Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A Year In Review - 2013


Now that Australia are in the new year of 2014 let's take a look back at the events during the course of 2013...

The DVD review started off with 'Muddy Matters' from the United States, despite that I was going to receive it January, Amazon cancelled the order and I've delayed my post for in February. But despite that I find the DVD to be a good start for the year. However in January there was a surprise for the Thomas fans as the UK trailer for 'King of the Railway' was leaked on the internet, showing us the infancy of the storyline, new animation and characters, albeit in low quality. Fans had complained about the animation at the time being 'cheap' and 'awful', were there was some scenes that are not finished yet (Robert Norramby with Thomas, James, Percy and Stephen at the Steamworks). It was however a big surprise, to me, in Australia that we're getting also getting 'Go Go Thomas' early that year as well, alongside with the UK and US, however there was some disappointment in the DVD, despite that it's from the 16th season, there were two episodes from the horrid 15th season, which are 'Wonky Whistles' and 'Kevin the Steamie'.

But March was also the month were a new turn of the Thomas & Friends was revealed, despite being a Wal*Mart exclusive, with brand new episodes from the 17th series with new writing, animation and the biggest surprise of all was a new narrator by the name Mark Moraghan from Liverpool, England, which means 2012 was the last year for the longest running UK storyteller Michael Angelis and US storyteller Michael Brandon. Despite the new change, Moraghan was quickly accepted by Thomas fans and praised his narration. Plus the animation was praised as well by Arc Productions and the new story lines were praised as well, despite one episode that didn't turn out well (Steamie Stafford).

The UK had received a surprise too in Poundland. Despite that the restored classic episodes were released in the latter part of 2012, HIT Entertainment with Poundland had released 1 pound DVDs of classic Thomas the Tank Engine episodes from the Ringo Starr era of the series. I happen to bought a couple when I went to the UK in July. However there were some bad times in the Thomas fandom in the US with Netflix pulling streaming Thomas episodes out of there website due to cutbacks. But over in the UK we see them starting off the new and improved S17, albeit showing only the first episodes with characters old and new, the rest will follow from October, with one in November and four winter themed episodes in December. The other unaired episodes in the UK, that had just aired on Australian TV around October/November, will hopefully air around the new year.

King of The Railway then made its debut in Poland on a television network, making it the first country to see the new special. It's english debut started in Australia at selected Hoyts cinemas. The DVD soon came out in September in the UK and US and then October here in Australia, though I got it earlier at Trainworks. KOTR had earned praise by parents and older Thomas fans with extended cinema runs in the UK and it ended up on Amazon UK's 'Best selling DVD' list.

But there were some bad times for the UK fandom of the series. AudioGo was announced administration leaving a very rocky future for the Railway Series audio series. This also happened with other UK classics like Doctor Who, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. However nearing Christmas news came that Random House have become the new owners of the AudioGo/BBC audio series giving a new light to the future of the Railway Series audio series.

Also that same month, the administration news, Thomas the Tank Engine was named 34th greatest kids show by channel 5's list. Despite some strong disagreements of such a classic being shunned by shows like Peppa Pig. Even Sooty and Postman Pat, who share the same title as Thomas for being long running classics, were shunned with Sooty at a very low position. But there were some good times during the last few months, the US had released 'Santa's Little Engine', with Christmas/Winter themed episodes of the 17th season and one renarrated 13th season episode. The DVD showed a new style of Mr. Perkins with now being filmed at various heritage railways across the UK with the Railway Series stories being shown towards a new generation, with him telling 'The Flying Kipper'.

However there were people from the Thomas legacy that have parted from this earth. Hilary Fortnam had battled cancer for many years and had passed away in December. She was the woman who helped both her father and brother's work of making the Railway Series stories come to life with her own opinions. Plus she was the one who battled with the opposition of getting rid of the word 'Christmas' in the Thomas series, which made its amends in the 17th series. She'll never be forgotten by the Thomas fans for her contribution.

There was another surprise before the year ended when SiF revealed that Sam Barlow and HIT wanted Gwyneth Paltrow, who played as Pepper in the Iron Man series, was considered as the Thomas narrator for 'The Great Discovery' which would've made her the first female narrator for the series. However I think Thomas deserves a British narrator, considering that the show is made in Britain, and could've chosen a female narrator like Helena Bonham Carter.

So what's there for 2014? Well so far 'Spills and Thrills' will be making its DVD debut soon with US hopefully getting in the widescreen and that Australia will be giving it a cinema release at selected Hoyts cinemas. We also have a new special lined up called 'Tale of the Brave' and that the television series will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

With 2013 being a great year for Thomas who knows what 2014 might bring.