Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Retrospective of Thomas & Friends DVDs of 2016

As we end another year, we take a look back at the DVDs that were released during the course of 2016. But first:

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

SOME OPINIONS MAY HAVE CHANGED DURING THE COURSE OF THE YEAR

A RETROSPECTIVE OF THOMAS & FRIENDS
DVDS OF 2016

START YOUR ENGINES!
Review Date: 2/03/16
Rating: 8/10

I still think this did better than 'Spills and Thrills' and 'Dinos and Discoveries'. There are stories that don't feel they are the same with the 'character vs. character' plot line and give out different plot lines like about being who you are in your own right. However, I still find 'Race With You' a meh song and it's sad that Robert and Peter Hartshorne had left the series last year. So who would be the songwriters now? EggPlant aren't really the best at writing songs, not I'm not talking about the fruit. 

I love Philip and his persona but the debut episodes he was given was not entirely good, at the end. I hate how he broke his promise to the Fat Controller that he won't race around again but decided to have a race with Gordon anyway was not punished for it. It would've been better if say Philip loves to race and dreams of racing around Sodor, like Thomas wanting to see the world, but after 'racing' Gordon, the Fat Controller scolded him for neglecting his work. Maybe the writers don't want to show TFC as a harsh person so they wouldn't get the 'communist' tag from the 'journalists',  but when it comes to tell kids the message, they have to show TFC's harsh side to understand the consequences. 


WHALE OF A TALE & 
OTHER SODOR ADVENTURES
Review Date: 30/05/16
Rating: 6.5/10

One year after the US got it as a Wal*Mart exclusive. It's pretty much the same as the US' except for the Mr. Perkins intervals and 'Salty All at Sea' as an extra episode. I'm glad that HIT didn't forget about them (Perkins) as they are entertaining to watch with him reading out the Railway Series stories, but they were released before in the UK version of 'Trouble on the Tracks' last year along with the intervals that were in the US copy. It would've been much better if they had just delete them and given us a new 'Landmarks of Sodor' interval. 

The only difference this DVD has compare to the US copy is that 'Salty All at Sea' was added. But if this were released like the US copy it would've been pointless to release one year after it was released over in the US considering that the episodes are already on YT or stream demand websites after their TV run. But considering that 'The Great Race' was scheduled one week after the UK and Australia releases their version, I hope HIT keeps this up with the generic releases and episode exclusive copies as well.

THE COMPLETE SERIES 17
Review Date: 27/07/16
Rating: 9/10

Ever since 2013/14 I had enjoyed Season 17 with its writing and animation and now three years later after seeing a collection of episodes banded together of a new era from Brenner and Co. this season is still great to watch. It may as well be dated considering the mass amount of upgrading that Arc Productions did in the next two seasons and specials, but there are memorable episodes to this day such as 'Thomas' Shortcut', 'Gone Fishing' etc. there are some bumps here and there and some episodes that I considered as my least favourite are still worthy of a watch. 

WILD WATER RESCUE & 
OTHER ENGINE ADVENTURES
Review Date: 28/08/16
Rating: 3/10

I decided to give this one a proper review back in August and looking back at this 'exclusive' release, this was an entirely pointless release from Target all to promote a Trackmaster train set for the titled episode. This is 'Big Bang Surprise' but with a S19 episode. The title episode wasn't the best but in comparison to the ones its released alongside with, It is the only bearable episode to watch. There are good segments but it's still a pointless release and it could've been better as a barebones release with just the one episode, maybe a trailer for the 2015 special and maybe a Guess Who puzzle with the Trackmaster set.

THE GREAT RACE
Review Date: 5/09/16
Rating: 6/10

It had flaws such as Diesel's subplot, Thomas' bridge jump and the redundancy of Vinnie as the antagonist. But it provide good songs and a relatable moral. Although in comparison it didn't beat the likes of 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' but within a 60min limit there probably would've been great potential if HIT and Mattel had expand the time limit to 1hr rather than 60 minutes, but that's not the main problem though. It would've been better if the special was focused on Percy and the moral about losing is OK as long as you tried your best or, probably better, Gordon trying to better than his brother! It could've easily worked on the jealously that has towards his brother, Flying Scotsman. The actual plot within Diesel's clunky subplot had used the overused 'Steamies Vs. Diesel' plot line all for Thomas' crash with no pay off and the hype for the international engines was very underwhelming and I feel it didn't brace the multicultural side of the story that media had been pointing out. It's OK, I don't even hate it, but it had missed opportunities and the movie didn't fit for a character like Thomas.

