Saturday, 22 March 2014

DVD Review: Hop on Board - Songs and Stories


Originally Written by
The Rev.W.Awdry

Adapted for Television by
Britt Allcroft & David Mitton


Thomas' Anthem
Let's Have A Race
Gone Fishing 
Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover
The Island Song
Really Useful Engine
It's Great To Be An Engine (DVD only)

Bonus CD
Engine Roll Call
Let's Have a Race
The Island Song
Really Useful Engine

Written and Composed by
Mike O' Donnell & Junior Campbell

Bonus Features
Really Useful Engines game
Sodor Superstars Hall of Fame

Release Date

Distributed by
Anchor Bay Entertainment (2006)
Lionsgate/HIT Entertainment (2009)

Who remembers the songs by the original composers of the television series, Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell? They've written many memorable tunes for the characters and moments in the series as well the classic theme song that was played during S1-7 of the classic series. In 1994 there songs were composed for the CD 'Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends', perhaps known to fans as 'Thomas and the Best Kept Station Competition' with stories in between narrated by long term narrator Michael Angelis. There first music video was released in 1995 in the UK VHS tape 'Your Favourite Story Collection' which was 'Really Useful Engine'. More videos were released on the tape 'Story and Song Collection' in 1996 in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. America were given the release of music videos in 1997 on the VHS 'Sing-Along and Stories', which was re-released on DVD in 2006 and then again in 2009 with this title.


Very much like the VHS release back in 1997 and the DVD in 2006, it features two stories and seven songs, though 'It's Great To Be An Engine' was released only on DVD. It was a good release, though I have to admit the quality of the US DVDs are really poor as they're of course VHS transfers. Plus 'It's Great To Be An Engine' is the only best quality music video on DVD. My guess that the reason why they don't re-release the classic series to its restored format is maybe the language settings. There are families who are latino's or french canadians who buy these DVDs and the latest Thomas DVDs have those features too. I know that there are DVDs like 'Engine Friends' that have restored versions of the classic episodes with no language features but there are Thomas fans who don't speak english or prefer their original language. 

As of the episodes, you can read my opinions about them by clicking on the episode titles.

Anchor Bay's special features seem to be very bland and very childlike, though Thomas the Tank Engine is of course a kids show. But the thing is, the special features are nothing but character bios, which is good for young viewers to know characters like Duck (this was a 2006 DVD release that was re-released three years later so the DVD was actually released when S10 was on air and the classic series were still being sold on VHS and DVD at the time, e.g - Percy Saves the Day) but the character bios feature 'Did you know!' facts that are pointless like Thomas being rewarded Annie and Clarabel and Thomas and Bertie having a race, though these facts would get kids to watch the episodes, though when your a long time purist you already know those facts. 

The DVD also comes with a CD featuring five songs, it's something for kids to have to listen to in the car or in their room, though I believe they should've added more tracks then five.

The DVD is fine, the songs would keep young ones entertained as well as the stories. Bare in mind the stories and songs are not from the CGI era of the show, their are parents who buy these but think it's from the CGI era despite the models being showcased on the front implying a different era. The special features are a bit bland, but they might be entertaining for the younger audience. I do have to admit it was a poor choice of Lionsgate to re-release classic series DVDs from the previous VHS release. When you look at the classic series collection released in the UK in 2012, the quality of the footage is so crisp and clear and fresh, much better then their VHS transfers the UK had on their DVDs released in the early 2000's. But however Lionsgate have released 'Spills and Thrills' in widescreen format this month so who knows?

Rating: 3.5/5