Well recently I had to write an essay for my English class but I got stuck so whilst thinking about ideas, I side-tracked myself and wrote my overall analysis and thoughts into the most recent installment of the TV series.
I do want to point out that it is kinda sarcastic and some strong langauge (still within the guidelines of the wikia, of course). Feel free to leave questions or comments and I'll get back whenever I can.
Also remember that if you liked it, disliked it, kinda in middle, whatever your opinion is, I respect it and I can't force you to share my opinion. These are simply my thoughts I want to share since its been on my mind for while. But in that regard, I also except the same treatment in return.
Grab a drink(s) and/or snacks. Here we go!
It’s about time I put these thought to words, er paper sorry or what, a computer screen . . . let’s just get started. Any ways, as we all know BWBA has happened whether you liked it or not. Before I begin, of course the usual disclaimer.
These thoughts are solely the author’s. They do not represent the Thomas community as a whole.
Honestly, I kinda don’t want to talk about something that has actually made me sad. Okay then. We’ll talk about BWBA and then soak it up talking ‘bout Classic Series, sounds like a plan.
Upon announcement of the whole “reboot” and what not, I disapproved of it, but the thing that I disliked the most was the “Round the World” concept. Sodor has such a big and rich history in it. It’s like the treasure is right in front of you but then you decide to pull the sword out of the stone . . . However, I realised that it was indeed best to judge it went it all came out . . .
I did not get the opportunity to watch BWBA (more on that later) ‘till a good portion of Season 22 had already aired. Some I watched first in Italian then the UK versions that aired on Milkshake in September and in Australia. There’s thirteen episodes aboard and thirteen on Sodor and it’s clear to see which setting provides better stories . . . Sodor? You guessed right. Out of the international episodes, there’s only two I will gladly rewatch, Tiger Trouble and Trusty Trunk. The China episodes in particular were a mixed bag. Some had some promising premises such as Thomas and the Dragon (albeit that did do well on Chinese New Year) and Runaway Truck. And I’ll tell you one of the hindrances: the fantasy sequences. They’re in every single episode! Trust me, but the time of Week Two in the UK, it got old. Not even half the season and it got old. I can really think of one or two episodes where it was done decently. Simply put, they do not help the plot and with an even shorter run-time, it ends up killing any plot development. (Wait, what plot?) That is true, there’s really nothing going on in these episodes and any that did have promising ideas, went nowhere. The country that seemed to work the best was India, since you had Ashima established, Rajiv just needed a bit more and Shankar was nicely thrown in. As I mentioned, the only good international episodes came from India. As for China, Yong Bao is great but with just him, Hong-Mei and Thomas, doesn’t create a lot of story opportunities. Finally, Australia where it’s Shane and Thomas. Tamika only featured for one episode . . . So who knew that using a more constrained base of characters would make weaker episodes? Why if only there was a place where there’s already a set of established characters and locations? Oh right, there is! D’oh! The reality is, these int’l episodes came at a price for new characters such as Nia and Rebecca. Thirteen episode that could have been used to develop these two further, wasted. Seeing as I’m neither of these nationalities, it’s not really up to me to judge if everything was culturally accurate. I can only relate to seeing Chinese New Year festivities around my ever so multicultural hometown of San Diego (believe me, it’s as diverse as it can be). Actually, I want to talk about that for a second. San Diego didn’t become multicultural ‘cause people demanded it. The mayor or the state of California never demanded more nationalities. People come here for a variety of reasons. It’s right near the border near Mexico, so you’re bound to see people from Latin America. It’s next to the Pacific Ocean, so Asians make up a good portion of the population. Point is, it didn’t happen just ‘cause, it happened naturally. The same should apply to Thomas. Let everything come naturally. The int’l folks from The Great Race actually worked since they were trying to mirror the Olympics. When you try to force diversity, it creates a problem. I have family that lives in Mexico, but its not like I’m gonna force them to the US if their life is fine the way it is. Same with Sodor, there’s no need to fill a quota. Kids watch the show because they like steam engines not ‘cause they’re of a certain nationality. If that were true, any non-British fans wouldn't be here. Believe me, my own mom has told me I probably like the show because of the engines. Reasons vary for everyone, but I highly doubt characters’ nationalities plays a role.
