Monday, 7 August 2017

Series 20: Hugo and the Airship

Well, it's another episode with Hugo. But will Hugo and the Airship be an improvement over his last appearance?

It's not really difficult to surpass Engine of the Future since the conflict was old, Hugo was a real downer, there was little room to see what his character could be like and the other characters were rather stupid and interchangeable. While I still think Hugo was a downer of a character here and the main characters had still been hit with the stupid stick, Hugo and the Airship was, at least, a step up.

First off, yes. The engines do look a bit stupid thinking the airship is Hugo. The similarities are there, fair enough. But the lack of a giant rear propeller should have been the giveaway that it wasn't him. At least they only included engines that may have actually believed it rather than all eight of the main cast, so they didn't all look foolish.

Secondly, Hugo being a downer. Here, it makes sense that he'd act this way. To be fair, it made sense in the last episode he was in, but the other characters were so unbearable that it made Hugo look worse. Here, being envious of someone, or something, you can't do is actually something that some can relate to. Heck, as someone who's disabled, I know I can identify with this a lot.

Because of this, you actually care when Hugo tries to fly. You feel yourself rooting for him and you really admire his determination. It's a real 180 from his portrayal in Engine of the Future, and I'd actually have liked him more had this been his only episode. Or, at least, the one he'd been part of first with maybe an episode with Daisy afterwards.

I also liked the moral that the episode portrayed. It's really nice that they decided to focus more on accentuating your strengths rather than simply "just be yourself". Sure they can be linked together, but as someone who is unique and couldn't really see the positives of that, "accentuate the positives" is a lesson that Hugo specifically needed to learn and one that, I think, kids can get behind better since it's a more specific message.

The best thing about the episode though is Hugo and Skiff's dynamic. Skiff is just so charming and wonderful and he does brilliantly trying to cheer Hugo up and give him a goal to strive for. Meanwhile, the ending with Hugo blowing him along with the propeller is a testament as to why these characters are so fantastic (even if Hugo still needs a bit of work).

That said though, there are problems. The biggest of which is the pacing, which is really bad. It takes (and I specifically looked at the time bar of the media player while watching this for review) 5 minutes (of an near 9 minute episode) to actually get to Hugo trying to fly. Heck, Hugo even wanting to fly comes out of nowhere, with the first half just focusing on them watching/following the airship. Maybe if they'd cut that down and had Hugo say while he was following the airship "I wish I was like you" and gotten the ball rolling from there, things would've flowed better.

Second, while this conflict of "dreaming of being something you're not" plot is more unique than others, it does still feel similar to All at Sea. The differences being that the former was better paced, had better basic characters (if they'd swapped Duck with Percy and vice versa, it would've made more sense) and the lesson was learned by doing something really menial and being praised for it rather than trying to do something they clearly can't do and inevitably failing.

Final Thoughts
I'm actually really glad I held off on doing these reviews as I initially teared this episode to shreds in my head. After watching it again, I think it's great. With good characters (mostly), a fine story and a fantastic message, this is definitely the best of Hugo's episodes (although it didn't have much competition), and I hope we get to know more about him further down the line.

That said, please give him a proper role somewhere. With Gordon, Spencer, Connor and Caitlin, we've no need for another fast engine on the main line. Maybe keep him around Ulfstead? You know, like it seemed they were doing in Engine of the Future? Sure, there's still a lot of engines that go there, but he'd still be a big draw for visitors, especially if he hangs around the museum..!

Episode Ratings
Series Rating (so far)

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to be straight up honest: I always preferred this as a Hugo episode, but as I came to my senses more about each episode on this disc, I lost respect for this episode as much as I did with the other two Brenner eps. However, watching it over again after a while, I don't mind it either. It's a far better way to go about Hugo's character, and the rest of the cast play their parts quite well (aside from James, I think). Skiff and his interactions with Hugo were the highlight of the episode, though Thomas going to Arlesburgh felt odd, like his appearance there was forced in order for his character to help convince Hugo. This episode to me, felt like All At Sea done in a much better fashion, though I do hope Hugo's purpose is explained in future episodes.