TINSEL ON THE TRACK
 Review Date: 12/10/16
Rating: 9/10

Probably this DVD had the best Christmas episodes to date. I love the episodes that were made for S20 as they were so creative with great storytelling, characterisation and amazing visuals. It's hard to choose a favourite as Helen Farrall & Davey Moore had both written brilliant episodes. It's also great that they had released three episodes for 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' and 'Full Steam To The Rescue' over in the UK as well.

FULL STEAM TO THE RESCUE
Review Date: 4/11/16
Rating: 7/10

This DVD has the last remaining Thomas episodes from the 19th season and of course they are still a hit and miss to me. However there were two episodes from 20th season that are the Christmas ones and I think they are on the scale from OK to great. However I think the UK releases should be edited in the same way as the US releases. Have the intro, episode, interval, rinse and repeat and then credits as what they do now currently feels a bit awkward. 



ULTIMATE FRIENDSHIP ADVENTURE
Review Date: 3/11/16
Rating: 7/10

It's a surprise to see that this was the only episodic release that has no special features which kinda makes me believe that this felt it was like a last minute addition or maybe they didn't have any intervals or special features at the time, yet last year they had placed previous ones from 'Santa's Little Engine' US DVD on last year's 'generic release'. Despite that there were some good and not so good episodes on this DVD. I'm sure everyone knows that I'm not a fan of some season 19 episodes that were placed on here but there are some good one from that season too, at least in my opinion and there are some good ones from season 20 as well. 

It's a simple DVD with ten episodes and that's pretty much it as there are no intervals and special bonus. There were some good episodes and some, in my opinion, that are not so good. But despite that it was a fine DVD.

---


And so we now come to the end of 2016. What's next for Thomas in 2017? Well there is the upcoming 21st season, now all animated by Jam Filled Productions who bought out Arc Productions back in August 2016 and thankfully with the staff that were part of the former animation studio. There is also the upcoming yearly special 'Journey Beyond Sodor' for the first time being a 70min special. We know little about the plot but not much of its outcome but we know it's about friendship focusing on James and Thomas and some experimental engines. 

There is also the upcoming new character, Hugo, for next year's Spring/Autumn DVD 'Extraordinary Engines'. So to conclude this post I like to wish everyone a happy and safe 2017 and hope you have a great future ahead of you.

-NWR1991



Thursday, 29 December 2016

S20 Ep.13:The Railcar & The Coaches

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

THE RAILCAR & THE COACHES
Written by
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue 

Air Date:
29/12/16

Plot
While Thomas delivers trucks to and from the quarry, Daisy is placed to take Thomas' passengers. However she was rude to Annie and Clarabel by calling them old and wobbly. But they soon got their own back until they learn that two wrongs don't make a right.

PRO
- Daisy
- Harwick station
- Annie and Clarabel's cheeky side
- Moral: Two wrongs don't make a right
- Small things turn into big idea
- The Fat Controller punishing rolling stock is something new
- The ending was pretty funny

CON
N/A


I for one adore this episode and I do love Daisy. Davey Moore was spot on with her personality of her being highly strung and up herself I'm looking forward to more of her in the future as she has great potential especially with Ryan on the Harwick line as shown in previous episodes.

It's also great how the Fat Controller placed Daisy back on Thomas' branch line during the winter months since the summer season is over. It's a good excuse for her to be on other parts of Sodor aside from Harwick. 

The whole 'first time' thing that was mentioned when she was working on Thomas' line, I think you can say that the people were travelling on her for the first time since they are new to her and she had been away from Thomas' branch line for a while.

Harwick station looks pretty good, even though it was shown in previous episodes. It's small and simple but of course most coastal side stations look like that and it's nice to see that's just a simple sort of station, although I'm rather intrigued on what's beyond the station, maybe a harbour or a goods yard because I hope we see more of an expansion of the line.

It's also good to see the two coaches having more than just being the 'voice of reason' characters. They are not perfect and tend to be cheeky, some good character development but it also add to the moral that two wrongs don't make a right. Probably one of the best things about the episode too is that Moore took a small moment out from the story simply titled as 'Daisy' of her insulting Annie and Clarabel (and Henrietta too) as rubbish and turned into an episode. I bet Brenner influenced him with the small things turn into big idea because it felt like that. 

It's also a breath of fresh air to see the Fat Controller scolding railway rolling stock then an engine all the time. I would love to see the writers taking on the trucks being scolded at by the man in the top hat and their ending was kind of funny and kind of sad too with Diesel but you either feel sorry for them or know it serves them right for making Daisy feel flustered. But in the end it was a fun episode with some interesting characterisation from the three main ones.


Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
Letters To Santa - 8/10
Love Me Tender - 7/10
The Railcar & The Coaches - 9/10

Overall Rating:
103/130

Even though there are more S20 episodes to come and hopefully they come sooner rather than later, that are all the episode reviews for 2016! Be on the look out for the annual retrospective post of the past DVDs that were reviewed during the year 2016! 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

S20 Ep.12: Love Me Tender

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINION AND ARE NOT INFLUENCED FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FANBASE 

LOVE ME TENDER
Written by
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)

Air Date
28/12/16

Plot
Donald and Douglas often argue like brothers do. So one day they argued and Douglas was detached from his tender and was left in the snow.

PRO
- Moral: Always look out for your brother
- The throwbacks to 'Twin Trouble' & 'The Deputation' 

CON
- Thomas and Toby's parts felt contrived
- I think it would've been good if Gordon had mentioned his brother to Donald


It's great to see the Scottish twins again and Davey Moore was spot on with Donald and Douglas in this episode as well as the chemistry of them being brothers who would argue over different things but always end up being back together as typical of brotherhood. However some people thought that they should be called twins even though twins are recognised as siblings. 

The moral of this episode was a good one about brotherhood that despite arguing and difference you should always look out for your brother a bit like Gordon and Flying Scotsman in TGR, despite that Flying Scotsman didn't stop and help his brother to go across the finish line but I digress. However I felt this episode had lost some opportunity to have it set before 'The Great Race', that is if it was set before S20 like how Lost Treasure was with S19, with maybe Gordon talking to Donald about what it feels like dealing with a brother but that you should always look out for each other too despite the conflicting moments, he doesn't have to mention Flying Scotsman's name but it would at least set the stone that it was set before the special and it would add some build up for it too. His part would've felt more better than Thomas and Toby and while I do like that the latter had some parts of S20, I think they are felt forced. Thomas, probably because Mattel asked the writers to put him in every episode, could've been easily replaced with any engine and Toby should be on Thomas' branch line like he did in the past few episodes and could be replaced by a main line engine or even Duck, who always hang around with the twins. I don't know they're just nitpicks I have. 

In the end it was a nice episode about looking out for your brother.


Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
Letters To Santa - 8/10
Love Me Tender - 7/10

Overall Rating:
94/120

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

S20 Ep.11: Letters to Santa

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

LETTERS TO SANTA
Written by
Helen Farrall

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)

Air Date:
27/12/16

Plot:
Percy got stuck in a snowdrift and Harold offered him to his mail to the mainland for Hiro to take to the mainland. But the next day he didn't return.

PRO:
- The Percy and Harold dynamic
- I like how Santa Claus is apart of the Sodor Universe 
- Moral: Everyone is useful in their own way
- The Percy & Harold flashback

CON:
- The shot of Percy at the end with mouth all bunched up looks awkward.


When I first heard of this episode, I thought it was going to be Percy being behind schedule because of snow and had to make up for loss time. But with Harold in the picture as well as his rivalry with Percy it made the episode even better. Fans had been waiting for years to see Percy and Harold bantering and challenging each other again and even I was waiting too. It's nice to see that then just Thomas and Bertie all the time. It's great to see that again and I hope we see more of it in the upcoming seasons.

I also like how in the Sodor Universe, Santa Claus is real. After all this is a children's show and kids do believe that the man in red is real. But wait isn't Sodor apart of the real world in the books? Well yes it is and Santa was in the book and adaptation 'Thomas & The Missing Christmas Tree' but they never claimed him to be real or a person in the suit, he was just there and you just have to think for yourself about it. 

The message of the episode was nice to hear as well about everyone is good in their own way and it works with a dynamic of Percy and Harold as both of them are different despite doing similar jobs.

Although the shot of Percy talking to Harold at the end just looks really awkward as Percy's mouth is too close to his nose and eyes. You think maybe Arc Productions might've tried a different angle? Anyway that's just a nitpick and yes I do love the CG recreated flashback of 'Percy and Harold' and loved it even more that they had used the illustrations of the Railway Series as reference material for the race it was nice throwback for the older fans and a great way to show the younger fans on how their rivalry first started. Even though many have criticised about fan service in the show nowadays and yeah I have some ups and downs about it too at times, but this is fan service done right. It didn't really feel forced or not adding anything to the plot. I hope Andrew Brenner and his team keep up with stuff like this.

Although I do find it strange that Channel 5 airs this after Christmas? Oh well at least they played this and the upcoming episodes in December. Although I do criticise the ABC here in Australia for not airing a single episode from the 20th season despite them telling people that they'll air them 'later this year'. I don't know when but I have a feeling they'll air them early next year.

But despite that I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas and I hope you have a Happy New Year.


Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
Letters To Santa - 8/10

Overall Rating:
87/110

Thursday, 8 December 2016

S20 Ep.10: The Way She Does It

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

THE WAY SHE DOES IT
Written by
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)
Tracy Blagdon (Jam Filled)

Air Date:
25/11/16

Plot
When the Fat Controller asks Daisy to take some special passengers to the holiday town of Harwick, she decides that they are so special that she doesn't want to allow children eating ice lollies on board and refuses to pull a dusty baggage truck. Without props or an audience, the passengers' Punch and Judy puppet show can not go ahead. Will Daisy help out and save the day?

