Thursday, 8 September 2016

Series 20: Diesel & the Ducklings

Well, this sounds interesting. Continuing on from Diesel's Ghostly Christmas, Diesel seems to have developed a bit of a softer side. But will Diesel & the Ducklings live up to its interesting premise?

I think it did. Some fans may be saying that Diesel's character is being hurt by stories like this (because of course they would), but I can counter that complaint with two simple words: character development.

Sure, it would've worked better had there been a more natural, internal conflict rather than Thomas constantly quacking in order to remind him of his promise (Duncan the Humbug, anyone? Not the quacking but the "engines constantly keeping an eye on a troublesome one to ensure they keep their promise" part), but it followed on well from what he'd learned in Diesel's Ghostly Christmas, and it didn't feel as out of place as his little act in Diesel's Special Surprise.

Some say it would've worked better with Duck, and I'm just thinking "" The last time those two were seen on screen together, they hated each other! So seeing them interacting civilly like Thomas and Diesel did wouldn't make sense. Besides which, Duck feels too stern to be as cheeky and manipulative as Thomas was.

Another brilliant aspect of the episode was the technicals. The animation is the standard fare (fantastic) and the voice acting is great, too. But the music is where things really excel. The rock style themes playing when Diesel's being the bad guy provide an excellent duality to the light-hearted, pop-style ditties we hear when he's acting all soft. It's some of Chris Renshaw's best work so far.

A lot of this episode does feels rather contrived though, especially when it comes to Thomas finding Diesel at the start, then subsequently finding him everywhere he went. Also, what is Thomas doing on the main line? He's not pulling "The Local" (making that plot device even more pointless), so... why?

And while seeing 'Arry and Bert in a large supporting role again was great, their attitude change at the end felt incredibly jarring - even with the foreshadowing of them following a butterfly. These two were visibly annoyed at the mere thought of Diesel liking ducklings, yet they turn into even bigger softies than him by the end? Maybe if there was more of an indication beforehand that they liked cute creatures beforehand (not just a blink and you'll miss it shot), their turn would've made more sense.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner

Final Thoughts
I honestly don't get the complaints with this one. It just seems very ironic to me that fans who would constantly feel intimidated or bullied into keeping something they like quiet, yet when the exact same happens on screen, their empathy for such a situation flies out of the window. Diesel's a more complex character than fans give him credit for, and the fact that the writers realise that is a credit to them.

This episode is fantastic. Sure, it has its problems, but it's full of heart, great characters, brilliant pacing and a fantastic moral to top it off.

Episode Ratings
Sidney Sings: 8/10
Toby's New Friend: 7/10
Henry Gets the Express: 10/10
Diesel & the Ducklings: 8/10

Series Rating (so far)


  1. I had high hopes for this one, and upon watching it, I thought it would be as amazing as 'Henry Gets The Express'. Perhaps I was wrong about that, this episode was a total charm. Relatable in a sense that you don't have to choose how to be behave in order to be friends with a certain crowd. Therefore, 'Aryy and Bert's return after four years of cameos worked wonders, because they metaphors for the friends you might want to have because you have something in common, but they're true friends they won't laugh at you. I think about that every day while worried about how my peers would react if they found out I liked the show. Overall, Diesel's soft side is more fleshed out here, though you're right about 'Arry and Bert. Their change in behavior at the end felt rather confusing, and do they really take steam engines that seriously to play along with what Thomas was trying to tell them? Other than that, I liked it too. 8/10

  2. Might not have worked with duck i agree there but i don't believe that Thomas had to be as big a part to the story. Any engine could have filled that role, Edward, Percy, hiro, even paxton been especially my top picks. Feel like they have fell back into old habits since season 17/18

  3. I enjoyed seeing Arry and Bert again, though I feel HiT has butchered their personalities... XD
    But at least they are tough enough to admit that they aren't so rough and tough after all when it comes to cute ducklings, unlike Diesel who is really ashamed of his soft sides. They seem to be more confident about themselves.