So in my last blog post, I said that the choices for 1st Class Stories were disappointing not because of the episodes' quality (although that doesn't help) but the lack of variety. So I'm sure you're thinking "which episodes would you choose?" Well, that's why this blog post exists!
The only restriction here is there will be 20 episodes, the exact same the actual DVD has.
- Thomas and Gordon. While this isn't the best episode of the first series, it just wouldn't feel right having a huge celebratory DVD like this without the episode that kicked off the show.
- The Flying Kipper. This is a classic fan favourite that's won many favourite episode polls, and it's understandable; it's the quintessential Thomas and Friends episode: engine pulls a train as usual, something bad happens and the problem is resolved. And I suppose the crash might have something to do with it..!
- The Deputation. This one might be a bit weird since Donald and Douglas aren't in the current series yet, but since they're being introduced in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, wouldn't it make sense to show where their journey began?
- Edward's Exploit. This is a personal preference, in all honesty. It shows Edward in a brilliant light and remained one of his best until Old Reliable Edward gave it some stiff competition.
- Heroes. I know that most fans would go with Escape, and I can understand why. But in my opinion, half of the episode was wasted because Britt and David thought that Douglas lacked empathy. However, with Heroes, nothing was wasted. It was action packed and extremely dramatic. It's also one of the few model series episodes that gave Bill and Ben more of a personality than just being cheeky.
- Fish (1995). Again, many would choose Gallant Old Engine, but I personally think that a couple of aspects dropped the intensity of it slightly. Fish, however, is one of the only episodes that is actually better than the original. The mood is set brilliantly, we actually see Thomas telling Duck about his incident with fish rather than it feeling like a hand-wave and the accident was shot brilliantly.
- A Better View for Gordon. 1st Class Stories was supposedly including "exciting episodes", yet they didn't include any from series 5? Yeah, I'm not the biggest fan of the series, but one thing I would never call it is boring. And in all honesty, this is my favourite episode of that series. Whether it's because of the well written story or the brilliant crash, this is definitely one of those series 5 episodes that I really recommend.
- Edward, the Very Useful Engine. I know this follows a similar plot structure to Edward and Gordon (push a struggling train up the hill) and Edward's Exploit (Edward proving he's still useful), but the bits they changed made the story feel relatively fresh and it captured every character really well. That said, considering Thomas the Jet Engine is the more exciting episode, I can understand why it was chosen.
- Gordon and Spencer. Lee Pressman (this episode's writer) has said that this was the one he liked the least. I don't know why as I thought it was brilliant. Giving Gordon someone to compete against was a fantastic idea and it worked just as well (even if the lack of water stoppages was a bit silly).
- Edward the Great. Yeah, by this point, this plot thread was getting kind of old, but I think the addition of Spencer and Edward having to do an important, yet strenuous, job was a nice change of pace.
- Thomas Tries His Best. This was probably one of the few episodes from series 9-16 that looked good on Thomas. He actually realised his mistakes before he caused severe damage, and for doing his job safely he was rewarded for it. It's not as exciting as episodes like Mighty Mac or Respect for Gordon but the story was really good.
- It's Good to be Gordon. Minus the special coal being brought back, the episode was really good. It showed that Gordon had a heart and it was really interesting that the writers would go for a tender swapping plot point, something that Britt thought would confuse kids (although that could've been due to the engines that were in it).
- Gordon and the Engineer. In an era where special specials, light engine wild goose chases and annoying dialogue were king, this episode was a breath of fresh air. It was great that they actually made an issue that could affect any railway a major plot point, something that wasn't seen again until recently. Everything about the episode worked.
- Best Friends. This episode was so well written and very relatable for kids. And it actually treats Thomas and Percy like they are best friends rather than gay partners.
- Tickled Pink. The closest we got to a Railway Series adaptation in the Nitrogen era, this episode showed what you can do with CGI in the right ways. It's just a shame that the repetitive dialogue and actions really hold it back.
- Being Percy. To add to the repetitive dialogue and actions, we get rhyming and alliteration. But despite that, this episode was really sweet. And it's actually relateable for kids too. They always feel like they'd prefer to be someone else, but this episode does a good job teaching kids that you're better being yourself.
- Stop That Bus!. Some will argue James to the Rescue is the more exciting one, but I have a real vendetta against it, so I chose this one. It doesn't make much sense, but this actually used Misty Island really well, showing how dangerous the Shake Shake Bridge could be.
- Percy and the Calliope. This is probably one of the few episodes from this era that has some really good character interactions. Yeah, it's not perfect, but it's still a good watch, and it does become exciting as it goes on.
- Thomas' Shortcut. Gone Fishing is my favourite episode, but this is the most exciting with all the racing around, as well as the search for the (non-existent) shortcut.
- Duck and the Slip Coaches. What more can I say about this episode that I, or anyone else, has said? It's simply fantastic (...minus that joke, but I digress)
While I admit this isn't much of a balanced list either (only 6 are CG or have CG elements), it's a lot more encompassing of every series of the show, something the official release is not. If you wish to leave your choices, feel free below, on DeviantART (ThomasandStanley) and Twitter (@ChrisTomson2013)