Thomas & Friends (Andrew Brenner era, seasons 17-21)

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Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
Season 17 Thomas.jpg
Behold! The era that saved Thomas!
Genre: Children's Show
Running Time: 11 Minutes
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: Season 17, June 3, 2013-January 4 2014

Season 18, August 25, 2014 – July 29, 2015 Season 19, September 21, 2015 – May 10, 2016 Season 20, September 5, 2016 – February 1, 2017 Season 21, September 18 – December 22, 2017

Network(s): Channel 5
Seasons: 24
Episodes: 500+


This is the section about Thomas and Friends during Season 17 and King of the Railway to the end of Season 21. For the older series and all seasons thereafter, simply see Thomas & Friends.

Why This Era Rocks

  1. Brings back the charm of the classic era and the RWS books. In fact, the last 3 episodes of Season 20 were adapted from the books, and the tone of the series began feeling more down to earth once again.
  2. Return of classic and fan-favorite characters like Duck, Oliver, Toad, Bill, Ben, Harvey, and many others.
    1. While several of them returned in Season 12, they were handled much better than that season. For example:
      1. In Season 12, the returning classic characters were shoehorned into scenes seemingly just to satisfy fans by their presence, with little or no regard for those unfamiliar with them. The characters are formally reintroduced in Seasons 17-21, allowing newcomers a better understanding of who they are.
      2. The characters that reappear in Season 12 are given minor roles, mostly telling the main character what to do, that could be given to practically any character. Their Season 17+ returns fully take advantage their unique personalities and traits, such as Harvey being an engine with a crane, Bill and Ben teasing other engines as well as arguing with each other, and Duck trying to do things the "Great Western" way.
    2. "Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure" even pokes fun at the two Oliver characters, with Marion thinking Oliver the Great Western engine had himself transformed into an excavator!
  3. Andrew Brenner and his team of new writers (even including a few veterans) have a much better grasp on the source material than Sharon Miller and her team of writers did a lot of times.
  4. Gorgeous CGI animation that is a massive upgrade from the CGI animation during Seasons 13-16 (though it is decent in S13-16, even if these seasons are disliked for very good reasons).
    • While the animation in seasons 17-18 wasn't a huge upgrade, it got even better in Season 19 with animation that could rival high-budget theatrical animated movies.
  5. Much better writing and storylines than that of Seasons 12-16.
  6. Introduces new, better and funny characters like Connor, Caitlin, Millie, Gator, Stephen, Phillip, Skiff and the list goes on!
  7. Many of the characters who got flanderized during the Miller era have had their original personalities restored in this era, such as Henry in Season 20, Thomas, Edward, Percy, Toby and Emily in Season 17 and Rosie in Season 21 (However, since Rosie has no speaking role during Seasons 17-20, it possible that she could have redeemed herself sometime then).
  8. There are some very funny episodes like "Henry Spots Trouble", "Pouty James", "Lost Property", and "Dowager Hatt's Busy Day".
  9. This era relies on anything to be entertaining, from funny and hilarious jokes, to slapstick, to realism, to common logic, to even the show's old charm and its RWS glory.
  10. The introduction of characters from not just the Railway Series, but also inspired by other Awdry works relating to Sodor, such as the book, "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways", such characters include Sir Robert Norramby, King Godred, and a "Coffee Pot" engine that book mentions, in the show named Glynn.
    1. Furthermore, the Arlesdale Railway and its engines, Mike, Rex, and Bert, make their TV series debut.
    2. Also actually refers to Sir Topham Hatt's railway by its official name, the North Western Railway.