PRO
- Moral: Problem solving, don't get your hopes up 

CON
- Thomas could've been at Knapford instead
- Thomas' Misty Island reference was not really needed

Despite the two cons, I don't really hate this episode. It's another great one from Davey Moore who I think did great with Daisy. Her characterisation was spot on as usual and with her thinking she's going to take a group of entertainers it brings a good moral about not getting your hopes up. Throughout the episode Daisy was boasting about entertainers and how she was chosen for the job but it turns out to be something that she didn't expect. 

It's a good teaching moral for kids as well as solving a problem rather than fixing up a mistake. Plus there was some development into Daisy's character and I hope we see that in future and that was her laughing at her own flaws. The Punch and Judy setup was another British thing that they've added for the show and I hope we see more things like that as it's nice to show kids from an international point of view of where Thomas had come from. 

But there are problems within the episode too and of course they relate to Thomas. Yeah, you may say this is a nitpick but why have Thomas interacting with Daisy at Arelsbrugh west? When you can easily have Rex, Bert and Mike interacting or Duck or Oliver. They had Knapford later on so why not have Thomas there? Plus the Misty Island reference I think was not really needed. I don't know if its a jib at the previous era, which kids from that time would've grown out of it by now or towards the older fanbase but these types of jokes are getting old. It was fine with the special coal jib in 'King of The Railway' since we were just getting away from the Barlow/Miller era but now they aren't needed as the target audience now may not have ever heard of that island. 

But despite those two problems this episode was great. Well that's all of these episodes, stay tuned for my views on the Christmas episodes!!

Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
The Way She Does It - 9/10

Overall Rating:
79/100


S20 Ep.9: Blown Away

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

BLOWN AWAY
Written by
Helen Farrall

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)
Tracy Blagdon (Jam Filled)

Air Date
24/11/16

Plot
Skiff the tiny railboat and Joe the lighthouse keeper are helping everyone to prepare for a big storm approaching Arlesburgh, when Skiff's anchor rope snaps and he gets blown down the track and into a tree that has fallen across the branch line. Luckily he is not hurt, but Oliver and Duck are heading straight for the tree. Can he warn them in time?

PRO
- Love how Arlesbrugh feels more like a community
- It was nice to see a human interacting with a machine
- Moral: Size doesn't matter
- Duck and Oliver caring about Skiff

CON
- Sailor Joe was sort of forgotten 
- Hope we see more depth of Joe
- Duck's render looks a bit off


While this episode may feel like Farrall's other scripts, 'Slow Stephen' and 'Toad and The Whale' there is something that makes it stand out. The opening showcases what the moral is about, size. I also like how we have Sailor Joe, a new captain of Skiff, and I love how he interacts with Skiff that it makes me wish we see a bit more of that with the engines and their crews. I mean they did that in 'Long Lost Friend' but I also didn't like that Joe was forgotten later on in the plot.

Like maybe have him worried that Skiff was missing and he went on one of the Great Western tank engines while they head for home and hopefully we see more of Joe in future episodes. Another problem too is Duck's render. While yes it is great that we see him not as a giant, you can still see more of giant render particularly around his buffers as his shadows are raised higher. Hopefully Jam Filled Productions get him all fixed up.

I also like how Duck and Oliver were showing some care for Skiff and despite telling him that he's small in comparison to them, you can see that they were concerned for him rather than being judgmental. It definitely shows that they don't have one trait, boasting about Great Western pride of an escape from the scrapyard. I hope we see more depth between them.

In the end, the episode was good.

Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
Blown Away - 9/10

Overall Rating:
70/90 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

S20 Ep.8: Pouty James

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

POUTY JAMES
Written by
Andrew Brenner

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue

Air Date
23/11/16

Plot:
James likes to show off and be the centre of attention, but when he doesn't get his own way, he sulks and pouts. One day James is showing off so much that the passengers start complaining so the Fat Controller takes his coaches away!

PRO:
- This episode feels very early classic series and early Railway series
- Chris Renshaw's theme for James is amazing
- Could this be James' developing moment here?
- The funny faces

CON:
- I think James could've learned the moral a bit differently
- James felt flanderised here
- Edward could've helped James overcoming his attitude problem


To me when I first saw this episode back in November, I thought this was one of the best episodes of James we had for a long time and probably one of the best we had this season. His original character is there, vain and arrogant and it feels very much like it came from S1 or his book 'James the Red Engine', it really brought the nostalgia bug inside of me when I was watching it. However as I gave it a second viewing I can see that there are some problems with James himself. We've seen this character development before.