Moving back to Sodor, (hurray and huzzah, this should be good! Right?) Well, I would say it was better but there were still some poor episode here. But praise is deserved for Hunt the Truck (who knew that we could still write for Edward? Of course, the only good thing of him out of Tidmouth is no more out of character moments at the Sheds). And of course, a welcoming to Michael White. Although, I didn’t find that out until after I watched An Engine of Many Colours and made up my thoughts. Honestly, James’s characterisation is a bit questionable. I liked his role in Tale of the Brave, where admittingly, he was cruel towards Percy going as far as to put a heap of scrap on the line to frighten him. But he still felt sorry in the end and appreciated Percy rescuing him from the landslide at the Clay Pits. Here in Season 22, he just doesn’t learn . . . and comes off as more of a bully with no redeemable qualities rather than just vain, boastful, but still likeable and honest. All in Vain from Season 20 is a much better example of his character, even showing him taking responsibility for his mistakes whilst still displaying his vanity.
Rambled about James there, but he is one of my favourite characters so, yeah. But you know who’s my favourite character? Henry. Not much to say other that it seems like no one bar Christopher Awdry, Britt Allcroft and David Mitton ever wanted to write for him. Chris Awdry utilised him in various stories even giving him Henry and the Express whilst Allcroft and Mitton made the ever controversial Henry’s Forest, Something in the Air, James and the Trouble with Trees, Haunted Henry and even What’s the Matter with Henry? was still a good display of his character. Of course, throughout Seasons 8 onwards, he received episodes, but rarely displayed his true character. It seemed like they’d found something with the likes of Henry in the Dark and Henry Gets the Express but ultimately decided that it’s best to move him elsewhere (for no given reason) and therefore not have to write about him. What a shame.
Supposedly, that makes way for Nia and Rebecca, right? Well, kind of, sort of, not so much, not really . . . Actually, I’ll admit, Rebecca’s not too bad, at least she got two episodes and has shown a bit development but that doesn’t mean that she needs more. Still some work to do with her. But with Nia, oh my goodness, where to begin? This is what happens when you prioritise gender and nationality above all other things. Face it, Nia was created to fill a quota (a quota no one asked for). By doing so, they base everything off of that and forget about her character. So she’s nice and . . . from Africa . . . and female . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . You see that line of dots. It’s me trying to think of more to talk about but can’t ‘cos she’s got so little! Victor and Hiro from Hero of the Rails (the HiT-Nitrogen/Miller as Head Writer era, what the heck? They did something right!). Apparently so, sure future characters were rubbish, but they brought us TWO, I repeat, DOS! DEUX! International characters that actually appealed to audiences. And here, I’ll give you a little backstory. I’m of Mexican background, born in the US, but my entire family has origins and Mexico (further back, Spain as well, but that’s not the point). Never once did I wonder why there weren’t any Latino characters, after all it was just steam engines and that’s what I liked. When Victor first appeared, I recognised his accent as being Latino (wasn’t sure yet if it was Cuban, I only found out like three years later) and thought it was a nice subtle touch. But you know what I liked even more about him? His role - as the works engine and his relationship with Kevin won me over more than his background. Yes, he’s a fatherly figure to the engines and Kevin, but also can get things mixed up a bit as seen in Victor Says Yes and the fact that he had a language barrier was also interesting. But it’s not his nationality that defines him, rather his role in the series and his relationship with Kevin and the other engines. So, when the current team has repeatedly mocked that era and have tried to cover it up as much as possible, it’s ironic they’ve done so little with Nia. However, I don’t entirely blame the writing team. They didn’t have a one hundred percent say in the creation of Nia, they were handed a character created to fill a non-asked quota. Such as shame . . .
Well, here’s a run-down of the episodes, ratings and thoughts.
Number One Engine - 7/10
For a season opener, not the weakest episode, but quite bland. There’s some good facts thrown in their about Chinese culture (the numbers, red means good luck, etc.) but like most other episodes it’s never really utilised so it ends up being just some random facts thrown out.
