Reviews: Thomas The Tank Engine

Too Many Characters, Poorly Developed Setting,

This show was one of my childhood favorites, and whenever my little sister turned it on I never complained. However, I have looked back on the show and seen two major flaws and two minor ones that passed over my head earlier in life:

1. Loads and Loads of Characters. Early additions like Percy and Toby were welcome, but once there got to be so many that characters had to have their names on their sides, it was time to stop.

2. Sodor. A few questions: How big? What's there? Where is it? The calm, breezy opening narration mentions it has lots of railway lines, but does it also mention the lost towns, sports stadium, mountains, regular towns, or small gauge-railway? This show's use of Geographic Flexibility is absolutely awful, and expect a new location to pop up as needed to facilitate whatever plot is necessary. However, kudos goes to the writers who remember what geographical features they have added, instead of forgetting them.

3. What's with the diesels and the "steamies"? It's flat out-racism (in a kids' show no less), and we get little explanation as to why they hate each other.

4. Inconsistency on one crucial part of the universe: can the engines control themselves, or is it just sentient machinery that must be operated by humans? On one hand, the sentient engines get into hijinks and accidents and do things that no human "driver" would ever allow them to do (even threats and near-murder in that magic railway movie), but on the other hand in one episode an engine with no driver being unable to apply his brakes was a plot point.

But it is still a very good show in its own right, with most of the flaws being based upon suspension of disbelief (of which the target audience has near infinite amounts of) or being minor. Thomas ranks pretty high on my all time favorite list of all fictional characters, the voice acting is unparalleled, and the narrarators tone and style rivaled that of Morgan Freeman. The show is both serious (well, by kids' standards anyway) and humorous at the same time, and the characters felt real and fleshed out (or at least the main ones were). It's theme tune is fondly remembered, as is the opening sequence.