Wednesday, 12 October 2016

DVD Review: Tinsel on the Tracks


Letters to Santa
The Christmas Coffee Pot
Railcar & Coaches
Over the Hill
Love Me Tender

Written by
Helen Farrall
Davey Moore

Special Features
'Glynn's Christmas Wish' Sing-Along Music Video
Guess Who puzzle

Directed by
Dianna Basso

Produced by
Ian McCue

Release Date
11/10/16 - iTunes
18/10/16 - DVD 

It's been a strange year for the US when it comes to the DVD releases of Thomas & Friends. Last year they were given the Spring episode exclusive DVD, The Adventure Begins, the Wal*Mart Exclusive, Big Bang Surprise disguised as S19 DVD, a S19 Christmas DVD and a generic release with three S19 and S18 episodes as well as the usual annual special. All their in the 70th Anniversary year and yet this year, they only got 'Start Your Engines', this year's special and now this year's Christmas release and the upcoming 'Ultimate Friendship Adventure' with ten episodes all together with five from S19, except for 'Wild Water Rescue' and five episodes from S20.

But nevertheless, the US has finally got some new S20 episodes with lots of surprises shown. Not only do we see Donald and Douglas back after their debut in last year's special but Glynn the Coffee Pot engine is making his TV series debut after 'The Adventure Begins' the 70th anniversary special from 2015. Considering he was called off as 'pointless' by some, I'm glad to see that they hadn't wasted his render. Hopefully this means we see Jerome and Judy make their TV series debut too, who knows what we see in this season? 


As usual, the episodes shown on this DVD will be reviewed once they are on TV during Season 20's run. That is until whenever ABC Australia airs them, although most likely around the Christmas week. But in short, these would have to be the best Christmas/Winter episodes I've seen yet. Much better than the previous ones, with an exception that they haven't topped 'Last Train for Christmas', although that's my opinion.


So in the DVD, the intervals are 'Calling All Engines!', 'The Earl's Quiz', 'Landmarks of Sodor' and 'The Fat Controller's Tales' or Sir Topham Hatt as he's known in North America. The CAE! segment featured Samson and Scruff and as usual these are nice. Showing kids the other engines of Sodor and knowing there personalities and purpose on Sodor and what makes them really useful. 

The Earl's Quiz showcase three questions for kids. The episodes featured are 'Marion and the Dinosaur', who owns the number four on the railway with footage from 'The Adventure Begins' and 'Henry's Hero', although they could've at least shown Henry from TAB as well but beggars can't be choosers and the last one featured the episode 'Duck in The Water'. 

We see another 'Landmarks of Sodor' segment and this time focusing on Brendam Docks. I like these segments as they feel like old railway documentaries, I'm kinda going to repeat myself on why I like these things. Though it's kinda sad that they featured Porter saying that he's important, of course for his uses at the docks, but hopefully the writers develop him more on his character, I'm hoping this season but I have some doubts over it considering that they'll be focused on the 2015 special's newbies as well as Hugo in the 2017 DVD 'Extraordinary Engines'. 

The last segment and probably one of my least favourites and that is 'The Fat Controller's Tales' why? Because it feels like Calling All Engines again and it's basically recapping an episode, not that it's bad but it's repeated on TV at times, on demand stream sites and of course DVDs and digital downloads. It would be nice to see maybe more Railway Series being used, maybe use them different as it doesn't have to be Mr. Perkins. Like maybe have them recapped through various engines such as Thomas telling the viewers at the time he once teased a tractor named Terence or Duck stopping trucks that were a runaway from Gordon's Hill. Have the art pictures shown along with some music etc. I'm open to new ideas though but maybe something that's not repeatable. 

Now for the special features we see another song by Eggplant. This time it's all about Glynn the Coffee Pot Engine and his Christmas Wish, which is based upon the episode 'The Christmas Coffee Pot'. To be honest, Eggplant made hit and miss songs, of course 'Race With You' is probably there most controversial one among fans, although I'm not a fan of it, it was a hit and miss to me. However this song my opinion, not a bad song but more of an OK but nice and far more better than 'Race With You' and 'Hear The Engines Coming', seriously as I said before for the latter I hate that song and definitely one of the least creative songs ever, but I digress. The song, Glynn's, has basically recapped the whole episode but you could just watch the whole episode for it but the music was nice and very Christmassy. The lyrics are nice but there line 'Christmas is a time for things' is probably showing that they're not even trying to create a good song. I think it was nice but not among the best songs I've listened too. 

To be honest, when it comes to the songs, we had been shown with 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' and 'The Great Race' that Andrew Brenner can write songs and they are far more better than what Eggplant can write and we have other singers such as Mark Moraghan, the narrator of the show and he has a fantastic voice and Teresa Gallagher as well one of the voice actors as well, in fact most of the VA's have a great singing voice as shown in this year's DVD special. So why have Eggplant? If the production team are opening up to new ideas maybe they should give the writers and the narrator a try when it comes to the songs. 

The Guess Who puzzles are just your typical Thomas puzzles and the characters featured are Gordon, Thomas & Rocky together, Rusty and Winston. It's good for kids as usual though in the end. 

This DVD is far more better than the US' 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' last year. The episodes are worth every penny with the writing, characterisation and strong continuity. The intervals are good, except for The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt's Tales and while the Glynn song is not the best it's better than 'Snow Place Like Home'. It's also good to hear that these episodes will also be on the UK's 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' and hopefully two more on 'Full Steam To The Rescue' around October/November 2016, if it happens for the latter maybe the UK might be in sync with the US when it comes to upcoming episodes next season. Fingers crossed.

The DVD comes out to the American audience next week on the 18th but I think it's better to buy them on iTunes if you want the clear quality of 1080p or Amazon Video, since it came out last week on the American website.