Wednesday, 6 June 2018

NWR Editorial: Big World Big Adventure: The Movie Trailer

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

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

NWR EDITORIAL:
BIG WORLD BIG ADVENTURE: THE MOVIE TRAILER


When 'Journey Beyond Sodor' had its trailer released on May 12th 2017, Christopher Keenan, the executive producer behind Thomas & Friends, had revealed in an interview with Kidscreens that Thomas was going up for a revamp. Many fans were concerned about this news thinking it might be a spin-off to the show, I thought so too. However that was all shot down later on in the year when it was announced that the new show was to be shown at MIPJunior and the idea of the show was to take Thomas on an international trip around the world meeting friends from 'The Great Race'. With fans thinking that this is a 'reboot' resulting into fear and anger despite that the series beforehand, in their perspective, was doing fine. 

However SiF had stated that Thomas has a decline in ratings thanks to the ever increasing popularity of Nickelodeon's Paw Patrol and a lack of toy sales and so Mattel decided to revamp the show with more humour, music and fast paced storylines to make it more interesting and relevant to today's generation of kids. This also resulted into having two new female characters, Nia and Rebecca, replacing Edward and Henry at the sheds, although the latter two are fine and will still be in the show. The new female characters were added for gender equality and because the viewership from girls is increasing, that subject however will be discussed at a later date.

However despite fans criticism of the new changes, it had been reported that the new revamped series had been met with positive reception from the crowd at MIPJunior in Cannes, France in 2017.

More clips had been revealed for the new show through a Toy Fair presentation earlier this year, but my opinions of the show will be posted at a later date when the new revamped series had made its debut on television. Now in May 2018, we finally have the trailer for the 2018 DVD special and here are my thoughts on the trailer that was posted by the official Thomas & Friends UK YouTube channel, although it was posted 10 days ago on IMDB.

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The trailer opens up with Thomas pulling into Vicarstown, probably him pulling the local again and would most likely be bored of doing the same job and seeing the same sites again and again and that motivates Thomas wanting to see the world, it's my belief on what that scene would most likely to be played out.


We then meet our new character Ace, a race car who is racing around the world. I wonder how his character would play out? The synopsis mentioned that he is mischievous, so I believe will see him getting into a few scrapes with Thomas on their world travels. Also I like the fact that Ace is from Australia, considering he said 'G'Day' in the trailer and that word is mostly common towards people in Australia and New Zealand as well, his accent is even different towards the UK voices from the other characters.


We also see Nia, the character that will be joining the 'steam team' replacing Edward, who by the way was seen in the trailer along with Henry and Toby in the teaser that was released last week, so he's not gone as some fans thought, him and Henry are still being used but their roles won't be as big as they use to be and Toby is safe as well.


Other newbies are shown in the trailer such as the African Garratt and I love it that they are finally introducing one! It's quite common back in the days of steam that Africa had used Garratt locomotives and it adds a nice bit of railway accuracy, eh? So despite that railway practice is not going to be used at times, its not entirely thrown out of the window. Although I do still see the potential of educating kids about different railway operations in different countries.


We even see characters that were once in 'The Great Race' such as Yong Bao, as of course Mattel want to increase Thomas' popularity over in China since it was broadcasted over there 10 years ago. Another little fun fact is that steam engines from China are still in commercial use in China, although Yong Bao's basis had been withdrawn and most of the remaining Chinese steam engines work in mines.


The trailer had also shown some unrealistic stuff. Now I know a few years ago I had criticised past episodes that were unrealistic, but over the years my mood over that issue had started to decrease and I'm becoming more accepting to this stuff. Sure some people will say that Rev.W.Awdry would not like this movie and I can see that as he didn't like 'Henry's Forest'. But there are some episodes and movies that I like that are unrealistic such as 'Thomas the Jet Engine', 'Tale of the Brave' and 'Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure'. The 360 degree scene though is ridiculous yes and I have a feeling it would be like the bridge jump in 'The Great Race'. Not just because it's unrealistic but because it could be pointless filler.


One thing that I love from the trailer is how amazing the lighting is! I know this is an unpopular opinion as most older fans don't like it, my belief way it looks bright and saturated is to make it more appealing to younger kids, studies show that young kids do get attracted by the bright colours. The sun setting in Africa looks spectacular too. Considering that this is Jam Filled's first Thomas special that they've entirely animated, it shows. 'Journey Beyond Sodor' was produced by Arc Productions until they were bankrupted thanks to 'Blazing Saddles', don't believe everything you hear on the internet, like how TGR was the cause of Arc's downfall.


Although the new changes may not appeal to some of the older fans, I have a feeling that this special might be a hit as Mattel are going all out on this special to meet with the toy sales  


BIG WORLD BIG ADVENTURES: THE MOVIE
IN UK CINEMAS JULY 2018

COMING SOON TO NICK JR USA
 IN FALL 2018

COMING SOON TO DVD 
IN AUTUMN 2018

Thursday, 19 April 2018

DVD Review: On the Go With Thomas

Usually around this time of the year we would've been given the usual episode exclusive Spring DVD releases which are the last remaining six episodes to fulfil the overall season. But it had been canned to make way for the development of the new series and movie 'Big World Big Adventure'. Plus it was no surprise considering how there was hardly any tie-in-toy products announced of any upcoming Spring DVD and usually the latter of last year would've shown something by now ready for the next year.


