Friday, 30 November 2012

S5 Ep.17 Thomas and The Rumours

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

THOMAS AND THE RUMOURS
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
15/10/98

Plot:
The engines were jumping to conclusions about Harold taking a special visitor instead of an engine. But it turns out it was something different. 

PRO:
- A great moral about jumping to conclusions.
- The crash was excellent. 

CON:
N/A


Although you can now see the engines going to a different line by themselves, here you see Gordon and his driver missing a signal, something that can really happen to an engine in real life. Like TUGS, the story has a great moral for children and that is 'jumping to conclusions', like the episode 'Sunshine' when the star fleet thought Sunshine was out of control and was blaming him for the trouble, but it turns out Zorran did it all to try and snag the ocean liner contract. Here, you have the engines thinking that Harold wanting to get rid of them, but it turns out that the gentlemen was finding a suitable ground from the air for the children's playground. 

 The episode is good and I do enjoy watching it.

Rating: 4/5


Thursday, 29 November 2012

S5 Ep.16: Thomas, Percy and Old Slow Coach

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

THOMAS, PERCY AND OLD SLOW COACH
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
13/10/98

Plot:
Thomas and Percy found an old coach at the scrap yard. She was to be broken up. Meanwhile a workmen's hut was on fire and was destroyed. Thomas and Percy suggested the idea of using Old Slow Coach and the Fat Controller agreed. In the end, Slow coach enjoys her new life as a hut for the workmen.

PRO:
- Another episode with a perfect teaching moral about restoration.

CON:
- It can't take a day to restore an old coach.

As I was thinking about other episode with an engine saving something from scrap, I completely forgot about this episode. Haha, old age can get the better of you. But anyway, like 'Saved from Scrap', 'Escape' and 'Percy and The Calliope', this episode has a great teaching moral about restoration. You have Old Slow Coach who is to be broken up soon and is then used as a workmen's hut, though I do wonder why it took one day to restore a carriage? The episode is great and is certainly one of the best. 

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

S5 Ep.14 Toby's Discovery

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

TOBY'S DISCOVERY
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
9/10/98

Plot:
Toby meets up an old engine dubbed as 'The Old Warrior'

PRO:
- The spooky atmosphere of the mine was fantastic

CON:
- Toby being a wimp
- Bertram using Duke's basis. 

Despite that I said many time that Toby was being the usual wimp in HIT's recent series, this is where I believe it first started. Compare this episode towards 'Ghost Train'. Sure in that episode, Toby is being a 'wimp', but he was only pretending so to fool Thomas. Here Toby is just plain scared when really he should be wise about not being scared. Plus there is Bertram, a pointless merchandising character, according to Britt Allcroft he was going to be a tank engine. But due to financing, the model was not made and so the character's model was a used Duke with Smudger's face. When I saw this episode when it was first aired in Australia many years ago, I was not fooled by the difference, my brother and I knew that it was Duke's model. It would be nice to see the original plans of the character, but I believe even that won't make him a great character. 

However, I do give credit to the scene when the mine was at night, it created a spooky atmosphere. The episode can scare little kids, it did to me though. But it's certainly not one of my favourites, the story is good, but Toby's personality was bad and possibly like any other fan of the show, Bertram is just a pointless character to have. 

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

S5 Ep.15: Something In The Air

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

SOMETHING IN THE AIR
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date
11/10/98

Plot:
Henry ignores Thomas' warning about a dangerous line.

PRO:
- The fog effect 

CON:
- Henry derailing himself and still moves into the water

The episode is one of the bests, but like every other fan, I think 'The Flying Kipper' is jinxed. Every time in the RWS and TV series, there is always an accident with the train. Though I do have to say why on earth when Henry is derailed, he still travels through the water? That is just unrealistic. But I do have to say the fog effect is great as always when it comes to stories that are dark and I do like how Henry spits out the water at the end of his accident. I think after this, they stopped 'Flying Kipper' episodes because it can get to repetitive and the audience knows what will happen if a train called 'The Flying Kipper' is being used. Yes I know it was mentioned in 'Whiff's Wish' but there was no accident and maybe one day they should have an episode were Henry successfully took the train without any problem. The episode is good and it's certainly one of the season's best. 

 Rating: 4/5

Monday, 26 November 2012

S5 Ep.13: Stepney Gets Lost

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

STEPNEY GETS LOST
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
7/10/98

Plot:
Stepney is to help with Mavis and Toby at the Quarry. Later that night, Stepney got lost in fog and ended up being at the scrapyard run by two diesels, 'Arry and Bert. But thanks to the Fat Controller, Stepney was saved. 

