Season 23, Episodes 25-26: Steam Team To The Rescue!
Written By Davey Moore
Directed By Joey So
Back in Season 21 of 'Thomas & Friends', the wintry conditions of the North Western Railway caused delays with some deliveries which really effected the steam engines when a delivery of coal to keep them running was delayed as well especially when the weather became much colder freezing everything up...and while the diesels were put to work doing the steam engines' jobs to keep the railway running, poor Thomas had to spend the freezing cold night at Kellsthorpe Road Station with Annie and Clarabel after not listening to Sir Topham Hatt's orders to return to Tidmouth Sheds until Diesel came to the rescue with the long awaited coal delivery. But what would happen if we swapped the roles of this fan acclaimed story...would it make things better or worse? Let's find out and go go go on a big adventure in the Season 23 finale of 'Thomas & Friends' because it's the 'Steam Team To The Rescue'!
STEAM TEAM TO THE RESCUE: The steam engines must work overtime to unload cargo from the docks when a series of accidents put all of the diesel engines out of action
- The story-while the story to this special may feel like a role reversal of Season 21's "The Big Freeze" which had the diesels doing the jobs of the steam engines when they all ran out of coal, I was one of the many fans who actually loved 'The Big Freeze' for how much it reminded us of the series finale to Thomas' sister series TUGS known as 'Bigg Freeze' and extending the normal episode length of Thomas to match that of TUGS allowed for plenty of story potential for our cast of characters...and man did they deliver quite a lot of suspense and humor throughout the special even as far as setting up the events of the story where the Brendam Docks crew are so worn out from loading and unloading cargo that Cranky and Carly not only knock Salty off the rails and send him splashing into the sea but also Porter as well with a helping of 'flour power'...and as if matters couldn't get any worse, Salty's slippery seaweed sends Den slipping and sliding into the control panels of the Dieselworks trapping the other diesels in their sheds and Carly is in danger of falling over from the clusterf--k that has become Brendam Docks! But that doesn't mean the special didn't have its laugh-out-loud moments because there were quite a few from Sidney accidentally celebrating the diesels still being trapped in their sheds when the doors only open a bit to Gordon accidentally leaving his coaches behind and having to be told by Thomas especially after the way Gordon mocked Thomas for doing the same thing when he first arrived on Sodor and especially Paxton trying to make it through the gap of his closed shed door only to smash his face in and leave an imprint in the metal door which reminded me a lot of a couple times when this happened in pre-movie SpongeBob Squarepants!
- 'Don't Stop'-while the 'Digs & Discoveries two-parter may not have had any songs apart from Lorenzo and Beppe singing opera together after Thomas discovers them in the mine up until the end of the special, 'Here Comes The Steam Team' however amends this mistake by having a brand new song to add to the line-up in the series which for a lot of fans in the community reminded them of the hit Queen song 'Don't Stop Me Now' of which they immediately jumped on in making short little parodies or music videos on...but if I had to choose between the first time we hear the song and the reprise towards the end when the Steam Team are helping to rescue Percy and the cranes at Brendam Docks, I actually have to choose the first time since we not only get to see both the old and new versions of the Steam Team all working together especially with us getting to see Edward and Henry as well as Toby in the spotlight in order to keep the hardcore nostalgic fans quiet but we also get to see more of the side character steam engines at work as well like Stanley and Rosie along with Caitlin and Luke to show that there are more steam engines on Sodor other than the main cast. However if you look closely in Luke's scene of the song, you'll see that not all of the diesels were put out of actions since 'Arry and Bert can be seen working in the quarry...
- The fantasy sequences-with this now being one of the major selling points for the series, we are treated to not one but two fantasy sequences in the episode with the first one being of the three Brendam Docks cranes imagining what will happen if all of the crates get mixed up unless someone doesn't come to help sort them out from a passenger eating a brick in the dining car to chickens riding aboard the express and the second one being triggered by Sir Topham Hatt reminding Thomas how running a railway is like a balancing act eventually followed by a fantasy of Sir Topham juggling his engines on the map as a circus act was really humorous especially with the dialogue from the engines who are questioning their controller's sanity in what he's doing only for Sir Topham to drop all of his engines and Thomas to be reminded that he needs to help Percy out of the clusterf--k that has become Brendam Docks...but you really have to wonder how Sir Topham Hatt still has a job as a railway controller if he can't even keep his own railway under control for one friggin' day!
Overall, 'Steam Team To The Rescue' is gonna be a very divisive special among the fandom: either you'll hate it for how much they really push the Steam Team concept especially with Edward and Henry being 'replaced' by Nia and Rebecca of which fans are still upset about that even after a year since the Big World Big Adventures revamp first started or you'll absolutely love the special for its suspense and comedy as well as that kickass song 'Don't Stop'. As for my opinion while 'Steam Team To The Rescue' may look like a role reversal of Season 21's "The Big Freeze" upon first glance, it still managed to be a pretty great conclusion to the twenty-third season of Thomas & Friends...and that is why I am giving it a 9 out of 10 as well as giving Season 23 a rating of an 8.63 out of 10-it may share the same quality as Season 22, but it was still quite the big adventure!
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
Steam Team To The Rescue-9/10
SEASON 23 OVERALL RATING: 8.63/10