Now that we had three S21 DVDs starting from 'Christmas on Sodor' last year, this concludes S21 on the episodic releases, before we await the usual series collection around 2020 once S19 and 20 are out of the road this year and next year. But first let's review the last S21 episodic DVD: 

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


Special Features
Little Engines - Sing-a-long
Down at The Station - Power of the Railway
Learn with Thomas - Doing Too Much
The Earl's Quiz
Who's That Engine?

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Micaela Winters
Tracy Blagdon

Release Date
12/03/18 

Distributed by
Mattel Creations/HIT Entertainment (UK)

EPISODES


After the UK airing of 'A Shed for Edward' there had been plenty of reports on the internet that the episode had narration in it. It all started in Canada around early 2018 and it had been broadcasted in other countries like Japan and Australia. Here is the episode in its UK dub that had been broadcasted in Japan earlier this year, Japan broadcasts Thomas bilingually:


When the episode debuted in the UK last year, Mark Moraghan's only speaking role was the title and that was it, the rest of the episode was all narrationless. But when the episode aired in Canada, Japan and Australia, the whole episode had narration. The US dub was only a short clip that I saw on twitter back in January, as the US dub is yet to be shown in full on Nick Jr. To me I think the episode works fine without Mark Moraghan's narration as the animation can do all of the storytelling. The scene that shows Edward being sleep deprived at Knapford works well as a show-don't-tell scene, we know that Edward is tired and there was no need of a storyteller to tell us what was right in front of us. My guess it was intended as something for the test audience to see how they responded to an episode of Thomas without narration for BWBA considering now that Thomas will be the narrator at the start and end of those episodes starting this year. In the end though, the UK are finally given the narrated version of the episode itself.

At the end of the episode, Mark Moraghan gave the final line saying, 'But that's a story for another day.' that definetly shows that this is the last episode of the season and while it's a lovely line, it too works as a show-don't-tell moment. So while yes the episode that was broadcasted in the UK was not edited properly, it was good that it was narrationless. But another thing about the episode is the contiuity of it. This is the season that is set before 'Journey Beyond Sodor' and yet Edward is seen the shed in the special despite it happening before the movie, you might say ''Edward must've been visiting!'' but there's nothing stating that, he was just there. This is one of things that I am glad that 'Big World Big Adventure' is reverting, the idea of the series before special idea was great at the time in theory. But in practice, it didn't do much. S19 was set before 'Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure' and when the season aired after the movie, there wasn't any build up towards it at all. It feels confusing without any sort of hint.

BWBA is reverting back to the day what S13-S18 did when it comes to the yearly specials, it is set after the special. I liked the idea, series before special, by the production team at first but it shows in the episodes that it really wasn't a great idea in execution, no disrespect to them though.

As of the episode itself, I think it is one of the good ones coming from this season and given the reason why Edward left the core cast, the steam team, to stay at Wellsworth instead, pretty much makes sense in a creative POV as mentioned in one of SiF's blogs about 'Big World! Big Adventure!' it's also what I have said in my series overall for S21, Edward doesn't really add anything new when it comes to a Edward focused episode (e.g - 'Old Reliable Edward') we have him more as a plot device for Gordon or James to learn their lessons from while Edward was more of the wise, peace keeping engine that he is originally. He works more better as a secondary character in my opinion to give out wise advice to the other engines when things go wrong. If we want more episodes with Edward outside of his original persona, it would be bad because we might have episodes that are more in likes of 'Edward Strikes Out' or 'Steady Eddie'. I always pictured that if we want to see more of Edward, we should focus on his past self during his Furness Railway days and he should have his own mentor from the Furness Railway (which should be Furness Railway No.20 considering they are thirty-three years apart, No.20 was built in 1863 and Edward, according to the Wikia, was built in 1896) that way it would add to the continuity of 'The Adventure Begins' with Edward rubbing his own wisdom and advice to Thomas and Philip.

I still feel that fans had been cheated by Mattel when it came to Rosie's character progression. Fans had been demanding for Rosie's return to the spotlight for years and as we finally got that with her being painted red, Mattel cut back another episode of hers due to them wanting more room for BWBA's production. Hopefully the cut back episodes would see a light of day in BWBA. Overall though 'The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor' was a pretty good episode too with James being more snooty. Although I don't know why they added brake fluid to James as steam engines aren't fitted with such thing. It could've worked better if James' brakes were damaged from the heavy braking he had always done while running fast. It would still work with James being a runaway. The idea of brake fluid just seem so bizarre.

For more of my opinions on the episodes from this DVD, please click the links provided above under the title, 'episodes'.

