Sunday, 20 March 2016

Series 19: Reds vs Blues

Here are my thoughts on episode two of Start Your Engines!, Reds vs Blues!

I know that not many fans like this episode due to its heavy focus on football, but I think it's pretty good. It feels like a huge improvement on Thomas and the Colours.

Here, Thomas and James have similar duties, so it feels a lot more interesting to see who comes out on top and how, whereas the series 10 episode was just Thomas being a whiny, jealous character who was just trying to sabotage a job that James had earned.

I also quite liked how football rules were integrated into the engines' scoldings; it made them feel more unique. Granted, I do think the red card should have been explained as "you'll be sent to the sheds" as an actual consequence for their actions should they do it again.

It was also pretty funny when it wanted to be. Highlights include the Fat Controller kicking the ball. That was brilliant.

Also, Percy's line was just fantastic. I don't think it was a fourth wall break as such, but it was a great case of self awareness that was delivered fantastically by Nigel Pilkington.

And I also like that they used Thomas rather than Gordon. Why? Well, Gordon seemed an obvious choice, and it feels more like he's an obstacle for James to overcome than a genuine rival. Also, the match takes place around Dryaw, somewhere Gordon can't go. And finally, I think Thomas and James have much better chemistry than Gordon and James. When those two are on screen, especially these days, it feels like James is a mini Gordon, only with a red livery.

I do have complaints, though. First off, it seems really petty that football fans (who are general passengers usually) would be so biased based on who'll be taking them to the game based solely on their livery. It feels really odd. Then again, football fans can be a fickle bunch in reality anyway, so I can let that slide.

Second, while I love that Barrow's team was mentioned by name, why wasn't Sodor's native team? They're playing at Dryaw, why weren't they just called Dryaw FC? I'm getting a bit frustrated by one person, or a group of people, representing a whole island when in reality, and in The Railway Series, that isn't the case. If we're basing this on a real island, there's a fire service, hospital and fire service for every major county, a search and rescue service for every coastal area, a major for every county, city, borough, etc., and a football team (or more) per city, county, etc. I know that including too much could be confusing for kids, but if they're wanting to build on a realistic fictional world..! (sorry, I had to vent there. I know it's minor, but it annoys me somewhat).

Fan Reaction

Final Thoughts
I know I'm probably in the minority, but I like this one. Whether people like it or not, football is a big thing in Britain, so to see it featured here is great as it helps to build that connection that the Awdrys liked to incorporate with their work. The story itself is just a fun, simple one for kids to teach them about teamwork, and I'm OK with that. As long as it's done well..!

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)


  1. I personally love this episode too. Loved the football aspect of the episode and the two engines involved. I personally can understand why people cared about travelling on a blue engine or a red engine as I guess adds more hype for the football fans. Humour was brilliant. Felt very railway based and original unlike some episodes this season like helping hiro.

  2. I agree with everything in my this review. At first, I wasn't quite sold by this episode when it aired on NHK, but I've grown in esteem for it over time. Hope you don't mind me saying, Two Wheels Good is my favorite of S19 alongside Lost Property. Look forward to seeing your next review!