I don't usually do seperate blog posts for specific episodes of Thomas and Friends. But this one has really plagued my thoughts for so long I can't ignore them anymore. As we all know, this episode features the return of the Narrow Gauge engines, and the first time they're seen in full CGI. But that's pretty much it...
The episode itself is a re-write of The Green Controller from Series 10, as well as Sir Handel in Charge from Series 11... yet it's been voted the 2nd most popular Series 16 episode by fans in two separate polls. Why?
Simple. It's the same reason fans like Saved You! and Gordon Takes a Short Cut: the episodes aren't exactly written very well, with the lack of railway knowledge on show perfectly, yet fans like them because old characters returned. In Gordon Takes a Short Cut Duck, Oliver and Toad appeared, while the pannier tank appeared with Donald and Douglas in Saved You!.
However, I'm not too bothered about the above episodes as they were both quite entertaining and, most of all, they were original. Don't Bother Victor was never designed to be original. It was clear even from the description that was provided three weeks before it aired that it was going to be unoriginal!
The whole situation though makes me, above everything else, sad. The Railway Series had good, entertaining stories throughout its 42 volumes. Kids could follow the story through really well and fans judged their opinions on the story they read. Yet now, all they judge opinions on is what they see on screen. That's fine, but that's around 30% of what makes a good television series. In Thomas' case, there are three other factors to consider: voices, music and, most importantly, the story. And it's the story that fans are completely forgetting.
Yes, it was nice to see the narrow gauge engines again. Yes, it was nice to see Victor work away from the Steamworks rather than be told that he'd gone and, yes, the narrow gauge engines looked stunning. But with the story so contrived, repetitive and downright boring as it was, I simply could not enjoy their return, and I can't understand its popularity as an episode.
I know fans have the right to their own opinions, but I think they should really take the rose tinted spectacles off now and remember that Thomas only became famous because of its fantastic storytelling. Without that key component, I fear that Thomas will never be successful as a television show ever again, and will only be successful as a brand to make money from...
If you did like Don't Bother Victor's story though, please do say why in the box below. It will be very interesting to read any and all responses.