Thursday, 7 April 2016

NWR Editorial: The Great Race Trailer


We have seen the teaser trailer earlier in the year and now we finally get to see the official trailer of the upcoming special 'The Great Race'. The special is made with the theme of racing and of course 2016 being the year that Rio are hosting the Olympic games, which this special was made in mind of the upcoming world event.
 The trailer opens up at Brendam docks with Thomas and Salty seeing all the International engines arriving by ship for the railway show and yes I'm sure you all may have heard that this had sparked a lot of 'controversy' to the trashy Daily Fail site and other journalists, but I'll get to that later. I like how they added a new part of the docks for the sake of unloading the international engines, probably to save some time on the pacing of the story rather then having Cranky lifting all the engines out.
We see engines from such countries like North America, China, Brazil, France and even Australia! And we're introduced to Ashima, from India, who I believe will be the main focus of all the international engines as the voice of reason character for Thomas during the main story.
Then we see clips from the upcoming special of the race, parts of the story and one of the new songs. To be honest, I think it's good to see Thomas going down this road and trying new things to make the yearly specials so special. We had last year's special to thank that with the song 'Never Overlook a Little Engine'. and that it was part of the plotline. But of course I don't think there are films that outdo Disney, as they are the masters of animated musicals, at least in my opinion.
Although the trailer ended with Thomas jumping over the Vicarstown Bridge. I'll be honest, you don't see something like that in Awdry's stories but it's there for what was revealed in product descriptions which is him trying to stop Gordon because his safety valve. It's unrealistic yes but its there for the sake of showcasing the moment of helping a friend out as well as saving innocent bystanders from a boiler explosion and no they haven't implied it nor sugar coat it, Thomas had said in the BTS video that Gordon's boiler will blow up. It's bit like Thomas chasing James in 'The Adventure Begins'. Plus as for the bridge scene, we had Thomas chasing a pirate ship on a flatbed in last year's special and people like that special. But I do agree and understand what they are saying as it brings back memories of 'The Great Discovery' from the Barlow/Miller era.
As of the international characters, my main concern is how are they going to develop 13 new characters, most sources say 12, 14 and the trailer said 13 so I'm going by the trailer, within a 60 minute timeframe. They won't be in future episodes, according to Ian McCue so I think the international engines will have their moments from the information we're given from the press and products and the main focus happens to be around Ashima, Flying Scotsman and Vinnie. But of course this special is to promote these new characters for toys and that what these specials are for as well as say get kids into knowing more about these engines and their respective basis and get them to know of there country of origin. However I do understand why these international characters are one-off's. They're just like Logan and Sam for the Wooden Railway product line. They are one-off's with purpose.
 Now onto the 'controversy'. I'm sure everyone over the Easter week had seen Daily Fail's and many more articles on the special talking about the new characters and the all the commenters are loosing their minds that they think Thomas is ruined and going PC and that one person is going to leave the UK because of these new characters, seriously that's real, even though they won't leave due immigration and citizenship laws. I honestly don't see what's wrong with introducing characters that had come from all corners of the planet.
Thomas the Tank Engine is well-known all over the world and is loved by children in countries like America, Japan, Australia, China etc. so it makes sense that they do that. It teaches children that there is a big world out there and it's filled with different things. Diversity is not wrong to teach children. Thomas is not loosing his Britishness at all in the end. There is still a UK narrator, with characters based on British locomotives, set on an Island in the British coast with a UK dub still going on since Ringo Starr took the microphone. Some people have shown concern about stereotypes and I find that to be a bit worrying too. But we had Hiro in the 2009 special and he turned out to be one of good characters from the era known as the Barlow/Miller era. Plus speaking of Hiro, we had him introduced back in 2009 and there were no articles bashing about him being from a different country and he was no Japanese stereotype.
While I am happy that there's going to be an Australian engine, Shane, I don't know much about him and I don't think he'll have a big part of the story, although I do believe he was named after the cricketer, a sport that I'm not a big fan of. But the other international engine I'm looking forward to see is of course this one:
 Yes finally after 25 years since his tenders appeared in 'Tender Engines', we finally see the Flying Scotsman in all his much deserved glory for the first time in Thomas & Friends, I remember writing in 2012 that I'm glad that he wasn't in the series, but that was at a time where we were going through one of the worst eras of the series and now that we have a new team for three years now, with respect to the history of the brand, I don't think we'll see Flying Scotsman as a Sodor engine, however my opinions had changed since reviewing the episodes and I consider them as out of date now, I digress but I don't know if you can call him a returning character? I think it's very fitting to see Flying Scotsman in a special to focus about racing. After all his real life counterpart ran non-stop between London to Edinburgh in 1928 and between Parkes to Broken Hill in Australia in 1989. Plus it's good to see that he's appearing the same year the real one had just returned to service after a ten year overhaul by the National Railway Museum.
 I don't know what time period this special is set in, although all specials and episodes are very minimal on the timeline. But since people are saying the 1960's, it's rather hard to see 4472 in the guise that he is in the trailer as in reality, the real one was in BR Brunswick or bottle green livery, although if you've seen the BTS video, we see three 08 class shunters in the background with the same livery as EWS, a private railway company, so you could say the 1990's - 2000's maybe? But to me though I think it's to make Flying Scotsman stand out between the likes of Gordon and Henry for the sake of merchandising. If you remove the smoke deflectors you'll most like get a green Gordon and people might mistake him as that. Sure in the past there had been merchandise of Flying Scotsman, mostly the Wooden Railway toy, but to be honest, he wasn't known that much in the past as a past character. Looking at him in the trailer, I think we might see more scenes between him and Gordon.
Yes Gordon is racing with the streamlined shape, I hope though that it's there to teach kids the moral 'Be yourself' as it serves a purpose for Gordon that he doesn't have to race with a streamline casing, even though from the info we were given, the Fat Controller was the one who thought it would look good on him. But who knows? The streamlined shape however had sparked a bit of criticism from fans and while yes you'll never see something like this in the Railway Series books, the streamlined shape doesn't look that bad in my opinion, especially in the form of a toy, except for Trackmaster. I believe that yes it won't be permanent and we had stuff like this before. Remember Bill and Ben were painted blue in 'Bill or Ben?' but later on they are back in their yellow paint. It's there for Mattel to make for the cool factor I believe to sell toys.
As for the songs, well we know four songs from a Behind the Scenes video of the movie and we know that Thomas is going to sing about wanting to be streamlined, Diesel's song from the trailer and Ashima's song that was mentioned in the wooden railway yearbook and the song that is at the end of the BTS video. I have a feeling that Starlight Express, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, had some part in this and ironically years before the show came to exist by Britt Allcroft, Webber was going to make an animated musical based on the Railway Series books.
So in conclusion, I don't know how this special will end up to be but looking at the trailer and the BTS video on the official YouTube page, it got me interested. I love the concept of having a Railway Show in style of the Olympic Games rather then just being race and bringing a diverse group of engines. However there could be some flaws in it too and we should expect that.