PRO:
- The scrap yard does have some spooky atmosphere

CON:
- Stepney being treated like he is from the Fat Controller's railway.
- How does the Fat Controller know that Stepney was at the scrap yard?


I'm not amused by how the way Stepney is treated in Season 5, 6 and 12. This is why I'm glad that Flying Scotsman is not in the series. Here, it seems that Stepney is now treated like one of the Fat Controller's engine since there was no mention of 'The Bluebell Railway', when really we all know he's a preserved steam locomotive and should be treated like that. However, the scrapyard has a terrific spooky atmosphere and looks like the bounds of hell for the steam engines. Though 'Arry and Bert do look great in weathered condition, they would've been Allcroft's one-off's. The story is OK, but it would've gone better with another engine aside from Stepney. Even though the scrap yard has a terrific spooky atmosphere, kids from the target range will get scared by the visual detail of that scene.

Rating: 2.5/5

S5 Ep.12: Double Teething Troubles

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

DOUBLE TEETHING TROUBLES
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
5/10/98

Plot:
A new diesel came to the Island to help with Bill and Ben. However he has teething troubles with his cooling system due to him being new. The next day he arrived and was helping with a line of trucks with the two tank engine, however he overheated again. But the twins puffed away with the trucks along with the diesel. In the end, the twins, along with BoCo and Duck talked about teething troubles all night long.

PRO:
- Derek's basis has actually have teething troubles.
- Bill and Ben bashing into each other provided some comedic atmosphere.

CON:
- Derek being a one-off character.

The episode is OK, but the episode would be more better for Diesel himself, which by the way was never in the season. Here Derek is their for the merchandise, with Cranky and 'Arry and Bert, at the time if they were Allcroft's one-offs. But unlike HIT's pointless one-off's, there is some background towards this character. Derek's basis has teething troubles with their cooling systems when they were new, the BR Class 17. But it's just a shame that Derek is never mentioned until the merchandising came out with his name and yet we never see him again, I guess he wasn't that popular? 

But I do think a scene with BoCo at Gordon's Hill would be great as he would be telling Derek that he had teething troubles before and that the Fat Controller fixed the problem. The story is OK, but it would be more better to have a character like BoCo or Diesel to help out. 

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, 24 November 2012

S5 Ep.11: Haunted Henry

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

HAUNTED HENRY
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
3/10/98

Plot:
Edward warned Henry that whenever an owl hoots a mist rolls in and a legend saying that their is a ghost too. But as they travelled down an old line, their was a warning from a strange figure about a viaduct. No one knows who warned them. As the viaduct was repaired, they took the goods again. But as the trucks were scared, they landed off a cliff. It turns out the so called 'ghost' was an old fog man and in the end, his station was reopened. 

PRO:
- The story

CON: 
- Despite that Henry is using a signal code, but he was using 'light engine' instead of 'General Goods'.

Many people might say that this episode scared them when they were young. Well, I wasn't, I was never scared of any Thomas episode that has a bit of a halloween or haunted kind of storyline, minus one. This is in fact another favourite episode of mine. The only thing I love about the episode is the story. The story has a bit of drama and a great accident. Though a bit of railway realism nitpick, sorry everyone :P, it was great that they used a signal coded lamp, but what they used for Henry on his second round trip to the old line was 'Light engine', which is just one lamp on his right side of his running board when really he should be using 'General goods' which is one lamp on the top of his smoke box and on the right of his running board.

But really, this is a favorite of mine and the whole story line is just the best thing about this episode.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, 23 November 2012

S5 Ep.10: Toby & The Flood

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

TOBY & THE FLOOD
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
28/9/98

Plot:
With the wet weather, Toby began to inspect the dam. It was breaking up and as it broke, it send Toby down the flood waters on an old bridge. They near a waterfall, but thanks to Percy and Harold they saved Toby.

PRO:
N/A

CON:
- How unrealistic of Toby to be on the top of the dam and the broken bridge?
- The ending of Toby being brave is just confusing.


The episode is dramatic with the storyline, but it's also unrealistic and I believe you know why. But the episode's ending is just confusing. They said that Toby is brave, yet, he didn't even do anything that is brave. Percy and Harold were the ones doing all the work. But the episode is dramatic and is OK, but has its flaws. 

Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday, 22 November 2012

S5 Ep.9: Put Upon Percy

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

PUT UPON PERCY
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
24/9/98

Plot:
Percy was feeling 'put upon' with too much work, but the other engines were unsympathetic towards it. However one day, Percy had an accident at a coal mine.