Forever and Ever - 5/10
I’ll be honest, this feels like the slap-in-the-face episode. I don’t want to believe that this episode was written to tell us to lay off but it feels like it. Gordon is not portrayed well at all. It could’ve been great, but it just feels like an insult to everyone. The dream sequence . . . there’s a lot of horrible ones and this is definitely one of the worst. Nia’s message is actually ineffective since she chose to come to Sodor. No one forced her too. She certainly had friends and job so when she mentions at the end of BWBA that she doesn’t have a home, I’m like, “Looks like you actually do . . .” Any ways, Gordon is just played for laughs which renders any possible message ineffective.
Confusion without Delay - 6/10
Rebecca’s introduction which isn’t too bad. The twist on the phrase “Confusion and Delay” was nice having been done already in The Truth About Toby. There’s definitely some railway aspects. In this case, trains arriving too early but other than that not much to say.
Trusty Trunk - 8/10
I actually feel the concept of elephants being vital for the Indian railway was done alright. Animals were pushed heavily this season, but I don’t find too much wrong with what was done in this episode. Rajiv and Shankar along with Ashima and Thomas does create some good story opportunities (but abandoned for the sake of animals). It is interesting though, the team does realise Ashima is actually a mountain engine. Would’ve been nice to see her working on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (only rack railway in India too).
What Rebecca Does - 4/10
This one is quite bland and its dream sequence is one of many that will haunt me in my sleep forever (ironically I’m writing this on Halloween). While it gives Rebecca something more, it’s not really enough for her to carry an episode by herself. Perhaps exploring her worrier side in the future might prove beneficial.
Thomas Goes to Bollywood - 6.5/10
I don’t really why this couldn't happen on Sodor. After all, you’ve got the Fat and Thin Clergymen who write books and take pictures. Again, this episode is quite bland so not much to say about it.
Thomas in the Wild - 5.5/10
Actually, this isn't the only episode this season that almost bored me to sleep. If people complain about Better Late than Never being boring, this worse. At least the second season episode had conflict. Also, An An and Yin-Long have supposedly been through the reserve several time before and Thomas in one visit manages to see pandas. Now, the animals are rendered well, but the odds of that is just strange and could be a little misleading.
Thomas and the Monkey Palace - 2/10
I just couldn’t wait for Tiger Trouble. The problem I’m finding throughout this season is how the animals are forced into the episodes. Now, animals and railways can make interesting episodes and we’ve seen it as far back as Cows, Bull’s-eyes by the Rev. Awdry, Thomas and the Swan by Chris Awdry, Baa! (Season 5), Toby Had a Little Lamb (season 6) and recent examples from the nineteenth season, Toad and Whale and Very Important Sheep (one of my favourite episodes from the Brenner era in fact). But as demonstrated through this season and the HiT model series especially, they tend to be shoehorned in which I feel is the case in the episode.
An Engine of Many Colours - 7/10
An entire episode of dream sequences. Well, at least it’s just James’s dreams. And of course, a warm welcome to Michael White. I didn’t find that out ‘till after I’d made my view on this episode, so here we go. I feel it gets repetitive with the various dreams that he has. Makes a rather stale episode but at least they were incorporated alright. So yeah, not too bad, but not the best: it’s yet to come.
Outback Thomas - 5/10
We’re in Australia now and Thomas decides to be a tour guide - hurray . . . Little going on here really and Thomas ends up in trouble at some random bridge. I will admit that the use of a “Flying Doctor” plane such as Isla definitely has more potential than was utilised this season.
School of Duck - 7.5/10
Back to Sodor, thank goodness. This one is not bad, again a bit bland and it seems to take place during the events of Hasty Hannah since Henrietta was mentioned being in the Steamworks. I guess this is the one UN goal that actually worked which makes sense since a lot of engines were bound for the scrap yard during the Modernisation Plan but some people thought they still had life in them and so preserved them as much as they could (Barry Island for example).
Tiger Trouble - 9/10
I’d never thought there’d be two int’l episodes I genuinely enjoy. Again, this episodes incorporates railways and animals and gives us a new type of villains which was refreshing. The pacing was nice as well as Thomas, Rajiv and Shankar’s collective efforts. So yeah, this is definitely the model the team needs to follow in order to make int’l episodes works.
Seeing is Believing - 7/10
Merlin’s back and up to his old tricks again. I do feel as though it’s left unresolved at the end and the could’ve benefitted from the 8:45 running time. Seven minutes (well, six to six-and-a-half ‘cause dream sequences) felt a bit too short. I got a better shot of Trevor, well then but it’s a shame no other Experimental engines appeared. It’d be nice to see what they get up to at the Steelworks. I imagine Frankie trying to convince Merlin that he actually can’t turn invisible.
