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Season 15 - Episode 10 Review: Let It Snow

March 2011 saw the tenth episode of Season 15 of Thomas & Friends - but before the review, the usual 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..

It's snow joke for Thomas & Gordon...!

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Let It Snow

Writer: Sharon Miller



Gordon and Thomas collect logs for an animal shelter and sing a song about snow in the hope they can make snow clouds appear.


Overall Impressions

When I first read the synopsis for this episode, I hoped that my first thoughts were wrong. I was imaging an Alvin & The Chipmunks style Christmas special, with Gordon and Thomas surrounded by Fir trees, happy woodland critters and singing to the snowfall.


So in retrospect, I was happy to be proved wrong to some extent. It was not the worst case scenario. Simply put, it was a snow themed version of Happy Hiro in some respects, mostly in terms of the plot. Thomas takes [Insert name of large engine here] around Misty Island, makes three mistakes and chuffs back to the logging station to realize that he was wrong in the first place. Still dreadful, but it could have been a lot worse.


We've covered the same ground so many times over ten episodes that the point of these reviews is rendered rather redundant. We want to know what's new in the series, what the good points are, how well it was all handled - but then, when these reviews can be summed up with "animation terrific, writing abysmal", then what's the point?


Well, there is one point. I can make plain my utter loathing of Ferdinand, Bash and Bash. These three characters are so beyond that which is bearable to watch, it makes your eyes ache and ears break to witness their antics.


The rhyming was just terrible. Lots of perfect rhymes, really unnatural speech, and Ferdinand's catchphrase "that's right" used a few more times. Sure, we've already killed the catchphrase stone dead in his debut episode (Misty Island Rescue), why not use it over and over again in the series too?


So now, having proved to some extent that Ferdinand's personality is limited to the use of three words, we then have to talk about characterisation and routines. In the Sodor Island Forum's Season 15 thread, several members have started to question the plot simply on the basics of that we know of the characters. Why is Thomas seen all over the island, and nowhere near his branchline?


This whole season, we have perhaps seen Thomas doing his normal work once - repeated very episode, in the opening credits. That is the only time I can remember Thomas pulling Annie & Clarabel this season. There is something to be said for the characters doing their regular work. You can get very good stories out of the everyday and routine if you research carefully and think through development of the plot logically.


I'm not sure why three different types of wood were needed to build an animal shelter - which by the way, was never actually seen nor fully concluded as a story - and more to the point, how, without a crane or lifting equipment in sight, did the logs get onto those flat beds?


The Shake-Shake Bridge seems to have been removed from Misty Island entirely. Are we to understand that the logging station no longer has this thoroughly dangerous, rickety old structure at its entrance? That's one sigh of relief from this reviewer, as its use in Misty Island Rescue and the problematic (and downright dangerous) themes it produced were less than appropriate for the audience the series is supposedly aimed at.


That being the case, we can be grateful to some extent for small mercies that we appear to have been saved from further plot lines in that respect, given the overall size and weight of the engines now traveling to and from Misty Island.


Finally, the obligatory show of thanks to Greg Tiernan's team. The writing wasn't up to scratch again, but the scenes at the start of the episode, centering on the snow in the darkness, were incredible when watched in HD. As always, Nitrogen Studios comes up trumps with the overall quality of its animation.


Just one thing Greg - (sorry) - more brake vans!


It's perhaps rather comforting to think that so little needs to be done in terms of the animation to make that part of the overall quality of the series top notch. I've said it before - I'll say it again - we're lucky because Nitrogen Studios really has proven itself to be the best in the business when it comes to the animation for this series, and Greg Tiernan's direction has been Mitton-esque in its quality since the change to CGI.


If you can get those two halves of the overall package to match one another for sheer quality, the writing and the animation both at the upper echelons of greatness, then you have the makings of an award winning - and thoroughly enjoyable - children's entertainment series.


For that to happen, however, the writing has to change.


Final Conclusions Today's episode just continued the overall disappointment for this season. I don't see it getting any better as the writing for the series.


Whether or not this season would have been met with any favour, had it come after Day of the Diesels as originally intended, is up for minimal debate. I personally feel that whatever order the season and special came in, I - and the rest of the fanbase - would be saying exactly the same things about the quality of the stories.


They say things can only get worse, before they get better. If this - halfway through Season 15 - can be considered the low point, then logically the only way is up.


Individual Episode Score: 2/10 - Gordon and Ferdinand 4/10 - Toby and Bash 3/10 - Emily and Bash 5/10 - Edward The Hero 1/10 - James to the Rescue 2/10 - Happy Hiro 1/10 - Up, Up and Away! 3/10 - Henry's Happy Coal 2/10 - Let It Snow
Total Season Score So Far: 24/100
Average Season Score So Far: 2.4/10

Quick Character Stats


Speaking Roles:

Thomas, Gordon, The Fat Controller, Harold, Bash & Dash, Ferdinand


Cameos:

Edward, Toby, James, Percy, Captain


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