Thursday, 17 March 2016

Series 19: Den & Dart

Day 4 of Thomas Week! Here are my thoughts on Den & Dart!

In my last review, I said that the creative team really needed to ditch the Steam Team concept in order to let other characters shine. After all, that's what made the show, and The Railway Series, so great in the first place. Then along comes this episode to prove my point.

This was what Ol' Wheezy Wobbles should have been. No focusing on Thomas and his idiocy, no focus on trying to build fake tension with 'Arry and Bert, no repetitive, annoying nonsense. Just a simple, engaging story delving into Den and Dart's friendship and how much they really need each other.

It's not just those two who shine, though. This episode is another fine example of how far Mavis has grown under Toby's leadership, too. Her caring, empathetic side is wonderful, and while it would be nice to see more females on the show, characters like her, Annie, Clarabel, Henrietta, Caitlin and even Marion show that quality trumps quantity every single time. I'm just hoping they do well with Daisy in series 20..!

As for Toby, he finally feels like Toby, and I'm absolutely delighted! Granted, hints of his original personality returned in series 17, but I'm hoping this is the starting point for his characterisation remaining consistent, putting his fears behind him. They've done an excellent job with Edward, so there's no excuse for Toby not to be treated in a similar way.

But for me, the stand out character of the whole thing was Den - which is surprising as he had little going for him before this episode aired. I like the fact that he went from being an intimidated, shy character to a confident, no nonsense one. Granted, he was a bit flustered at the end of the day, but I don't mind that. As long as that confidence resurfaces, the ending shows that characters can't change completely in one day, but they can learn quite a bit about themselves.

Also, that musical interlude showing how Den and Dart were getting on was brilliant. One thing I really haven't liked throughout the HiT era is that we don't really hear enough of the episodes' scores due to the large amount of dialogue, reaching its nadir in series 13-16 when the music was vastly better yet the dialogue stifled it completely. But if these little interludes become a regular feature, I'd be all for it, especially if the story is continually told well with the visuals.

However, I think it's a shame that Dart didn't really get as much attention as Den. It would have been nice to see if he would have developed in his own way without Den rather than have him just feeling sad for a bit only to have Mavis cheer him up with a little speech. That said, throughout their appearances, Dart has been shown to be the more confident of the two, so it's only a minor gripe.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner

Final Thoughts
Has there ever been an episode that you didn't know you wanted until you had it? Well, after 4 and a half years of nothing for Den and Dart, this was that episode, and it turned out to be one of the best of this series. The story was great, the conflict lived up to its potential and it gave Den some great development. Here's hoping it's not the end for these two, as it would be a real shame if they didn't capitalise on the momentum they have now.

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)

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