Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spills and Thrills DVD Ep.6:The Afternoon Tea Express + Overall


Written by
Laura Beaumont and Paul Larson 

Directed by
David Baas

Produced by
Kallan Kagan (Arc)
Ian McCue and Halim Jabbour (HIT)

Stephen becomes very excited when the Earl gives him the special job of collecting the ingredients for the afternoon teas at the Castle. But Spencer teases him about being too old and slow.

- Moral: Speed isn't everything 
- 'His driver and fireman put on the brakes'

- Stephen's black funnel
- How is Stephen out of character?

To be honest, I find this very underrated. There many people saying that 'Stephen's out of character!', 'It's unrealistic' etc. Although I do believe it's unrealistic, but I'm letting it slide. There bounds to be some rule bending in Thomas nowadays to make the episode a bit more entertaining, look at S5 for example, over the top crashes etc. despite that I'm never a fan of S5 as I considered it to be the most overrated season in the classical era. But Stephen being out of character? I've watched the episode and he's nowhere near out of character. He's the Rocket and he was built for races, in the TVS and KOTR. I do like it how it implies moral is that speed isn't everything, haven't heard that since 'Thomas the Jet Engine'. But I do understand the error of using the black funnel, as his crest is missing from his tender, so this is his KOTR render. I also like it that they've mentioned his crew putting on the brakes, it seems they're slowly bringing the crew's interactions towards the engines. I do hope they bring that back one day in the series. In the end, I don't really see this as a Sharon Miller script. If it were one the three strikes would've dragged out the whole episode, pointless rhyming and alliteration, poor character development, morals that'll be ignored the next season or episode etc. the three strikes in this episode (Stephen being pushed by Thomas, James and Emily) were over in about over ten seconds and then we near the conclusion of the episodes. This is not the usual five minute stories from the classic series, the show goes about 8 minutes now so things like that have to fill the gap. In the end, I see this as a very underrated episode.

Rating: 4/5

After seeing this episodes during 2013 and early in the new year, there's no doubt that the 17th series had brought a major upgrade in the writing of the show. Andrew Brenner and his writing staff had treated Thomas with great respect that Rev.W.Awdry and his son had created, despite a few bumpy flaws here and there (Steamie Stafford). It's also great how old favourites are brought back such as Duck, Bill and Ben, characters that the current generation will grow up with in their childhood and with their personas being respected by the writer, knowing how Awdry had potrayed them in the series (i.e Bill and Ben being cheeky and Duck being wise about 'The Great Western way.') Plus characters, like Sidney, were giving special treatment, giving them a speaking role as well as bringing back old trains like 'The Flying Kipper'. 

The animation is great, Arc Productions' render had captured what Nitrogen Studios had made from 2009-2012, along with a few added elements themselves on the engines such as lamps on the running board, tail lamps behind the engines etc. despite the many errors that've been faced over the series, but Nitrogen had its fair share of mistakes. 

S17 would have to be the best season since the S8 aired ten years ago in 2004. It's writing is great, the characters are fantastic and the animation is stunning. I'm looking forward to S18 and 'Tale of the Brave' this year and I'm glad that with the writing staff, Thomas is in the right hands. 

100 /100
The real rating I give to this season is 107.5, that is the highest rating I gave to a CGI season of Thomas & Friends. Hope that S18 may go beyond S17?