Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Retrospective of Thomas & Friends DVDs of 2015

As we end another year, let's take a look at all the previous releases that we've witnessed in the Thomas & Friends brand that had been released in the US, UK and Australia during the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series books, 2015:



Review Date: 19/01/15
DVD Rating: 7/10

Looking back at this DVD, I think it was good. The stories were fun and comical such as 'Emily Saves the World' and it was great seeing stories like 'Marion and the Dinosaur' linking in with the first few minutes of 'Samson at Your Service'. I like the episode 'Timothy and the Rainbow Truck' as I see it as a S13-16 story done right, it doesn't feel forced and its simplicity is nice and the ending was executed well in my opinion. Fans say that this was overhyped, but I wasn't hyped to see these episodes despite that S18 was a great season. I think it was hyped up because of 'The Adventure Begins' trailer that was on it.

Review Date: 19/03/15
DVD Rating: 10/10

In celebration of the Railway Series' 70th anniversary, the production team of Thomas & Friends have compiled this special special, yeah I said a S13-16 term but to me it is a special special. A retelling of the first two books, I like that as they're finally giving recognition of the 1st book that Thomas didn't appear in. Sure there are a few hiccups that would be despised by the purists and characters like Jerome, Judy and Glynn weren't playing a big role but they had purpose, it was still an amazing tribute to the timeless stories. Sure it's different towards the classic era but fans need to know that if the special was just a carbon copy of S1 or the second Railway Series book, it wouldn't be interesting. Plus to the people who thinks this 'ruined' continuity or the classic series, look back at the ten years that Thomas had suffered through. We had a special (extended episode) known as 'Calling All Engines!', I find it (CAE) underrated but there are better specials out there. Plus in 2010 we got Misty Island Rescue for the 65th anniversary. Those two anniversary years had two specials that ruined continuity. I will say that the advertising for the DVD was rather poor in both countries (US/UK) but the UK had the worst until the actual release when it was advertised on TV, although it did gain No.1 on the DVD listing beating the likes of Dreamworks at ASDA. In future if HIT Entertainment should release the sequel, if there's ever going to be one, they should give it to all stores like they did in Australia and Japan and considering this was a last minute attempt, it was well done.

Review Date: 4/05/15
DVD Rating: 8/10

The UK release of the Wal*Mart exclusive of 2014, except it was released to all stores. However it was given two episodes which certainly fitted the theme of them well. The intervals were great too, not only we get one but two segments from the 'Mr. Perkins' Storytime' segments. 

Review Date: 12/06/15
DVD Rating: 4/10

Back in 2012 I said that the 16th season was a good season. But looking back at it with this DVD, it's terrible and it's no surprise really, the stories are bland, Michael Angelis' narration was bland etc. the only saving grace was Nitrogen's animation, although I do see they have a set of limitations during that time with camera angles and all compare to Arc Productions. Do I hate Nitrogen? No. 

Review Date: 9/07/15
DVD Rating: 8/10

This DVD took two years to be released in the UK since its release over at Wal*Mart stores across the US. It feels strange to see just how much improvement Arc Productions had made since S17 but in a good way.

Review Date: 23/07/15
DVD Rating: 8/10

The S19 Wal*Mart exclusive with five selected episodes. They are good episodes providing us with good morals and relatable episodes (e.g - Henry Spots Trouble) the special features are nice too such as Mr. Perkins' Railway, with wonderfully shot footage of steam and diesel locomotives.

Review Date: 4/09/15
DVD Rating: 5/10

This release was not perfect nor great with its choice of episode. But it's not bad either. I still think they should've chosen better episodes such as 'Edward's Exploit' and 'The Deputation' but the choice of classic episodes are fine with me as it could bring kids to understand the continuity references that were made from various specials and S18.

Review Date: 28/09/15
DVD Rating: 8/10

Probably the best Thomas centric special to date but when it comes to the yearly specials. I prefer TOTB because of its emotional storyline and was more invested to Percy's storyline. The performance made by John Hurt, Jamie Campbell Bower and Eddie Redmayne for the new character were brilliant and fun, especially John Hurt's performance as Sailor John. Although I think Sailor John is overrated, I don't hate the character and I love his voice work but he was more your most of his characterisation is a typical cliched pirate villain, wanting the treasure because...because. I think it would've been better if he were related to Captain Callis it would've made some good character development. Again, I don't hate Sailor John, I think he's not the best villain the series had. Plus Ryan didn't add much to the story. Yes he had a reason to be on Sodor, but he lacked the conflict between him and Thomas. I did say he and Stanley are different, but Ryan being a goody goody character isn't that original either. Skiff was good but I think he would've been better if he were a villain at first and then turned into a good guy later on.

Review Date: 3/11/15
DVD Rating: 7.5/10

I like the episodes on this year's Christmas DVD and the new segments such as 'Landmarks of Sodor'.  By the time I reviewed this DVD however I find the quality of DVDs released by Universal to be very poor with the interlacing. It's distracting to the viewer and rather strange that a division of a well-known company had released films like 'Back to the Future'. I'm sticking with the iTunes releases as they have the best quality when it comes to HD, especially in 1080p.

Review Date: 10/11/15
DVD Rating: 7/10

This DVD is alright as well. I love the three selected S19 episodes, they were interesting and well written and the two S18 episodes were fine choices, especially 'Duck and the Slip Coaches'. The intervals though I find are bit of a disappointment. They've only released Thomas and Gordon's 'Calling All Engines!' segments that were released previously in 2013 on 'Santa's Little Engine' and a new segment was made with just the Fat Controller's voice talking about Millie which felt like 'Calling All Engines!' and 'Who's that Engine' morphed together with him talking about the episode 'Luke's New Friend'. It was good though that Mr. Perkins wasn't ignored as part of the extras, but you think that Universal or HIT would know that they've used the UK dubbing of the story time and Postcard from the 'Railway Mischief' DVD that was released back in July?

And so we now end the 70th anniversary year of the Railway Series. So what's next for 2016? Well of course the 20th season of the TV series and the new special 'The Great Race' with 12 new characters whom are international engines. But first the UK will get there version of 'Signals Crossed' and we will await for the last few S19 episode in the exclusive Thomas DVD 'Start Your Engines!' with the new character called Phillip who was revealed in a Japanese character guide book back in September 2015 with episodes that had aired in Japan earlier. So to conclude this post I wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope you have a bright future ahead.