PRO:
- The interior of the mine shaft was great.
- The accident was greatly filmed
- Ten trucks hauled by Percy at the docks

CON:
- N/A

The episode is great! The interior of the mine shaft is great, I love the lighting and the length of it, though I do believe in one scene you can see a light. The whole avalanche and how the barrier was breaking was amazing as well along with the dramatic music by Mike 'O Donnell & Junior Campbell.
In the recent episodes of Thomas, you see an engine bashing about four and three trucks about at the shunting yard. But in this episode, when Percy was shunting trucks, you see him shunting about ten variety of trucks. Something that is rare for a tank engine to haul nowadays. No flaws are done in the episode it was great. Though I would say this, younger Thomas fans might find this scary, it did to me when I was little, but older Thomas fans will enjoy. 

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

S5 Ep.8: Baa!

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

BAA!
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
22/9/98

Plot:
It was the 'best dressed station' competition on Sodor and Percy is to take fruit and vegetables to display at Maithwate station. However, the display was all trashed, Percy, his crew and the passengers  thought it was the ram. But it turns out it was three little boys, taken care by the ram. Maithwate won the prize and in the end the ram ate the Fat Controller's hat.

PRO:
- N/A 

CON:
- A wild ram wouldn't accept food from a strange human.


The episode is OK, but I don't think a human being would go up to a ram and give them cabbage leaves. Ram's can be very protective when they see a human for the first time. The episode is OK to watch but its certainly not a strong one.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

DVD Review: きかんしゃトーマスに挑戦! きみはどれだけ知っているかな? ~ソドー島の謎をあばけ!

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

きかんしゃトーマスに挑戦! きみはどれだけ知っているかな? ~ソドー島の謎をあばけ!~
(Thomas the Tank Engine Challenge! Do you know how much you? Uncover the mystery of the island - Sodor! ~)


Release Date:
4/10/12

Thomas & The Treasure

Written by
Marc Seal 

Directed by
Steve Asquith

Distributed by
Sony Creative Productions Inc. 

Another Japanese DVD for 2012. I find Japan to be the most creative people when it comes to their Thomas DVDs. Unlike here in Australia, America and the UK, we have the CGI DVDs with four, five or six episodes of badly written stories with no value for money. In Japan, when you see their content, they have CGI DVDs, but they mostly release DVDs filled with classic episodes from the early years right up until 2008, with the classic episodes being in their respective remastered state, I've been buying a few before the UK had released the Series 1 - 3 compilation DVDs. 

The DVD shows us many things on the Island of Sodor like the main line, Thomas' branch line, Edward's branch line, the Little Western and so on. Including the Culdee Fell Mountain Railway, which was never featured in the television series before, maybe one day Andrew Brenner might fit them in the series one day? But hey, a man can dream can he? They showed the Sodor Island map but not HIT's version's like in the opening segments but in its Railway Series form, with some added locations from the new series. 

Great Waterton is located near the Skarloey Railway and the Sodor Airport is located near Kellsthorphe Road, much like the one on the 'Standard Gauge and Narrow Gauge' video on the 'Blue Mountain Mystery' DVD. One thing, I'm glad they showed Duck's line, good to know that they haven't forgotten him or any of the classic characters. That's another thing I like about Japan, no matter what with the new Thomas series showing characters being bombarded into the series to sell toys and playsets, they never forget the Awdry characters such as Duck, the Culdee Fell engines and more. 

The DVD is filled with some great photographs by Terry Permane, who've worked on the show as 'Director of Photography' between 1984-2008 and his pictures were used for Thomas tie-in products such as books, magazines, video and DVD covers etc. making him one of the longest Thomas crew members when the show was in model form. There was some rare pictures too like from 'One Good Turn' we see Ben scowling at Bill on the turntable, either that might be a deleted scene or just a promo shot:



With engines like Spencer, they showed a picture of Mallard. I believe they were talking about Spencer and his respective basis, the A4's and they showed Arthur showing where he came from with his letters 'L.M.S' on the side tanks. The DVD comes with a bonus episode, 'Thomas and The Treasure' narrated by Jon Kabria along with various voice actors. The episode sounds nice in the Japanese language despite the three strikes formula. 

