Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thomas The Train

Anyone who knows J knows his love of all things Toy Story, Tractors or Thomas. For along time, J was obsessed with watching the Toy Story movies. Recently, Thomas has been at the top of his list. He gets a limited amount of t.v. time (contingent upon eating a good supper and behaving well). We have been trying out Net Flix which offers tons of episodes of Thomas to choose from, providing a little variety for mom and dad.  Here are my observations on Thomas.

Thomas and his friends are trains working on the Island of Sodor. They each have some personality quirk (or disorder) that makes them unique. Thomas' best friend is Percy. Percy is rather whiny and borders on unintelligent which allows Thomas to get him into trouble a lot.  There is also James who has a bit of a narcissism problem (come on, his red paint isn't THAT awesome that he must mention it every episode!).  There is Emily (who is like, a valley girl or whatever), Charlie (who tells bad jokes) and Spencer (the arrogant control freak).  Gordon thinks every task is beneath him and says "oh, the indignity!"  whenever he is asked to do something.   There are others such as Edward, Mavis, Toby, Cranky, Kevin and Victor who make regular appearances to round out the cast. Kevin is my favorite.  He is a little crane that works in the Steam Works with Victor. He is clumsy and drops stuff all the time. Victor is always saying, "Slowly, Kevin, slowly. Gently, Kevin, Gently." I use this on J when he is ramming about the house or trying to "help" me with a project.  He finds it hilarious and slows down to a reasonable speed.

There is also Sir Bertram Topham Hatt (yep, his first name is Bertram). Bertram runs the railway.  His day starts with going to Tidmouth sheds to assign jobs to  the trains. These jobs are always vitally important (ie: carrying a pole  accross the island to put up a birdhouse, driving an opera singer to her concert or making sure a load of flour gets to the duke's summer house so that he can make cakes for tea).  He gives Thomas these important jobs to do with stern warnings about the awful things that will happen if Thomas doesn't come through. Then Thomas ALWAYS messes up in one way or another.  Sir Topham yells some more (flirting with a heart attack) and Thomas goes around trying to prove that he is a "really useful engine". In the end, Thomas redeems himself and Topham calls it a day and goes home to his wife (Lady Hatt). Also, Bertram apparently suffers from some sort of short term memory issue. Because even though Thomas messes up every time, Sir Topham continues to assign him jobs wasting time and railroad resources.

Of course, each story has a good lesson to it. Although, sometimes they are a bit obscure and non applicable to people. For instance: "Don't lie or you might get turned into a chicken coop" or "Don't be vain or you could get bricked inside a tunnel." And my peronal fave: "Don't throw rocks at trains or they will sneeze at you."   But, good morals aside, someone needs to get  those engines to clean up their potty mouths.  Be careful while watching with your kids because you just never know when Thomas will drop a "cinders and ashes" bomb.  Or shout "bust my buffers!" or "fizzling fireboxes!"  J has been overheard exlaiming "bubbling boilers!" or telling me that one of his trains is a "bossy boiler". 

But what has been the most interesting thing my hubby and I  have observed about Thomas is the manner in which humans are apparently pawns to the trains.  When an idea "flies into Thomas' funnel", why doesn't the engine driver just stop the train? Anyone else ever wondered that? I mean, somebody has to fill the trains with coal and keep them chugging along.  When the trains challenge each other to races instead of working, a conductor never jumps out and says, "whoooooaaaa there guys. Bertram said we were to deliver cars to the docks. I am not getting yelled at by that dude again." Why not just stop fueling the engines if they decide to leave their cars in a siding to go plan a surprise party or play in puddles? Are the humans some sort of slave race there to serve the engines? If so, why do they let Bertram boss them all around? I guess some questions just can't be answered. Or shouldn't even be pondered (I really do waste my time thinking about these things).

All in all, I like Thomas. It beats watching Toy story for the 8,945th time. And there are good lessons to be learned. J picks up on the engines being kind or unkind and being good friends to one another and we try to help him apply that in real life too. He also understands about being helpful and working hard, which is important for him to see as well.  But just once, I'd like to see an episode where Thomas just does what he is told.  Rather than just doing whatever he wants, he follows directions and makes Bertram happy. There is a good lesson for kids in that too.

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