Thursday, 24 November 2016

Series 20: Blown Away

So Pouty James is out of the way. And all I can say to those who disagree is this: I'm not here to regurgitate your opinions back at you; I'm here to post my opinions. If they line up with yours, great. If not, take it on the chin. I'm happy that you can enjoy something I can't. With that out of the way, let's see if I'll be Blown Away by today's offering!

I really liked Skiff in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure. His pure innocence combined with John's manipulative nature worked brilliantly, and him gaining the courage to stand up to the dastardly villain was really inspiring. So I'm glad he's (finally) had the chance to shine, especially in such a great episode.

It's not Helen's most imaginative episode, I must confess. It follows plot beats laid out by Toad & the Whale and Slow Stephen to the letter: a character gets ridiculed for some reason, something happens soon after, then the ridiculed character ends up proving himself by saving the character who mocked him.

However, I honestly think there's enough variety here to make it stand out from the episodes I mentioned. I love the intro, for example. It helps the audience to gauge Skiff's character (which makes sense to do as he's only been seen once and hasn't been a series staple since 1984) and endear us to him.

It also gave us Captain Joe who is more of an extension of Skiff than his own character. He's alright, but here's hoping more depth is given to him in the future. It's also a bit of a shame that he was forgotten about as soon as Skiff hit the tree. It would've been nice to have a scene where he noticed Skiff was missing, then have Oliver and Toad pick him up to try and find the railboat, then continue with the near collision.

Speaking of which, Oliver and Duck were at their best here. Their concern for Skiff, although misconstrued, was really genuine and it showed that there's more to them than just boasting about the Great Western Way or the scrapyard escape. I'm personally fine with them doing that; they're a big part of their characters after all. But that depth is fantastic, and it's something that the team have a real knack with (well, most of the time).

The only slight downside I have was Skiff's escape from the tree. It felt too contrived and looked rather ridiculous. But it's honestly more of an oddity than an actual deal breaker for me. It lead to a great moment for Skiff and the two engines congratulating his bravery, so... yeah, a mere distraction than anything else.

Fan Reaction

The Mad Controller's Corner

Final Thoughts
Going on past expectations, I should dislike this episode, or at most think it mediocre: it's a re-tread of previous episodes and its ending is really contrived. But there's something about Helen Farrall's writing that just leaves me feeling charmed every single time. Her episodes have definitely been the most heartfelt over the past couple of years, and this is no exception.

Her understanding of the characters is second to none (I know that should be the default setting, but it's still nice to see, especially from a relatively new writer), the situations are fresh enough, meaning the tropes don't feel as stale as they usually would, and we get another endearing character in Skiff. What more could you want?

Episode Ratings

Series Rating (so far)

1 comment:

  1. I never thought I'd find something this week particularly as mind-blowing as Ryan And Daisy, and this met my expectations perfectly. It was the perfect opportunity to give Skiff in the spotlight, and all the right characters were used. Part of me wishes that Isabel, Dulcie, Alice and Mirabel showed up in the series at this point but the coaches that Oliver and Duck used were fine, I guess, especially since Duck used his Slip Coaches. Right on par with Ryan And Daisy, and another reason why I admire Helen Farrall as a writer. 10/10.