I've enjoyed this DVD very much. It shows all the lines across the Island of Sodor including one that was not featured in the television series and only in the books. It's one of the best creative DVDs that I've laid my eyes on and I wish HIT does something like these for their audiences in Australia, America and the UK instead of the four episodes of the CGI series DVDs. If you're interested in buying DVDs from Japan, I recommend buying from Amazon JP, though I only get it through express delivery and it gets hefty with the price, I heard from various Thomas users, that you can get them on FromJapan, which what I used to get the TUGS merchandise from Yahoo! Japan. They are another great site to get your Japanese goods from. However, if you're wondering about the region codes, they're in Region 2 so you might want to check your DVD region and I suggest getting a region free DVD player for your computer. But some might not play all regions, don't know why :P 

Rating: 5/5





S5 Ep.7: Bye George

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

BYE GEORGE
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
20/8/98

Plot:
George was being a pest to the engines once again and as he was to tarmac an old line, he was enjoying it. However he deliberately tarmac the rails and caused Thomas to derail. Meanwhile Duck was shunting trucks in the yards at Wellsworth, but George was blocking the way and a truck was stuck near the main line. But Gordon smashed the truck which broke to bits and the Fat Controller punished George for his misbehaviour. 

PRO:
- Despite the unrealism of the trucks' fate, it was awesome the crash.
- The interior of the passenger coach was craftily made

CON:
- It was unrealistic of Gordon to smash into the truck that made it fly into the air.
- Why did Gordon have Duck's whistle?
- How air headed are the workmen?

The episode is fine, but their are problems. How air headed are the workmen in the episode? They listen to George instead of doing the job themselves. They're ripping up an old branch line, but they have to keep the used railway line after they tarmac the road. Despite the awesome crash made by Gordon, it was unrealistic to fly it up in the air and the interior of the dining carriage was spot on. It's a shame we never get to see George having a role, minus some cameos in some post-Allcroft/Gullane company episodes.

Rating: 4/5


Monday, 19 November 2012

S5 Ep.6: Gordon and The Gremilns

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

GORDON AND THE GREMLINS
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
16/9/98

Plot:
The Fat Controller is expecting a V.I.P, but Gordon's fire wasn't steaming well. Later in the day, Gordon took the V.I.P from Kirk Ronan to Wellsworth were Thomas is waiting. The V.I.P's dog ran away after Gordon blew his whistle. He scared by a bull and ran to Thomas' cab. It turns out the V.I.P is the Fat Controller's mother.

PRO:
- The stop animation is amazing with the dog running.

CON:
- What was the point of Thomas taking the V.I.P to Kirk Ronan?
- What was the point of Gordon taking two coaches?

This episode just didn't make any sense in most parts. What was the point of Thomas taking the Fat Controller's mother to Kirk Ronan when he's going to meet up with them at Wellsworth? That is just pointless, they could've used Daisy, Duck or Oliver for the Kirk Ronan run. Plus what was the point of two coaches for one passenger? But the stop animation was great to see. The episode really has some pointless parts, but its OK.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, 18 November 2012

S5 Ep.5: James and The Trouble With Trees

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

JAMES AND THE TROUBLE WITH TREES
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
13/9/98

Plot:
James was boasting that he's an important engine and when Henry had an accident with some trucks, James was teasing him about the forest. Henry told him that the Fat Controller's workmen are inspecting the line if trees are to close and that they can cause trouble. However, boastful James thinks he can just push it aside. However, the weather changed and the Fat Controller assigned James to take trucks. But with the strong wind and rain, a tree moved down onto the line. Thomas saved him and the two engine made amends. 

PRO:
- How the way the tree moved was amazing.

CON:
- The express are nothing but just red branch line coaches
- Shame that Knapford station wasn't in the episode.
- Wouldn't the tree fall down instead of standing up right?
- How was Thomas notified by the accident?

The episode is great, I love how the way the tree moved and the visuals, but there are many flaws with the episode. It's a shame that Knapford station wasn't in the episode. Maybe it was to be taken to Canada at the time of production of 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad'? Or it wasn't re-built in time for the fifth series? And how was Thomas notified by the accident? Did the guard go to a near signal box and informed the accident or was Thomas making his way somewhere? However, it does show the dangers of trees being close to the railway line and I think it would go up to Awdry's standards. 

It's a good episode, but with a few flaws.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, 17 November 2012

S5 Ep.4: Lady Hatt's Birthday Party

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

LADY HATT'S BIRTHDAY PARTY
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton

Air Date:
9/9/98

Plot:
It was Lady Hatt's birthday and as the Fat Controller was leaving work early, his car was broken down, got his suit dirty and was fireman for the day in Thomas' cab. But he manage to get to the party, dirty, but happy.

PRO:
- A breathe of fresh when their is an episode focus on the people of Sodor.
- The interior of the house during the party.

CON:
- How come their was no warning for the hole in the road?
- How did Thomas get to the water tower without his fireman?
- Doesn't the Fat Controller live at Wellsworth not Kirk Ronan? 

