Sunday, 6 August 2017

Series 20: Henry in the Dark

So with Engine of the Future being a flop, knowing the next episode would be a "gimmicky" one didn't fill me with too much excitement. But how does Henry in the Dark stack up?

Like I said, I've never really been a fan of "gimmicky" episodes. The Other Side of the Mountain and... well, pretty much every episode from Misty Island were terrible as it felt like including the gimmick was more important than the story. The only real exceptions are Best Engine Ever and, now, this.

I honestly had no idea that glow in the dark paint was used on railways. This could be something they made up for the episode since I can't find evidence of it online, but they do have a railway consultant so it's a possibility, especially since Sodor's railways have no source of lighting in more rural areas.

Anyway, the whole story works so well because of Henry. Henry Gets the Express was a great sign that the team were distancing themselves from his scared persona, and knowing that this is the final death knell for that part of his character is a huge relief and very much welcome.

It was great to see him stand up for himself against Gordon and James, and it was also nice that Thomas and Edward were on his side when they gave James a dirty look. Although it would've been better, for Edward's character, had he tried to assure the engines before the big reveal at the end. Having him act as scared as the others was really off.

Back to the positives, I like that Kevin's mistake had an actual purpose rather than him being stupid. It captures the busyness of the Steamworks and the stress of running it really well, and it makes you sympathise with him rather well.

Also, Gordon was really entertaining throughout. From not believing the ghost train to being scared by Henry to pretending not to be. This felt like the Gordon of old rather than the Gordon of The Frozen Turntable and similar episodes where they only focused on one trait.

Final Thoughts
The hardest reviews to write are of episodes that do everything right, and this was definitely one of those. The story is well paced (if a bit repetitive in the first half, but that was probably intentional rather than mandated), the characters are great and it's just a lot of fun.

The best thing about it though is that it completely buried one of the worst character changes that HiT's original team gave to a classic character. If Henry continues to be written in this way in the future, he could come out the other side as well as Percy's done since series 19 (so long as you ignore The Great Race).

Episode Ratings
Series Rating (so far)


  1. my second favorite of Extraordinary Engines. While I do prefer Henry Gets The Express, I didn't know what to think of this one at first, but when I got the concept of glowing paint, it all made much more sense to me. I honestly saw no huge problem with this episode aside from Edward's character, which is why I'm surprised it was Lee Pressman who wrote this and not Andrew Brenner who lately lacks the understanding of original character personas. It would've been one of the best on the show for me if Edward's character was portrayed differently, but other than that, it was another fantastic episode for Henry to have the spotlight in and like his other episode this season, Gordon's role worked wonders and wasn't overused like in HGTE.


  2. I can definitely confirm that glow in the dark paint is used over here