Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Retrospective of Thomas & Friends DVDs of 2016

As we end another year, we take a look back at the DVDs that were released during the course of 2016. But first:

THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND NOT INFLUENCED FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FAN BASE.

SOME OPINIONS MAY HAVE CHANGED DURING THE COURSE OF THE YEAR

A RETROSPECTIVE OF THOMAS & FRIENDS
DVDS OF 2016

START YOUR ENGINES!
Review Date: 2/03/16
Rating: 8/10

I still think this did better than 'Spills and Thrills' and 'Dinos and Discoveries'. There are stories that don't feel they are the same with the 'character vs. character' plot line and give out different plot lines like about being who you are in your own right. However, I still find 'Race With You' a meh song and it's sad that Robert and Peter Hartshorne had left the series last year. So who would be the songwriters now? EggPlant aren't really the best at writing songs, not I'm not talking about the fruit. 

I love Philip and his persona but the debut episodes he was given was not entirely good, at the end. I hate how he broke his promise to the Fat Controller that he won't race around again but decided to have a race with Gordon anyway was not punished for it. It would've been better if say Philip loves to race and dreams of racing around Sodor, like Thomas wanting to see the world, but after 'racing' Gordon, the Fat Controller scolded him for neglecting his work. Maybe the writers don't want to show TFC as a harsh person so they wouldn't get the 'communist' tag from the 'journalists',  but when it comes to tell kids the message, they have to show TFC's harsh side to understand the consequences. 


WHALE OF A TALE & 
OTHER SODOR ADVENTURES
Review Date: 30/05/16
Rating: 6.5/10

One year after the US got it as a Wal*Mart exclusive. It's pretty much the same as the US' except for the Mr. Perkins intervals and 'Salty All at Sea' as an extra episode. I'm glad that HIT didn't forget about them (Perkins) as they are entertaining to watch with him reading out the Railway Series stories, but they were released before in the UK version of 'Trouble on the Tracks' last year along with the intervals that were in the US copy. It would've been much better if they had just delete them and given us a new 'Landmarks of Sodor' interval. 

The only difference this DVD has compare to the US copy is that 'Salty All at Sea' was added. But if this were released like the US copy it would've been pointless to release one year after it was released over in the US considering that the episodes are already on YT or stream demand websites after their TV run. But considering that 'The Great Race' was scheduled one week after the UK and Australia releases their version, I hope HIT keeps this up with the generic releases and episode exclusive copies as well.

THE COMPLETE SERIES 17
Review Date: 27/07/16
Rating: 9/10

Ever since 2013/14 I had enjoyed Season 17 with its writing and animation and now three years later after seeing a collection of episodes banded together of a new era from Brenner and Co. this season is still great to watch. It may as well be dated considering the mass amount of upgrading that Arc Productions did in the next two seasons and specials, but there are memorable episodes to this day such as 'Thomas' Shortcut', 'Gone Fishing' etc. there are some bumps here and there and some episodes that I considered as my least favourite are still worthy of a watch. 

WILD WATER RESCUE & 
OTHER ENGINE ADVENTURES
Review Date: 28/08/16
Rating: 3/10

I decided to give this one a proper review back in August and looking back at this 'exclusive' release, this was an entirely pointless release from Target all to promote a Trackmaster train set for the titled episode. This is 'Big Bang Surprise' but with a S19 episode. The title episode wasn't the best but in comparison to the ones its released alongside with, It is the only bearable episode to watch. There are good segments but it's still a pointless release and it could've been better as a barebones release with just the one episode, maybe a trailer for the 2015 special and maybe a Guess Who puzzle with the Trackmaster set.

THE GREAT RACE
Review Date: 5/09/16
Rating: 6/10

It had flaws such as Diesel's subplot, Thomas' bridge jump and the redundancy of Vinnie as the antagonist. But it provide good songs and a relatable moral. Although in comparison it didn't beat the likes of 'Sodor's Legend of The Lost Treasure' but within a 60min limit there probably would've been great potential if HIT and Mattel had expand the time limit to 1hr rather than 60 minutes, but that's not the main problem though. It would've been better if the special was focused on Percy and the moral about losing is OK as long as you tried your best or, probably better, Gordon trying to better than his brother! It could've easily worked on the jealously that has towards his brother, Flying Scotsman. The actual plot within Diesel's clunky subplot had used the overused 'Steamies Vs. Diesel' plot line all for Thomas' crash with no pay off and the hype for the international engines was very underwhelming and I feel it didn't brace the multicultural side of the story that media had been pointing out. It's OK, I don't even hate it, but it had missed opportunities and the movie didn't fit for a character like Thomas.

TINSEL ON THE TRACK
 Review Date: 12/10/16
Rating: 9/10

Probably this DVD had the best Christmas episodes to date. I love the episodes that were made for S20 as they were so creative with great storytelling, characterisation and amazing visuals. It's hard to choose a favourite as Helen Farrall & Davey Moore had both written brilliant episodes. It's also great that they had released three episodes for 'Thomas' Christmas Carol' and 'Full Steam To The Rescue' over in the UK as well.

FULL STEAM TO THE RESCUE
Review Date: 4/11/16
Rating: 7/10

This DVD has the last remaining Thomas episodes from the 19th season and of course they are still a hit and miss to me. However there were two episodes from 20th season that are the Christmas ones and I think they are on the scale from OK to great. However I think the UK releases should be edited in the same way as the US releases. Have the intro, episode, interval, rinse and repeat and then credits as what they do now currently feels a bit awkward. 



ULTIMATE FRIENDSHIP ADVENTURE
Review Date: 3/11/16
Rating: 7/10

It's a surprise to see that this was the only episodic release that has no special features which kinda makes me believe that this felt it was like a last minute addition or maybe they didn't have any intervals or special features at the time, yet last year they had placed previous ones from 'Santa's Little Engine' US DVD on last year's 'generic release'. Despite that there were some good and not so good episodes on this DVD. I'm sure everyone knows that I'm not a fan of some season 19 episodes that were placed on here but there are some good one from that season too, at least in my opinion and there are some good ones from season 20 as well. 

It's a simple DVD with ten episodes and that's pretty much it as there are no intervals and special bonus. There were some good episodes and some, in my opinion, that are not so good. But despite that it was a fine DVD.

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And so we now come to the end of 2016. What's next for Thomas in 2017? Well there is the upcoming 21st season, now all animated by Jam Filled Productions who bought out Arc Productions back in August 2016 and thankfully with the staff that were part of the former animation studio. There is also the upcoming yearly special 'Journey Beyond Sodor' for the first time being a 70min special. We know little about the plot but not much of its outcome but we know it's about friendship focusing on James and Thomas and some experimental engines. 

There is also the upcoming new character, Hugo, for next year's Spring/Autumn DVD 'Extraordinary Engines'. So to conclude this post I like to wish everyone a happy and safe 2017 and hope you have a great future ahead of you.

-NWR1991



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