Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Series 20: Over the Hill

Glynn's story continues today. With yesterday's trope filled, yet rather endearing, offering being my least favourite offering from Helen Farrall, what will she bring to the table here? Let's find out! Here are my thoughts on Over the Hill!

I'll be honest, the racing theme for this year had left me feeling bored and frustrated by the entire concept very quickly. I know they were trying to cash in on the Rio Olympics, but they needn't have been so transparent with it through the lacklustre storytelling. Besides which, it all felt like was an excuse to create something "fast paced" without putting much effort into anything else, reaching its nadir with The Great Race; the dictionary definition of "wasted potential".

I also wasn't that interested in Glynn. His half minute appearance in The Adventure Begins was fine, and his return in The Christmas Coffeepot was more a case of overhauling him than showcasing his character, but that was about it in terms of appeal for me.

But then this comes along, and produces the most entertaining race episode since The Tortoise and the Hare from The Pack's spin-off, as well as a rather endearing, fun character for the once forgotten coffeepot. His dynamic with Stephen was brilliant, and I'm really glad that they're both working at the castle so we can see more of that in action.

Speaking of The Rocket, his jealousy here makes a lot of sense, and I like that the team have given him a character flaw. As far as we know, Stephen hasn't had anyone to really "threaten" his position and friendship with the Earl. But a unique, old design like Glynn? Of course he'd feel this way; he was the only "heritage" engine up to this point. Also, his annoyance at Glynn knowing about the Rainhill Trial makes sense, too. To Stephen, Glynn is a show off who thinks he knows it all. Jealousy makes you think in different ways than you normally would.

It's not just those two. Millie gets a great little role, and proves why she should be given more of a chance to shine. I love how she tried to stir things between the two, and it made me think of what she'd be capable of if given more time with the other narrow (or standard) gauge engines. Of course, they'd have to think of a reason why she'd be away from Ulfstead Castle, or for them to visit the castle, but it'd be brilliant!

James and Gordon played their part well, too. It is rather typical, played out stuff for their characters, but it still works well and they changed it up enough to make it feel a bit different.

Chris Renshaw also needs some major kudos for making the episode as fun as it was. I don't usually bring up the music anymore, but composing a variation of Eye of the Tiger before the race, then composing an "old men plodding along" style track once it starts provided the funniest moment of the whole thing, and possibly one of the funniest moments of the whole show. It was brilliant work from him, the editor and the director.

The only slight issue I have is that the story takes a while to get going. It's not a huge deal as the first part builds the main dynamic brilliantly, but it does still take around 4 or 5 minutes to get to the race that the episode descriptions mention.

Fan Reaction

Final Thoughts
This was an episode I didn't know I wanted. But now that it's here, it's one of my absolute favourites. Every character in it has some great moments, the story is fantastic and the whole two-parter has set a great foundation for future events, especially the new railway museum.

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)

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