Thursday, 9 July 2015

DVD Review: Railway Mischief


Written by
Andrew Brenner
Laura Beaumont and Paul Larson
Lee Pressman
Davey Moore

- Gordon Runs Dry
- Kevin's Cranky Friend
- Scruff's Makeover
- Wayward Winston
- Steamie Stafford
- Bill or Ben?
- Not Now, Charlie!

Special Features

Produced by
Robert Anderson (Arc)
Haliam Jabbour & Ian McCue (HIT)

Release Date

In April 2013, Wal*Mart and HIT Entertainment in the United States, had exclusively released five unreleased S17 episodes before it's television debut later that year internationally. Now after two years the UK get there copy of the DVD. At the time some fans were worried by the titles as we were just getting out of the Sam Barlow era of the series and it was popular among older fans. 

The episodes featured are from the 17th season of Thomas & Friends, completing all S17 episodic releases. Looking back at the episodes from 2013, it amazes me how much had Arc Productions, the people behind the animation of Thomas and Friends, had improved with stuff like the settings, lighting and animation. Looking at scenes like Knapford station in the episodes, I don't even like the lack of activity that they've made compare to what is now. The station now feels like an actual railway station with a station announcer, people chatting and engines puffing about. Plus the expansion of it all with points and signals gantries now really adds total character on it being a railway station unlike what is was shown in the episodes here, just showing the comparison of how much Arc had improved the series so well done to them! 

It also amazes me how the stories improved too. Davey Moore says in an interview for the TTTE Wikia that they look back at previous episodes and specials and see how they should make it better the them, which indeed the writing team are doing an excellent job at trying to make it more entertaining. The episodes are a good choice and do add some theme towards the DVD title. I especially like 'Not Now, Charlie'. Sure he may as well be an annoying character, how the way he was handled during S13-16 with poor jokes, but to me the episode is such an major improvement on his character. He knew what he did was wrong and sure some people may not like the ending of it but I see it as 'Old habits die hard'. Sure jokes need some improvement but I rather find a joke about pirates to be funny compare to his joke/riddle about a table. 

Episodes like 'Steamie Stafford' though, while it has a good moral about being yourself, it's not the best after seeing more of the 17th season. The other episodes are good and I still love 'Gordon Runs Dry' and the last two episodes. 'Wayward Winston', 'Kevin's Cranky Friend and 'Scruff's Makeover' are OK in the my books.

I love the choice of the Railway Series story for the DVD of the Mr. Perkins segments, 'Thomas' Train' and the wonderful illustrations for it too. Looking at her design of Dalby's Thomas reminds me of the illustrations from the 1985 annual. Although looking at Henry with the colour green in one of the picture just felt a little bit off and I understand that they change the colour so that the young audience recognise who the character is, although since Henry had been his new shape for three decades now you think they may've drew a whole new picture in his new shape? But I'm not too upset by that. The postcard segment is about Brendam Docks as well and I have to it's much better then what was done for the quarry from 'Trouble on the Tracks' as it was more about the location rather then who is who. 

Their's not one but two segments for 'Calling All Engines!' which are Spencer and Stafford and Hiro and Flynn. They are the usual segments about who and what are the characters and some mentions like Pullman coaches intrigued me, maybe they should create an episode about Pullman coaches? It worked with the slip coaches. 

'Who's That Engine' features Edward and the episode they explain is 'Edward the Hero', sure there are better choices, like 'Old Reliable Edward', but the S15 episode was a decent one looking back at it. There is also a trailer once again for 'Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure', which is coming out next week in the UK at some VUE cinemas. However I feel that it was missed opportunity for HIT to advertise for 'The Adventure Begins'. The DVD was suppose to come out in April only at ASDA but due to an unknown reason, it was pushed towards July 27th and the only way to see it is through 'Dinos and Discoveries' that came out in Feb 2015. But the trailer will still have the words 'COMING SOON'. ASDA and HIT needs to work on their advertising for the special if they want it to sell it. It has already been commissioned by the BBFC last week. Hopefully the UK Thomas and Friends YouTube page upload a trailer.   

This is a much more better DVD then the S16 compilation DVD, despite it that it took two years to be released on British shores. There are some good episodes that actually feel like stories rather then a formulated plot (S9-16), although the latter stories are much better (S18-19) but these are good to start with and are enjoyable. 

Rating: 8/10