He felt flanderised here as the vanity and arrogance was very much the main focus of the episode whereas he already learned all that during his first book. The term flanderisation or flanderization if you live in America, is defined as taking a single often minor trait of character and exaggerate it more and more. A bit like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons, which is of course where the terminology comes from, more info is here. James' trait is often his vanity and his love of pulling coaches and it shows as the sole focus in this episode whereas in the Railway Series he already learned all that and his character had been shifted to him being arrogant with Gordon and Henry, then prejudice towards diesels until he turned into a grump but does the job of being a mixed traffic engine. I can see that at the end it looks like James had learned to change is attitude but the line 'not for long' can be rather mixed among fans. It would feel as though the moral and the development would go rinse and repeat. 

However I hope that at the end of the episode we do see more development coming from James as it shows with Henry and Percy in the past. However also I think James could've learned the moral about changing is attitude could've been done better if it were Edward telling him about the importance of both goods and passengers. The face pulling by the other engines was rather funny and is there to entertain the younger audience but it would be good to let kids see the wise and knowledgable Edward, it might remind kids of there grandparents helping them out through life. 

One of the best things about this episode too is Renshaw's composition of James' theme. I have a feeling he had heard some of Mike and Junior's themes and wants to make his own version of it. It was great, catchy and has a good beat. The episode is a bit mixed but I don't really hate it. Although James can be considered as flanderised here and I do hope we see some development of him in the future.


Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10

Overall Rating:
61/80 

S20 Ep.7: Ryan and Daisy

I'm back from the USA! Now here are my views on the latest S20 episodes that had aired on UK television back in November: 

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

RYAN AND DAISY
Written by
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue

Air Date:
22/11/16 

Plot:
Daisy encourages a good-natured new goods engine named Ryan to help her out with some of her passenger duties, but her laziness backfires when Ryan takes on even more of her responsibilities and ends up causing confusion and delay! With trucks in front and behind, he sails through a red light - and delivers passengers to the quarry!

PRO
- Moral: It's good to help a friend but they need to help each other
- Great way for younger Thomas fans to know Daisy
- Daisy's persona is spot on
- The pedestrian bridge at Arlesbrugh west is a nice touch

IN THE MIDDLE
- Ryan's voice is like Paxton's but there was some effort

CON
- Ryan could've at least have some retaliation towards Daisy


I quite like this episode and it's great to finally see Ryan and Daisy together for the first time. I think they work well together with Ryan's innocent persona and Daisy's selfish stubborn behaviour was done well here too; lazy and manipulative. I love Daisy's introduction to the episode as its a great chance for the younger Thomas fans getting to know her unlike some 'soccer moms' who complained about it on Amazon for the 'Tinsel of The Tracks' DVD. Her character throughout the episode was spot on with her laziness, manipulation etc. 

Ryan is too pure but I see that as a fault within his character. The episode's moral can mean many things such as it's good to help a friend but sometimes we need to help each other out as stated by the Fat Controller of course at the end of the episode. But I think another message the episode should also be 'there's a time to say no.' maybe have Ryan feeling annoyed with Daisy and wants to tell her off but he would think that might upset her and so he can't be bothered doing that until he has an accident and show some retaliation towards her and the Fat Controller agrees with Ryan but should also tell Ryan that he has to say no to some of things that Daisy asked him to do. Could add some more development into Ryan.

It's also the first time that Steve Kynman voiced Ryan too. Of course Eddie Redmayne was the original voice actor for him in 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' but of course Eddie Redmayne is a high class actor and can be very busy of course. I do have to admit that he does sound a bit like Paxton but after seeing this episode a few times, he did provide effort into the voice to make it sound like what he was in the 2015 special from Redmayne. So think Kynman did a good job with it too. 

Another thing I like is the addition of the pedestrian footbridge that we see at Arlesbrugh west. It's a small thing but it gives more access to the miniature railway than it did in the movie. So in the end this was a good episode and it was nice to see these two engines together with different personalities. 

Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10
Toby's New Friend - 7/10
Henry Gets the Express - 10/10
Diesel and the Ducklings - 8/10
Bradford the Brake Van - 10/10
Saving Time - 6/10
Ryan and Daisy - 7/10

Overall Rating:
56/60

Monday, 21 November 2016

S20 Ep.6: Saving Time

I had this done before I went over to America earlier in November. It's good to see milkshake not leaving these episodes back longer than what they did for S19 last year. But despite that here are my views on the latest episode: 

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND ARE NOT INFLUENCED FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FANBASE

SAVING TIME
Written by
Andrew Brenner

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)

Air Date
21/11/16 

Plot
Samson boasts to the other engines that he has been given a very special job taking stones from the quarry to the docks. But when he learns that Thomas has been assigned the same task, Samson tries to find another way to show everyone that he’s very important. He decides to take more trucks than he should, insisting that it will save time. But with so many heavy trucks, Samson can’t get over Gordon’s Hill! 