I have a little bit of criticism when it comes to the DVD cover, what was wrong with the original? The one that is shown above is the finished product and Thomas' face looks so jarring compare to the original idea. Plus despite them being in both version, Rosie's positioning looks a bit off as well. Also the logo is angled a bit different on the final version, but that's not really anything to complain about.


The other episodes, while some have there faults, they are pretty much a good bundle to watch through. 

SPECIAL FEATURES


One of the highlights of this DVD was a CGI music video makeover of one of Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell's songs which is 'Little Engines' and another song that was released for the first time on home video in the UK. It was a good remake despite it being shorten and it had used quite a good amount of clips from the little engines of Sodor, despite that Stepney was mentioned and yeah I don't think this any sort of hint that Stepney is coming back, I'm sure he is on the cards of returning characters to be brought back into the series but to me these are just coincidences. 

This is not from the DVD

We have another 'Down at the Station' segment with the late Mr. Perkins and I quite like it how he was teaching kids about the different powers of locomotives from steam to electric, heck I was amazed that they showed an electric engine, a Virgin Pendolino, on of my favourite electric engines, in a show where it might be set in the 50's/60's given the old look that they show had over the years (e.g - lack of modern technology).

'Learn With Thomas' is the usual moral life lesson of a certain episode that was shown at the end of a PBS broadcast, or should I say Nick. Jr now? It's good for kids to learn about the moral of a particular episode but maybe have kids digest the moral on their own? 

'The Earl's Quiz' is still the same old segment with episodes 'Thomas' Shortcut' and 'Too Many Fire Engines' being the questions. Good for kids and their thinking skills. 

We saw the return of 'Who's That Engine' once again and this time it's James with the episode 'Muddy Matters' which was seen on the 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' DVD in the US. I do miss these segments, they were fun when they first started doing these with Arc Productions. Although I believe they are now moving on from them I do wish we see more of these with different characters instead such as Duck, Toad, Donald and Douglas. 

Overall Rating: 9/10

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That's all of the S21 DVDs reviewed considering how many episodes were broadcasted. My next review will be an editorial of the upcoming 'Big World Big Adventures' trailer that would be out next month and after that would be my review of the S19 DVD that comes out in the UK in July, I might keep that one until August though. So after May, I won't be reviewing anything else until August.

Thank you for reading! 



Saturday, 27 January 2018

DVD Review: Danger at the Docks

Welcome to the year 2018! As we await the outcome of the upcoming special 'Big World! Big Adventures!' and the new series alongside it, we got our first DVD release for the year 2018 with S21 episodes and a S19 episode both written by Davey Moore some S21 episodes by Lee Pressman. So let's start off the new year with this! But first: 

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

DANGER AT THE DOCKS
Written by
Davey Moore
Lee Pressman 


Special Features
Do It Right - Sing-a-long
Trying Song - Sing-a-long
Learn with Thomas: Listen to Advice
Learn with Thomas: Responsibility
The Earl's Quiz
Top 5 Moment: Repairs & Rebuild

Directed by 
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Micaela Winters (HIT/Mattel)
Tracy Blagdon (Jam Filled)

Release Date
8/01/18 (UK)

Distributed by
Mattel Creations/HIT Entertainment (UK)

EPISODES


The episodes consists six episodes of S21 and one from S19. To me the episodes from S21 still share the same word that I gave them when they'd first aired last year as well as 'Den and Dart'. 'Cranky at the End of the Line' still makes me confused about the whole 'series before special' idea as it was inconsitent with Thomas and Edward going to the mainland and that Thomas went to the mainland 'for the first time!' But it didn't leave me dissapointed and Carly was still a good character and I hope we see more of a dynamic between her and Cranky.

The one episode though that made me change my opinion was 'Philip's Number' the fantasy sequence is really creative and when it comes to the idea of railway realism it works in this episode because it is Philip''s fantasy, everything was going through his head. Plus there were some developed moments when it comes to the characters such as Gordon with him mocking Philip and then after the conflict we see him apologising him. In fact after years of focusing on his boastful nature it was quite refreshing to see his caring side so cheers to Lee Pressman for doing that. Having said all that, if I were to go back to the day when this episode first aired, I probably would've given it an 8 or 9. It was really good. 

SPECIAL FEATURES


We have two updated music videos that were around from 'Calling All Engines!' and Season 10. I'll be honest I'm never a fan of the songs that were written by Ed Welch they sometime sound bland, boring and generic and even the singers sound like they were either bored or were just terrible that it makes them feel so forgettable. It's good that they decided to scrap the children choir and just have better singers. I will say the children choir from 'The Adventure Begins' and 'Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure' during the chorus of the songs sound much better than the ones from fourteen years ago. I don't hate the singers as people but they should've had much more better enthusiasm when it cames to the songs. I will say how the way they were edited were not bad with the compilation of footage. I especially like during the instrumental break in the song 'Trying to do things Better', the footage of Diesel and Hiro bumping the trucks from 'No More Mr. Nice Engine' was edited nicely to fit with the beat.


