Friday, 28 October 2016

Series 19: Goodbye Fat Controller

And so we've finally reached the end of series 19, and with the last three episodes ranging from lacklustre to downright terrible, can Goodbye Fat Controller send the series out on a high?

I like the concept that this episode has. It's nice to see that the engines do feel like like a huge family and they act as though Sir Topham is their father. However, it suffers from one huge problem that ruins the enjoyment of it: everyone believes Percy when he says the Fat Controller is leaving even though, in this very series, they learned not to jump to conclusions when they thought Toby was being scrapped!

Not only that, but considering how much Gordon and James belittle Percy, why do they instantly believe him here? Yes, they believed him in Percy & the Signal, but at least there were legitimate character reasons as to why they'd do so there. Here, pretty much every character is interchangeable with each other, making the episode feel rather bland and their going along with Percy's story felt out of character.

In addition, why does Edward believe Percy? With the kind of character he is (if anyone actually had any here), I'd have thought that he'd be the one to try and calm the situation, but he ends up being as depressed as everyone else. In fact, the only one to provide any sort of resistance is Thomas because... of course it is.

The ending is yet another anti-climax. Redecorating his office is fine, but couldn't they gave given him something bigger elsewhere in the meantime? Or, better yet, why not send him on holiday for a couple of weeks? Sure, it would've been similar to Salty All at Sea, but having an episode (or a second half of the same one) where we see the engines work under temporary management would be a very interesting conflict for them as a group. But going with this is rather disappointing, especially since there's a false finish halfway through.

Speaking of the "temporary management" idea, that would have been a good way to add the strike as well. It makes more sense that they'd react like that due to poor management (after all, that's what Gordon, Henry and James did in Trouble in the Shed) than just coming to a conclusion, not bothering to discover the truth and running with whatever their peers tell them.

That said, the musical interlude was alright. It did a good job of showing how hard the engines were working to keep Sir Topham happy and seeing him shuffle away at the end was pretty funny.

And, although the strike could have been handled better, I still think it worked well here. It showed how far they were willing to go to convince the Fat Controller to stay and it also shows how much better the storytelling can be in CG than it was in the model era (in Trouble in the Shed, we just saw the engines standing there looking grumpy, whereas this felt like a proper strike)

Fan Reaction

Final Thoughts
If you want to see this episode done better, watch either The Truth About Toby or series 8's Percy's Big Mistake. The former adds more credence to the rumours by having Reg actually holding Toby up and Thomas coming to his conclusion that way, while the latter has Percy think Sir Topham will scrap him as he ran late quite often and then ends up causing an accident when trying to "rectify the situation".

This plot falls apart when you realise that someone should've taken the initiative (after previous situations) to just go straight to the Fat Controller and ask him "is it true you're leaving, Sir?". Because of this, the whole thing is filler content, and the fact they have a fake out ending halfway through, dragging the episode on longer than it needed to, is further proof of that.

Episode Ratings

Series Rating

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