PRO
- Sir Handel's brief classic persona
- Moral: Sounds good but does it deliver?
- Thomas' cheeky persona

CON
- I think Samson might need more development, hopefully in future

Samson can be quite a divisive character among some people from the fanbase. To be honest I do like Samson but I think Philip is getting some proper development at the moment with examples like 'Toby's New Friend' and him in 'The Great Race', we never saw him boasting about his race with Gordon stating that he was 'the fastest' but more about him stating that we can do anything we want to if we just put our minds to it and that his optimism but naive self was showing that. 

The moral, the way that I see it, feels like 'It may sound good but does it deliver?' It sounds good for Samson to save time by taking more trucks but it didn't deliver because of the weight of the trucks and the obstacles that are ahead of him. It's a good moral for kids to think before we act. I do like how Thomas delivers his cheekiness to Samson, it's great to see that rather then him being the typical hero of many stories so good work for Brenner on that and he didn't really feel forced in this episode either. Yes he could've been easily replaced by different engine like maybe Stanley but it just felt natural for Thomas to be there. 

Of course there was Sir Handel from what I can see was his S4 persona, with him laughing at the engines and their quarrel. Of course it was on a minuscule second but it was nice to hear that sound again and plus Keith Wickham had improved his voice for Sir Handel too. A bit squeaky but less nasally. 

Even though I do like Samson and he can be a loveable buffoon, I do wish to see the writing team build up his character in the future. I personally don't want to see him as a one-dimensional character in the coming years, hopefully if the writing team bring on an episode with him and his new brake van Bradford we might see that happening, after all this episode by TV schedules in Japan and North America is set before Bradford's episode. Bradford and him could make a great duo together with Bradford's army style persona and Samson's head strong appearance. Hopefully the team does a good job on that. At the end of the day, the episode was not bad but it could've been much better. It's nice to see Samson again in it as the main role though I do wish we see more development of his character. It might've worked better if it were Samson being tricked by Diesel or Sir Handel as long as they have a reason why to trick Samson like what Diesel did to Hiro in 'No More Mr. Nice Engine'. The story was plain and a simple slice of life story. Not a bad episode but not what consider as memorable among other S20 episodes.

Episode Ratings:
Sidney Sings - 8/10

Overall Rating:
49/50

I will review more episodes of S20 until I get back from America in December. 

Friday, 4 November 2016

DVD Review: Full Steam To The Rescue

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

FULL STEAM TO THE RESCUE
Episodes

Written by
Becky Overton
Davey Moore
Andrew Brenner

Special Features
Bonus episode: The Christmas Coffee Pot
Bonus episode: Over The Hill
Really Useful Engines
The Earl's Quiz
Landmarks of Sodor
The Fat Controller's Tales
Guess Who?
Music Video: Glynn's Christmas Wish

Directed by
Don Spencer
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)
Robert Anderson (Arc)
Tracy Blagdon (Arc)
Jennifer Hill (Arc)

Release Date
24/10/16

Distributed
HIT Entertainment

So after a long wait, we finally get the last six episodes of the nineteenth season that had aired in Japan back in January 2016. One of the episodes that was released on DVD was 'Wild Water Rescue', as a Target exclusive for a Trackmaster train set over in the US. However we finally have all of these episodes in good quality footage.

This was originally suppose to come out before my 'Ultimate Friendship Adventure' review, however UFA came out before I got my copy of this DVD:

EPISODES
The episodes consist of the last remaining S19 episodes that were aired in Japan back in Jan.2016. My views of these episodes can be seen with the link provided above. The episodes that I do like from this DVD, as mentioned in my 'Ultimate Friendship Adventures' review are 'Thomas the Babysitter', 'No Help At All' and 'Goodbye Fat Controller' and of course my least favourites are the other three. My views though on 'Wild Water Rescue' had changed as the story felt rather plain but it's not a terrible episode with its moral in the end.

SPECIAL FEATURES 


The special features are the same as what they are in the 2016 Christmas DVD over in the US. So my views on them can be seen here. However for the UK audience they were however treated to two bonus Christmas episodes from the 20th season. The next three will be available on the UK's 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' which comes out later this month. I don't know why but I believe it could be because of Channel 5's scheduling for the show? After all they had aired the Christmas episodes of S19 in January 2016 and I think the people behind Thomas might have thought to give these episodes out in time for Christmas, I don't know. But I hope this means we see the UK and US being in sync with each other when it comes to the Christmas releases *fingers crossed*, hopefully the generic releases too maybe. The S20 Christmas episodes will be kept aside during S20's TV run.