We have two 'Learn with Thomas' segments, both UK dubbed now, talking about the morals from the episodes 'All in Vain' and 'Reds Vs. Blues' and once again they are the usual segments, Thomas talking to the audience and telling us what he had learnt. Same can be said about 'The Earl's Quiz' just the same thing with the Earl asking kids question about what they had been in the clip with one about the Fat Controller's pocket watch which shows various clips from certain episodes and the other question is for the episode 'Wild Water Rescue' about Diesel. 

And we got another segment of the Top 5 lists that debuted from the 'Journey Beyond Sodor' DVD. I do like these Top 5 lists now and Sam and Nigel are great to listen to. These segments just showcased clips from various episodes and specials about the rebuilds and repaints and I do like that little reference to the Reverend.W.Awdry too. A nice little acknowledgement of the past. 

Overall Rating*: 8/10

*I decided to can the overall segment as I would just be repeating myself again from what I said earlier. I will keep that stuff for other things like episodes and specials though. 


Saturday, 23 December 2017

A Retrospective of Thomas & Friends DVD in 2017

As we are getting ready to end another year once again, let's take a look back the DVD reviews of Thomas & Friends that were released during the course of 2017. But first here's the warning:

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

TALES FROM THE RAILS
Review Date:
30/01/17

Looking back, not much to say but I still think the DVD had a good amount of episodes, even if some are duds from both seasons. 

Rating:
7/10

EXTRAORDINARY ENGINES
Review Date
6/03/17

The Hugo episodes were a bit disappointing, I don't hate them but I think they could've been better. I get it that the first episode on this DVD, 'Engine of the Future' was suppose to be the don't jump to conclusion moral. But it feels plain in comparison to an episode like 'Harvey to the Rescue', the reason why that episode is better in my opinion is because Harvey proved his worth after the engines criticised him of being different and that was about his crane arm. Hugo didn't do anything to show his worth and never really had much purpose or a reason to be on Sodor. 

The other episodes like 'The Missing Breakdown Train', while not bad, wasn't that great in my opinion. Not much happens in the episode until Daisy's derailment, it was average. 'Hugo and the Airship' could've been better too if the episode didn't feel like it was two seperate stories morphed into one as it felt like a mystery tale at first then Hugo suddenly have this ambition to fly. 'Three Steam Engines Gruff' by far is the worst episode coming from this DVD. The story could've worked with the classic personas of the three Ffarquhar engines or it could've worked with engines like Bill, Ben and Timothy. The latter could've been a much more better episode.

However this DVD had some good episodes, 'Henry in the Dark' is one my favourites as Lee Pressman had turned the tables around for Henry. I still standby my opinion that Henry's scaredy engine persona was handled more better in S19 and 'The Adventure Begins', because one story had something relatable  for kids and the other worked considering that it was during Henry's early years. But prior to that, Henry's wimpy persona was truly awful and it was nice to see that change. 

Skiff and the Mermaid was simple, nice and hilarious too, especially with the Fat Controller.

The DVD doesn't beat the likes of 'Spills and Thrills' and 'Start Your Engines' and I felt this one was less thematic as some episodes aren't really focused on things that are extraordinary. I think it's because of Hugo? But I think his stories weren't really that extraordinary, maybe it would've been better if the Glynn stories were placed on this DVD too in the UK rather than another random DVD. I mean Glynn is a unique looking engine as well.


Rating:
7/10

THE COMPLETE SERIES 18/DINOS AND DISCOVERIES



Review Date
5/07/17

As usual the DVD showcases 26 episodes and an added bonus disc of 'Dinos and Discoveries'. The problem that the series collection dvds have is the lack of episode titles on the rear cover. Of course there wouldn't be enough room to showcase 26 episodes given the room on the rear. So I think the DVDs should be provided with a booklet with a list of 26 episodes and maybe HIT Entertainment and Mattel might add advertisements for their products and other DVDs within the Thomas & Friends brand. 

Rating:
7/10

TEAM UP WITH THOMAS
Review Date
24/08/17

Looking back, the first three episodes of this DVD are pretty much the bad apples in my opinion. Buckled Tracks should've cut out Belle and Flynn as they weren't really needed, Mucking About has the moral about ignoring others despite that in real life they would pressure you more and more and Blown Away really felt like a repeat of Helen Farrall's previous work such as 'Toad and The Whale' and 'Slow Stephen'. 

But despite that there are some good ones here too, despite 'Pouty James' and it was great seeing two classic songs been given the CGI series treatment. The editing feels a bit choppy but I loved them in the end. Although Mattel and HIT should work on better DVD titles and have them with the episode titles with the tag '& Other Stories' beneath it. 