  11. "The Adventure Begins", as a forty five minute special that had adapted the first seven episodes of the Thomas television series, and also the first two Railway Series books remained very 100% true to Season 1, and the original source material.
  12. There are tons of great episodes like in the classic era, such as:
    • "Old Reliable Edward"
    • "Mucking About"
    • "Wayward Winston"
    • "Sidney Sings"
    • "Kevin's Cranky Friend"
    • "Slow Stephen"
    • "Percy's Lucky Day"
    • "Wild Water Rescue"
    • "Lost Property"
    • "Dowager Hatt's Busy Day"
    • "Duncan and the Grumpy Passenger"
    • "Ryan and Daisy"
    • "Pouty James"
    • "Love Me Tender"
    • "Useful Railway"
    • "Reds vs. Blues"
    • "The Truth About Toby"
    • "Toad's Adventure"
    • "Emily Saves the World"
    • "Buckled Tracks and Bumpy Cars"/"Buckled Tracks and Bumpy Trucks"
    • "The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor"
    • "Cranky at the End of the Line"
    • "Luke's New Friend"
    • "Gordon Runs Dry"
    • "Diesel and the Ducklings"
    • "Terence Breaks the Ice"
    • "Goodbye Sir Topham Hatt"/"Goodbye Fat Controller"
  13. Some episodes revisit concepts from the Miller era and execute them better.
    • "Very Important Sheep" is considered to be "Wonky Whistle" done properly, with Percy neglecting a hole in his van, and not having his brakevan coupled in the former being more sensible as opposed to Thomas running off while in the middle of getting his whistle fixed in the latter.
    • "The Thomas Way" is similarly "Up, Up, and Away" done properly, not only due to a helicopter in the former being a more realistic load than the balloon in the latter, but also because Harold's oversize proportions justify the need for an engine in the rear of a rather light load.
  14. The voice acting is still good for both the US and UK dubs.
  15. More geographically accurate, acknowledging the island being set between England and the Isle of Man, and the engines actually crossing over a drawbridge to the British Mainland and back.
  16. Made its official BBC Children in Need video in November 2018.
  17. Mark Moraghan's narration is brilliantly soft, smooth and calm, and sounds very similar to Michael Angelis in his prime.
  18. Good songs like "It's Christmas Time" "We Make a Team Together", "It's Halloween" "Set Friendship in Motion" etc.
  19. This era acknowledges that Henry's issues have been remedied and he no longer needs special coal.
  20. Clever comedy and self-aware humor, such as this era constantly making jabs at the Miller era, like "Dowager Hatt's Busy Day" as an example of this.
  21. Creative scene transitions.
  22. Bill, Ben, and Timothy are the Logging Locos done right, Theo, Merlin, and Lexi can also be regarded as such.
  23. Redemption and development for characters that were badly introduced in the Miller era like Flynn, Belle, and (possibly) Charlie.
  24. Henrietta gained a face and a personality in this era from Season 18 onwards, and works well with Toby.
  25. Got out some new story concepts like Batucada events, Bollywood, Thomas going around the world for the very first time, a great railway show in England, the steelworks, Dowager Hatt being a railway controller for the day, a railway coffeepot engine, a brakevan with a Welsh accent, etc.
  26. Big Mickey from the obscure 1980s series TUGS gains a face and finally speaks!
  27. The pop culture references are quite simple. For example: Thomas being described as "Santa's little engine" is a reference to The Simpsons' family dog, Santa's Little Helper.
  28. Bash, Dash, and Ferdinand were largely forgotten in this era, which is great because they were annoying characters. While everything involving Misty Island and the Logging Loco's is technically still canon (after all, the Search and Rescue Center continued to be featured), they have not been seen or mentioned in the era apart from Thomas guessing if Daisy was going to the island in "The Way She Does It" and Ferdinand's very brief, difficult to spot cameo in "Signals Crossed", so whether or not they really existed is up in the air.
  29. Less focus on Thomas, Seasons 17, 18, and 21 have episodes where Thomas does not appear at all, and even when he does appear in episodes not focused on him, his presence is minor and not overbearing.