Apology Impossible - 7/10
Now then, here’s where I feel James’s vanity is taken a bit too far. What’s worse is the seemingly forced apology. Honestly, it would’ve worked better if the Fat Controller scolded James for the delays and then James was the one who went ahead and apologised. Would show how to take responsibility. Paxton in particular had a nice role though the episode could’ve been perfectly done without the fantasy sequence.
The Water Wheel - 5/10
*Yawns* Gosh, is it time for bed? This one didn’t offer much. It was about forty seconds of fantasy and then four minutes of Thomas chasing a wheel which just so conveniently lands in the river and floats to its destination.
Runaway Truck - 6/10
This one had an interesting premise but didn’t really go anywhere. First off, the fantasy sequence is one of the most forced in one this season. Like, we don’t need them. They were fine in the past because they were occasional. Now they’re obligatory? Also some impossible re-railing. In the first episode, Thomas derailed upon hitting a rock. What’s up with this?
Samson and the Fireworks - 7/10
Quite nice to see Cyril again and I feel that fog is definitely something that should be explored more in the series regarding cautiousness and what can happen if you’re not safe. Sadly with the bulk of int’l episodes, it seems doubtful but we have Cyril who would be great to stress those message. And face it, a good portion of us have driven through fog at least once. Back to the episode, continues Samson’s habit of making mistakes which admittingly can be a bit silly but its a character flaw that does make the story work.
Rosie is Red - 2/10
This one. While the whole message that boys and girls can be just friends is alright, I don’t really think it’s needed in Thomas. It opens the door to a bunch of unnecessary pairings and other gross stuff. By avoiding the topic altogether, you avoid conflict. Also, I’m surprised no one has noticed this, but the scene where Thomas leaves the wash-down with a workman on a ladder gave me horrid flashbacks to an episode featuring the same character doing a similar stunt seven years ago. You know which episode it is . . . Any ways, the message is one that kids have to learn themselves. I’ve definitely learned it. More focus on the Fat Controller would’ve been nice.
Thomas's Animal Ark - 3/10
Gosh, another animal episode? I will say that I’m pretty sure an engine shed is not the best place for animals to reside. So yeah, another bland episode. These are the types of episodes that make me think the show has regressed to be being just a generic kids’ show when the reality is that prior to this, it had an identity, separating itself from the rest.
The Case of the Puzzling Parts - 7/10
This one wasn’t too bad but kinda predictable. Paxton and Sidney do make a good duo so I’m interested to see how they are utilised in the future.
Kangaroo Christmas - 5/10
We had an almost perfect batch of Christmas/Winter episodes in the twentieth season. Last season’s were probably just a half-step below. Point is, the Christmas episodes had been great and now what’s happened? Surely, with Christmas in another country, would’ve been nice to see how they celebrate Christmas but instead we got kangaroos, hurrah . . . Also the infamous quote “Christmas is about spending time with those you love.” (Thomas the Tank Engine in Australia thousands of miles from 99% of his friends).
Hunt the Truck - 9/10
So Edward can be used in a story. Who knew that by just finding the right role within a story, you could utilise him so lovely? There’s actually various stories, even in this season that Edward’s wise role would’ve been beneficial. Here, a play on the classic keeping the Twins in order worked great. Personally, I think Jonathan Broadbent set the bar high and I miss his portrayal of the Twins since he was fantastic but the new voices fit well. I’ll also admit the dream sequence was done alright and actually worked. Again, the story flowed well within the new seven minute timeframe.
Cyclone Thomas - 7/10
Here’s another episode that had an interesting premise. I wish the episode would’ve been majorly about the cyclone rather than leaving it ‘till just two minutes to go and wasting four minutes of Thomas running around to where he’s not needed.
Thomas and the Dragon - 7.5/10
The Chinese New Year was done alright though it’s obvious Thomas doesn’t remember Thomas, Percy and the Dragon. “That’s a different Thomas.” Ah, so they can cherry pick, right? He remembers Thomas’s Train, Thomas and the Trucks and Thomas and the Breakdown Train but not other episodes since he spends entire seasons and specials learning lessons but almost immediately forgets them. Back to the episode though, it wasn’t the worst but China was definitely a mixed bag. There were good elements but it’s not one I’m likely to rewatch.
