Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Series 20: Toby's New Friend

We meet again, Philip... It's fair to say that I've been very critical of the little boxcab, but I want to say that I'm critical because I care. Philip is a lovely design and has potential to be a brilliant child-like character. Pairing him with Toby is a great way to go about things, but did they deliver?

Wow. They've actually given something in Philip's personality that I've yearned for since he was first revealed in the Start Your Engines! trailer last year: charm. Sure, he's still kind of overbearing, but pairing him up with someone who'll react to it in a more subtle way was a much better way to go about it than putting him with someone who'll just call him annoying or someone who'll just pander to him.

I also love his little development. He knew that Toby couldn't keep up, so he went back to allow him to catch up. It's a great way to teach kids that there were more important things than winning, and it shows how genuine he is to have Toby as a friend. This is also evident when we see Toby decline Philip's offers to have a race.

Toby himself was really good, too. Sure, I think that his character would have benefited a bit more from saying something earlier, rather than having it fall to Thomas to put Philip right, but I still really like how he was handled, and his dynamic with Henrietta is always really fun to watch. His dynamic with Philip was great, too.

His concern for the workmen before deciding to race fit his character as well. Also, watching the workmen go crazy for the idea was pretty funny.

Also, Thomas' role here was brilliant. I know I said that it shouldn't have been down to him to pass on the moral, but since it was one that he's already learned (Happy Hiro), it worked fantastically. In addition, since Philip gets along with Thomas more than any other engine, it was a lot more effective.

But there are a couple of issues. First off is the whole reason the plot started. I get why Philip would think Toby was a "boxcab", but a diesel? Toby's smoke is the exact same style and colour as a steam engine. How did Philip not notice that?

Also, as good as this variation is, it is still a re-write of series 15's Big Belle. It even starts with a similarly stupid reason (as discussed). This can be forgiven though, as the plot gets going faster, it's a lot more interesting, less annoying, more natural and charming and it improved on a character that I wasn't much for beforehand. Also, Toby wasn't a huge coward.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner (contains strong language)

Final Thoughts
While I'm not completely sold on Philip after this episode (he still has two bad performances, as well as a pointless one, under his belt), I do think this is a step in the right direction for his character. Keep pairing him with those he can work off well, don't pander to his whims and teach lessons that are worthwhile to him and the audience (like this does to a fine art) and he'll prove himself to be a brilliant child character very quickly.

Episode Ratings
Sidney Sings: 8/10
Toby's New Friend: 7/10

Series Rating (so far)


  1. (Sorry this was in the wrong place on your previous review by accident. Feel free to remove that by all means)

    A vast improvement on Phillip's character if you ask me, and his childlike nature is much better handled, which is why I'm glad that Brenner has truly put together a fitting storyline for the little diesel boxcab to star in. HIT has also outdone themselves with Toby's character, probably his best spotlight episode since Series 6. It was rather touching and exceeded my expectations by a long shot. 8/10

  2. I didn't like it, I find Phillip annoying, i'm very catchy with small details and this was no expeption: The 8 coach double header ( While nice ) made no sense know most platforms on the island are so small, then there is Thomas, which his role could of been taken by Edward, or even Percy.