OVERALL
The episodes in my opinion are a hit and miss to me but there are fans that would enjoy some of these stories. It's great to see the two episodes from S20 having a spot on this DVD too and the special features can be entertaining for the young audience and for the older audience too. The DVD itself is alright but maybe the DVDs for the UK should revert back the same way as the US ones with just the intro, episodes and intervals and then song and credits. It flows nicely in my opinion.

RATING:
7/10


Thursday, 3 November 2016

DVD Review: Ultimate Friendship Adventures

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

ULTIMATE FRIENDSHIP ADVENTURE
Episodes
Saving Time

Written by
Andrew Brenner
Helen Farrall 
Lee Pressman
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue

Distributed by
Universal

Release Date
1/11/16 - iTunes
8/11/16 - DVD

So here we are, the final Thomas DVD release for 2016. To me though this one was strange. The strange thing is that Universal hadn't advertise this as a digital download on their website, they only said that it'll be release on DVD with no mention of it being released for digital download. It wasn't until Michael M, great composer on YouTube and nice guy, had messaged the official Thomas Facebook page about it and placed it on Twitter. 

The question is why didn't Universal advertise it? They did with previous titles before and they hadn't done a preordering thing since 'The Great Race' whereas two years ago when they first started they did that with the yearly specials and episode releases. It's been two years and are the people at Universal that lazy with the Thomas stuff? But aside from that little issue, This DVD features for the first time, the US dub of the remaining last episodes of season 19 and five S20 episodes which are shown for the first time on DVD, although S20 is currently on air in North America on PBS Kids and those four S20 episodes had been broadcasted on TV in the UK. So, here is the final Thomas DVD release and final review for 2016!  

EPISODES



The episodes consist of five episodes from the recent 20th season with four episodes that had made their debut on UK television back in September 2016 and one is awaiting to air on UK, Australian and North American television as well. I had already expressed my views on the first four S20 episodes and the links are provided above. In short those four episodes are pretty good and it gives S20 the ultimate feeling that the entire season would probably be better than S18. 

The DVD also consists of five S19 episodes and these are released for the first time in America. These episodes had been released on television in Japan in January 2016 and had also been released on 'Full Steam to The Rescue' over in the UK back in October 2016. There are some good episodes but some are not, in my opinion. The good ones from the 19th season on this DVD are 'Thomas the Babysitter', 'No Help At All' and 'Goodbye Fat Controller',  you can see why in the links provided above and of course the least favourable episodes in my opinion are 'Rocky Rescue' and 'The Other Side of The Mountain' and once again, my views are provided in the links above. 

The episode 'Saving Time' however will be left aside during S20's TV run. 


SPECIAL FEATURES


N/A

OVERALL

Yeah so the DVD felt like maybe a last minute idea to release something for the North American audience or maybe they didn't have any intervals at the time of making it, I don't know. But overall I think it was an alright DVD. There are episodes that many fans might or might not enjoy, however the best outcome for the iTunes version is that we have crystal clear HD and Arc's animation is beautiful to look at. 


RATING:
7/10

I will be putting my S20 reviews on hold at the moment as I will be heading over to America to visit my sister and her husband. I have the Christmas episodes and 'Saving Time' filed away in my drafts and since I don't know when the air dates for Australia's broadcasting will happen, I have a feeling it would most likely air while I'm over in the United States. I know that S20 is currently airing over in America at the moment, but I most likely won't have time to review what episode airs when I'm over there and I don't think it would be brand new ones as well. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

DVD Review: Tinsel on the Tracks

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

TINSEL ON THE TRACKS
Episodes
Letters to Santa
The Christmas Coffee Pot
Railcar & Coaches
Over the Hill
Love Me Tender

Written by
Helen Farrall
Davey Moore

Special Features
'Glynn's Christmas Wish' Sing-Along Music Video
Guess Who puzzle

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue

Release Date
11/10/16 - iTunes
18/10/16 - DVD 

It's been a strange year for the US when it comes to the DVD releases of Thomas & Friends. Last year they were given the Spring episode exclusive DVD, The Adventure Begins, the Wal*Mart Exclusive, Big Bang Surprise disguised as S19 DVD, a S19 Christmas DVD and a generic release with three S19 and S18 episodes as well as the usual annual special. All their in the 70th Anniversary year and yet this year, they only got 'Start Your Engines', this year's special and now this year's Christmas release and the upcoming 'Ultimate Friendship Adventure' with ten episodes all together with five from S19, except for 'Wild Water Rescue' and five episodes from S20.

