Reviews — April 26
When railroad enthusiast Wilbert Vere Awdry sat down to write his Railway Series in the 1940s, he could not possibly have anticipated that its central character, Thomas the Tank Engine, would explode into a multimedia entertainment juggernaut (not to mention a lucrative merchandising empire) that’s still going strong in the 21st century.
Video store shelves are lined with the latest Thomas movies, now slickly animated and narrated by Michael Bandon. But if I were to recommend any single Thomas DVD for first-time parents to show their kids, I’d go with the one voiced by comedian George Carlin. This is not the young, angry Carlin who originated the famous court case over profanity on television. This is a family-friendly, grandpa-style Carlin, who narrated the series in the 1990s when it used models and endlessly fascinating miniature sets that surely must have filled an entire sound stage.
Carlin is one of many voice actors who have told Thomas stories, and my favorite. But the other draw, for me, is that the episodes on the “10 Years of Thomas” DVD feature what I call “slow storytelling,” which doesn’t have the attention-span destroying style of editing that is a hallmark of modern animation. It’s a perfect first TV experience for toddlers, as I discovered a couple of years ago with my 2-year-old.
“Thomas & Friends: 10 Years of Thomas” (2005) Directed by David Mitton, featuring George Carlin. The disc includes 10 episodes and runs 63 minutes. Unrated; suitable for all ages.