HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Thomas and Friends: Signals Crossed
HTS Overall Score:66
Thomas the Tank Engine has been around for about as long as I can remember. I grew up as a young child reading the books with my mom and then watching my younger brothers get into the TV show back in the day. The stories are full of good life lessons and even though they are DEFINITELY aimed at that 6 and under crowd, they still ring true for us adults (even if the delivery is certainly missing our age bracket). I’ll say this right up front. Yeah, we adults aren’t going to be popping down on the couch with a beer and the remote to watch the latest installment of “Thomas and Friends”, but it IS most certainly on our radar since the little 4 year old in your life is going to be begging for more talking train engines.
You really can’t blame them either, for the show has an energy like no other. The show revolves around Thomas the tank engine, and all the other steam engines on the Island of Sodor. Each of the six episodes or so on the disc revolve around a different engine, with many of the main characters overlapping as secondary characters during the 55 minute runtime. All of the stories revolve around self-worth, hard work and doing your best at whatever you do. Many TV shows aimed at young children have tried to be so politically correct and appeal to a more “suave” crowd in an effort to gain market share, but the little U.K. show has managed to keep itself centered on some rather “old fashioned” set of values that seems to be absent in modern children’s TV. Long story short, I would have no qualms about letting my little ones sit around the TV and watch “Thomas and Friends” unsupervised or have to skim the disc first to make sure there isn’t anything I would need to address first.
While Thomas is the main character and shows up in every episode, he allows for all the other train engines to have their day in the sun as well. Marion, Edward, James, Toby, Salty, Mavis, and even Sir Topham hat, the owner of the railway, have their own voices and dispense some sort of morality lesson that’s broken down in a way that a young child will understand. I have to say, I ended up kind of enjoying the episodes even though it was NOT aimed at my demographic. The stories are sweet and kind, with a great amount of emphasis on helping each other out and being polite to each other (especially pertinent since the age bracket that they’re aiming for is dealing with those same things out on the playground every day), and I always chuckles at the fun childhood memories I had when reading the old kids’ books back in the day.
The Disc itself is quite breezy, with a sort of British charm to the episodes and allows for quick watching. The episodes are self-contained and short so if you need to use it for a quick 15 minute babysitter is very easy to stop and not leave the child hanging on, waiting for a conclusion to an hour long movie. The film is done with some rather low budget CGI (not that kids will care) and is occasionally broken up by the narrator, Mr. Perkins, who comes in as his live action self on screen.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35929[/img]“Thomas and Friends: Signals Crossed” comes out in the standard TV aspect ratio of 1.78:1 encoded in MPEG2 on the DVD. This is standard, run of the mill CGI used for the TV series and the show isn’t meant to be a perfect looking image. It’s done on the cheap to entertain very small children and thus isn’t going to have the pop and pizazz of the big budget guys. With that being said, the disc looks quite good besides the lightly dim colors and definite softness to the CGI rendering. Black levels are solid, detail is decent and I see no evidence of compression issues to mar the transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=35937[/img]The audio is just a simple 2.0 Dolby Digital track meant to convey the dialogue to the children and does quite well with what it’s given. 99% of the time we have Mr. Perkins voice and the voices of the engines in our ears with very little sound effects besides the tooting of a whistle or the clacking of wheels across the rails. There is no distortion, no hiss, just good clean vocals.
• Roll Call Song Sing Along Music Video
• Searching Everywhere Sing Along Music Video
• Guess Who Puzzles
Searching for good programming for our youngsters (especially the really young ones) can be a bit daunting at times, as we have to wade through a long list of garbage to find the ones that we can let our kids watch. Thomas and Friends is one of those safe zones where I would have no hesitation recommending the series of shorts to any parent with a child under the age of 6. The stories are sweet, the lessons are basic and universal and what kid isn’t fascinated by a train engine? Especially one that can talk. If you’ve never seen the world of “Thomas” than this is one of the better gatherings of episodes so it’s a good way to get the kids into the series. Recommended for the kiddies.
Starring: Mark Moraghan, Ben Forster, David Bedella
Director: Don Spencer, David Stoten
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish, French DD 2.0
Runtime: 55 Minutes
DVD Release Date: December 2nd, 2014
Buy Thomas and Friends: Signals Crossed DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: For the Kiddies
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