I actually like this episode, sure it shows the vehicles of Sodor, but its nice to see a human having the spotlight of the show instead of an engine or any type of vehicle. It just shows some fresh air, I hope they do focus on the people of Sodor one day in the new series. But as always there are some nitpicks, when the Fat Controller was driving to the party, why was their no signs saying that there is a hole in the road? Plus, how lazy was the Fat Controller saying that he won't change his tyre because it would dirty his suit. I went out on the road once and changed a tire on my family car, sure its dirty work, but really it more important to change tires then just wait for help or better yet, why can't he call for help? if the show is set around the year when the series aired, he would've have a mobile phone with him. 

But anyway, the episode is good, its fresh, its great and its one of my favourite S5 episodes. 

Rating: 4.9/5

Friday, 16 November 2012

S5 Ep.3: A Better View For Gordon

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

A BETTER VIEW FOR GORDON
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
5/9/98

Plot:
A new station is to be opened and Gordon is to take an empty express train. When he saw the new station 'Kirk Ronan', he found it dull and boring and need a panoramic view. Gordon was ill that day as well as steam was billowing in his cab. When he was repaired, Gordon is to go to the opening of the new station. But his brakes were not working and Gordon crashed right into the station. Gordon was repaired and arrived safely at the new station with a new panoramic view. 

PRO:
- The crash was awesome
- The crash was based on the Gare Montparnasse crash in 1895

CON:
- 'Something's broken inside you Gordon...' they hired a railway consultant to help out with the episodes, but, it doesn't sound consultant to me.

- Gordon being pompous like always, instead of maturing himself and accepting things in life in the RWS.

- How did Gordon turn around when he leaves the station, there's no turntable.

OK, this episode is my favourite episode because of the crash and if this episode has a teaching moral it states that railways are different towards any other kind of environment. But, there are a few nitpicks sorry. First off the driver says 'Something's broken inside you Gordon...' what was it? There was a railway consultant during production, how does that sound like railway terminology?  Gordon being pompous as in the books, he has matured himself and granted things in his life. 

But aside from the cons and nitpicking, the episode is great and the crash was spectacular, though it could scare kids in the target range. When I was a kid, I was afraid of this episode, but after seeing it, I loved it! 

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, 15 November 2012

S5 Ep.2: Horrid Lorry

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

HORRID LORRY
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Directed by
David Mitton 

Air Date:
3/9/98

Plot:
Three lorries came to Sodor and threatened to take the jobs of the engine and were being rude to them. As Toby was heading to the farm, a lorry ran out of control and smashed off the mountain road. Later, one lorry came back all broken down due to the overload of flower and another lorry had sunken. And in the end, the engines all worked hard to be really useful. 

PRO:
- The new locations are actually well made, the Flour Mill, the Quarry and the Gorge.

CON:
- What was the explanation for the lorries arrival?
- Butch has no face, yet he was named and was given a personality.
- Why was the lorry from the quarry out of control?


Even though Cranky the Crane is one of Britt Allcroft's successful characters, the Horrid Lorries are the first to be the one-off's. The road vs. rail rivalry is still great and I do love the new settings of the series, but despite the quarry set being fantastic, it does look small. But I often wonder, what was the whole reason to bring the lorries? There is no mention or back story, is there a new company on Sodor that transfer goods that is goes better by road instead of rail? Such a shame that former one-off, Butch has no face and when I was a kid seeing the internet for the first time in 1998, Butch was seen as a character with a complete back story and personality and yet he has no face and no lines and was given a boat load of merchandise. 

Even though the accident is realistic, but why was the quarry lorry running out of control? Is the driver not a skillful driver? The episode is another OK, but it had many flaws.

 Rating: 3.5/5


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

iPad App Review: Mix Up Match Up

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

MIX UP MATCH UP 

Another app for the Thomas & Friends franchise entitled, 'Mix Up Match Up'. The Thomas applications have been going on since 2010 with the release of 'Thomas Game Pack' for the iPod Touch and the iPhone during the 65th anniversary of the Railway Series books by HIT Entertainment and then the 'Thomas Tilt and Go' game. Later on in the year, ebooks of previously released books in the US were made with interactive storytelling by Keith Wickham, the voice of Edward, James, Percy etc. in the recent animated series of 'Thomas & Friends'. There are some apps that allow interactive storytelling and record your own voice. 

 'Thomas and Toby' app

There is also the recently released ebooks of 'The Railway Series' which is on for sale only to UK  members on iTunes and US on Amazon Kindle. I bought some when I was in Ireland back in August 2012 and they are in their unique shape but best more viewable on an iPad in my opinion then an iPhone. 