Banjo and the Bushfire - 4/10
Yet another interesting premise. I dislike the way the bushfire was seemingly ignored in favour of an animal. Sure evacuation is important but so is alerting the fire brigade and putting out the fire and little attention is paid to that.
Counting on Nia - 5/10
Not knowing Western numerals is actually an interesting character flaw but they way it was executed was so poor and it ended up becoming more of Learning Segment than an actual episode. Nia’s still a blank slate . . .
Big World! Big Adventures!
The moment you’ve been waiting for. But before I begin, there’s some problems not even within the special itself: accessibility. No DVD release in the US and only airing on Nick Jr. YouTube versions are very likely to be copyrighted and removed, so . . . how the hell do I even get to watch it? I’ve no cable and DVD was always the primary source of watching episodes and specials. Luckily, I was back home and got to watch it and also got a link. It’s funny ‘cause I wouldn’t even be able to critique it ‘cause I couldn’t even watch it. Why there’s no DVD release in the US remains unclear. My best guess is that there’s no interest anymore in the US DVD market, considering all the streaming options but the series hasn’t even premiered on ANY streaming platforms.
So, we begin on Sodor where Thomas plays a cheeky trick on Gordon. Funny and all, but why in the name of Asquith are we carrying fish in open trucks? They are in crates but they should be fully sealed or else they become inedible and that happens in Season 22 as well. Moving on to the introduction of Ace. I bet if he didn’t say “G’day” and “mate” you wouldn’t know he’s Australian because you totally can’t tell his nationality by his accent . . . His introduction scene worries me and it’s the first of many stunts that made me question the film. Jumping onto a railway line with no consequence. Many of the kids watching this will be driving one day. My hometown has a fully functional trolley line. Not a good idea to show this on TV. In Misty and Day of the Diesels there were a number of dangerous/unnecessary stunts with no consequence and there’s several in BWBA as well . . .
Next up, Thomas’s idea to go around the world. And if there’s any issue that bothers me most is this. Thomas’s sudden disappearance. He told no one where the hell he was going and furthermore, had no real plan going on. Not a good message. The Fat Controller told him, “If you can make it work, it’s fine.” Cool, think about it, come back, we’ll talk, we’ll make arrangements. Not just up and leave everyone behind! Added to that, all the stress the Fat Controller goes through to find him! Last year, in Journey Beyond Sodor, Thomas ended up regretting leaving Sodor, both times he left on his own will. Last year, he ended up singing an entire song of how much he missed his home and in the end learned who his true friends are. Yet here, he just leaves them worried sick without a care in the world! Not cool . . . If I had a friend like that, I don’t if I’d forgive them easily. He comes home and no one seems to care which is sad.
Thomas’s sudden decision also has an impact on how he travels through the continents. It seemed like he assumed he would be allowed to run light engine through thousands of miles before realising, “Shit, I have to do work.” A clear lack of planning in advance. When you go on a trip, you don’t just up and leave. You have preparations, weeks or months in advance! That way, you know how to get from X to Y and Y to Z and back home.
So Thomas racks up a bunch of trucks and meets Nia who doesn’t even bother to ask his name until she re-encounters him on the Hill. I won’t say more, but it seems like Nia has friends and job in Africa . . . that’s all . . .
I’ll cover the songs later, so we move on to Dar es Salaam where we meet Kwuaku who actually seems like an interesting character and was blessed with more than one line of dialogue. Meanwhile, the Fat Controller is following Thomas’s path in an effort to find him. Now, I’ve never done it but I’m sure traversing the African safari is no easy feat. This only builds though . .
Thomas is loaded onto a ship headed to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nia joins him too, boo-hoo. And when watching Forever and Ever, this moment struck me: Nia also leaves with no prior warning despite having friends, a railway and a controller yet in the aforementioned episode, she’s all “Oh, I have to adapt” but it was her decision in the first place! Edward and Henry leaving wasn’t Gordon’s decision. But anyways, back to the special . . .
