Originally published in March 2011
We kick off Series 15 of Thomas & Friends with a new series of reviews on each episode. But first, a disclaimer:
The views below are entirely those of the author and not representative of the Sodor Island Forums as a whole.
On that note, it's time to get this review underway - and first up, yep, thhhhaaaattttt's riiiighhhhhhtttt.....!
Gordon and Ferdinand
Writer: Sharon Miller
The Fat Controller gives Ferdinand the honour of helping Gordon to take the Lion of Sodor to the summerhouse. Gordon, however, gets very jealous, which causes a nasty accident on the track.
The episode had absolutely no potential from the word go. I'm amazed at the sheer amount of stock footage being used - different camera angles are possible, this can be utilized for maximum effect, surely? Reusing the same concept previously seen in the original Lion of Sodor episode - actually, "rehashing" is a better word - just does not sit well with me.
The number of cameos was breathtaking. Henry, Rosie, Bertie, Kevin, Cranky, James and Salty all appear, only two of which appear to have been used in new shots. Bertie was a pleasure to see, I hope we see more of the old characters return (hint, Trevor, hint!)
Ferdinand as a character was a bumbling, useless character whose overall existence can be compared to that of Jar Jar Binks. Horrible, horrible dialogue (but extremely limited, note!), and reusing dialogue for Gordon over and over again was nothing more than extremely lazy - I am certain we have heard several sentences of his dialogue (minus his new catchphrase) in previous episodes, only a season ago!
The only saving grace was that it appeared some continuity was possible after all. The Bash/Dash twins remembering what happened in Thomas's Crazy Day was a nice surprise - this does not happen often enough!
The sudden colour contrast change on a HD tv this morning surprised everyone, including my godson, this morning. If its noticeable by a three year old, then clearly something went wrong somewhere.
The writing at the core of this episode was bad, but I feel the thoroughly rehashed concept of this episode was the greatest fault here - a rehash which did not work on any level.
Overall, the worst opening episode to a series for Thomas & Friends, for some time. I don't remember feeling this bad for my godson, who lost interest very quickly and was more intrigued by the change in colour of the episode than anything else!
Gordon's portrayal - as a pompous windbag - has been overdone so many times its becoming something of a character assassination. The character changed and developed over 12 series up until the CGI changeover.
And one last thing - possibly the only criticism I have had, of the animation so far over three series and two specials - the bouncing around of the flat bed, and the engines, when they come to a halt, and start again, is bordering on the ridiculous.
It should not be so pronounced as that, by some way. Leaf springs are designed to prevent exactly that sort of movement in their setup, so to see the flat bed and both Gordon and Ferdinand bounce around so much is a nonsense.
In fact, that word pretty much sums up the whole concept of the episode.
There's no way two engines - one of which is, as correctly stated by Gordon himself, both faster and more powerful - is required to pull a single flat bed with a statue. I note there's no brake van being utilized there either, which with a single truck/wagon load should be...
Overall this simply continues the problems of series 13 and 14. The writers - or should that be, the head writer - has absolutely no idea about how a railway actually works. That's not the only issue. In one episode, we've seen reused footage and an almost entirely rehashed story. That indicates a severe lack of imagination on the part of the writing team.
Moreover, the disappointment continues, both for the young fan, and the parents/guardians forced to watch it!
Individual Episode Score: 2/10 - Gordon & Ferdinand
Total Season Score So Far: 2/10
Average Season Score So Far: 2/10
Quick Character Stats
Gordon, Ferdinand, Thomas, Bash, Dash, Rocky, Victor
James, Cranky, Salty, Henry, Bertie, Rosie, Kevin