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Not the story you think it is
on 9 October 2014
Freed from the constraints of the five-minute TV format, the makers of Thomas and Friends take the opportunity of an hour long special to explore the murky politics of industrial relations on the Isle of Sodor. The plot centres around the neglected underclass of the diesels. Unloved by the profoundly ‘trainist’ fat controller, the diesels languish in a dirty and semi-derelict dieselworks while the privileged ‘steamies’ enjoy a smart and state of the art steamworks.
Since the fat controller “doesn’t listen to diesels”, the disenfranchised diesels have no recourse but direct action. They organise themselves and stage an illegal occupation of the steamworks. Finding themselves forced out, the steamies come to see the diesels’ point of view and join the petition to get the fat controller to build a new dieselworks. Which he does. Hurrah. Now everyone can get back to Being Really Useful.
That’s not the story the makers of the programme think they’re telling, but it genuinely is the plot. And just in case you missed it, it’s recapped in song at the end.
Yes, there’s also a sub-plot about Percy being insecure, something about a missing hose, and lots of ‘wheeshing and whooshing’. The trains don’t just ‘go’ somewhere. They wheesh and they whoosh, they clatter and clank, they roll and they rumble, all the way from the bargain bin to the charity shop DVD shelf.