But nevertheless, the US has finally got some new S20 episodes with lots of surprises shown. Not only do we see Donald and Douglas back after their debut in last year's special but Glynn the Coffee Pot engine is making his TV series debut after 'The Adventure Begins' the 70th anniversary special from 2015. Considering he was called off as 'pointless' by some, I'm glad to see that they hadn't wasted his render. Hopefully this means we see Jerome and Judy make their TV series debut too, who knows what we see in this season? 

EPISODES

As usual, the episodes shown on this DVD will be reviewed once they are on TV during Season 20's run. That is until whenever ABC Australia airs them, although most likely around the Christmas week. But in short, these would have to be the best Christmas/Winter episodes I've seen yet. Much better than the previous ones, with an exception that they haven't topped 'Last Train for Christmas', although that's my opinion.


SPECIAL FEATURES


So in the DVD, the intervals are 'Calling All Engines!', 'The Earl's Quiz', 'Landmarks of Sodor' and 'The Fat Controller's Tales' or Sir Topham Hatt as he's known in North America. The CAE! segment featured Samson and Scruff and as usual these are nice. Showing kids the other engines of Sodor and knowing there personalities and purpose on Sodor and what makes them really useful. 


The Earl's Quiz showcase three questions for kids. The episodes featured are 'Marion and the Dinosaur', who owns the number four on the railway with footage from 'The Adventure Begins' and 'Henry's Hero', although they could've at least shown Henry from TAB as well but beggars can't be choosers and the last one featured the episode 'Duck in The Water'. 



We see another 'Landmarks of Sodor' segment and this time focusing on Brendam Docks. I like these segments as they feel like old railway documentaries, I'm kinda going to repeat myself on why I like these things. Though it's kinda sad that they featured Porter saying that he's important, of course for his uses at the docks, but hopefully the writers develop him more on his character, I'm hoping this season but I have some doubts over it considering that they'll be focused on the 2015 special's newbies as well as Hugo in the 2017 DVD 'Extraordinary Engines'. 

The last segment and probably one of my least favourites and that is 'The Fat Controller's Tales' why? Because it feels like Calling All Engines again and it's basically recapping an episode, not that it's bad but it's repeated on TV at times, on demand stream sites and of course DVDs and digital downloads. It would be nice to see maybe more Railway Series being used, maybe use them different as it doesn't have to be Mr. Perkins. Like maybe have them recapped through various engines such as Thomas telling the viewers at the time he once teased a tractor named Terence or Duck stopping trucks that were a runaway from Gordon's Hill. Have the art pictures shown along with some music etc. I'm open to new ideas though but maybe something that's not repeatable. 


Now for the special features we see another song by Eggplant. This time it's all about Glynn the Coffee Pot Engine and his Christmas Wish, which is based upon the episode 'The Christmas Coffee Pot'. To be honest, Eggplant made hit and miss songs, of course 'Race With You' is probably there most controversial one among fans, although I'm not a fan of it, it was a hit and miss to me. However this song is..in my opinion, not a bad song but more of an OK but nice and far more better than 'Race With You' and 'Hear The Engines Coming', seriously as I said before for the latter I hate that song and definitely one of the least creative songs ever, but I digress. The song, Glynn's, has basically recapped the whole episode but you could just watch the whole episode for it but the music was nice and very Christmassy. The lyrics are nice but there line 'Christmas is a time for things' is probably showing that they're not even trying to create a good song. I think it was nice but not among the best songs I've listened too. 

To be honest, when it comes to the songs, we had been shown with 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' and 'The Great Race' that Andrew Brenner can write songs and they are far more better than what Eggplant can write and we have other singers such as Mark Moraghan, the narrator of the show and he has a fantastic voice and Teresa Gallagher as well one of the voice actors as well, in fact most of the VA's have a great singing voice as shown in this year's DVD special. So why have Eggplant? If the production team are opening up to new ideas maybe they should give the writers and the narrator a try when it comes to the songs. 

The Guess Who puzzles are just your typical Thomas puzzles and the characters featured are Gordon, Thomas & Rocky together, Rusty and Winston. It's good for kids as usual though in the end. 

OVERALL
This DVD is far more better than the US' 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' last year. The episodes are worth every penny with the writing, characterisation and strong continuity. The intervals are good, except for The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt's Tales and while the Glynn song is not the best it's better than 'Snow Place Like Home'. It's also good to hear that these episodes will also be on the UK's 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' and hopefully two more on 'Full Steam To The Rescue' around October/November 2016, if it happens for the latter maybe the UK might be in sync with the US when it comes to upcoming episodes next season. Fingers crossed.

The DVD comes out to the American audience next week on the 18th but I think it's better to buy them on iTunes if you want the clear quality of 1080p or Amazon Video, since it came out last week on the American website.

RATING:
9/10