Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends (1984–1986 Britain)

This TV series is based upon the Railway Series children’s books by Wilbert Awdry who, in the 1950s and 60s, wrote a series of charming, captivating and well illustrated books that are good works of art in their own right. The series captures for us in the present the significance and romance of the railway during the 20th Century, and especially the era in which Awdry wrote the books, which can be considered great children’s literature. The stories were well narrated by Ringo Starr, and made in the right period of the 1980s, not long after the books and the era of its effect. Who needs the new versions when the stories were so well told?

As a teenager I enjoyed the first two series, along with the books on which they were based. But now it has been stripped of its cultural value and demure. The original series, narrated by Ringo Starr, and the books, belong in the 20th century and should be left intact, as it will encourage children to read the books and the importance of the steam and diesel railway as a historical heritage. When I first saw Thomas and his friends, I fell in love. I loved everything about it. The characters, the stories, the music, the animation, the narration…all creating the island of Sodor and all its inhabitants. Thomas is the main character of the series, but my favourite will always be James the Red Engine. Thomas is described as ‘a cheeky little engine’ who generally has a sunny and easy-going attitude about railway life.

He runs a branchline with his two coaches Annie and Clarabelle. He sometimes gets himself into trouble, partakes in some rather clever and sometimes hilarious banter with Gordon (the big, proud blue mainline engine), and serves as the other half of a sweet friendship he has with Percy (the little round green engine). Some of the other main characters include Gordon, Percy, Henry (the big green and often sickly engine), Edward (the older, wise blue tender engine), James, and of course, the famous Fat Controller, a.k.a. Sir Topham Hatt. What I admire about these shows to this day is that the stories and characters pull no punches – there’s a lot of ethically based material here that you simply don’t get in `generalized’ kids shows from today and some of the tales are actually quite aggressive, even `dark’.

They strike a profound and clear message for children, even at this early age and in an almost subliminal form. Of course there’s nothing that would offend and it’s certainly suitable for all. The narration is absolutely superb. Ringo, although he lends the same voice tone to almost all of the characters, still exudes a lively overture to our metal pals, capturing the essence of each character perfectly as the series’ first narrator. His powerful turn in the “Trouble In The Shed” episode still gives me chills, and no one else can tell the story of “The Flying Kipper.” Its delightful how some story lines even follow on, such as Henry getting bricked up inside a tunnel. And we even see him trapped for a good few episodes before they take the wall down and let him out again. This series is full of gentle, good morals and entertaining story lines. And if CGI isn’t your cup of tea, these DVDs will be your entertainment. Very sweet. 🙂

DirtyObjects31

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Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Thomas The Tank Engine will forever remain a classic. ❤

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