For 30 years, Thomas the Tank Engine had been entertaining children on TV screens around the world with stories that were based upon the Railway Series by the Rev.W.Awdry and Christopher Awdry, as well as stories from several writers from S5-present. To mark the 30th year of Thomas the Tank Engine's succession on the television screen, here are my top ten favourite episodes from the show, inspired by Chris Tomson's list. Most of my opinions have changed since writing S1-12 reviews between 2012-2013. But first:
THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE
- Percy and the Calliope: I think I praised this episode mostly because of the rendition of the classic theme song that was played in the episode, but I don't consider it as one of the very best episodes but one of the good ones during the 'dark era' of the television series. It has a good moral about restoration and the characters were really played out, Percy and Diesel.
- Not Now, Charlie: What's this, me honouring a Charlie episode? CALL THE PRESS! Yes I actually think this is the only good Charlie episode, thus far. We actually see the character doing work instead of playing about like a total twit and we see him getting his comeuppance in the end that despite joking about all the time, no one would take him seriously if there was something that he was serious about. A bit like 'The Boy who cried Wolf', a boy who played a trick on the villagers about a wolf because he was bored and when an actual wolf came, no one believed him.
- Thomas and Gordon: It's a good episode and it was the story that started it all, but as Chris Tomson says in his blog, there are worthy episodes from series one, not that I'm saying I hate it.
- Toad's Bright Idea: We see Gator once again, an excellent character from 'Tale of the Brave' on the Island during the special, first time such a concept was used in the television series. The characterisation of Toad and Gator were great together and it showcases why the lamps and brake vans are important to a train and engine.
- Gordon Runs Dry: This episode has its faults, but even with them in it, it doesn't make it bad or unworthy to watch, most duded episodes from S17 can still be worth watching, even 'Steamie Stafford', seriously. Gordon's characterisation was absolutely well portrayed here by Andrew Brenner, including Thomas, James and Percy at the end.
- Lady Hatt's Birthday Party: Well most people would know that I don't have a liking towards S5, but I do have to admit there are some good episodes coming out from that season and this is one of them. It's great that we see a human being portrayed here rather then the engines or vehicles that I think it was lacking until 'Santa's Little Engine'. The episode definitely shows how the Fat Controller cares about his wife's special day and dirty or clean he wants to be there, not giving one thought on his appearance.
Henry's Forest: Yes I do know that Rev.W.Awdry has a disinterest in this episode, but to me it's an emotional one, not too emotional as the ending of Tale of The Brave, but you can see how much the forest means to Henry and you have the sympathy for him but turns out right in the end. It maybe unrealistic and I think more research could've been put in to make it more worthy, but I think they could've used the entire magazine story were Henry was understand why the trees need to fall down to be used for things, which is sad, but things were put into the right again.
Old Reliable Edward: It's a modern classic and Edward with his original persona that we've seen since 'Cows', yes even the old can be sarcastic as well towards people, it's simple but it teaches kids that you should be thankful for the causes of others.
Thomas the Jet Engine: While of course it's a bit silly and a bit over the top, it was fun and it does have a good moral that you think you're the fastest, but there are other things faster then you.
Gordon and Spencer: What I love about this episode is the rivalry between two engines from the same company that made them, the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) and as a railway enthusiast, you can really see that when the A4's were built to be the fast record breaking express engine and the A3, which is Flying Scotsman's basis, were a thing of the past at the time. Plus it has a good moral that you should listen to others.
10. RESPECT FOR GORDON (2005)
While Season 9 in my opinion was the start of the series' weaker years, I think this episode is definitely worthy. It definitely shows kids that you can't demand respect but have it earned instead. Plus Gordon, Thomas and Percy were good characterisation in this episode, which has been ignored prior to S17 and 18. Gordon was being boastful and Thomas and Percy were being cheeky.
9. TICKLED PINK (2010)
What I do like about this episode is the realism, the three strikes is still there though unfortunately. The use of an engine having an undercoat and that its one of the episodes that shows us what CGI can do that the models can't, I don't have any disrespect for the models, but the models do have limitations.
8. BEST FRIENDS (2008)
I think this episode was a great way to end the 24 years of live action animation. I love the dynamic of Thomas and Percy's friendship together and you can feel sorry for the both of them. Percy was hurt that Thomas didn't tell he was taking the brass band, but Thomas didn't want to hurt his best friends' feeling. It's cliched, but done right.
7. DREAM ON (2007)
It has the usual moral about 'being yourself', but despite that I think this my most favourite episodes when it comes to that moral. You see Spencer bragging that he's he's better then Thomas in speed, looks and strength and you feel sorry for Thomas for failing but in the end, after learning his lesson he gets his reward in the end by taking the Duke and Duchess to the airport.
6. THOMAS' SHORTCUT (2013)
People regard this as a 'modern classic' and it shows. Andrew Brenner had brought back the friendly rivalry between Thomas and Bertie again when it comes to racing and had laid the whole 'steam vs. diesel' rivalry to rest and focused on other rivalry for the engines, such as road. The characterisation of Bertie and Annie and Clarabel were fantastic as well. Bertie being cocky and the coaches being like a mother and advise Thomas for moral support. Plus the comeuppance at the end shows us that life is not about taking shortcuts.
5. THE FLYING KIPPER (1984)
The episode was directed beautifully with its atmosphere and setting and I do have to admit, the crash was amazingly well done, I'm usually against unneeded crashes, like in S5, but I like the crashes when its really needed and this episode is one of them. However I don't like how Henry's 'new shape' turned out, being a based upon a Black Five locomotive, his shape in the TVS is more like his old shape turned upside down.
4. GONE FISHING (2013)
Excellent moral about how to deal with people making fun on how different you look, just slide it out of your mind and be proud for who you really are. I can understand the moral so well when it comes to people teasing you for being different and the characterisation of Harvey, Porter and Bill and Ben were spot on as well. Porter being the moral support and Bill and Ben with their cheekiness.
3. DUCK AND THE SLIP COACHES (2014)
To be honest, I always find Duck to be overrated by his fans. Ever since 2004, this love for Duck came out of nowhere with comments saying 'i miss duk!' or 'i wan montageu bak!!', they're not really comments I've found but you'll noticed the bad spelling in many videos when it comes to that. But as time rolled by I sort of understand Duck's love, he stood up to the bigger engines in his debut episode, but despite that I don't consider him to be the best like Edward. But it's not about Duck that I gave this episode a top spot, it's because of how so much research was made to make this episode great. Slip Coaches were a common thing to see on the British mainline at various places to win passengers over from there rivals. It gives history and an educational experience about railways to young children that could turn them into young enthusiasts.
2. EDWARD'S EXPLOIT (1986)
The episodes that fans love the most and it shows. Edward being the hero of the story was amazing with him not giving up despite his old age. He definitely shows that despite him being old, he never gives up on anything important. He put his passengers first before him. It was directed well and deserves to be classic to this day.
1. ESCAPE (1991)
Ever since childhood, I always thought of this episode. Despite that it didn't follow the original story, mostly the start of it all, it's still a worthy episode. You can sympathise with Oliver with his fear of being scrapped by the Other Railway, the end of a steam engines' life. It could've worked better, but the scene with Douglas was rescuing Oliver from scrap still gives that heroic and brave stance of the both of them.
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