Wednesday, 27 July 2016

DVD Review: The Complete Series 17


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

Directed by
David Baas

Produced by
Robert Anderson (Arc)
Ian McCue (HIT)
Halim Jabbour (HIT)

Steamie Stafford
Gordon Runs Dry
The Lost Puff
Scruff's Makeover
Too Many Fire Engines
Calm Down Caitlin
Wayward Winston
No More Mr. Nice Engine
Away From The Sea
Thomas' Shortcut
The Smelly Kipper
Gone Fishing
The Afternoon Tea Express
Henry's Hero
Luke's New Friend
The Switch
Not Now, Charlie
The Thomas Way
The Phantom Express
The Frozen Turntable
Percy's Lucky Day
No Snow For Thomas
Bill or Ben?
The Missing Christmas Decorations
Santa's Little Engine

Special Features

Release Date

Distributed by
HIT Entertainment

So after years of waiting since 2013, Series 17 is finally given its own complete collection in the UK! After Nitrogen Studios had done their work on Thomas & Friends between 2009-2012, Arc Productions took over, after Nitrogen had respectfully decline to work more on Thomas as they were focusing on other work.

Now with a new production and animation team expanding more of the Thomas world, does Series 17 still hold up since it was first broadcasted in 2013? Well let's find out!


The DVD is a consist of 26 episodes on two discs, first time for any Thomas DVD in the UK, of the 17th season. I remember back in 2014, when they had released the first 'tent pole' DVD of episodes that were all exclusive to 'Spills and Thrills' that Season 17 had brought a major upgrade of its writing after eight-nine years of the other production team's work of the show between S9-16.

The writing of the show makes them feel like stories again with a beginning, middle and end rather than a formula like what the Miller/Barlow era did where it's like 'engine of the day, job of the day, wanting to do something more special, strike 1, 2, 3, gets scolded at, feels guilty, have a spare one despite not bringing it just incase but have no time to get it anyway, put things right and giggle and jiggle'. Once you've seen that structure you seen them all! There are three strikes in the episodes from this season as well. But the three strikes used in these episodes blend in well with the stories and there are times where the three strikes was never even used. Some of the episodes can be a bit dull but still worthy of a watch, mostly for younger kids. 'Steamie Stafford' is something that I think preschoolers will enjoy and the stories are understandable too. 

Probably one of my least favourites was 'The Smelly Kipper' as it had Percy being scared of the dark in the beginning but it never really add much to the story. It could've instead been James boasting about how terrible for an engine like him to pull The Flying Kipper and keep that Percy intro for 'The Phantom Express' sure it's about bravery but given in the context for how the way Henry says Íf you're so brave James...' Henry could be either referring to James that if he was brave he could pull the Kipper but he just chickened out or brave to face the night. But despite that it was decent as their was some effort put into that story.

But probably one of my favourites is 'Not Now, Charlie'. The story has a 'boy who cried wolf' feeling towards it with Charlie constantly making jokes until he saw something that was serious but to the others it was just another joke. It had brought some character development from him. Although the ending was not well received with Charlie deciding not to make any more jokes but it didn't last long. To me I like that ending as not everyone can change overnight. It's like if something had a grudge on someone and then the next day they are OK with the person again. 'Old habits die hard'. The only thing I'm critical about is Charlie's jokes they are meh but I think it could do some better work but then again comedy is subjective. 

One thing I notice through the progression of this season is that the episodes started of as simple slice of life stories like 'Steamie Stafford', 'Gordon Runs Dry' etc. but as the season progress on they got more entertaining and fun to watch. Their are some bumps within the stories like 'The Lost Puff It was a good episode but can get a bit plain as it plays on. 

The animation and sets were very simple but with some rather over the top lighting. But let's be honest this was their first time animating the series and had many mistakes in the episodes, although they did manage to fix up the brake van stuff in 'Luke's New Friend' in The Thomas Way DVD, although HIT put in the one with the standard gauge brake van. It amazes me though that over the years Arc Productions had improved with their animation and it shows in S19 and the two specials that were released last year with the shine and glimmer. It's also great how they had redesigned the sets too such as Knapford station. In this season it was simple and to be honest, a bit bland. 

It feels empty to see the station not busy unlike today's episodes so it's great to see them improving their great skill over the years. Although I wish HIT Entertainment had released these episodes on Blu-Ray as the animation by Arc Productions are so worthy to look at in 1080p.

I still stand by my opinion that Mark Moraghan was the best choice to make for the storyteller switch. Angelis, in my opinion, was one of the best narrators that the show had, between S3-6 where he sounds enthusiastic and was well into telling the stories. But he later progressed on to be dull and boring and never really gave a distinct voice for the characters around the new era as they all pretty much sound the same. Moraghan has that friendly but enthusiastic voice when it comes to his narration and his tones were very good for kids to understand the situation in the stories and he had gotten better over the years too.

In the end S17 was really a well done and greatly improved season, it has a few bumps but the episode that are considered my least favourite I can at least give it a watch. They have good morals in the end and don't contradict themselves. I recommend buying the DVD considering with Brexit, the DVD itself cost me, on Amazon UK, $8.74 AUD and with 26 episodes that are written with good quality, it's a worthy item to get. Although if you're outside of the UK I recommend looking at your region code, considering some people on Amazon had bought an American DVD and tried to play it on their non-US DVD player, seriously there is a reason why Amazon has a product description.