THESE ARE SOLEY MY OPINIONS AND ARE NOT INFLUENCED FROM THE THOMAS & FRIENDS FANBASE
BIG WORLD BIG ADVENTURE
Back in May 2017, Kidscreen announced, through an article about 'Journey Beyond Sodor', that Thomas is going up for a 'revamp'. No one knew what it'll be as some say it was a spin off to run parallel with the main series. But a few months later we were given more information about it and it turns out to be a 'new series' of Thomas going around the world.
Now with an issue of 'preview' for the upcoming MIPJunior event in France and the Toyworld magazine, we have more new detail about the show and here are my thoughts about it:
Thomas the Tank Engine is now the Storyteller:
Yes, that is now going to happen. The number one tank engine will now be the storyteller of the new series rather than a person. Now to me this is sad considering that S21 will be Mark Moraghan's last season to narrate, although I hope, as he stated on his twitter account, that he would be narrating online content and apps. However many people are thinking that Thomas speaking directly to the audience would be like 'Dora the Explorer' When really, according to the article, it's Thomas talking about his adventures from his perspective far from what 'Dora the Explorer's' engagement to its audience was. It wouldn't be much, the Dora like engagement, for a fast-paced storyline that Mattel are aiming for. This had been done before in the past with those 'life lesson' or 'Learn with Thomas' videos that were uploaded on the official YouTube channel were Thomas tells the audience on what he had learnt from an episode.
While it's sad that Mark Moraghan will not be narrating the show, his role has been decreasing over the years and I was wondering if they were going to do that one day by not having him narrating the show at all. 'A Shed for Edward' did prove that in a show don't tell sort of way and of course it works since the CGI made the characters more expressive then what the models did.
More Female Characters:
While I welcome more female characters, I hope they aren't introduced to be just girls and that's it, you know a check on a list. Some people are saying that is PC but since Mattel stated that that more girls are watching the show, I'm glad that they are doing this. Although the production team had introduced and reintroduced female characters before in the past and gave them character and personality so I'm at least confident that they will do that. But if they introduce them for being a girl or having that nationality, a bit like Ashima in 'The Great Race' yes she was a bit bland IMO then that will be a problem as it would feel more forced if it goes into that direction.
New 'Steam Team':
I'm not a huge fan of the 'steam team' concept since over the years from this production team we have seen more focus on the secondary characters while some focusing on the core characters. But I think with the term, 'new steam team', we are still going to see characters like Gordon, James, Percy, Emily etc. but maybe with some new female members too. I don't know how they are going to do that despite that we had Edward leaving and that there's a rumour about Henry leaving the group, I hope they give him the same treatment as Edward though by at least give him some focus too.
When I first heard about the new format from Kidscreen, I also thought it would be a spin off and hoping it was about the mainland engines. But now after reading this from those sources, it sounds like the movie would be Thomas going to the five continents and going back to Sodor at the end of the film and then this new show will have Thomas telling us, the audience, his world trips while he's home and we see him in other countries and while some people may think this is all 'politically correct', I like that a show is teaching kids about different cultures and what they do since the world right now is not good at the moment.
I still have a feeling it's a one-off and then they will be focusing on newer themes as time goes by until whenever they decide to change up the show again and I will still feel cautiously optimistic considering that it might turn out different then what I have expected but considering that the current production team are still working on the show, I have confidence in them to make this good for both young and old, I for one am looking forward to see more international engines more than the ones from the 2016 special, 'The Great Race'. I don't think this will be another 'dark era' and if these changes mean to keep the show alive for a new generation, then let it survive. I'm going to wait until next year and see the finish product as I'm not like other people who think this is the end. Like I said before, I'm going to wait and see what the final outcome is.