Thursday, 15 January 2015

Series 18: Samson At Your Service

It's that time again! Today, it's Samson at Your Service under the spotlight!

I do not judge an episode based on which supporting characters appeared in it. For me, it's the story and main character(s) that count above everything. I'm saying this because I think this episode is average, despite the fact that my second favourite character spoke for the first time since series 15.

I quite liked the story that was told here. It's a shame the conflict was really contrived, but other than that, it was really good. The fact they wrote Samson in a way where he felt he had something to prove was brilliant, and it was pretty good that they filled in the gaps that Marion and the Dinosaurs left at the start, but I'll talk about that more later.

And yes, even though it won't affect my rating of the episode. I'm so grateful to Davey Moore for giving Stanley a few lines. I truly believe that he has so much potential, and I'm hoping that this is the beginning of something relatively big, rather than just a one off.

I also quite liked how the "confusion and delay" line actually meant something here, even if it shouldn't, which brings me on to the bad points.

First off, as I've said in the Marion and the Dinosaurs review, engines cannot get lost! Even if they're new to the railway, all the drivers need to do is inform the signalmen of where the train is going, so they get the goods to their destination as smoothly as possible!

Second is the lapse in continuity with the previous stories, and this is more the animators' fault. In Marion and the Dinosaurs, Samson arrived in broad daylight, yet here he arrived as the sun rose. If you're going to tell a continuous story, or one that relies on continuity from previous ones, you need to be consistent in every aspect of the newest offering, otherwise things become very confusing!

Also, the contrivance here makes the episode very distracting. Even disregarding engines getting lost and the dinosaurs remaining built until they were delivered, why did no one check whether Samson was pulling the Express? You could make the case that they thought he'd deliver the coaches to the station, but it was explained later that Stanley had shunted them for Thomas to take to Gordon!

Speaking of that, and this is what really annoys me: why was there no contingency plan put in place in case situations like this happened? How did they cope without Express Coaches in O the Indignity? Also, where are the other coaches?! There is an abundance of red branch line coaches Gordon could've taken, James and Edward have been seen pulling bogie coaches in previous Arc animated episodes. Heck, what happened to the Slip Coaches? I highly doubt that so many passenger trains were out at the exact same time. It's possible, but it still bugs me.

The animation was great as usual, although what happened here with James baffles me. His main frames seem to be trying to escape from his chassis! There have been episodes where engines haven't been rendered correctly (see Buzzy Bees for a prime example) but this is ridiculous!

The voice acting was brilliant. I can't get enough of Samson's voice; Robert Wilfort has been doing a fantastic job in the role so far, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from him. The music was the standard fare. It was nice and very fitting.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner
Final Thoughts
Contrivance alone is not a bad thing, but when it becomes this distracting, it really takes the shine away from the rest of the story, especially when the contrivance go against the rules that the show established. Every little point in the first four minutes was solely included to allow the story to happen, and it wouldn't bother me as such if the team weren't intent on making the series as realistic as they could in the 20 episodes that aired on TV. It's not the worst episode, but it's definitely one of the lower quality ones this series.

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)


  1. (I'm kinda contradicting you here... Please don't kill me (You said you'll fight even though you're wrong...) )

    First off, I agree with your views, but as always, not everything. Of #SAYS, you say that Samson should have known about the Express, but the same happened in Thomas' Train (Rev. Awdry again). See it that way, These D&D kinda resemble RWS (except #TATRT) Even the Driver didn't notice it! It's exactly the same conflict, only opposite. The Sunrise, well, why criticise Brenner for that? You've kind of ignored arc's mistakes sometimes, but here you are not; maybe, because the plot is a bit sketchy that it happens, but...
    "You could make the case that they thought he'd deliver the coaches to the station, but it was explained later that Stanley had shunted them for Thomas to take to Gordon!" this bugs me, too. Because Thomas did consider it. And, the coaches could have been taken by other engine and only Henrietta would have been free.
    Of #MATV, where else would have groundsmen built the bonfire? Furthermore, The Volcano could have come from Sodor and not mainland?
    Even though, I love your reviews and would always be there to read them. Hey, when are you doing TATMR again?
    Anyways, I best that you'd keep a bright-side-eye open when you do these.

    1. I never said Samson should have known, I said someone should have checked. There was a shunter there that had didn't question anything! I don't blame Samson for what happened; like I said at the start of the review, he had something to prove, so of course he wouldn't listen to reason. In Thomas' Train, it was clearly established that no one knew why Thomas wasn't coupled, and men shouted to try and get him to stop. This was also established in the adaptation that was 4 and a half minutes long. It's these important missing details that cause plot holes.

      As for the continuity error, I never blamed Andrew Brenner, Davey Moore wrote this story. Iblamed the animators because they either ignored or forgot what time of day Samson arrived in Marion and the Dinosaurs. They're trying to tell a flowing, continuous story here, so EVERY LITTLE THING has to be accurate, otherwise the story doesn't flow.

      "Only Henrietta would have been free" did you completely ignore my paragraph concerning "contingency plans"? If so, look out for my series 18 overview where I expand on that.