Recently the children have been enjoying a new Thomas & Friends dvd I’d found at Target, a compilation of several of the older episodes. Then over Memorial Day, my mom and dad showed us their Netflix account that allowed for instant online streaming and opened up a whole venue of instant Thomas movies. The kids have been loving this. We’ve temporarily exited the John Deere phase (although they still love their tractors and will still notice any within sight of the road as we drive), and they’re now playing Thomas half the day, and watching a video when they can. Haus Meister and I had an in-depth conversation while cleaning up the other night about why we liked the “old school” Thomas episodes much more than the brand new CG ones. The ones we like were the originals, made in the 80s and 90s and narrated by Ringo Starr and Michael Angelis (the Brits are better narrators, sorry, Alec Baldwin). I probably ought to spare you the details on that one–it would seem like two adults thinking way too hard about a children’s story. I’ll sum up with the following points.
- As nice as computer graphics can be, the old sets look much more detailed.
- The stories and personalities of the engines are much more true to the intent of the author.
- Trooper enjoys the older version better. Indeed, it’s been shown that children with autism (or in his case, on the autism spectrum) like Thomas a lot because of the different facial expressions of the engines. It helps them identify emotion. With the original episodes, the facial expressions remain on the screen longer (and I like Percy’s angry face. He’s such a cute little engine).
The other children love Thomas no matter what episode they’re watching. I’m glad to see the wooden train set being used on a daily basis, especially thinking back to the months I spent on eBay last year trying to get a good deal on that wooden roundhouse in time for Christmas. 😉 But the imagining doesn’t end there, no, Dinosaur takes it to an entire different level. Whenever he puts something on his head, he becomes “Sir Topham Hatt,” or as he sometime says, “Missur Topham Hatt.” He’s kind of shy about his play-acting most of the time, and quits whenever he realizes I’m listening (I need a better poker face). However, he has found one haven, one place to go where no one will overhear him.
That would be my master bathroom.
Yes, I have a train station in my bathroom now. I know for a fact that he can climb over the baby gate that is in front of my room–you know, the one that is there to keep wee hands from wrecking the last bastion for breakable objects in this house. Dinosaur will then go to my bathroom, line up our toiletries on the counter (anything unsafe is already out of reach) and begin to talk to them as if they were engines, quoting from the books and the movies in a deep little voice.
One time he came up to me as I was getting dinner ready.
DINOSAUR– “Say, ‘Misser Topham Hatt.”
ME — “Sir Topham Hatt?”
DINOSAUR — (in a deep voice) “Ye-ess?”
I wish I hadn’t laughed after that because he grinned and ran out, feeling a bit shy. I wasn’t mocking him; I just thought it was so cute.