Now on with the review:

Guess each engine and every time you win you get another
engine as part of the game

The app is of course aimed for kids. They guess the engine by touching its circle if you get it wrong the narrator will tell you to try again. To win engines you have to guess each engine right before time runs out. Though there can be a bit of an error in the game which I've experienced yesterday while I was playing. Sometimes any character will pop up but its circle picture doesn't appear on either side, for example, Spencer pulls out of the Steamworks, that's where you'll get him, he's there in the centre, but the two pictures are Thomas and James. If you experienced this kind of problem, the best thing to do is to reset your iPad, it worked for me. 

After the three games, you can place stickers of your choice at the three locations and save them to your photo library. 

Place stickers of anything in the three places on this app.

You can place anything anywhere, kids will like this. The price range is as followed in their respective countries:

UK£1.49
US - $1.99
AUS - $1.99

OVERALL 
The app is really much for kids, it helps them with memory of which engine that comes out of the docks, steamworks or sheds. That's really much I have to say about this app, if you have kids and want to give them some entertainment, buy this app, the links below will take you the iTunes preview:







S5 Ep.1: Cranky Bugs

As the Railway Series rights were bought by Britt Allcroft in full ownership, Series 5 doesn't show any more adapted stories from the actual books. Instead, they (Allcroft and Mitton) created their own stories and characters. Some of the stories are great but some stories in my opinions can get dark and some episode's with the accidents are not suitable for children of the target range of the show. George Carlin was replaced as he went back to his comedy show, but he did say playing as Mr. Conductor and narrating Thomas was the happiest thing he did in his life. George Carlin was replaced by Hollywood actor, Alec Baldwin, who will later play as Mr. Conductor in the box office flop, 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad'. But sadly a year earlier, Rev.W.Awdry have passed away and in 1996, a year earlier before the passing of Wilbert Awdry, Christopher Awdry wrote his last Railway Series book (before 2007 and 2011) entitled 'New Little Engine'. So let's take a look at the new and refreshed Thomas the Tank Engine in Series 5, but first:

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

CRANKY BUGS
Written by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton

Directed by
David Mitton

Air Date:
1/9/98

Plot:
A new crane named Cranky is causing trouble towards Thomas and Percy calling them 'little bugs'. When Gordon and James actually agree with Cranky, he grew bossier and made the two tank engines delayed which made the Fat Controller cross. Later that night, a storm came to the island and the big engines were trapped at the docks. A tramp steamer was out of control and went straight for the shed, trapping the big engines and knocking down Cranky. Thomas and Percy came to the rescue, Cranky admitted he was rude to them and the two tank engines and the crane became good friends. 

PRO:
- Amazing work on the tramper's crash
- Percy pulling Cranky back was funny.

CON:
- What was the reason Cranky was at Brendam in the first place?
- Why were the big engines trapped at the docks?
- Duck is not a big engine.
- Percy couldn't be that strong to haul Cranky?

The episode is OK, I don't hate it, but there are some flaws with it. Their was no specific reason why Cranky came to the docks in the first place, what was the reason, do they need more cranes? Why were the big engines trapped at the docks? Yet later on with the episode, the Fat Controller, Thomas and Percy manage to get to the docks later in the episode. Even though I said that Percy pulling Cranky down was funny, but with Percy's basis, being a GWR Avonside tank engine with a trojan body, his weight is 22.33t and with Cranky not having a basis, I don't how strong he would be, but, wouldn't Percy have his wheels slipping? 

But despite all the nitpicking, the tramper's crash is well filmed, both the model work and the filming. 

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

S4 Ep.26: Mind That Bike

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

MIND THAT BIKE
Originally Written by
Christopher Awdry

Adapted for Television by
Britt Alllcroft and David Mitton 

Air Date:
30/5/95

Plot:
Tom Tipper's post master can't spare money for Tipper's van and so he has to use a bicycle to do his rounds. One day, Tom was to sign important papers for the Fat Controller, which will make him and he left his cycle near Percy's mail van and Percy moved crushing the bike to bits. Tom was sad, but the next day, Tom got a new van by the postmaster and he's now happy. 

PRO:
- N/A

CON:
- Tom Tipper went to Lakeside, he would let the Skarloey Railway engines deliver the mail.
- Tom didn't leave his bike near Percy's mail van, some boys took it and rode down the platform.

I have no problem with the episode. But there are three flaws. But really, why did Tom Tipper leave his bike near one of Percy's mail vans? He never did that in the story, he actually left it somewhere near the fence and some boys rode on, went down the platform with it and nearly killed themselves. They should've adapted that part and show us why we need to be safe when it comes to play around near railway property. The episode did leave a bit of Railway Series trace, but it's more of a Britt Allcroft and David Mitton script.

