Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Series 18: Not So Slow Coaches

A new day, a new episode! Here are my thoughts on Not So Slow Coaches!

I have to be honest, I'm a bit conflicted about this episode. There are quite a few things I liked, but there are also a few things I didn't.

For example, I really like the fact that the writers seemed to adapt this episode from the magazine story First Class Carriage, replacing Henrietta with Annie and Clarabel and Gordon with Caitlin. I like the idea, and if they'd adapted that story fully, this episode probably would have been better.

I also really like that they've made Charlie a shunter. It seems to suit him really well, and his jokey nature would make sense in a yard as he'd be able to liven the place up a bit while he works. Speaking of his jokes, they are getting better. They still feel like they came out of a really cheap joke book, but at least they're not as cringeworthy as earlier series, and his joking wasn't as overbearing as it was in Not Now, Charlie!.

And then there's Thomas pushing Annie and Clarabel into the yard. While it was great, it really did highlight how the dip at the front of Thomas' running board really affects how "off centre" his buffers are. It's a shame too, as they could probably fix that by altering his model, which they won't do as they probably don't want to make the main cast look too different now so as not to change things too much for the kids which is understandable, I suppose.

But the main thing I really like is that they gave rolling stock a starring role, which is a breath of fresh air. And to give it to Annie and Clarabel (the females) was a bonus. They had some great line, and it was a fantastic performance by Teresa Gallagher. Hopefully that will keep the "journalists" who cry "sexist" quiet for a bit.

Speaking of that, out of the 8 characters that appeared, the male/female head count was 50/50. A real step in the right direction to proving the critics wrong!

The animation was brilliant as usual as well. There were still a few "wrong roading" issues, but considering the signalling layout at the Vicarstown Bridge, that's not really too surprising. It still looked beautiful and the angles were fantastic. The music also fit the scenes extremely well. I loved it.

On the whole, the voice acting was great as well. However, it felt really noticeable that Mavis' "trucks" was dubbed in. I've also watched the American version of this episode, and Teresa Gallagher now voices her there as well. I mention the US dub as her "cars" delivery feels more natural. Had the whole line ("Empty trucks") been redubbed for the UK broadcast, it may not have been that noticeable.

Unfortunately, there are a few more negatives. I'll start with the smaller ones (nitpicks) first, then the bigger ones. Firstly, if Caitlin's loosened some bolts, wouldn't it be better if someone took her to the Works rather than taking herself? If one of those loose bolts came off, there'd be severe delays while they were cleared up and she was taken away.

Another nitpick: how did the whole of Caitlin's train turn around? I can just put this down to "TV series logic" but it still really bugs me, especially since Caitlin would probably have seen Annie and Clarabel long before the end and possibly cutting the episode short.

Which actually leads on to my biggest problem: the second half feels really stupid. Why couldn't they have done the ending at Ulfstead Castle with Thomas actually catching Caitlin and telling her about Annie and Clarabel? Or maybe do a First Class Carriage and have Annie's coupling snap on the way up to the castle, meaning Thomas would have to catch them. Caitlin could then see how tired Thomas was and try and explain the situation. The way it was written, no one is brought to account for what happened, and no one apologises to Thomas for sending him on a wild goose chase solely to get his own coaches back. Yes, Thomas, Annie and Clarabel learn the lesson they needed to, but it could have been handled a lot better.

Fan Reaction

Final Thoughts

Paul Larson has always been a topsy-turvy writer for Thomas, and it seems Laura Beaumont is struggling to help him control that. This episode is definitely one of their better efforts. It's not the best they've done, but it's not the worst either. There's a lot a good stuff here, especially when it comes to character interactions, and with the right climax, it would have been great. But as it is, it's rather good.

Episode Ratings
Old Reliable Edward: 9/10
Not So Slow Coaches: 7/10

Series Rating (so far)


  1. I love the addition of the fan reaction Tweets. It's a really great addition to an already great review.

    1. To be honest, so do I. It's inspired on SIF's reviews; it's a lot more interesting to hear many opinions rather than just one. I might expand it for future series, if I ever find out how to

  2. Perhaps there was a loop line at Ulfstead Castle where Catlin's train was able to race round and back down the hill again on that.

    1. It's possible. It's the only "realistic" explanation