Friday, 12 June 2015

DVD Review: The Complete Series 16


Written by
Sharon Miller
Jessica Sandys-Clarke
Andrew Viner
Dan and Nuria Wicksman
Max Allen
Gerard Foster
Jessica Ekdward and Kristy Peart
Andy Bernhardt

1. Race to the Rescue
2. Ol' Wheezy Wobbles
3. Express Coming Through
4. Percy and the Monster of Brendam
5. Ho Ho Snowman
6. Flash, Bang Wallop!
7. Thomas and the Rubbish Train
8. Thomas Toots the Crows
9. Bust My Buffers!
10. Percy and the Calliope
11. Thomas and the Sounds of Sodor
12. Salty's Surprise
13. Sodor's Surprise Day
14. Emily's Winter Party Surprise
15. Muddy Matters
16. Whiff's Wish
17. Welcome Stafford
18. The Christmas Tree Express
19. Don't Bother Victor!
20. Happy Birthday Sir!

Special Features

Directed by
Greg Tiernan

Produced by
Nicole Stinn

Release Date

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment (UK)

In early 2012, fans were shocked to hear that Nitrogen studios were not going to animate Thomas & Friends beyond 2012 and the show's animation was switched to Arc Productions for 2013 - beyond. There last Thomas product to animate was the sixteenth season as well as the DVD special 'Blue Mountain Mystery', which was going to be originally titled as 'The Runaway Engine'. With the 15th series leaving many fans dubbing it as 'the worst' written season in the history of Thomas, Season 16 left many in doubt at the time. Will it hold up three years after the broadcast of these 20 episodes? Or would some fans skip this and await for the complete 17th series? Let's take a look at the final Nitrogen Studios release. Note that I won't be linking the episodes to my views as I like to update my views on them, which will be here:


I said years ago that I've liked Season 16 but now looking back at it it's bad. I've only seen like three episodes, because as an old saying 'When you've seen one episode, you've seen them all'. They follow the same formula, repetitiveness etc. plus like S13-15, the narrator has too much dialogue and they're same lines going over and over and over again. However I still think it did better then what S15 had provided us, S16 had provided an episode like 'Happy Birthday Sir!' where we see Thomas putting work first. The episode that people love the most from the DVD is 'Percy and the Calliope', I like that episode too because of its vocabulary expansion (Calliope) and that it shows a good moral about recycling and restoring old things and of course Robert Hartshorne's rendition of the original Thomas theme for the Calliope. But I find it to be overrated at times all because of Percy's character and how the way he acted in the episode, especially when he pushed a Calliope up the hill despite that he was pushing it the whole time.

That's another thing about the episodes from the Sam Barlow era they have plot holes and continuity errors everywhere, examples like Toby and Dart not being on Misty Island before despite that they were there in the past season. Or the Duchess of Boxford being at Wellsworth station despite that Thomas will pick her up at Maron and that she could've taken another train. But I have to give the Barlow era some credit here when it comes to the new characters having one-dimensional traits. The logging locos are idiots and share the same persona as Bill and Ben but they're more better characters then say that plot device called Lady but I still don't care about the trio. There are two episodes from this season that I liked and that's 'Welcome Stafford' and 'Percy and the Calliope', I've already said what I liked about the latter despite feeling that it's overrated at times. Stafford's episode was pretty good and it had provided some logic of his basis for running out of batteries. Although it shares some problems with its story and that is of course sharing the same formula.

The weakest episodes in my opinion would have to be 'Whiff's Wish' and 'Bust My Buffers'. Whiff's episode shares the familiarity of 'Dream On' from S11 and 'Bust My Buffers' does share some racial-like undertones. Plus many episode share so many redundant opening dialogue such as 'All the engines on the Island of Sodor like/are/do...' they add nothing to the plot at all! 

Michael Angelis, which this was his last season to narrate, sounds rather bland and slow while narrating. He's not terrible but you can see that he doesn't bring enthusiasm anymore and it was right of HIT Entertainment to hire in Mark Moraghan. Nothing against Angelis here but he was getting rather bland.

The animation is great as usual from Nitrogen. Although in the past there had been some limitations of their camera angles so it was nice to see them doing more of an expansion of them such as Gordon charging with the express and the camera pans out from the wheels. 

So is this the best DVD to get? Probably not considering that the episode still share the same formula as S9-15 but at least they're an improvement over S15. Maybe skip this and await for 'Railway Mischief' or '1st Class Stories' in the coming months or the complete series of the 17th season next year or maybe like me you want to add each season to your collection, buy the cheapest one, Amazon charges 7 GBP (but you have to pay extra due to their new regulations) eBay charges about 6.00 GBP and can also ship internationally. But before you do purchase the DVD if you're from another country I suggest looking up your region code and if it's not the same as the DVD I suggest watching it on your Laptop or computer as you can change codes for an amount of time. I know it's a bit redundant to say that but I've seen many people Amazon over the years complaining that they've bought an American DVD to play on their DVD player in a different country. 