Rating:
8/10

JOURNEY BEYOND SODOR
Review Date
4/10/17

The special did miles better than what 'The Great Race' had done. The story is focused on one thing rather than a bunch of subplots. The songs are fun and catchy and the newbies are pretty interesting such as Lexie, Theo and Merlin. Three of these characters have a great dynamic and balance with Lexie and Theo's pessimistic attitude and Merlin's confident and positivity. The villains, Hurricane and Frankie are a breath of fresh air. Instead of being the typical bad guys, they were villains that need sympathy since they are the only two engines who work at the steelworks and no one else wants to work there. However they do have some flaws and I think one of them is Beresford. He was not terrible but he didn't really add much to the story especially his song 'Who's Thomas' felt unnecessary although it was quite catchy. There were some things such as the movement of the engines and I do have to admit it was awkward in some places but I see where it works such as in the songs and it was subtle when the engines have dialogue. Plus the who the favourite squabble from Thomas and James feels like it came out of nowhere too and there some consistency issues, especially with Percy feeling scared about going onto the mainland despite that we had a whole special dedicated to him about feel scared but be brave. It's not the best special but it is one of the good ones in my opinion.

However with the news of the new revamped series and that S21 is building up to it with 'A Shed for Edward', I feel now like this special is more like what S19 was. It was filler, it was just there. In the first Cranky episode of S21, Thomas had already been to the mainland despite that S21 was set before JBS. It was really confusing.

Rating:
8/10


CHRISTMAS ON SODOR
Review Date
13/11/17

For the first time we have a new Thomas DVD, that is outside of the movies and the tent pole releases, that are in sync with the UK and US. I will say that the episodes like 'Terence Breaks the Ice' is probably one of Lee Pressman's best stories as it feels like there is more story than comedy and the episode feels like something Christopher Awdry would write, like his annual story 'Terence Takes a Bath'. The other episodes are good too such as 'Confused Coaches', 'Emily in the Middle' and 'Daisy's Perfect Christmas'. I will say that 'The Big Freeze' could've been better with frozen water towers than the steam engines having a lack of coal, I pretty much hate that they stop working when they have no coal whereas they have more in their firebox to keep on steaming. But in the end it was a good episode still. 

Of course you have the three S20 episodes, 'Cautious Connor' was good despite some loss of potential and that it's story is not on par with the likes of Edward's or Rheneas'. But 'Tit for Tat' and 'All In Vain' still hold up as great! 

Rating:
8/10

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And so here we are, the end of 2017! I had this post released early instead of New Years Eve as I will be heading over to America once again to see my sister and her new family. So this will be my last post for the year. 

So what will 2018 bring for Thomas and Friends? I don't know except for the new 'refreshed' series 'Big World! Big Adventure!'. I will be cautiously optimistic about it as the current production staff are still working on the little blue engine and I believe it might have some potential when it comes to the different railways.

But whatever happens will happen and we'll be there to see it. So in the end:

MERRY CHRISTMAS
AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

-NWR1991.

Friday, 22 December 2017

S21 Ep.18: Confused Coaches + Series Overall

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

CONFUSED COACHES
Written by
Helen Farrall

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Micaela Winters

Plot
Spencer and Gordon upset their passengers when their competitive behavior gets extremely uncontrollable.

Air Date
22/12/17

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This episode is a pretty standard Gordon VS. Spencer storyline. But I did find it entertaining with the dynamic between the two characters. The episode also gave me vibes of 'Wrong Road' with the two engines given the wrong coaches. I would've loved it if they had the signalman keeping signals down and points switched for Gordon and signals up for Spencer to complete that vibe. But how the way it came out in the end was good enough. But one of the things that intrigued me by this episode was the fact that this was set on New Years Eve, the first time that it was done in the show's history, not quite ground breaking but it amazed me none the less as I thought this was going to be set during the Christmas rush period. Like the stations are very busy and Thomas and Philip had shunted the wrong coaches due to the busyness of it all and gave the wrong coaches to the engines say Spencer taking Gordon's passengers to the mainland and Gordon stopping at stations with the Duke and Duchess. It wouldn't make much difference though.

As much as I like the comedy of the Fat Controller, I have a feeling that they are overdoing it this season. In this episode it had him falling down and all and I understand it's cartoony and the young audience would find it funny but there needs to be a time that they have to slow it down and maybe showcase more of his authoritative behaviour or add someone else to be the comic relief, like maybe one of his bodyguards or the stationmaster? As I said before, Thomas is more than comedy and it's not good for his character here. It was fine in S19 and S20 because it was balanced but I feel like they haven't balanced it well this season. Heck, he showed his authority side to Gordon at Callan Castle in the end! Can't we see more of that, please?

I love Chris Renshaw's score of 'Auld Lang Syne' it was beautiful and warm given the atmosphere of the end and with Philip being scared of fireworks was pretty adorable as it make him like a little kid being scared of the loud bang and I was one of them when I was young. Although I think it would've been great if they had Donald and Douglas there singing the song as well considering that the song is part of Scottish heritage and that they are from Scotland. The episode is pretty standard and not much happens until the latter part, but it was fine in the end and a nice end to the season and a nice end to Helen Farrall's contribution to the show, her CV showcased nothing for Thomas during 2017 as that is when the new show would be in production. She was one fantastic writer and it's sad that she won't continue on with her excellent writing. She gave the show its simple slice of life feeling towards it and I am very grateful for her for doing that.

