Friday, 22 September 2017

Series 21: Runaway Engine

We've reached the final episode of the week. And to add to the wide variety of stars this week, here comes an episode with Millie, Stephen and Glynn. But will Runaway Engine end the week on a high? Or was yesterday the start of a slippery slope for this series?

Episodes involving Stephen have always been fun. But we've never fully had an insight into his dynamic with Millie so far. We've seen them both together, but they interacted like any other engine would. Enter Helen Farrall, who seems to understand every character she touches, and you get one of the best, most entertaining dynamics the show has had.

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten Glynn either. He just completes the dynamic beautifully. The great thing about it is that, while they all have their own entertaining quirks, they can all be down to earth when they need to be. This gives any serious moments between the three more weight.

Case in point, when Stephen playfully mocks Millie and she huffs off, you feel more for both of them. You feel concern for Millie and disappointed/angry (insert appropriate emotion here) in Stephen for potentially upsetting his friend. Adding Glynn on top to try and soothe the situation was the cherry on top of the cake. If the characters and environments were dull and dreary (like a Zack Snyder DCEU film), there'd be far less of an impact as the tone would remain the same.

I really like how Millie put her point across that there was a job that the others needed to do. Was it petty? Yes, but she got her point across in an effective way and it made Stephen realise that he'd messed up. Sometimes, you need to be proactive in order to make a point. If I had to pick a nit though, I feel that Millie's frustration could've been made stronger if she'd have told Stephen about it before resorting to putting the rubbish in front of the shed.

I also love how they brought in the grumpy passenger from series 18. He's really entertaining, but what's even more so is how quickly and effortlessly Robert deals with his temper by spinning the situation into a positive. I know that this was written a while before the fanbase became a cesspit of negativity and hostility. But the parallels between these two characters, and the positive and negative sides of the fanbase, are uncanny.

Which, awkwardly, brings me on to the themes. I really like the overarching theme of the impact of misunderstandings, but the other two (listen to what you're told and two wrongs don't make a right) are rather overdone at this point. They did what they could to make them feel fresh, which is fine. But it would be nice if we got more varied ones in the future; there's only so far they can go with these two.

Final Thoughts
You can always count on Helen Farrall to create something wonderful. And this episode is no exception. Granted, the themes aren't that original, but the dynamic of Stephen, Millie and Glynn has become one of the best the show has at the moment, the story is great and the themes are still well executed.

Overall, this has been the best week of Thomas & Friends programming ever. The variety of characters has meant that the series has felt fresher than any that HiT Entertainment has produced, and it's made fans realise, once and for all, how great the female characters (well, all the characters really) can be with the right production team at the helm.

On top of that, this one showed they can make a brilliant story with none of the main characters appearing at all. Here's hoping this week has been a sign of things to come for the rest of this series and beyond. Because if so, the show's future has never looked brighter.

Episode Ratings

Cumulative Total (So Far)

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