Rating: 2.5/5

OVERALL RATING:
90.3/100

OVERALL:
Season 4 is an OK season, it's filmed fantastically and the stories do stick with the Awdry story. But some lacked and some were just out of placed and pointless to adapt. The 'Duke The Lost Engine' series was just in random places and episodes like 'Paint Pots and Queens' is just pointless to adapt, you can see why in my review of it. However Mike O' Donnell and Junior Campbell have changed the tempo of the music and had made some new ones. I especially like the 'Skarloey Railway' theme. It's nice, calm and relaxing. Michael Angelis shows some enthusiasm towards the episodes and have provided great acting. George Carlin, I'm not too fond of the US narration, but I do watch some episodes with his narration and he great as well. It's a shame that this is the last series to adapt Rev.Awdry's stories as Britt Allcroft bought the whole rights of the books. Series 4 is OK and I do enjoy it, its not my huge favourite. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

S4 Ep.25: Special Attraction

Since yesterday was 'Remembrance Day' this is delayed until today, in honor.

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

SPECIAL ATTRACTION
Originally Written by
Christopher Awdry

Adapted for Television by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Air Date:
1/5/95

Plot:
The seaside is hosting a 'special attraction' and Toby is to be one. But they don't have room and don't need a special attraction at all. Meanwhile, there is trouble at the harbour and it was Bulstrode a disagreeable barge who never stops complaining. He wanted the trucks to be shunted, but as Percy pushed the trucks they burst through buffers and landed right down on the barge. Bulstrode was left stranded on the beach until he is useful. 

PRO:
- The crash was awesome!

CON:
- Why put the two stories together. Toby's seaside happened in the past and Bulstrode happened in recent time. 
- Why were buffers and then a few miles further on, there is still more track?

I don't see why they merged these two stories together? 'Toby's Seaside Holiday' would be an episode itself as well as 'Bulstrode' and I don't know why there is more track when the trucks burst through some buffers? But then again the crash is just awesome and I do enjoy it. The episode is OK, but they should've kept the Bulstrode part as an episode itself.

Rating: 3/5 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

S4 Ep.24: Fish

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

FISH
Originally Written by
Christopher Awdry

Adapted for Television by
Britt Allcroft and David Mitton 

Air Date:
20/4/95

Plot:
Henry is taking 'The Flying Kipper' once again, but with some old vans that have never been used for years. Duck is to be banking the train from Wellsworth over the top of Gordon's Hill. But the tail lamp broke off and Duck crashed into the train. In the end, Duck now knows why fish are troublesome, thanks to Thomas warning him.

PRO:
- The setting of the harbour was nice at night. 

CON:
- This also in the Railway Series story, but, wouldn't Duck be taking care of his branch line, even at night?
- Such a shame that Duck's front end was not damaged, like in the RWS story.

The episode is really not bad, but there a few flaws that I think both this episode and its story I think that got wrong. First off as I was watching the Railway Series story on YT, Ted Robbins says, 'Duck often waited at Edward's Station...' I know it could happen, but wouldn't Duck need to look after his branch line? I guess maybe with Oliver, Donald and Douglas around he can do this work, but then again, they could be busy with other stuff around the main line. But this only a nitpick I pulled out. It's a shame also that Duck's front was not badly damaged like in the story. A crash like that can make an engine's part all mangled up. But the setting of the harbour is nice and I do like the crash. But to me, I think they should have an episode of the 'Flying Kipper' and make it a jinxed train since there has been many crashes involved with the train both in the TV series and the Railway Series books. The episode is good, it did stick with the original story, despite a few flaws. 

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, 10 November 2012

S4 Ep.23: Paint Pots and Queens

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

PAINT POTS AND QUEENS
Originally Written by
The Rev.W.Awdry 

Adapted for Television by
Britt Allcroft and David mitton 

Air Date:
16/4/95

Plot:
The Queen of England is coming to Sodor. But Edward thinks he's too old, Gordon's in disgrace and Henry was being rather boastful that he'll be chosen. But his dome get all covered in paint as his smoke billowed the painters view of the big station canopy. Meanwhile, Thomas and Gordon were in a siding and Gordon asked the Fat Controller would he has his branch line again. So as a reward, Gordon is to haul the royal train and Thomas is to look after the coaches. The day came and the Queen looked at all the engines and they felt proud. 

PRO:
- The decoration on the big station and Gordon was a nice touch

CON:
- This should've been kept in the first season
- Why three express coaches for one royal passenger?