Bad Qualities

  1. Not all the new characters are as good as some others introduced such as Ashima, Vinnie, and Gina. They are FAR from being terrible characters, though you might want to admit that Vinnie is pretty much the worst character in "The Great Race". Ashima is likable, but needed some fleshing as she did in "The Great Race". Gina however has some of the greatest development given. Vinnie is unlikable in "The Great Race", but for some reason he is a bit more tolerable in one short from the "Great Race Friends Near and Far" spin-off shorts.
  2. The animation in Seasons 17 and 18 isn't as good as that of Seasons 19-21, which is understandable since Arc Productions had just taken over for the series, and some of the CGI models and sets were not completely intact when transferred from Nitrogen Studios, like Duncan, Duck, Toad.
  3. Henry still acts like a wuss and coward, much like in Seasons 12-16, until Season 20, where the team managed to tone it down a bit.
  4. While not as bad as in Seasons 13-16, Thomas appears in every episode of Seasons 19 and 20, the former coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the original books, and he speaks in every episode of that season, which makes some sense as long they did not make him the main role of every episode. He does not speak in every episode of Season 20, and some of his appearances in that season are extremely brief and minor, but still jarring to some fans nonetheless.
  5. More characters are introduced in more non-British (or European) locomotive designs. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for Sodor, or the show in general for that matter, though engines like Connor and Caitlin, who regularly go onto the mainland (AKA, the UK), would in real life be too large for most railway tunnels in Britain, which are quite limited in size.
  6. There are still instances of fish, produce, and other perishables being carried in open wagons, but these instances are fewer and are greatly reduced over the course of the era.
  7. From Season 21 onward, Rob Rackstraw, who had voiced James in the US dub, would voice him in the UK as well. As such, some of his lines spoken with an American accent would mistakenly be used in the UK dub and vice versa, which is a little distracting.
  8. Some reintroduced characters have not made many appearances since returning, Donald and Douglas, in particular, appeared a total of 4 episodes following their return in "Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure", 2 each in seasons 20 and 21, one of the episodes in each season being merely a brief cameo, and were largely background characters in "The Great Race", "Journey Beyond Sodor", and "Big World! Big Adventures!" Their profiles on the official Thomas & Friends website still show their model forms!
  9. Characters like Molly, BoCo, Mighty Mac, Lady, Murdoch, Neville, Patrick, Byron, Kelly, Ned, Buster, Nelson, Stepney, Duke, Hank, Hector, Thumper (even after the Classic era), Fearless Freddie, and a few others still have yet to reappear. But that hope no longer mattered since the 2D era was announced along with the changes.
  10. Henry, Toby, and Edward are the only members of the original Steam Team that don't get updated for Season 23 like how Thomas, James, Percy. Emily, and Gordon did. What a shame.
  11. While the drivers and firemen are more active in the series compared to season 11 and seasons 12-16, there are still inconsistencies regarding them, with some characters seeming to not need them, and the engines doing some things that, realistically, a driver would have forbade them to attempt.
  12. In "The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor", James leaks brake fluid, which makes him unable to stop, and he crashes into the back of the shed. Trains do not have hydraulic brakes, they use air, or in the case of British railways, vacuum brakes, which would leak air, that, in most cases, would cause the brakes to set.
  13. The bouncing from "Journey Beyond Sodor" onwards, though not particularly bad when not overused, can be rather jarring and distracting to some people, even if it isn't that noticeable in Journey Beyond Sodor and Season 21. At least it's not as much of a problem as in S22-24.
  14. Some occasional bad episodes.
    • "Three Steam Engines Gruff" is a poorly handled parody of "Three Billy Goats Gruff".
    • "The Other Side of the Mountain" is arguably the worst episode in this era as it really lacks the charm from "Thomas' Shortcut", and it feels like a rehashed version of that said episode.
    • "Rocky Rescue" is just the Sodor Search and Rescue Team (except for Rocky) acting like idiots, and not to mention it's message about working together is hammered in the head.
    • "Thomas and the Dragon" isn't completely bad, but Thomas for some reason is afraid of dragons.
    • "The Way She Does It" never tries to make a jab at S12-16 and instead it acts like an episode from said seasons.
    • The Hugo episodes are really boring, and "Engine of the Future" is just a repeat of "Thomas and the New Engine", except with a different plot, but "Thomas and the New Engine" is still worse than this one.
    • "Salty All at Sea" makes no sense.
    • "Emily in the Middle", though not particularly bad, feels like a rehash of "Love Me Tender", except with Emily caught between Donald and Douglas's bickering.
    • "Who's Geoffrey?" (depending on your view).
    • "A Shed for Edward", made upset Edward fans that Edward is no longer part of the Steam Team.
  15. Norman, Captain, Noor Jehan, Ashima, and Stanley still have yet to get spotlight episodes, showing how underused these characters can be.
  16. The 1-hour special: "The Great Race" was the weakest 1-hour special of the show, despite having a pretty good story, the special can not decide how some of the characters should act. For example: Thomas acted a little out of character when he first met Ashima, especially when she unintentionally bumped into him. The special also infamously has loads of filler.
  17. The way the show is aired in the US can make it hard to watch, for example, in 2017, the show was moved from PBS Kids, a channel that is available for free since it can be watched on it's own website, to Nick Jr, a channel not as many people will have. Mattel also stopped releasing DVDs of the show in the US in 2017. Though even before this, the show would air pretty early in the day on PBS Kids. Thankfully though, you can find most of the episodes from this era on YouTube.
  18. Unfortunately, the show went downhill again starting with the era following this, the Big World! Big Adventures! era, and only got worse after that.

