Friday, 9 November 2012

DVD Review: Engine Friends


Written by
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 

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'. 

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'.

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. 

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