So, I'm sure of those who are the biggest of Thomas fans have seen what is to come with the Big World, Big Adventures reboot/spin-off direction in 2018. I'm sure most of those who have been on Twitter have also seen almost everyone in the fandom lose their mind about it, too. I'm not going to be one of those people, but I do want to give a reasonable description on what I feel about this whole thing.
First off, I was one of those who tried to find positives in everything, and not to sweat the small things. I was one of those who did, for the most part, like Journey Beyond Sodor, and currently season 21. However, from what I've gathered from the preview....*SIGH*...I'm really reaching the limit. Let me try to explain why as best I can while still being mature (if that's even possible):
All of the things that Thomas seems to be going with starting with this just does not feel like Thomas. I understand that things have to change to keep things fresh, but this feels like such a large change that Thomas feels almost unrecognizable from its roots. Yes, not all of the adaptations of the Railway Series were perfect, like in season 3 and especially 4, but they retained the style and tone that Thomas had since episode 1. The way this thing is going feels like there's no connection at all to what Thomas was since its inception that you question whether anybody working on this knows who Thomas the Tank Engine is.
Seeing things like the troublesome trucks just tilt on their side and not derail is crossing the line, and this is coming from someone who was willing to accept the gesturing movements that were in Journey Beyond Sodor and season 21, because they were actually kind of subtle and well implemented. Well, especially compared to just lifting off the rails on a whim. Something like this feels like the equivalent in the Star Wars universe of stabbing someone with a light saber, and that'll bring them back to life. Even Thomas and the Magic Railroad didn't do that, though to be fair the magic railroad fantasy ridiculousness did it instead.
Now onto the topic of removing Henry and Edward from the 'Steam Team'. First off - that concept has been something that's turned me off since its inception, but others have talked about that better than I could, so I'll stop there. Most of my friends know Edward is my favorite character, and both he and Henry have been in Thomas' history since day one, even longer than Thomas himself. I know many say that these characters are as good as dead just because of they're removed, but I really want this not to be true. They're only dead if they actually are, and they're only written off if no writer bothers to use them.
The fact that only half of season 22 is going to focus on the Thomas traveling the world gimmick gives me some hope that Edward and Henry will still be there to star in some episodes. Not to mention the other characters like Duck, Donald, Douglas, etc. I was one who was accepting of Edward being moved to the shed at Wellsworth in a Shed for Edward, and honestly I wanted to see Edward have a new dynamic with Phillip to keep him fresh. I get that Thomas still exists because the toys still sell, and characters like Edward and Henry don't stand out as well as the other characters at first glance because we already have two blue and two green main characters. But flashier colors are not better than good characters. This leads me to my next thing to bring up:
Female engines in the main cast to increase gender variety. I have nothing wrong with female characters in the show, but they do feel forced in just for the sake of it. It's kind of the same problems I had with the 2016 rebooted Powerpuff Girls series. Plus, at this point, it feels so overused. I can't say I hate Rebecca or Nia, because we obviously haven't seen the actual content from start to finish, and I don't know how the writers are going to handle them, but I will say they have very large shoes to fill.
I've hung on to Edward and Henry for the past 20 some years because they were such great written characters when they were introduced in season 1. This is coming from someone who saw the TV series before the Railway Series. They continued to be great characters from there on, or at least until the Hit Entertainment takeover. If I'm going to like Rebecca and Nia, the writers are going to have to do a really good job in making me care about them. I know Andrew Brenner and his writing team can write fantastic characters - hell, Ryan and Skiff have become some of my top favorite characters of all time - but I want to say it took me a long time for me to like Emily as a character and get used to her being crane-shunted in the steam team.
Rebecca does have a great basis I won't lie, and I don't mind her yellow color. However, I feel this was a missed opportunity to bring Molly back. Molly, despite only having one episode to really star in as a character, was still one of the better new characters in the infamous Hit era of Thomas. Mattel says they wanted to add more females, but they seem to have forgotten there's plenty already in the Thomas universe that are waiting to be taken advantage of, and not just ones they're using now like Daisy and Mavis. Hell, I thought that was the whole point of giving Rosie her new paint job. Nia on the other hand looks incredibly out of place against all the British locomotives, even compared to Rebecca. Her basis, her colors, everything. Plus, can we all agree that Nia's face looks ugly?
The reason I feel that Thomas has become so timeless is because it is not like other preschooler's shows. I don't just mean things that fans have already said, like "it's realistic" or "it's not all crazy and ridiculous." I feel the reason I've stayed with Thomas for so long is because it's a show that not only a child can enjoy, but the parents can as well without being bored or annoyed, primarily during the Britt Allcroft era and seasons 17-20.
A child can enjoy the huge list of colorful characters and the stories they endure, while a parent can enjoy the great visuals and the morals not being shoved down their child's throats. This comes from an experience with my parents years ago. My parents could sit through many a classic era Thomas VHS I popped in as of youth and they could admire the beautiful model sets and visuals coupled with wonderfully heartfelt stories, while I could sit back and watch as Thomas and his wonderful list of different characters were doing something different in each episode. Now that I'm older, that's how I still feel about much of the Britt Allcroft era. Granted some of the episodes don't hold up as well as I remember, but I can still sit through just about all of them and not feel anything's too childish or condescending, while still being dazzled by the visuals. This is something that seasons 17-21 have done quite well but in a different way.
As a person who has tried to sit through viewings of Paw Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines (god help me...), there's nothing really in those shows that an adult will take away from it. Yeah, an average kid will like it for the cute dogs or the brightly painted talking cars, but if I was a parent, I would just be there for the next 22 minutes feeling bored or thinking "Do we really think children are this simple minded?" Having a mind set like this, at least for me, would make me not recommend a show like this to a parent, and would more recommend something like Thomas. This might be a good reason why there are such huge adult fandoms of children's shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Hey Arnold.
All of the changes ahead just make it feel like Thomas is becoming farther and farther from what it was originally and just falling into the same run of the mill genre like Blaze and Paw Patrol. I want to be proven wrong, and I want Andrew Brenner and the writing team to still write good content for this because I know they can, but all these changes are going to make it harder and harder for me to remain positive. When a series has to completely change its identity just to be stay popular, it's going to end badly. Remember that lesson of being yourself, and if someone can't accept who you are, it's their loss? It just doesn't feel like Mattel is listening to Thomas' own morals from episodes like Best Engine Ever. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I will stay in the fandom, no doubt, and won't go saying things "Thomas is dead" or "I'm never watching Thomas again!" If I got through seasons 9-16, I can do it all over again. I hope I've addressed these things as maturely as possible. What do you guys think about Thomas' future?
P.S. I WILL watch this when it comes out, because I want to still give it a chance.
Listening to: Rubber Head - Cliff Martinez
Reading: Black Lagoon
Watching: Impractical Jokers