SERIES OVERALL

I will say that this season feels a little mixed. It's not that it was bad though. First off it's the continuity. This was suppose to be set before 'Journey Beyond Sodor' but as usual there was no build up but it feels so mixed up bizarrely. In 'Cranky at the End of the Line', Thomas and Edward went to the mainland to pick up Carly and yet in the special, Thomas went onto the mainland (in Mattel's case) for the first time and yet in the special it felt excited like he was on the mainland for the first time! How do these two connect in anyway if you have the series before movie idea? It just makes no sense! It makes me think that the movie was just filler and that S21 was just its own thing so they can get ready for 'Big World Big Adventure' next year.

I also feel like this series had focused more on comedy and while there can be some good out of it, I feel like that they were pushing it a bit too much especially by Lee Pressman as most episodes written by him had much comedy in it. Some of it's OK but I think some were trying hard to make things funny, such as the Fat Controller for example. It's like I said before, Thomas is more than comedy. But there are times were Lee Pressman focuses more on story and less on comedy and 'Terence Breaks the Ice' is a good example of it. The story was simple, there were some action and it feels like something that Christopher Awdry would write. It's not just Lee Pressman when it comes to comedy though, Helen Farrall, who is one of my favourite writers from the show and it's a shame she's not going to take part of the show next year, her CV didn't have any info on S22. But she had implemented some comedy too more on the Fat Controller slipping and bumping into things. It's not as much as Lee Pressman's way but the way she had done for the Fat Controller in 'Confused Coaches' was kind of showing that the slapstick humour was getting old and sometimes unnecessary for him and it's lacking the authoritative nature of him being a railway controller.

I know one of the big 'controversies' is Edward leaving the 'steam team' because he was not 'marketable enough' and that Henry will be leaving too next year. But over the months, I began thinking about Edward, this my opinion and as much as I love the old blue engine, I think he adds nothing new to the table. Now before anyone jumps to conclusions, I am not a huge fan of this idea as I do know that Edward is probably one of the most important characters in history of this brand, he was the first character to come into the Rev.W.Awdry's mind when he was entertaining Christopher while he was sick with measles. But the reason that I said that, the nothing add new to the table business is because most of Edward's stories are just him trying to prove his worth over being old.

I mean in the classic series it was fine because we were just getting to know them. But they've developed his character after that and it wasn't used again until I think by the time of the show's sixth season. The episode, 'Edward the Really Useful Engine' despite being one of my favourites was really the start of the repeatable 'proving his worth' plots for him. The same can be applied for 'Old Reliable Edward' and I considered that to be one of the best episodes for Edward in recent years. To me I think Edward works well as a secondary character more given his personality of being the old but wise engine giving advice to the other engines who are younger than him and with him and Philip being paired together, there is good story potential and character dynamic for the both of them!

Edward had not been 'killed off' as some fans are led to believe. Mattel had confirmed that he and Henry will be featured heavily in the new series so they are still in the show it's just that they aren't going to be part of the main cast anymore and that's fine by me. Edward is out looking after Philip at Wellsworth sheds.

I can say the same with Henry. He had such great character development during the early years with him suffering illness due to his small firebox until he got his new shape. Afterwards he was just this grumpy side character with some traits of him being the friendly giant. I think why they went with the wimpy role during the Miller/Barlow era is to force him some new stories to give him the spotlight and then brought back the special coal stuff as well to make him have a flaw disregarding any continuity from the past! The problem for Henry is that he was forced to have these things onto him even though it had been resolved earlier for him as a character. But these are just my opinions not any actual fact.

The two new engines, Nia and Rebecca, have to prove their worth other than just being these girl characters and I'm willing to give them a chance even though some people are already writing off Nia as bland despite that we don't anything about her yet because the final product is not out yet. Plus I'm pleased that the offical Thomas website stated that Henry and Edward will be featured heavily but that could mean anything. They could have cameo roles or secondary roles and maybe a few episodes focused on them, I don't know what they would do but we would just have to wait. It's a shame though that Henry didn't have a farewell episode like Edward this season but I hope the production team give him a swan song for him in the new revamped series. I don't consider of calling BWBA a 'reboot' considering from the video of the new intro that was released a few months back, there are still things from this season that will carry on (e.g - Carly and Big Mickey). A 'reboot' is unplugging what the show use to be and restructure the whole thing from scratch and adding new things along the way to make it all new. Sort of like S8 but without some past traits like the overused 'steam vs diesel' cliche. The term 'reboot' is more of a buzzword nowadays.