Arrived at Brazil, Thomas realises, “Oh, shoot, I have to do work.” Lucky for him coffee is a common export to the US because they’re the largest consumers of coffee and Brazil is the leader grower of coffee beans. Oh yeah, Nia joins along. I will say however, I do like the design and colours of the Brazilian carnival, actually not bad at all. Oh well, makes watching the more than clichéd We’re Friends better.
Next up, a railway line through the Amazon. Right, there’s track wherever it’s bloody convenient for the plot. When it starts to rain and the rails start to cave in, makes me wonder what logical reason to have a railway line through the Amazon without at least prior safety regulations to ensure that that wouldn't happen.
Moving on, Free and Easy: skip, please, thank you.
Now onto the US and although I’ve been thinking this since Thomas left Sodor, like what’s supposed to be happening. There’s no real conflict. It just seems like a bunch of different scenes hurriedly animated and put together. Well, Nia and Thomas separate and we have our “so-obligatory” loop-the-loop scene. When I first saw this, I was like “That didn’t just happen, right?” I blinked and realised what the hell I’d just witnessed. This is definitely along the lines of the Shake-Shake Bridge and Zip Line from Misty. But come on, the Shake-Shake Bridge was animated too well! Then, I began to question whether this was Thomas & Friends any more . . .
Thomas ends up having a damage-free derailment and due to the bounciness, I actually believe some ropes and 4x4s could lift up Thomas . . . Again, one the reasons I hate the exaggerated movements. Thomas’s basis the LBSC E2 weighs about 118,000 pounds! Trust me, I’ve worked with 4x4s before and that is not even close to be able lift an engine. It might stand the weight of six actors weighing 118 pounds but certainly not an 118,000 pound engine.
I then realised there’s only fifteen minutes left, we’ve still got two more songs, Asia and Europe to go and sort of realised, “Well, this is all going to feel rushed isn’t it . . .” Well, Sometimes You Make a Friends kinda slowed it down but then an avalanche mostly Thomas’s fault occurred. As soon as he coupled up, I figured, “He’s probably going to mess up and Yong Bao’s gonna save the day.” Called it! But also, during this scene, Thomas’s frame is swaying and his chassis is misaligned. It’s actually pretty easy to see and looks very odd. And this is coming from a similar group of people who rendered Tale of the Brave, The Adventure Begins and Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure. This is actually one of the effect the bouncing has had. It’s clear the models are not meant to bounce and as a result they sometimes clip through or misalignments like that occur.
Anyways, the movie ends on a cliff hanger but is never continued through Season 22 which almost makes this movie feel pointless. Some of the stuff the Fat Controller went through finding Thomas is not funny so to have an unsettled score . . . not cool.
Also, what is the length of Thomas’s journey. I’d estimate six to nine months. That’s a long time and he never explains why he just up and left.
Now for the songs . . . Definitely a set back from last year. I enjoyed Where in the World is Thomas? Also the only song set on Sodor (I wonder if there’s a connection there). Wake Up and We’re Friends and pretty generic although I do like the Brasilian carnival design for the latter. Free and Easy is not badly sung but the music video is just so patronising. Everything from the colours and lighting just doesn’t appeal to my eyes. For some reason, I have two takes on Sometimes You Make a Friend. First off, it’s brilliantly sung by both John Hasler and Joseph May (I stopped comparing them after 2015 to be honest) and it works fine when viewed alone. But in the context of the special, I feel it goes on too long. And like We’re Friends and Wake Up, it’s not really anything that couldn’t be spoken which means the songs become pointless. Still, great singing by Hasler and May but I would’ve maybe had it sung only in China or only on the boat. Also, I have seen this around but I do feel if anything, this song should’ve served as Thomas’s apology to his friends back on Sodor for leaving them without prior notice.
