Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Series 20: Henry Gets the Express

The second I heard about this episode, I thought "this will be the best episode of series 20". Yes, with 23 episodes to go, that's rather premature, but considering Gordon and Spencer is one of my favourite episodes ever, and this one having a similar conflict of Gordon feeling like his position is under threat, can you blame me for having high expectations? The better question, however, is: will my high expectations be met?

They were met. And then some.

This is Henry's best portrayal since his tiny role in Tale of the Brave. He was snide, cheeky and, best of all, confident. This is everything fans have wanted, and what Henry's character needed. So to get it in one of the best episodes ever makes it a real treat to watch so many times.

It's not just Henry, though. Every single character just feels like they were plucked from The Railway Series, and it's absolutely joyous. More than ever, this is a simple episode driven by its excellent characters, and it's proof (if it's even needed now) that CG was never the problem with the series, but its lacklustre writing. And despite a little stumble in series 19 and The Great Race, that has never been better since King of the Railway and series 17.

It was a nice surprise to see the narrow gauge engines, too. Rheneas' voice could take a bit of getting used to, especially since Ben Small's was so great, but I think John Hasler was off to a good start. Maybe give him a slightly lower tone and it'd be perfect.

And it was nice to hear Porter speak again. Sure, it was only one line, but it showcased his personality really well.

Gordon's strike, though... wasn't really a strike. It was more of a hissy fit than anything, but it was still entertaining to watch, and the fact that some fans could find that aspect disappointing is more down to the episode's description misunderstanding what a "strike" is, rather than the final product "failing to deliver".

One slight quibble I would have, though, is that I wouldn't have minded seeing Bill and Ben tease Gordon at the docks. They wouldn't have dominated the episode since the other characters were already strong enough, they would've made an entertaining episode even more so and it would've made sense considering their history together. But if Helen didn't feel they needed to be there, that's fine. Like I said, that's an extremely minor quibble than an actual problem.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner

Final Thoughts
I apologise if this isn't the usual critical review from me, but the episode is just so superb and the characters fantastically written that there's very little to be critical of. It's just an absolute gem; it did right what The Frozen Turntable did wrong and Henry was the best he's ever been. And, unless there's an episode that tops it (it's likely, since there are 23 episodes to go), this will definitely go into my top 10 favourite episodes ever list when it's updated.

Episode Ratings
Sidney Sings: 8/10
Toby's New Friend: 7/10
Henry Gets the Express: 10/10

Series Rating (so far)


  1. I was a bit curious about how this episode would turn out, but it exceeded my expectations. The perfect episode for Henry and Gordon to share the spotlight in, though I felt a good portion of it was wasted because Gordon's strike took a while to kick in. I would've rather had that have been a subplot, and focus more on building up Henry's determination hence the title. Probably would have left me a bit more of an impact then. 9.5/10

    I'm going to be honest. I'm not sure whether or not this is relevant, but I wrote a story a bit similar to this for my FanFic account a while back titled The Overhaul Express. I immediately thought back to it when hearing of this episode. It's rather a Henry and James story and the premise is totally different, but the only main similarity is that Henry pulls the express on Gordon's behalf. I could provide you the link to it, but only if you're interested of course.

    1. I honestly didn't mind that it kicked in so far in; it was something that needed to be built up. If he'd have gone on strike after the first incident, it would've been a bit of an overreaction on his part. But the more goods trains he pulled, the more frustrated he'd get, which makes his actions much more believable.