One thing that sort of surprised me was that this season has to be the shortest season in Thomas history since S11-16 had 20 episodes each, that now makes them second shortest. This is all confirmed from Mattel via twitter:

But the one thing that did surprise me was that Mattel had cut down eight episodes of this season! SiF had confirmed this last week on twitter:
And if you look through more of the tweet, Rosie was going to have more than one episode! All because they want room for the development of 'Big World Big Adventure'. I'm not going to be attacking the new show as this is critically towards the higher-ups of Mattel. I feel like fans have been cheated by this because for years they've demanded for Rosie to return with a bigger role and have better characterisation and just having Mattel taking those years of waiting away by not showing more of her character progression feels so much of a let down. There could've been more with the three cranes, Bulgy and I bet Hugo. I remember earlier this year SiF had said there were more plans for Hugo and it's such a shame because we only got two episodes of his last season and they were not good in my opinion. I am annoyed by this move but I just got to take it as it is in the end. I hope with the Sodor portion of the new series we see those episodes having their share of the spotlight. But we just got to wait and see in the end. If not, well I think it's unfair for the hard work that the production team put into writing those episodes and Mattel should've just let S21 go at its own pace rather than abruptly cut it down. At least we know Rosie's job is being a station pilot at Vicarstown as shown in JBS, at least that is her job?

I'm also very sad that this would be Mark Moraghan's last season as narrator. He had such great enthusiasm when it comes to telling a story much more better than what Angelis did during his latter part as the storyteller. Mark had put great effort into his narration and he had that feeling of Ringo Starr, Johnny Morris and Michael Angelis combined. But a part of me is not really put off by the idea of no storyteller next season and I think its because it worked when the show was converted to CGI considering that things can be expressed more better when it comes to emotions. Show don't tell. When Brenner and McCue first started, the narration started to decrease most particularly around S19 and the characters were the ones telling you the story with their dialogue and with the wonderful voice acting and visuals.

I think that the narrator worked well when the show was in its model format. The expressions are static and it works for the narrator to tell the audience how the character is feeling, since it was going for a picture book like feeling when the show started in 1984. I think the idea of Thomas telling the audience is a good idea considering we had those life lesson videos from the official website, DVD releases and on PBS Kids in the US. I do hope they let kids to digest the moral of the story though. I know that the storyteller is one of the key parts that makes Thomas great, but I think the show could work without one. I wish Mark all the very best and to give him thanks for entertaining Thomas fans young and old. I do understand that he said, via twitter months ago, he could be voicing a new character in the new series, I hope so.

It wouldn't just be Mark who would loose the storyteller role. Plenty of non-English narrators will loose their storyteller role too in favour of Thomas such as Jon Kabria from Japan. He had narrated the show when 'Calling All Engines!' debuted in Japan in 2008, three years after the release in the west. But I believe the Japanese fans might be use to Thomas talking to them as shown in their DVDs.

Speaking of voices, I love Colin McFarlane. He was superb as Bulgy with the gruff in his voice, it suits his character very well and it was so different to his Beresford voice in JBS, so distinct. Even Lucy Montgomery was a great new addition to the show as her voices are very different to each other for such characters like Carly and Hannah. But I do think the most disappointing voice was Terence. His voice is just Rex without the Southern english accent. You think with him being a tractor he could have the sound of a farmer, particularly like Johnny Morris' voice in RWS audio books.

Chris Renshaw's music was pretty good but not as good as last season. I feel like last season he can play different styles of music like rock, jazz etc. But this season it was mostly rock and while I like that compare to Robert Hartshorne's filler music, I like his work but I feel like his music was just placed there. Nothing felt thematic. There's got to be more styles of music for him? I mean 'Journey Beyond Sodor' didn't have just rock music it was orchestrated.

In the end this isn't as good as last season. It was clunky, strange and is very unfinished but it was still very good none the less. There were some enjoyable stories and plenty of big surprises along the way such as Big Mickey's face reveal and Bulgy's unexpected return, which I have to say I haven't felt that surprised since Harvey's return in 'Thomas' Shortcut' back in 2013. I do think we will see more episodes with characters like Bulgy next season as the ending to 'Unscheduled Stops' does seem to offer more. Rosie, despite her new colour, really didn't showcase her suppose to be persona. I hope we get more of her in the new series, hopefully next year as she was rather flat. The season isn't quite as good as S20 in my opinion as last season had some terrific stories whereas here it's more comedy focused.

I don't know which episode is the actual conclusion considering that most of these episodes would be out of production order because the episode order is different on the series compilation DVDs. But if 'A Shed for Edward' is, and most likely, the true ending then I can say it was a lovely end to the series and to an era.

So as we conclude S21, I hope 'Big World Big Adventures' offer more than what we were given so far from teasers and press releases. I hope the new characters offer more, unlike some who had written off Nia as a bad character despite that we hardly know anything about her other than being a strong female character, yeah they said that at Cannes, other than she's from Kenya! And that some recently had written off Rebecca now as a 'dumb blonde' stereotype for some reason despite the fact the small clip of her braking is based off the flaws of her actual basis. Look, I understand that no one likes change but it's no boogey man. Sometimes things change for better or worse to keep the show fresh and new instead of rinsing and repeating itself again otherwise it would get stagnant. Getting angry about these new changes and venting about it on social media, in a terrible way, won't solve anything in the end. A bit like Star Wars' fanbase hating some new stuff for some reason in 'The Last Jedi'. I suggest give the new series a try. It's not even out yet and see what the finish product is like. Writing it off based on what little info press releases are saying is not good enough in my opinion because there's so little about the show. We haven't seen the entire finished product yet and that won't happen until later next year. 
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That wraps up all of S21! Be on the look out for the annual DVD retrospective post which will now come out on December 23rd 2017, which will be my last post for the year!

