Sunday, 13 August 2017

Series 20: All in Vain

I wasn't looking forward to this episode at all. Considering other characters had development that stalled soon after, I assumed the same would happen here with James. But would All in Vain buck that trend?

I'm starting to become convinced that every episode Helen Farrall touches turns to gold. Only one episode has earned less than a 9, and even that wasn't bad by any stretch, just contrived in some places. This, however, is probably her greatest accomplishment as, not only is it the only modern day James episode I truly adore, it's his best outing since Old Iron back in series 2.

Is it a coincidence that both episodes have Edward as the supporting character? Possibly, but the reason both worked so well is that James - a really strong character - had a great supporting character to play off of. This is something Pouty James lacked, and when other characters were integrated, their behaviour was just as annoying as James', if not more so.

That said, I can't be too mad at that episode's end result any more since this led on from that beautifully. James slowly going mad as he got dirtier was really funny and the final freak out over the scratch (which we never actually see, which made the freak out even funnier) was the cherry on the hilarity cake. And that leads me on to...

The theme, which is "don't sweat the small stuff". This is, honestly, a much better theme than the one in Mucking About. There are always going to be annoyances in life, but ignoring scratches and bits of dirt, natural aspects of life (especially as a child) builds more of a positive character than ignoring more serious threats like bullies and lawbreakers.

Another thing I really liked is that the special job actually felt important. With so many conflicts these days focusing on normal, everyday things, jobs like these actually feel as special as the team wants us to think it is. A few years back, "special" was the norm, so you never really understood why engines were causing such a fuss. That and railway operations were completely devalued, which made you wonder "what's the point in watching a railway based show when that aspect is completely irrelevant?"

Final Thoughts
I keep saying it whenever I come across episodes I love, but they are incredibly difficult to talk about when there's little to nothing wrong with them. The story and theme are fantastic, the characters are great and the overall production values are top notch, as expected.

Fingers crossed James continues to be written this well. I know Pouty James wasn't the best episode, but it did still develop his character, and this added to that perfectly. It would be a real shame if all that work went to waste...

Episode Ratings
Series Rating (so far)

1 comment:

  1. I was a bit nervous about this episode. I was okay with Pouty James, but there were problems with it. However, I was surprised when I found out this was a Helen Farall episode, and the story is basically a follow up from Pouty James, especially with the "Here's James" catchphrase being used by a different writer, so Helen made some pretty good choices here, especially with establishing James and Edward's friendship. The pacing could have been a little smoother, but other than that, it was the perfect episode to give James the spotlight in.