Fireman Sam (Seasons 1-5)
Fireman Sam (also known as Sam Tân) is a Welsh children's television series. It is based around the inhabitants of Welsh town Pontypandy (a portmanteau of the names of two real-life towns, Pontypridd and Tonypandy), especially firefighter Sam Jones, It ran from 1987 onwards with 12 Seasons in total. While the original series ran for 4 seasons, it would later be revived by HiT entertainment for a 5th season, and after that, the show would be rebooted as a CGI show in Season 6.
Why These Seasons Rock
- The stop-motion animation is really good, especially in season 5.
- It has very catchy music that is fun to listen to, such as theme song and the rescue theme.
- Really good action.
- The voice acting is very impressive, notably in the first four seasons, every character was voiced by John Alderton.
- Aside from Sam, there are quite a lot of likeable and/or funny characters such as Elvis Cridlington, Penny Morris, Norman Price, Sarah and James, Bella Lasagne and Tom Thomas.
- Tons of memorable episodes:
- Flat Tyre
- Steele Under Par
- Rich and Famous
- The Big Freeze
- Danger Falling Sheep
- Plenty of funny moments such as Norman Price accidentally eating a chilly in Pizza Palaver and Elvis Cridlington pretending to be a beast in Beast of Pontypandy.
- It teaches kids good lessons about fire safety.
- Many episodes have creative and interesting plots.
- Great use of camera angles, mostly in season 5.
- Season 5 managed to be a massive improvement to the series:
- As stated earlier, the stop-motion animation looks absolutely brilliant and is a huge step-up from the first four seasons.
- It is the first Season of Fireman Sam to be displayed in 16:9.
- The new voice actors are amazing and are just as good as John Alderton's voice acting in the first four seasons.
- The new characters that were introduced are great including Tom Thomas, Mandy Flood, Woolly, Dusty, Mike Flood and Helen Flood.
- Unlike in Season 6-present, continuity from the first four seasons are still present. For example, in the episode High Jinx, Elvis finds Sam's Patented Potato Picker from the Season 1 episode Barn Fire.
- The 20-minute winter special Snow Business is wonderful.
- The stop-motion animation in Seasons 1-4, while good, is a bit flawed and cheap looking at times. For example, there is a scene where a tree can be seen moving in the background in The Kite and there is also a scene where Norman grabs a piece fruit and the silver bowl next to the fruit basket can be seen moving. Fortunately, as mentioned above, the animation quality improved significantly in Season 5.
- Some characters look a bit old for their age, Sarah and James for example look older than five-year olds in Seasons 1-4, similarly, Norman looks a lot older than 7 in Season 5.
- Whilst the voice acting in Season 5 is still impressive like the previous seasons, some of it can be a little iffy, such as the voices for Dilys and Bella.
- The series massively went downhill when it switched to CGI in Season 6 with a truckload of problems:
- They have little to no connection with the first five seasons of the show as some of the characters look absolutely nothing like they before and Pontypandy’s layout is completely different. Not to mention, these seasons are completely disrespectful to the original source material as many elements from the original seasons are non-existent in these seasons, let alone the fact there is no continuity to any of them. The biggest example being Dilys Price and her shop. Dilys doesn’t look anything like she did in the previous seasons and her shop also looks nothing like how it looked in the previous seasons. It was completely redesigned with no rhyme or reason why, it's just now a supermarket, even though a normal supermarket looks about 10x bigger than Dilys' shop.
- Most of the main characters have gotten flanderized horribly:
- Norman Price has gone from a mischievous boy who would like to play harmless tricks into an unlikable, loud, whiny and annoying brat who does horrible things for the pettiest reasons, such as tying James to a chair for a stupid stunt video.
- Elvis Cridlington has gone from a not so bright, but friendly firefighter into a stupid, annoying man that is scared of being in a helicopter harness (even though he's a fireman) and feeds Radar the Fire Station Dog chocolate (which can kill dogs), mistaking them for doggy treats.
- Sarah and James have gone from caring and loving each other into being problematic siblings who act like idiots to the point they quarrel and fight each other 24/7, and act like this for no reason whatsoever.
- The CGI animation in Seasons 6-10 is by far the most subpar, and the worst in any kids show ever as it looks robotic, jagged, outdated, dull, weak, and lazy. (Even Thomas & Friends' CGI animation in Seasons 13-16, while not the best or the worst, is far better). Thankfully, it has improved a little since Season 11 when DHX took over.
- These seasons try too hard to be hip with the kids, such as having the characters use smartphones, which feels quite out of place since the first five seasons rarely tried to be hip.
- The show was unnecessarily dubbed to American English for American audiences, it is rather pointless and unnecessary since that Fireman Sam is supposed to be a show set in Wales, so why would you even dub a show to American English if it takes place in a country from Great Britain?
- In fact, when it aired on Sprout (and Qubo in 2020), the UK dub aired. They didn't dub it into US English until 2014 when it came to Amazon Prime Video.
- Even the version aired on Netflix starting in 2020 uses the UK dub and it was still completely understandable.
- The original series was localized to the US in a three-episode VHS tape released by F.H.E. (Family Home Entertainment) in 1989, and the UK dub still maintained.
- It is also pointless as Season 5 was never dubbed to American English when it was brought over to America.
- Though unintentionally, most of these episodes can show kids very bad morals. For example, in most episodes where Norman starts a fire, steals a vehicle, or even traps another person, he is never given much of a punishment aside from Sam telling him not to do that.
- Bella is completely absent in seasons 6-9 despite her café still being there. When she returned in Season 10, it's revealed that she moved to Newtown, which does not make sense considering how successful her business was doing in Season 5.
- To make things even worse, Bella has still not been seen working at her café since her return to CGI, and has only occasionally been seen helping make pizza.
- The scripts for each episode in are flat and badly written, the humor is less funny to whereas either a character says an awful pun or the joke comes off as really bland and dull. The worst episode of the series is arguably "Froggy Fantasy".
- They also gained lots of controversies too. The Season 9 episode "Troubled Waters" was banned due to a scene where Elvis accidentally steps and slips on a page of the Koran. In other words, a very, very good way to invite a terrorist attack. HiT Entertainment later realized this and stated that they would no longer be working with Xing Xing Animation, one of the animation companies for the show since the switch to CGI in the first place back in 2008, causing the show to be animated by DHX instead from Season 11 onwards.
- Similar to PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig and Postman Pat (Special Delivery Service), the CGI series commonly introduces new characters, vehicles and locations just to sell toys.
- Speaking of which, the toys for the show are very poor quality now, as they have little paint on them, the paint they do have is poor quality and scratches easily and the toys have a very low amount of detailing.
- Worst of all, in every single episode with Norman as the main character almost always has this ending where Norman apologizes for the irresponsible choices he causes, the team lets him off with a warning and nothing else. In fact, they would have Norman learn that lesson until he forgets it the next episode he's in. It is really predictable and stale at this point.
The first 5 seasons of Fireman Sam were met with positive reception.
- The first five seasons of the show were added to BBC iPlayer in November 2020 to celebrate CBBC's 35th anniversary.
- Season 5 was the only season by HiT Entertainment that was created with stop-motion animation, the series would later switch to CGI beginning with Season 6.
- A number of props from Season 5 were later sold on the online props website The Prop Gallery, including 2 warning signs, (from Danger Falling Sheep and Bug Eyed Boy From Venus) Wallaby 1's control panel, Woolly, and a fire extinguisher.
- One of the Persian Seasons 5 dubs actually uses the theme from the Mickey Mouse Club TV series, with all the sound effects replaced as a result, but surprisingly Disney did seemingly nothing to stop them from using it.