Sunday, 8 October 2017

Series 21: Confused Coaches

It's been a while since Gordon and Spencer were given some major screen time together. With the writing being as entertaining as it is though, I'm glad to see them get a bit of the action now though. But how will Confused Coaches fare?

In some ways, it's better. In others though? Not so much. The biggest shortfall that this episode has compared to Gordon and Spencer is the story itself. It is incredibly thin. The main point of the episode kicks in halfway through, and there's nothing really before that besides bickering about who the most important was. It had to rely - heavily - on the strength of the characters to pull it through.

Fortunately, the characters were brilliant. Gordon and Spencer were brilliant together, and it's always fun to see two massive egos go head to head. This episode didn't disappoint on that front. And that being tied in to what would eventually happen was great.

Some fans are saying it would have been better if Flying Scotsman had appeared as the voice of reason. I agree. But I also disagree. I agree because he would've been in the perfect role, and seeing all three together would've been incredibly interesting.

The disagreement comes when you consider the DVD has Emily in the Middle on it... which also has two engines arguing with another engine in the middle. Having two similar concepts in the same series, let alone the same DVD, is overkill (something they probably realised with the Henry episodes from series 19).

Anyway, back to this episode. There's not really much to discuss about it since the story is fairly bare. But one think I did like, and would love to see more of, is Spencer pulling the Express. Maybe have Gordon fall ill so Spencer's hired to pull it?

We then see something wonderful at Callan: the Fat Controller being stern and telling both engines off. Yes, they want more of the comedy, but this is the best Fat Controller. The engines need someone to keep them in line, which is what he was until... series 19? I know he had comedic moments before, but now it's becoming more obnoxious and, ironically, old.

Case in point, how much of his comedy has come from him simply tripping up? Especially this series. I counted three times... in this episode alone. Familiarity breeds contempt. Honestly, I'd rather they brought the boss Fat Controller back and made his assistants the comic relief. Best of both worlds.

Surprisingly though, the character I loved the most was Philip. He didn't say much, and his role was only small, but he had so much childlike charm. The scene at the end with the fireworks was fantastic; I wanted to reach through the screen and hug him. The team have absolutely nailed him now, and I'm tempted to update his character analysis post because he's improved so much.

That said, the problem is that the main crux of the episode is incredibly contrived. Not the fact that Spencer just went to platform 1 no problem (things like that have become expected at this point). But the fact that no one noticed that something was a bit off before the coaches were shunted? That's where you have to question the intelligence of some people. If there was announcement saying they needed to hurry to the coaches, it wouldn't have been that bad. But everything seems so casual, and the issue seems much easier to notice.

Final Thoughts
This episode has quite a few problems, but I think it was still really good. The dynamic between these two has never been better, and it managed to pull through the really thin story. The story that was told was fine, and the ending was full of charm. However, can we do something new with the Fat Controller? The humour involving him is starting to get old and unoriginal.

Episode Ratings

Cumulative Total (So Far)

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