Season 23, Episode 20: First Day On Sodor!
Written By Becky Overton
Directed By Dianna Basso
When we last left Jack And The Pack, Brenda The Bulldozer was so obsessed with keeping the construction site of the new Wellsworth Hospital nice and flat that she ended up causing confusion and delay by accidentally moving the stone needed for the foundations away from where it was needed since she believed that her jobs were more important than any of the other vehicles...in a way, you could say that Brenda got too big for her blade. But no sooner do we get a proper introduction of one new recruit to The Pack, we are about to meet another new friend who goes from 'boring' to awesome with a spin of her drill...so let's welcome Darcy to the North Western Railway as she begins her 'First Day On Sodor'! Let's take a look...
FIRST DAY ON SODOR: Darcy makes some mistakes on her first day, but she soon makes up for it when everyone sees what she can really do.
- The return of Jack And The Pack-I don't know how many fans in the community really wanted to see Jack And The Pack again in the series especially ever since the Big World Big Adventures revamp first started, but I am probably in the minority when I say that I loved Jack And The Pack during the model era of the series as well as in Season 20's "Mucking About" since they were a very cool concept albeit only having one or two episodes in the series every so often...also if you really think about it, Jack And The Pack will be having more appearances and screen time in this one season than they've had in the entirety of the series prior to this unless you count the half-completed spin-off series that happened between Seasons 7 and 8 of the television series! Also, there have been quite a few changes to the construction crew from Nathan Clarke no longer voicing Alfie The Excavator after Season 20's "Mucking About" as well as seeing more characters other than Thomas and Percy interacting with The Pack like they did during the model era days of the series on top of there being a couple of new recruits to join the team and balance out the genders...but we'll get to her in a moment!
- The return of Miss Jenny-the marketing may say that Jack The Frontloader is the leader of The Pack, but the real credit goes to the manager of the company and that is none other than the stern but friendly Miss Jenny Packard making her highly anticipated return to the series after a decade since Season 12's "Percy And The Bandstand" albeit in a non-speaking role since her last official role in the series was actually in the Jack And The Pack spinoff episode 'Mud Glorious Mud'...but regardless of when she last appeared, it is so great to see Miss Jenny again after so long and what's also great is that writer Michael White who has closely worked with Andrew Brenner kept her personality intact when entering into the newly CG-environment of the Thomas & Friends universe from her stern but friendly personality to her Irish accent supplied by newcomer to the voice cast Harriet Kershaw who will also supply the voice of Darcy The Tunnel Boring Machine. What else can you except...Miss Jenny, you'd make a mother proud!
- The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, this sequence triggered by The Pack wondering what new vehicle will be joining the team which leads to Miss Jenny revealing The Road Paver in a tribute to the popular Terminator movie franchise was certainly interesting since it shows that there is no stopping Thomas in the meta humor department when making pop culture references mostly from the 1980's when the television series first debuted since we had seen an Indiana Jones reference during the 'Digs & Discoveries' special and now we have friggin' Terminator...but at the same time however, I feel like the show staff knows about the fandom's dark theories a little too well with the most famous one being about why the engines and other vehicles have faces to begin with in which sparked two of the most disturbing fan-made videos I have ever seen from the Thomas community: 'Shed 17' and 'Project G-1' by PaulsVids. If you like dark and disturbing imagery, then more power to you...but if you have never seen these videos before, don't say I didn't warn you!
Overall while the moral of 'just being yourself' is one that we know all too well in the Thomas & Friends universe from both males and females on the North Western Railway, 'First Day On Sodor' as the introduction to the newest member of The Pack certainly 'aimed to please' as Darcy likes to say and it certainly did in my opinion in order to receive a rating of a 9 out of 10...welcome to The Pack, Darcy!
The Other Big Engine-9.5/10
Gordon Gets The Giggles-8.5/10
Laid Back Shane-8.5/10
Free The Roads-10/10
Heart Of Gold-10/10
Wish You Were Here-9/10
Diesel Glows Away-7.5/10
Out Of Site-8/10
First Day On Sodor-9/10
First Day On Sodor-9/10
SEASON 23 OVERALL RATING: 8.7/10