Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Rosie's Revamp

In internet time, this is fairly old news, but heck, it's worth giving my two cents on as it's a pretty big development for a character that got little to no attention during the CG makeover. So here are my thoughts on Rosie's re-design!

Some backstory for those new to the franchise or have simply forgotten. Rosie was a character who was introduced during series 10 (2006) and she, inexplicably, became the most popular character from that particular era. This is despite the fact that her story made her out to be a creepy stalker (who came out on top in the end) and her livery was the very antithesis of what a "tomboy" actually is (definition of the word can be seen here).

Since then, she's had a few small roles here and there and starred in an episode from series 12. And... that's about it, really. It reached the point where she was absent from series 20 completely.

But next series, she'll be given a new lease on life: new livery, new role, new home, possibly a tweaked personality and a new voice.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to seeing the new Rosie in action. The livery looks fantastic (although the NWR sticks out like a sore thumb. I like that they're acknowledging that the NWR's a thing, but at least put the lettering on every other engine that belongs to it. Except maybe Duck and Oliver for the sake of heritage) and the rest just sounds intriguing.

However, I can't help but think "hypocrisy" here. In a blog post from SIF's Ryan, he said that the team would rather create a new character than tweak one that fans have perceptions of. This is possibly why Stanley is still a fairly mute background character and they introduced Ryan to fill a role the silver engine could have had. Heck, they even re-created the base plot of The Great Discovery for Ryan.

If that's the case however, why reinvent Rosie when older fans still have perceptions of her and would probably be angry if she was changed in any way? Not only that, but how much of a headache will it be for all the marketing around her to change? It was only two years ago when Drayton Manor altered the faces on their Thomas, Percy and Rosie replicas for the train ride, and now they've got to change that and the Rosie found at Tidmouth Sheds to replicate her current livery?

The writing team are going to need a really good narrative reason to explain this to the target audience. Then again, they didn't exactly bother when Henrietta was given a face back in series 18, so why should we expect them to for another drastic change like Rosie's?

Honestly though, my problem isn't with the hypocrisy of the team (although it is something I thought of while writing this post). My problem is the childish way that a few fans have acted to the change. SIF have a point when they say fans would be angry that characters would be changed, but to act like a child over it is bloody ridiculous!

Rosie needed something in order for her to be relevant again, and the team realised that if they kept everything but her role, fans would just be thinking of the old version from 2006-2016. They knew they needed to do more to move her away from that. There'll still be comparisons, sure, but at least now fans can properly differentiate between the old and new versions of the character.

Also, characters change their appearances in other media constantly. Heck, Thomas & Friends characters have changed a lot throughout the franchise's history. Stuart and Falcon had blue and green liveries before turning red (although this wasn't carried over to the show), Donald and Douglas became blue in the books (they were kept black on TV), Bear turned from blue to green, James turned from black to red, Thomas was green when he arrived in The Adventure Begins and Toby had blue sideplates in the books. Heck, Henry went from green, to blue, back to green and was completely rebuilt, while Thomas had his front straightened out in the books.

So that begs the question: why is a character redesign such a big deal now? For a character who had little going for them to begin with; one who needed a re-invigoration? No one has really been able to explain why, and one fan became so angry that others were challenging his opinion, he left the fanbase and promised to join one that would "appreciate and respect him" (talk about egotism..!).

I said it in the subtitle of this post and I'll say it again: fans need to learn to accept change. If there were none at all, the show would be stagnant and frustrating to watch. Granted, I don't think Thomas as a character needed to change from his Railway Series personality at all, and I think that his old one would be very entertaining in the current era (see the adaptations of Tit for Tat and Mike's Whistle for a case in point), but I can understand why he's been toned down.

My point is fans should really put more faith in the team. They've proven that they know what they're doing on countless occasions, and they'll probably do the same with Rosie too. If you don't like what they do to her? That's fair enough; there are other episodes she's in that you can relieve yourselves over.

All this said, I think it's pretty hilarious that one particular fan is criticising HiT for changing a character they created themselves...

Monday, 30 January 2017


I usually hold off on these until the character has been properly introduced to either the US or UK (usually the latter since it's my home country) market. But this one annoyed me so much that as soon as I watched the UK dub via a Japanese source and YouTube uploads, I had to make a character analysis of Hugo now. So here it is.

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers. Reader discretion is advised

Out of all the characters released over the years, there are three that are generally considered annoying by the fans: Bash, Dash and Ferdinand. Literally just a watered down attempt at recreating the dynamic Edward, Bill and Ben once had, it simply didn't work because of how one note and stupid they were.

Other characters have been labelled annoying by certain sets of fans; Samson and Philip being the prime examples. But at least they have a strong enough reason as to why they'd act that way: Samson is proud and stubborn while Philip is a child. I would argue, however, that Hugo is the most annoying character ever conceived.

Whether or not there's a historical reason as to why the engines were being bullies towards him is up for debate (he is an oddity, but why the hell is Edward so cruel/worried about so many newbies?! First Harvey, then Rocky, now Hugo? This just isn't Edward, no matter what you say), but the fact that the main characters, who should probably realise that nothing can replace them at this point, so cruel?! There needs to be someone who's likeable, and doesn't just change their opinion on the flip of a coin because the plot demanded that happen! Even Percy, who actually ended up helping, was subtly antagonising him.

But I'm getting sidetracked. My main problem with Hugo's episodes - both of them - is the fact that he's the most pitiful, pathetic character that I've ever seen. I've said before that I didn't like Hiro's whinging back in the day, but at least he had a bloody reason to moan! What does Hugo have to cry about? And what exactly does he do to prove his worth to the railway?

The answer to both of those questions is "nothing".

He has no reason to complain whatsoever: he can carry passengers easily and he was, at one point, the fastest thing running on rails. Accentuate the positives! Maybe have him be humble when people point out his achievements. Maybe pair him with Daisy; they could've been brilliant together (and if you had her break down, Hugo would actually have had a reason to be on Sodor other than "we need another character to make merchandise from". For God's sake, you managed to create a brilliant story about glow in the dark paint, but not with a unique looking character like Hugo?!)!

But no. They just had to go down the "be happy with who you are" message that even kids are probably sick of by this point as it's being taught so often! All I kept thinking throughout his two episodes (in which, by the way, he was introduced at the beginning of each one) was "Jesus Christ, just grow up!". I'm sick of those who expect pity parties solely because they're a bit different, whether in fiction or reality.

That's not to say that there aren't things I'd love to do but can't due to what I have, but I'm not exactly moping about the fact that I can't do that stuff. Because there's a lot that I can do, I have a great circle of friends and I'm having a blast. Life's too short to bemoan what you can't do, and if Hugo actually learned this, rather than the typical "be who you are", he would've actually had a point.

But overall, he doesn't. You can see how little they cared about him as he was there... just because. Maybe it's something to do with the Earl, but this is something you need to make clear from the first episode they're in! Imagine Glynn's story if he'd been restored in The Christmas Coffeepot only to realise he's inexplicably working on the main line next episode.

There's no sense of pacing or proper narrative reasoning to Hugo's story, and when you couple that to the absolutely diabolical character he was given, I can only rate him as one of the worst in the show's history.