Just over 150 episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine
were produced in all. It must have been a difficult job picking 16 of the best to feature on this collection. Sensibly it begins with the very first appearance of "Thomas & Gordon", in which we are introduced to all the principal engines and familiar locations. The rest come randomly from the six seasons. This means there's some jumping about from the British shows narrated by Ringo Starr and Michael Angelis, and the American ones featuring Alec Baldwin and George Carlin. Early US shows such as "Cranky Bugs", expanded the Thomas universe with the first of several new Bob the Builder
-like characters. It was also the point where the stories no longer come directly from Rev Awdry's Railway Series books. Some are more fantastical than others, a visit from the Queen, for example, ("Paint Pots & Queens"), an encounter with a dragon ("Thomas, Percy & the Dragon"), or even a "Ghost Train". Mostly of course, tales follow the format of obstructions on the line, derailments and delays. All of which provide adults with another level of entertainment as art imitates life.
On the DVD: The Very Best of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, like the previous DVD releases in this series, is a bit of a missed opportunity with sadly no extra features. Picture and sound are per TV broadcast. --Paul Tonks