Saturday, 23 April 2016

S19 Ep.25: Goodbye Fat Controller + Season Overall


Written by
Andrew Brenner

Story Idea by
Robin Gay

Directed by

Air Date:
24/01/16 - JPN

Percy overheard from one of the workmen that they're going to clear out the Fat Controller's office and he thought as well as the other engines that the Fat Controller was going away for good. Or so they thought.

- The care the engines have for the Fat Controller
- Some funny moments like James and his trucks
- Moral: Don't make a big deal over nothing
- Edward

- Nitpick: Why not just a smaller office at the station?

Although this is the 26th episode as one episode was a two parter and I made it as a whole review. So now we come to the final episode of the 19th season and to me this was a good closure to the season. To be honest I like this episode more than I do with 'The Truth About Toby'. Toby's episode is good but I don't like how they treat the engines with lack of common sense about an engine being scrapped, despite that the Fat Controller would never scrap one on his railway. In this episode you can see the concern for the engines about the Fat Controller leaving because they could be wondering about their future with a new controller. Many say Edward was out of character and while yes it wouldn't be him if he believes in any sort of rumour but it's different. 

Edward is an old engine and the Fat Controller respects him and sees the reliability in him as an engine. Imagine if the idea of the Fat Controller leaving was true and the new controller doesn't see the same view as TFC. It's good to see Edward going out of his comfort zone of him wise and with him making a mistake and it just shows that he's not on top of the world. The same applies to him in 'The Adventure Begins' when the Fat Controller scolded him for not following his orders by letting Thomas, an engine without any experience, taking his trucks. I hope we see more of that coming from the writers but don't make him in a pathetic sort of way. 

I love episodes that show the care the engines have for the Fat Controller. Despite being the man in charge he was always there for the engines and while he punishes them he never scraps them. That's what liberal parents and crazy low life conspiracy theorists need to understand before they rip the show apart. The message is clear in the episode and that was not making a big deal over nothing with Percy assuming that the Fat Controller is leaving and I think kids would understand that message well through this episode. 

Their's not much I can from the con part, though I might say they could've gotten a better office for the Fat Controller but it was there for comedic purposes but maybe instead of a shed why not just a smaller office? But that's just a nitpick. Shame that it will be blown up by Sailor John in the special that's to come after it!

Rating: 9/10


What can I say about Season 19? Well I like the season but I don't see it as the best, mostly in between S17 and 18. Some episodes are quite generic and some were not great as well. Some say it's in the style of S13-16 and to be honest I don't see it like that era. I can see some effort was put into the stories to try and tell, but some don't come out perfect, even though I don't believe in perfection as it's just a word and even if it were in that style (S13-16) there wouldn't be effort and lazy storytelling. But there is such thing as effort. There is still some good continuity from past episodes and some new things like Rocky having a personality. 

However some of the morals I believe are shoved down and some episodes have flaws like Philip's one as he comes out on top after racing Gordon and how he wasn't given a punishment for breaking the his promise towards the Fat Controller. I think the writer don't want to make him a harsh person as many parents have criticised his character. But if you're a father or mother of a child and they did something wrong then a punishment is in order. So this could be considered as pandering. 

I think one of my main criticisms of S19 is that it was set before 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' and I was kind of hoping we see some build up for it. But nothing was there to help  build it up. There was a reference to Arelsbrugh by James in 'Best Engine Ever' and I don't know if that's suppose to be one but it doesn't feel like it as James never mentioned about the construction of the new branch line. Some say that Thomas' episodes could've been build up for it but they don't feel like they added to his cheekiness, maybe if there could've been episodes with that. There are examples of build up from a show that continues on towards the movie. Rugrats is one of them for two of their movies. They have episodes like 'The Family Tree' that built up for the first movie in 1998 and later on in 2000 with the three part TV special 'Acorn Nuts and Diapey Butts' that was built for their second movie. 

