December 23, 2008

Thomas The Annoyance Engine, Now In CGI

I am not a Thomas fan, and thankfully, neither kid is either, so I'm happy to ignore them.

I always considered it to be a giant toy- and merchandise racket, and that was even before a hundred million lead-tainted trains were set loose into the marketplace to poison Our Children. And before I found out how haphazardly non-canonical the TV shows are. And before I found out that The Rev. Awdry's original stories were even more conservative, authoritarian, and classist than the few tedious episodes I've seen.

The only unabashed good that Thomas served was providing a steady gig to a pioneering comedian, George Carlin. And of course, now he's dead. And the only really interesting thing--and it wasn't even that interesting--was the oddly archaic model-based animation technique used in the show.

And now it turns out that's disappearing into a computer-generated fog. So basically, the revelations in this Metafilter thread about Thomas's impending CGI demise pretty much seal the deal for me. That train has left the station for me, but for good.

Thomas' Pixelated Pickle: Or The Year in Thomas [metafilter]


My son just turned 3 and is a huge fan of ANYTHING train related, so, of course, likes Thomas. I think it's pretty easy for contemporary society to get bent about the overly-conservative Reverend. The stories need to be viewed through the lens of their time. The original stories are quite cute, in a quiet, reserved, very English way. A bit like Winnie-the-Pooh.
However, just like poor Pooh, once a merchandising machine gets hold, it starts to destroy the very qualities that made the originals so sweet.
That said, his love of Thomas has spring-boarded into the ability to identify nearly every American AND British rail livery of the past century (and I'm NOT a train guy, so I'm definitely NOT driving this fetish.)

Alec Baldwin is classic in the newer ones... chews the scenery bigtime.

My two year old son loves trains (and cars). For his birthday this fall, he received, from various family members including us, a Plan City rail/road set and Brio trains and add-ons. One set of grandparents gave him a Melissa & Doug train table as an early Christmas present. For Christmas, he'll be getting more Plan City and Brio components.

I actively avoided Thomas products. I'd rather he'd use his own imagination, rather than have trains that have pre-defined 'personalities'. It was tough finding anything other than Thomas, though, because those systems are so pervasive. Local stores that used to sell Brio now sell only Thomas.

Henry looks strange. The wagons look scary. Their faces are not friendly at all... Who needs sooo much personality and "feelings" when the kid just wants to see the trains go and all the wheels spin?? My son is 3, he never got hooked.

Try this much more interesting old Chech story:

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