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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Review: 'The Lion of Sodor' UK DVD

On Friday 25th March after 10:45am, my copy of The Lion of Sodor DVD arrived since it was sent off on Wednesday, courtesy of hmv.com.

This is the first time that a pre-ordered DVD of mine would be sent off on a Wednesday morning, even at an earlier time of 9:04am.
Things you can expect from the DVD;
- The Really Useful Activity Book is included and can be found inside the DVD case. The book can be viewed on the Day of the Diesels minisite.
- The back cover features The Lion of Sodor on the left staring at Thomas while he looks at the viewer. Eagled eyed fans should notice that a shadow of Thomas' face is repeated half way down on his face.
- Starting the DVD when loaded comes in order; The Warning introduction, Hit Entertainment's ident, the Take-n-Play commercial and a titlecard for the The Lion of Sodor.
- The main menu features the promo shot of the DVD on the right with the Thomas & Friends logo above. On the top left, a screen shows part of The Lion of Sodor episode superimposed on a shiny surface referencing the statue. Below it are the various selections to choose from including Episode Selection.
- Selecting the Episode Selection shows the episodes on 1 page. All the episodes' cards are a screenshot from each episode, imposed on the border.
- Viewing all the episodes will entertain you for the next 40 minutes or if you choose to watch it with Mr. Perkins, 54 minutes.
- After watching all the episodes, the newest Hit Entertainment ident first seen on the Wobbly Wheels & Whistles DVD will play followed by the Thank You ident. Afterwards you will be returned to the Main Menu where you have completed watching the main DVD's feature.

I haven't seen Season Thirteen for some time now, even though I have the first 3 DVD's of the series, I thought I had seen them too much. Looking back on the 4 episodes featured, I had not watched them fully since their original broadcasts on FIVE, so it was nice to go back and see them.

Fans may well agree, that this release features the poorest episodes of the first Greg Tiernan series.

The strongest episode in my opinion on this release would have to be Hiro Helps Out. Hiro is the episode's lead, The Fat Controller's rushed routine provided some humour along with Hiro's worrying stares at him, Edward was the secondary character, the music at the beginning with all those cameos including Rosie and Hiro's realisation that he made a mistak were some of the highlights for me on the episode.

Despite the obvious signs or rhyming and repetition, it is one of my favourites of the 2009 produced series. I actually liked Thomas and the Pigs, it did seem a peaceful episode, especially with the calm music at the beginning and end, but like all of the post S13 episodes, it had the errors along with The Lion of Sodor and Time for a Story, which I thought was an OK episode, albeit, sometimes creepy to watch.

The episodes look glorious on this release along with the other complete CGI releases. Because of the CGI, there are no occasional blurs or glitches at all. Just sharp picture quality, thanks to the CGI guys at Nitrogen Studios.
The sharp picture also has no problems with the extras, including the live action films. The DVD is presented in 16:9 widescreen.

Michael Angelis is totally enthusiastic as the narrator since the complete CGI series began. He knows what emotions to use with his voice in certain scenes, he knows what tone to use and he is always giving the excited sound whenever there is a fast paced scene. He is perfect.

The voice actors have a whale of a time aswell. Listening to Keith Wickham's Gordon can always give you a laugh as he shows just how pompous Gordon really is. Ben Small as Thomas always has a lot of voice work to do as well as Keith, but Ben has given the perfect voice for Thomas always; fun, cheerful, happy, exciting.

Finally, another key player is Togo Igawa as Hiro. Especially with the enhanced audio, his voice is so deep and soothing, that he would always make the viewer give a smile to their face.

Robert Hartshorne
has since 2009 tried various techniques for the music along with using different instruments and equipment. He has been talented since that period and this, that more Thomas fans delight to his music more. It is just a shame that the music can sometimes be a bit quiet to hear.

Since the CGI transformed the show, the series has made me notice that the audio has been enhanced with more background noises being heard more and some surround taking place. Another benefit I will say.

The first and main extra is another set of sketches with Watch with Mr. Perkins. Here in Mr. Perkins' Railway Lesson, Perkins is chosen by The Fat Controller to show the viewer a model railway train set, with The Fat Controller phoning him up halfway.

Perkins is always a joy to watch and has proved popular that he does give the viewer some fun while guiding you through the episodes. It is good to hear that we will see more of him in future releases.
Next up via the Extras page is the Roll Along Sing-a-Long music video. It is a very catchy rock song and because it runs over 2 minutes and 10 seconds, the DVD release includes the extended but not full version as seen on the Nick. Jr and US broadcasts. This will get the kids to dance and sing-a-long, they will like this song.

A Steam Engine from the Down at the Station series focuses on the Steam Engines on how they operate and much more. Along with Perkins, this is always a popular feature on the DVD's, partly because of the live action scenes, although it does reflect the realism of the Thomas & Friends series and will make you think, I wish the new Thomas was like this masterpiece.

Finally we have a Guess Who? Puzzle which focuses on an engine from a far off place.

are included for the Hard of Hearing.

Children will adore this release with it's episodes and packed extras, but Mum's and Dad's will think differently. They will have to have a long think on buying this for their child, due to the fact that only 4 episodes feature, the extras should make up for it.

Best way to get this for your child if he is desperate parents is to perhaps save some money, by ordering it online.
Out of 10; 
Film -* * * * *
Video -* * * * * * * * *
Audio -* * * * * * * *
Extras -* * * * * * *
Overall -* * * * * * *

Pre-order The Lion of Sodor;

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