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Book Reviews: RWS No.42 'Thomas and his Friends'


Written by
Christopher Awdry

Illustrated by
Clive Spong

Thomas and the Swan
Buffer Bashing
Gordon's Fire Service

 Release Year

In late 2010, Sodor Island Fansite (SIF) had announced from Egmont that a new Railway Series book is in the works to celebrate the centennial year on what was to be Rev.W.Awdry's 100th birthday in 2011. Rev.W.Awdry had unfortunately passed away in 1997. 


The book contains the usual amount, with the exception of 'Henry the Green Engine' having five stories, the usual amount is four stories. Here are my views on each of the story:

The story does tend to be adapted from one of Christopher Awdry's early stories used in the 1992 annual, mostly the conflict between Thomas' crew and the swan, with some differences through other parts of the story. We see Pip and Emma once again, after their last appearance in 'Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines' in 1995, which would've been 16 years ago at the time this book was published. It's bit strange now that Pip and Emma are still in their InterCity livery despite that they could've been owned by a privatisation company by now. The Railway Series books tend to be set in real time. But what I think was a bit surprising was that Gordon became a local engine, hauling trains to each stop, for timetable reasons as the express. The story overall is good and simple and gives kids the message on why animals are important when they're needed in special care and that they can be fragile. 

Rating: 8/10

To be honest, this has to be the worst Railway Series story I've read. At the time I thought it was the best but after reading over and over again I realised that it sends a poor message to children. You have in the story Donald smashing into the buffers and all the engines, including himself, had a laugh about and just said that it was only an accident. But when Douglas did the same thing, due to his poor brakes, he was scolded at and was left red paint on his nose as reminder, yes liberal parents it's red paint. Look in the picture before you write your poorly researched editorials for click bait. While yes it has been three days working on the buffers at least maybe understand that it's an accident. It's very poor and it sends the wrong message out to kids.

Rating: 1/10

I find this story to be better then the last two. It definitely shows Gordon's maturity of hauling local trains and it was great to hear the Peel Godred line having a mention. Although I do wish they've shown the electric engines. It shows children that despite electric engines having no need for water and coal, steam engines have their uses too, especially when it comes to fire.

Rating: 9/10

With 2011 marking 100 years since Rev.W.Awdry's birth, this story was made by his son in honour of his father. I love how over the years the stories have implemented real people like the late Rev.W.Awdry, the late Teddy Boston etc. to give that real feeling of Sodor despite being fictional. But despite that the story has that feeling of a 'Golden Jubilee' rehash. The only difference is the accident with Henry's tunnel unlike the spider's web incident, although the latter did have reason on what it was going to be used for later. Whereas the one here was out of nowhere. It's not a terrible story but it's not that great either.

Rating: 5/10


The pictures were done once again by Clive Spong, who had illustrated Christopher Awdry's books from 1983-1996 and in 2007 for 'Thomas and Victoria'. I've always liked Spong's illustrations as it gives that friendly feeling of Sodor with some realism and accuracy of the engines. His style feels like C. Reginald Dalby, as what the publishers in 1983 at the time says when it comes to the resurface of the Railway Series. 


At the time of its release, the books ends with the words 'The End'. At the time of its release, Series 15 had just aired on the TV and the series went through the worst writing from a production team who were treating Thomas as another kids show. But since it's been nearly five years since then and now that we have a new production team that understands the history of Thomas, I don't think we need more Railway Series books. I don't hate the Railway Series books but we have about 42 books in the series that have lasted for seven decades now! 

The stories in the books are timeless classics filled with simple stories but with strong characters and are being celebrated each time now how the way the television series is progressing with its own stories with influence from the Railway Series, e.g - 'The Adventure Begins'. Plus young children of the target audience aren't missing out on anything. Now with the DVDs and on YouTube we have the new Mr. Perkins segments giving story time to the children of the stories with the original pictures as well as ones made by Lorraine Marshall. 

So I think it's time to let the books have a rest, sure there's Barry but I doubt that book would ever see a light of day. Christopher Awdry is getting old and his son Richard Awdry isn't interested in writing though and plus not many ideas can turn out good. If I give one recommendation though, if you enjoyed the Railway Series I suggest being a member of Sodor Island Forums for their 'Extended Railway Series'. It's fan made but they give the style of the Awdry family's books. 


I do consider this book to be weak compare to the other titles. The title of the book sounds generic and not that catching compare to other titles, but I believe it's to sell. It has some good stories but not the best.