Animation: Gosh, the lighting is brighter and the colours and so saturised that it makes it so patronising. Then, there’s the bouncing which has actually had a knock on the animation. It makes the engines who weigh hundreds of thousands of pounds like fluff. Not only but it’s also unnecessary and distracting. Focus should be on what the characters are saying and it helps not having any movements. Then of course there’s the misalignment of models such as the Rainbow Mountain scene in China where’s Thomas’s chassis is hanging abnormally high. It looks weird and again, distracting. Prior to Journey Beyond Sodor, the CGI more or less felt like an animated model railway especially in terms of how quickly the engines could stop and such but they still felt heavy. Clearly, Jam Filled can still animate weight but that effect is torn when you have engines bouncing about, lifting their chassis ridiculously high and such. It’s great that every single country uses the 4ft 8.5in standard gauge, buffers and hook-and-loop couplings, right? Of course not. Most countries use knuckle couplers and it would’ve actually been interesting to see Thomas modified according to each country he’s visiting. As far as the film, he’s pretty much just there with no real purpose other than some random job that was plot-conveniently waiting from him. Re-skins, goodness gracious. I actually feel Jam Filled didn't have a choice. It's clear the budget they have wouldn't allow to create ten thousand new characters so what do we do? "Just repaint existing models" is my best bet. Finally, scaling issues and we’ve this as far back as King of the Railway. Arc, now as Jam Filled seem to have difficulty when re-gauging non-British characters. American prototypes are much larger in real-life but with the case of Porter and Beau, they actually appear smaller than the Sudrian engines. Just an important thing to keep in mind.
I’ve seen this a lot especially because of the Chinese Diesel. What year does the show take place in? Ian McCue has stated an ambiguous time period of 1940s-70s. Theortically, Oliver’s presence means it would at least have to be 1968 but I felt it was more of in the 50s. Of course, this film looks like it could easily take place in the 2000s except . . . the Thin Clergyman so it’d have to be before the 1990s. Point is, more research is needed to clearly definite that 40s-70s time period which seemed to be the case . . . ‘till now.
Me as the target audience. This is where I think back to my three to five year-old self and think, what would I have thought of this movie at that age? I think I’d be off putted by it. I didn’t like Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends because it was flashy, I loved the models because they felt tangible and real. That’s probably what my younger self would’ve thought.
Honestly, there was potential. This could’ve been a great set-up for Season 22 but it’s clear that realism was just thrown out of the window. Yes, I’m not the prime target audience but I want kids to have the Thomas I grew up. Well, maybe a bit different but it’s sad that this is the Thomas kids will grow up with. A Thomas that teaches UN goals? Seriously, that’s sad. The UN’s goals might be important but not in the context of Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s time we bid farewell to the UN ‘cause it’s just not working. The stories are hindered by their inference. It’s also ironic that whilst promoting female characters, they forgot about Emily, Mavis, Marion, Millie, Caitlin and others who were already established. Quality over quantity. I’d rather see five solid female characters than ten-thousand females with personas the average yearly rainfall of San Diego (there’s rain in San Diego? Well for like five minutes every six months).
Future of the franchise
The future looks grey. Things can improve sure, I’ve seen James’s updated model. Looks more splendid than ever. But it just seems like Mattel’s trying to intentionally kill the brand (with all the lame merchandise, poor marketing and such). Believe it or not, new content has been produced since 1998, twenty years! Sure, it’s not the same team but there are folks who went from one era to another (Steve Asquith, Dave Eves from S7 to 8; Miller, Barlow, Skala to the CGI era; McCue, Brenner to KOTR-onwards and so on). Honestly, I think a break is in order. Personally, I want to see the brand live on for as long as it can but certainly not in this fashion. Perhaps it’s best, the team takes a break with Thomas the last thing on their mind then come back and make improvements. Think about it, it’d also give Jam Filled time to fix some renders and such. I see it going ‘till the 75th, but I feel we just need a break: minimum six months to eighteen months. Also, did Mattel think this was gonna make me quit the brand? If so, they’ve definitely failed! In fact, I’m more into the show than ever. I have fond memories of the community and I enjoy being part of the fandom. I have around a hundred DVDs just waiting for me at home that will give me joy every time I watch it. So, I guess thanks, Mattel? You’ve made my connection with Thomas grow even stronger. I’ll always go back to the Classic Series and HiT-Arc era because it made me happy. BWBA doesn’t. It feels like a real betrayal of the world that the Rev. Awdry and his brother, George Awdry mapped out and established. The show has lost its identity sad to say. It used to be the show that took risks, that didn’t mind being different from the rest. If anything, that’s why a lot of us are here, because it was unique and special that it stuck with us growing up. So yeah, I could end on a bad note, but I’ve already crushed BWBA so I’m gonna say, cheers to the Classic Series, Railway Series and HiT-Arc era!