Monday, 13 November 2017

DVD Review: Christmas on Sodor


Written by 
Andrew Brenner
Helen Farrall 

Terence Breaks the Ice
Daisy's Perfect Christmas
Confused Christmas
Emily in the Middle
The Big Freeze
Cautious Connor
Tit For Tat
All In Vain

Special Features
It's Christmas Time - Music Video
Helping Others - Learn with Thomas
Sleigh and Plough - The Earl's Quiz
How Steam Engines Use Coal - Down at the Station

Directed by
Dianna Basso 

Produced by
Ian McCue (HIT)
Micaela Winters (HIT)

Release Date
3/10/17 - US (iTunes)
17/10/17 - US
13/11/17 - UK

Distributed by
Mattel Creations (UK/US)
HIT Entertainment (UK)
Universal (US)

For the first time ever, HIT Entertainment & Mattel have released a Thomas DVD, barring specials and tent pole releases, without holding back the UK to get it an entire year later! A welcoming change and I hope they do that for other DVDs in the near future. However like last year the US got a lack of DVDs unlike in 2015 and that includes the annual exclusive tent pole DVDs, the yearly special, Christmas DVD and generic release. Usually until 2016, Wal*Mart releases exclusive release DVDs of the upcoming season but it's most likely that the contract between the company that owns Wal*Mart and HIT Entertainment had expired and was never renewed. 

So now with 'Journey Beyond Sodor' out of the way, let's take a look at this year's Christmas release.


Like every other Christmas release, I'm leaving the recent episodes until they've aired during the course of Christmas. But the last three episodes I will say that they are still great episodes even though they are a year old. I think it is sad that they've lost the potential of releasing the Arlesdale episodes as there own DVD but in the end they were at least given a DVD release. 

I love 'Cautious Connor' and on its own it was a good episode but it's not good in comparison to the likes of 'Edward's Exploit', 'Gallant Old Engine' and 'Four Little Engines'. Three of those stories showcased an engine struggling and got injured but carried on like it was nothing. For Edward his crank pins broke (and damaged his splashers in the book) and for Rheneas his valve gear had jammed and despite the pain, he still carried on like a hero, Skarloey broke his springs and carried on to the last station despite his old age. Compare them to Connor who had a broken traction rod it's not really a big thing.

Now don't get me wrong I don't hate the episode but I wouldn't call it the best episode ever though. I still think that the episode has missed opportunities like Caitlin being the engine to motivate Connor as they are both close friends and that maybe either Edward or Rheneas motivate him about their past experiences. Rheneas purpose to be Ulfstead castle could be him delivering passengers or slate from the quarry or Edward could be there delivering passengers to visit the Castle. In the end, it was a good episode but it lacked some missed opportunities.

The other two episodes on the DVD still hold up, I love watching 'Tit for Tat' probably the best of the adapted stories of the miniature engines in my book and I still consider that 'All In Vain' is 'Pouty James' done right with his developed character of putting his jobs first before his vanity. 


So they've released 'It's Christmas Time' again which was seen on the 2014 Christmas DVD 'The Christmas Engine'. To be honest I'm glad because after the release of 'Snow Place Like Home' and 'Glynn's Christmas Wish' I don't blame them, Mattel and HIT Entertainment. Both songs weren't good among fans but for me I don't mind them but they weren't great looking back. So I hope one day we do see a good song from Eggplant that is if they're still contracted or better yet, from the likes of Andrew Brenner. 

Of course there are standard special features within the DVD, such as another 'Learn from Thomas' segment, which is used at the end of each Thomas block on PBS Kids of a moral life lesson from an episode that had aired that day. Then we have the Earl's quiz with clips from two S17 episodes, 'No Snow for Thomas' and 'Santa's Little Engine'. Again, good segements for the younger audiences to learn for their thinking skills.

And of course we have the Mr. Perkins segment, 'Down at the Station', another segment that are seen on PBS Kids in the US and Nick Jr. in the UK. I do like these segments as it show kids about certain parts of a steam engine or a diesel that they see in real life and it's always beautifully shot with the real steam locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It also made me realise sadly that we lost Ben Forster earlier in the year! May the good man rest in peace.   


At the time of writing this review, I was reviewing the US copy that I bought from iTunes, I have an account despite living in Australia. 

I know there's another upcoming Christmas DVD releasing soon in America, which is 'Thomas' Holiday Collection'. But despite the addition of the model series episodes, it's a DVD that's not worth getting considering for parents, they would want more CG episodes and less of the old stuff, I know that sounds crazy but it's sadly true by looking at the Amazon reviews on the US site when it comes to the classic series. There are DVDs with the same episodes as the other discs and that, for the older fans' sake, they already have these DVDs when they were released years ago and the CGI DVDs in the collection have terribly written stories! In all honesty why not release another generic release DVD? I don't know how many episodes from S17-20 are released over in the US but you can have that along with maybe two additional episodes from S21 or episodes from the same season that had been released over in the UK recently on television!

Plus the DVDs from that collection are more cheaper to buy on their own than as a bundle they are about $5.00 - $9.00 USD or you can watch them on either Amazon Prime or Netflix through your membership, I know because I have used my sister's account while I visited America.

If you want something for your child for Christmas, I recommend this DVD as they are all brand new episodes and not repackaged DVDs. The special features may be standard but they are good in the end despite some being in previous releases. I know most of my overall is about another DVD that's coming soon but there's not much I need to say about this DVD and I want to get it off my chest as I have no interest in buying it because I already have these DVDs already and I think it's just lazy of Universal to put all these together when there are cheaper copies on their own and that they are up for streaming on streaming services.