Pokemon even had build up for their first movie back in the late 90's with the episodes 'The Battle of the Badge' or as it's known in Japan, 'Tokiwa Gym! The Last Badge!' and 'Showdown at the Po-ké Corral' or as know in Japan, 'Rival Showdown! Okido Laboratory'. There could've been little references about it or mentions say from Duck and Oliver, I mean in 'Toad and The Whale' there could've been at least a reference that Oliver is delivering trucks of supplies for the site. There can be many little hints leading up towards the big picture. Hardcore fans of the show know that the series is set before the movie but you also got to think about the casual viewers, the kids growing that could be watching the show or young fans that could grow into hardcore fans. They might wonder where are the new characters from the 2015 special.

Another thing I might add is definitely the poor scheduling of these episodes for people in the UK. They played about four episodes in September and played the Christmas ones sometime in January, after Christmas! While Australia and Japan play the episode in December and the US got in it on DVD in October, which released in time for Christmas. I don't know why, but it's very unfair. But at least they played the rest around March 2016. It's understandable that some episodes were held back for exclusive tent-poled theme DVDs since they're focused on a specific theme, like 'Start Your Engines' or celebrations like Christmas. But holding the episodes back for no reason is really poor.

S19 has an amount of use for Thomas. Many fans have been wondering why he was in every episode. Some say it was for John Hasler to get used to him or because they want focus on him and his friends as much as possible as S20 might focus more on the newbies from last year's special. But the true reason was because it was the 70th anniversary. Sam Wilkinson wrote that on the now former 'Talk Thomas' Facebook page, which is a shame that he'd closed it, but if it's because fans were asking him many questions about S20 and 'The Great Race' then I can completely understand. However I think the 70th anniversary reason is not good. While 2015 was the mark of the books' 70th and that Thomas is the most popular of all the characters, it doesn't feel like he was put there for that as there was no rhyme or reason, I don't think they would mention the anniversary but I think it would've been better if we had other engines too to take the role from Edward to Oliver along with Diesel. I think that would add for the 70th anniversary idea since they are all Awdry's characters no matter what role they had, as long as it has purpose. 

Some roles for Thomas were good but were so pointless that it should've been given to another one. 'Salty All At Sea' is an example of that. But some of Thomas' role have purpose like him taking Mavis to the Dieselworks considering that the accident was on his branch line.

The season had also brought some voice actor changes and I understand some of the changes like Martin Sherman leaving because of pay dispute and Ben Small leaving because they want a more fresher voice for Thomas. But the move made for Ben Small made me realise how pointless it was for him considering that other voice actors like Keith Wickham and Kerry Shale have been replaced by their respective roles and yet they still voice on other characters. 

It could've made a lot more sense for HIT to have Ben Small stop voicing Thomas and have him still voicing Toby, Rheneas and Owen. Don't get me wrong I like John Hasler and I still think he did a great job at voicing Thomas and he did a good job at Toby, I know I said that it started to wane but it's not terrible. I look forward to see how he'll voice Rheneas and Owen but this is more going by HIT's decision making. But in the end I hope John Hasler keeps on voicing Thomas and have more characters to follow. 

But there are things I like about S19 is that we have episodes focusing on some characters that hadn't been seen on our screen for some years such as Stephen, Timothy, Den and Dart and Rocky, despite that S19 had a lack of a diverse cast. There episodes were good to watch and I do hope we see more characters having their time in the spotlight in the future. 

The animation from Arc Productions is brilliant each year. The shine that they've given to the engines was remarkable and realistic and I also love the cinematography such as the perspective shots like you see in 'Rocky Rescue' and the panning shot of Salty and Thomas crossing the suspension bridge. 

In the end, I don't consider S19 to be the best season of all but it was good, just a hit and miss season. I won't get too hyped for S20 as I think some fans need to understand that there's going to be some flaws along the way or it might not as what you will expect. But let's see what S20 can do and hope that it can be better!

Episode Ratings:
Lost Property - 9/10
Helping Hiro - 6/10
Slow Stephen - 9/10
No Help At All! - 8/10
The Other Side of the Mountain - 2/10
Thomas the Babysitter - 9/10
Rocky Rescue - 2/10
Goodbye Fat Controller - 9/10

Series Rating: