under HIT Entertainment's name that doesn't focus on the celebration or children, unlike the episodes from S9 - 11. Yes the intro says 'The engines love seeing the children in their halloween costumes', but at least Thomas and Emily were sent to do real work then delivering something unrealistic for a party, that's why the episode gave me a good impression. But I do have to say wouldn't Thomas know that Emily was the ghost engine the whole time? But that's not too important. I like the episode. 

Rating: 4/5 

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wal-Mart Exclusive S17 DVD

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE

RAILWAY MISCHIEF

Episodes:
- Gordon Runs Dry
- Kevin's Cranky Friend
- Scruff's Makeover
- Wayward Winston 
- Steamie Stafford

An all new DVD of never before seen episodes of Thomas & Friends is coming out on DVD exclusively to Wal-Mart in the US for a limited time only for $14.98 (USD). These episodes are presumably from the upcoming S17 and some titles do sound a bit off putting to some fans. But I'll be honest, some of the titles might be good? 

'Gordon Runs Dry' might be him running out of water and could cause a problem for him and I do have the feeling of 'Gordon and Spencer' from S7 only without Spencer, I assume, and 'Kevin's Cranky Friend' might focus on him and Cranky, as according to the synopsis. The other episodes I don't know. Sadly, I won't be able to purchase it because I live in Australia and Wal-Mart does not ship internationally. Though HIT Entertainment might release it later on in the year when S17 is done its course on television and I think they may pass the DVD towards the UK and Australia. Though I believe some of the episodes might end up on YouTube for other fans to see. 

Though the episode's titles sound a bit off putting, I guess we'll never know what we'll expect. Maybe something bad or maybe something good? I don't know, but I'm looking forward towards the episodes and Andrew Brenner has done his research, but I'm not expecting perfection being put right at me at first go. So far we'll never know what to expect. 

RAILWAY MISCHIEF
IS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY TO WAL-MART FOR A LIMITED TIME

APRIL 9TH 2013