This episode should've been kept for the first season. First off the punishment that Thomas and Gordon received. Thomas lost his branch line because of him falling down a mine and Gordon's punishment for not taking the express was because of him falling down a ditch. That happened in the Railway Series book 'Gordon the Big Engine', here we see no explanation towards it. In the end, why would Gordon take about three carriages for one royal passenger? One is enough. But I have to say, the setting of the big station was really nice with all the flags and bunting and the flags and so was Gordon, but I wish they made the royal coat of arms on his running board and not on the sides of his smokebox. 

When I was a kid, I thought the two headboards were actually advertisements for a bakery. Don't know why? But I was a kid when I first saw this on VHS.

 Rating: 3.5/5

Friday, 9 November 2012

DVD Review: Engine Friends

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

ENGINE FRIENDS
Written by
Rev.W.Awdry
Christopher Awdry 
Britt Allcroft & David Mitton 
Simon Nicholson 
Brian Trueman 
Paul Larson 
Jan Page
Abi Grant
Marc Seal 
Sharon Miller
Simon Spencer
Wayne Jackman 

Directed by
David Mitton
Steve Asquith 

Episodes
20 selected episodes from S1 - 11, 
with four episodes from the first two seasons all remastered. 

Special Features
- Sir Topham Hatt's Scrapbook 
- Picture Puzzle Fun 
- "Who Am I" Picture Game 
- Gordon's Memory Game 
- "Spot the Difference" Game 

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment/Lionsgate

I had this DVD since May/June and was going write a review at the time, but I was sick and didn't had the time at the time. But since Christmas is coming, I think many American parents who have kids who love the show might consider this DVD as a present for their child, 
along with 'Blue Mountain Mystery'. 

EPISODES
It's rare to find Thomas DVDs these days that have more then four episodes, like the CGI DVD releases both in the UK or the US. However, this year in May, Lionsgate had released a series compilation DVD containing many Thomas episodes narrated by Ringo Starr, George Carlin, Alec Baldwin and Michael Brandon with some episodes from the classic era that are remastered. Another release like this happened in 2010 when it was the 65th anniversary of the Railway Series, or in HIT's view, Thomas with the DVD entitled 'The Greatest Stories'. 

There are some notable things on this DVD, the episode 'A New Friend For Thomas' has the original US Ringo narration, which was last seen since 1989 on the 'Shining Time Station' episode, 'Is This The End'. For those people who are new to Thomas, the show 'Shining Time Station' was created in 1989 by Britt Alllcroft with Rick Siggelkow to introduce Thomas to the US on PBS Kids with Ringo Starr playing as Mr. Conductor, before he was replaced with George Carlin as Ringo left the series for his 'All Starr Band'. It was a nice thought of HIT and Lionsgate to do that with the remastered episode and the original US dialogue and unlike the error back in 2004 with 'The Early Years', has the mention of 'The Fat Controller', he was then called 'Sir Topham Hatt' for the US due to PC reasons.

Episodes like 'Hide and Peep' and 'Emily and The Garbage' also have their debut on US home entertainment. But there are the errors like the first few seconds of 'Thomas and The New Engine' was used on 'Thomas and The Statue'.
     
SPECIAL FEATURES

I find the special features dull, but 'Sir Topham Hatt's Scrapbook' was the only entertaining one in my opinion. The others would be good for kids. But to be honest, I never liked Robin Smith's voice over, but his The Fat Controller's voice or Sir Topham Hatt in the US is well done. I find his narration in the old Thomas computer games nice, energetic and fun, I had his narration in 'Building The New Line' and 'Thomas Saves The Day'. 

I recommend to have 'The Greatest Stories' for their special features. The games are fun and entertaining. 


OVERALL 
Even though the special features are dull, the DVD is actually pretty good. It has got some episodes to introduce younger Thomas fans towards the series' early years and the episodes that they know in the newer series which are enjoyable, but not as great as the older episodes. The narration are top notch from all the respective narrators. Even though Ringo Starr was not mentioned on the back of the DVD, I have a feeling that many people who have heard of Thomas or know a bit about the show's history would know about Ringo Starr being the first to narrate it. On YouTube or on 'That Guy With The Glasses' on the Nostalgia Critic's 'Thomas and The Magic Railroad' many people look back on their childhoods when they've watched Thomas and they remembered Ringo narrating, it also happens on some Thomas episodes on YouTube. So I believe that's how he's not mentioned because some people remembered him narrating the show due to his well-known stage name. But I do think they should put his name on the cover as of course it might get people interested in buying the DVD. 

I find this the US' best release and this should be a recommendable Christmas gift along with 'Blue Mountain Mystery' again, it has some great episodes, well known narrators like Ringo Starr, George Carlin and Alec Baldwin along with Michael Brandon and some remastered episodes from the very first episodes of the series. I enjoy the DVD very much. 

Rating: 5/5