A couple of notes before we kick off:
- The episodes will be covered in order from worst to best, not by air/release date.
- This won't go into any major detail like the reviews. If you wish to read my full thoughts, click on the episode header of the review you want to read.
I've done lists in the past of my favourite and least favourite episodes of the show (they will be updated eventually). While this would make the worst list, it also receives the dubious "honour" of being my most disappointing episode ever.
This, however, is flat out awful. The story idea was played out enough before, but there were (and still are) ways for it to play out in interesting ways. This is not one of those.
I can understand the appeal of Samson; he actually has character. But this episode made it clear that there's only so far you can go with this sort of character without it getting dull or one note. Actually, this was apparent after Samson Sent for Scrap, but this affirmed it further.
Speaking of one note characters..!
Granted this led to better things, but having to sit through this to get to that is still incredibly frustrating. There's more to James than "I'm red, don't I look smart", and if those preaching "this is Railway Series-esque" actually read the books, they'd realise this.
Fun fact: I reviewed this episode two weeks ago, yet when it came to compiling the scores for this overview, I'd completely forgotten about it.
This episode is really entertaining... for about a third of it. Like I said in the recent review though, the rest of it is a total mess.
The Missing Breakdown Train had a boring story and characters and a great theme. This had great characters and an atrocious theme.
The theme is good, the story is OK, but Connor's character isn't really strong enough to fully care and the theme, while good, has been done better in the past due to other characters getting through their problems through sheer self belief and determination.
It says a lot about the quality of series 17 when a 7/10, written by Helen Farrall no less, barely makes number 20. It's not even a bad episode either, it's just not as good as other episodes this series, or as good as ones she'd written before and since.
Speaking of charming, that's honestly the perfect word to describe Philip during this series. They've finally nailed his childlike persona (that was actually improved during The Great Race) and this story was a great way to develop it further.
Considering all the things I'd said about Hugo before this review went live, a lot of fans were surprised that I gave this such a positive review. Honestly, I was surprised when I saw the episode again for review that I liked it so much.
This was a great way to start the series, and one that was unexpectedly good since it was released mere months after Finding Dory, a story that had a similar character type in the starring role. But unlike the Pixar film (love you Pixar, but I have to say it) which never piqued my interest whatsoever since it felt like a retelling of the first film while hammering in the theme of living with disabilities even further, this was much more subtle in its approach.
Daisy has been an absolute delight this series. She's been the highlight of every episode she's been in, and while this is the weakest of the ones she starred in, it's still pretty great.
I'm going to take this opinion to my extra small grave: this episode has the best theme of the entire show, and it makes Diesel a much more complex, endearing character.
Like quite a few episodes, this one's tough to add anything to since I've only recently reviewed it. But to re-iterate what I said there: it's gimmicky, but great. It's probably the best gimmicky episode of the show.
There are so many charming episodes this series, this one included.
From charming, heartwarming episode to flat out entertaining ones.
Just missing the top 10 is this little gem. It's amazing how Glynn can go from the least interesting, pointless character of the show to one of the most laid back, fun characters.
And so we've reached the top 10, and considering the scores are all the same, it was very difficult to order them. Well, mostly. These first three, however, were fairly easy. So, Useful Railway.
This one was a bit more difficult to place, but I settled for number nine for two main reasons:
You know, the more I think about it, the more I realise that this did everything Pouty James tried to do, only much better.
Ah, the theme of teamwork. These days, it feels like this theme is trotted out whenever the team run out of ideas. But this was one of those occasions where the lesson actually makes sense, feeling more organic and heartfelt than it has done for years.
And now we come to the "most entertaining episodes" portion of the overview. This one is the lowest one solely because it was the least entertaining of the four and the story isn't that original in terms of the show (even if this was, technically, written first).
It's a borderline miracle, especially after Pouty James, that an episode starring the red engine would make the top 10, let alone the top 5. But that's the power of Helen Farrall's brilliant storytelling, and actually bothering to follow up on previous development that other writers started.
Speaking of someone understanding characters well, Davey Moore is brilliant with returning characters. There are two shining examples further on and, as much as Mucking About's theme is awful, the characters are fantastic. But Daisy was also absolutely sublime, and this remains her best outing (only just though; Ryan & Daisy was fantastic as well).
The final episode that's full-on entertaining throughout, and it's definitely the best one of the three.
They always say "leave the best for last", but for the small railway adaptations, they threw that saying out of the window and showed the best one first. To be fair,they were only following the order they were written in the books, but still.
This is not only the best episodes of this series, but by far one of the best of the entire show. I thought that when it was first released, but after nine months I still believe that's the case. Heck, I believe that more so.
Series Rating: 9/10