Trivia

  • Andrew Brenner left the series in August 2018 after production of Season 23 ended. However, as of December 25th, 2019, David Stoten has become the new head writer for the series starting with the two part special, "Steam Team to the Rescue", despite the fact that Season 24 came out in 2020, the same year The Railway Series celebrated its 75th anniversary of its own books that started in 1945 during World War II (after World War II in Europe and the United Kingdom).
  • The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has banned reruns of the nineteenth season episode, "Henry Spots Trouble", due to complaints about the episode presenting chicken pox "as a mild disease that is nothing to worry about" and conveyed an anti-vaccination message. Although the episode is banned on television, it was still released on the Australian "Whale of a Tale" DVD.
  • Rachael Miller, the voice of Rebecca, is married to Christopher Ragland, Percy's American voice actor.
  • Thomas is the only character throughout the series to be voiced by Joseph May in the US voice cast.

Comments


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EngineApple34

30 months ago
Score 2
It should come back on CITV
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Ragdoll Productions Fan 2005

20 months ago
Score 0
Yep
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LoudHouseFan777

29 months ago
Score 0
I still haven't seen BWBA the Movie yet. But I have seen most of these episodes. And IDK what was wrong with 3 Steam Engines Gruff, I found nothing wrong with that episode.
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Rockman138

26 months ago
Score 1
Well, "Three Steam Engines Gruff" was despised for many reasons why. Also, come to think of it, I think that episode is "Bold and Brave", "Percy and the Haunted Mine", and "Toby's Discovery" done wrong. Hell, they portray Thomas, Toby, and Percy as cowards just for this episode and I mean come on. I highly doubt they ever be that afraid over something and think of an animal a monster like that in the Classic era (S1-77) or even in the Railway Series.
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Trevor807

27 months ago
Score 0
Bad news: Brenner left in August 2018.
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LoudHouseFan777

27 months ago
Score 0
Actually, Season 23 is going to be Mr. Brenner's last season as head writer.
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Trevor807

26 months ago
Score 0
He actually started in August 2010. His first episodes were produced in 2012 and aired in 2013.
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Rockman138

25 months ago
Score 0

I think Andrew Brenner should have been head writer from S13-23 in my opinion. Okay, the best episodes from S12-16 (the Miller era) like "Being Percy", "Happy Birthday, Sir!", "Tickled Pink", "Creaky Cranky", "Henry's Health and Safety", "Victor Says Yes", "Stuck on You", etc. can be kept here.

But there should have been more episodes focusing on other characters aside the Steam Team characters in the time from 2010-2012. If this happened, then S12 would have been the only bad season of the show back then. S8-11, not worth the bashing. S12-16, definitely worth the bashing despite the fact that this era was talked about to death lately. I hate this era myself (well now I do since I dunno when, probably looking back at these episodes again was why), but I have no plans on doing the worst list since S12-16 had seasonal reviews from fans of the show. Again, they are bad seasons, but I would do the worst Andrew Brenner list if I plan on doing the best Brenner era (S17-23) list.
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Jamesandedward7

25 months ago
Score 0
can we add tugs to this wiki?
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EngineApple34

24 months ago
Score 0
TUGS is already on this wiki
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LoudHouseFan777

21 months ago
Score 0
I think TGR should be called the weakest rather than the worst.
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Spidey McFly

21 months ago
Score 0
Done.
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I enjoyed this era aside from S22, but I hated the great race.
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Stephenfisher2001

12 months ago
Score 2
This is the era that we all knew and loved! :)
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Mr. Dready

10 months ago
Score 0
While for me it is not as good as the old era, where they used model trains, i have to admit it this era is actually better than i expected, although i will prefer the model era, i still think this ERA s good, but i don't if i should still watch it now i'm 15 Years old and 11 Days Later, or 18th of july i will turn 16. But i might watch it more.

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