Confounding Kid’s Shows- Installment #1

If you have kids, you’re going to come across some of the most mind-boggling mysteries embedded in the content of the television shows and movies that are targeted at your small people.
I’m not talking about the famous filthy innuendos that Disney is guilty of, or the hidden jokes targeted for the adults,  (a’la Phineas and Ferb) but some things that will make you say “What in hell?” – and wonder how in the heck nobody thought to address or explain such things.

The first installment is brought to you by the timeless classic: Thomas The Tank Engine

Forget the obvious fact that the trains are talking. Kid’s shows. They do that all the time. That’s not what bugs me about the show. What I want to know is, what exactly is the dynamic between the trains and their drivers? In the really old episodes, pre-animation (which were awesome and narrated by none other than George Carlin) the drivers had lines, did things, and were a part of the show.
Then, near as I can tell, they vanished altogether for a while. About the time that they animated the show completely, the drivers became nothing more than ‘things in the background’ – they’re not even mentioned anymore, but every now and again, you’ll see one in the background.

My best estimation is that they’re about the same status as pets in real life.

The reason this bugs me is that every time an engine gets themselves in some sort of dire trouble, either they’re lost, or stuck, or broken down, the situation could be resolved in about 4 minutes by the guy in the back of the engine saying “Oh, crap. Hang on a few minutes while I go make a phone call.”

For instance, the other day I sat down to watch the newest special with our oldest son, an avid Thomas fan. “King of the Railway.”  In it, at one point, an engine gets stuck in a mine. You can clearly see the driver with him, and the whole time the focus is on the engine that’s going to be stuck there forever, yadda yadda… with no mention of the guy in the back who is probably going to starve to death.
Not only that, at one point, Thomas is out looking for the lost engine, and the one that’s lost (Stephen) can’t ‘call out to him’ because he’s out of steam. My thought? Couldn’t the dude just, you know….yell? Or start digging out the blockage which has them stuck in the mine?

Its infuriating. The drivers in the show are literally no more than roombas, the only thing you see them actually DO is couple and uncouple things. – Which makes sense I guess, seeing as how the trains themselves don’t have hands. But that’s it. There is no real interaction between the engines and the drivers, or even the notable humans in the show and the drivers. They exist, but are either mere slaves, pets, or who only knows what.

I FULLY understand the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ which is necessary to enjoy most of these shows and movies, but when there’s such a gaping hole in the overall mechanics of the show, I get driven to distraction.

I realize that this is a completely moronic topic of conversation, but it annoyed me. Truth be told, I’m also gearing up for a post with some pretty heavy subject matter, so I thought I’d buffer it with a bit of the inane.

Carry on.


2 thoughts on “Confounding Kid’s Shows- Installment #1

  1. The newer ones with the talking trains are just plain creepy. The ‘suspension of disbelief’ needed to watch the old Ringo Starr/George Carlin episodes was pretty minor compared to the new ones with their taking trains doing things trains just do not do. I saw one where Thomas goes on a boat ride!

    For another one almost as bad,check out ‘Dinosaur Train’. Talking dinosaurs who travel through time on a train!

    • Yes! They’re really pushing the boundaries of what the engines are capable of doing. I saw the boat ride one too, which in and of itself is teeming with more of these insane instances. Dinosaur Train is one of my son’s favorites- I’m sure that one will get a mention here at some point too…there is plenty of ammo for this segment, which I think will become a regular on here.

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