Monday, 18 December 2017

S21 Ep.17: Daisy's Perfect Christmas

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

DAISY'S PERFECT CHRISTMAS
Written by
Davey Moore

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by 
Micaela Winters

Air Date
18/12/17

Plot
Daisy is sad when Christmas doesn't go as planned.

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We are given another Daisy episode by Davey Moore who still nailed her persona very well. The theme of the episode is pretty much about adding new things that are not in the traditional mindset and I see this working with Daisy rather well giving her haughty and diva personality. We all want to experience the same thing each year around Christmas all the time because it was fun and we had good memories of it. But sometimes things need to change to make it a bit better and fresher and not many people like that idea because they think it would be ruined forever.

One example in this episode is Daisy not liking the children singing different versions of Christmas carols as she enjoyed what she had experienced over the years and she complains about it because she's only thinking about her wants and needs. But the children don't mind the new changes because they love it in the end as they are more into the spirit of Christmas! It served and it delivered successfully to them. It's a good message too especially now that the show is having a new format next year ending the usual episode run. It was traditional but as Ryan puts it in this episode it's 'just different'. It'll be different and new but they, hopefully, will keep the spirit of what makes Thomas good still as it did before. Davey Moore's writing for these kind of messages feels like he knows about the fanbase or that it was big coincidence. The moral that he'd showcased here is good enough to be learnt by anyone whether they're a child or an adult.

I can relate to Daisy with her dislike of winter. Of course I live in Australia in the Southern Hemisphere so our seasons are different compare to the north as we have our winters between June-August. But anyway, one of things I love about winter is the NSW steam locomotive season as they run tours across the state until the late spring and another thing is the NRL, National Rugby League. I'm sure there might be some people living in the north of England who had heard that sport of course if they're reading this post. If you're in the US and know who Russell Crowe is, it's the sport that he loves. The NRL is different to the AFL though. It's always fun during winter to watch the game and of course the famous State of Origin where players from both NSW (New South Wales) & QLD (Queensland) rivals together every year to win the series. It's almost the equivalent of the NFL's Super Bowl.

I digress here, but the season of winter is not my favourite season. Of course I do like to have the warm heater on and snuggle in my bed in the night but when you go outside it's bleak and cold and damp at times. So I can relate to Daisy here when it comes to winter. Overall this episode was very good and I enjoyed it and it had a good message that traditions may have changed but it's the spirit that counts.



Episode Rating:
Stuck in Gear - 8/10
Series Rating (So far):
134/170

Monday, 11 December 2017

S21 Ep.16: Terence Breaks the Ice

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

TERENCE BREAKS THE ICE
Written by
Lee Pressman 

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by 
Micaela Winters

Air Date
11/12/17

Plot
Terence takes a shortcut across a frozen lake 
while collecting Christmas trees for the holiday market.

Lee Pressman does have some stories this season that were up and down for me and after 'Philip's Number', I was starting to loose interest in his writing as he focuses more on comedy than story, it was fine at first with Dowager Hatt but with comedy being the main focus it was loosing some appeal, I understand it could be under Mattel's control but we don't know much about the facts to be honest. He had written, Lee Pressman, some episodes that were more story than comedy and of course they were 'Kevin's Cranky Friend', 'A Shed for Edward', despite some comedy, and 'Gordon and Spencer'.

With this episode, there was little bits of comedy but there was more story! Terence's comeback was a bit subtle and that is good not big not flashy just small and the flashback that was provided, 'Thomas, Terence and the Snow', was a good way to introduce the younger audience on who and what he is before, I can admit it is obvivously fan service but it works that way to get young kids to understand the history between the two despite that most of it was used to pan out the story as the plot was a bit thin and the setting had that very Season 1 feeling towards it with simple countryside and background and it was nice of Chris Renshaw to remake the little ditty of Thomas being stuck in the snow in the flashback.

I will say the voice for Terence was disappointing. To me he sounds like Rex but without his accent. Why not have his voice to be like a farmer from the west country? Considering he's a tractor that works on a farm as that would make sense.

The rest of the episode was good and it feels like something that Christopher Awdry would write, like his 'Terence Takes a Bath' annual story which has some similarities of this episode. It was simple and it was nice, despite the plot being a bit thin, with a nice moral that it's better to be sensible to be safe. There was a nice balance between story and comedy and it was probably the best story by Lee Pressman since Dowager Hatt's episode this season!



Episode Rating:
Stuck in Gear - 8/10
Series Rating (So Far):
131/160