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Friday, 15 April 2016

Thomas the Tw*t Engine

As the somewhat juvenile title of this post might suggest, I am not a huge fan of the phenomenon that is Thomas the Tank Engine. Unfortunately both my husband and my son think Thomas and his "friends" (see point 1 below) are bloody legends.

My objections are not so much to do with the stupid premise of talking trains (you have to accept that kind of nonsense when watching children's TV or you wouldn't survive parenthood). It's everything else about the show that bothers me.
  1. Most of the characters are really quite objectionable. "Thomas, he's the cheeky one," goes the theme song (yes, we mostly watch the most modern incarnation of Thomas and Friends that does away with the memorable "do do do do dah dah daaah" theme music). He is indeed cheeky, if by cheeky you mean inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless and impulsive. "James is vain but lots of fun". Forget the fun, he's just plain vain, verging on the narcissistic. And as for Diesel - I think he may actually be a psychopath. Everyone always learns a lesson by the end of the episode, but only after they've all spent 10-15 minutes being total dicks (it reminds me of Mike the Knight in that respect), and by the following day they seem to have forgotten any positive behaviours learned and have returned to their former unpleasantness. Describing them as "friends" is a nonsense.
  2. Where are the female trains? I fully accept TTTE was conceived in the 1940s, an era not known for its progressive ideas of gender equality, but a lot of extra trains have been added in since then. There must seventy plus vehicles in the Thomas universe, but the only positive female role models I can name are Emily - who apparently "really knows her stuff" - and I think one called Rosie, who rarely appears but might be pink? There's also a steam shovel called Marion but she's a bit of a drivelling idiot, and as for Annie and Clarabel - they are essentially portrayed as nagging bores that spend their whole time being prissy and critical, and largely get ignored by Thomas for that very reason.
  3. What in the hell do the train drivers actually do?! Seriously, I don't understand why the trains even have drivers, as they have no control whatsoever over their engines. In the episode we watched yesterday, Henry gets scared of catching chicken pox (obviously) and careers backwards through multiple red signals in an effort to escape his terrible spotty fate. Can the driver not apply the brakes? Or at least calm him down and tell him not to be such an idiot? Why are trains with the emotional maturity of three year old children allowed to be in charge? It's frankly reckless. Which brings me to...
  4. Sodor Railway's health and safety record. How the Fat Controller still has has a job is beyond me. Crashes, derailments, landslides, run away trains... They seem to happen on a daily basis, and yet the only punishment dolled out to the guilty parties is a stern ticking off and maybe the requirement to pull some whiffy rubbish trucks for the afternoon. Reckless, reckless I say!
  5. Has anyone heard of a timetable? Each engine ostensibly has a dedicated line / job, but nobody seems particularly bothered about doing what they're supposed to. They all readily accept whatever random mission comes their way (like keeping crows off a farmer's field - vital work for a train clearly) with nary a thought for the poor passengers left waiting at the station. It's worse than South West trains!
  6. Just how many trains does one small island need?! Based on the races between Thomas and Bertie the bus, every road has a parallel railway line, and there is nowhere on the island that cannot be accessed by rail. Seems like major infrastructure inefficiency to me. Dr Beeching clearly never made it to Sodor...
  7. Why are so many of the major characters painted the same colour? For a non train expert like me, it makes it damn impossible to differentiate. Is that Henry or Percy? Edward or Thomas? Drake would at this point give me a withering look and huff about needing to know the difference between tank engines and tender engines, saddle tanks and panier tanks. Which I do (now) but still get it wrong a lot. Not that I care, but it is a bit humiliating being corrected by a two year old. "No Mummy, is PERCY woo woo!".
  8. Is Sodor a really weird name for an island or is it just me?
  9. Thomas' triangular eyebrows scare me.
  10. "You're a really useful engine!" Gah.
Why, you may ask, do I allow my darling son to watch this programme if I dislike it so much? Well, unfortunately he has a namesake in the show, which means he has been bought TTTE-related tat gifts from an early age. He's therefore loved it from before he could talk and being 10 minutes longer than Peppa Pig, it is quite a useful way of keeping him quiet while I cook dinner or tidy (or write a blog post). Drake also has a bit of a soft spot as all of the engines are based on real locomotives and he's a bit of a train geek. Plus he read all the books as a child. I'd rather watch and episode of Chuggington to be honest (yes, I freely admit it), but Duckling seems to think it's lame, so Thomas and Friends it is. Peep peep! Puke.

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