3 Years, 2 Months & 5 Days into Daddyhood

She’s never been much into Thomas or other railway-based programmes – although she does like playing trains and saying “Choo! Choo-o-o!” when a train goes past. And she has, on at least one occasion, chosen a Thomas book from the library. In the mornings, however, when she’s not watching one of her Peppa or Ben & Holly or Charlie & Lola DVDs, since her conversion from CBeebies to Milkshake achieved completion, she will, when it’s on, happily sit through an episode of Thomas and Friends, then call out the names of all of Thomas’s friends during the song at the end. This is one of the new versions of the programme, with a Ringo-Starr-sort-of-soundalike, rather than Ringo Starr himself, as narrator, and usually it is the bang-up-to-date version, where the faces, rather than just the eyes, of Thomas and his friends actually move!

Now I don’t know just how up-to-date this bang-up-to-date version of Thomas actually is, but I suspect this relative lack of technological advancement in the animation of such, even with the moving faces, especially where compared with the likes of Chuggington, is a conscious effort on the part of the programme makers to keep Thomas looking and feeling “retro.”

Even the latest version of Thomas is not much different to that of 20/30 years ago, which does, of course, make sense, since Thomas is a “tank engine” and not a shiny new locomotive – certainly not like those whooshing, bouncing, dancing trains on Chuggington. In the fashion of Carrie of Sex and The City, however, I can’t help but wonder…

1. How do modern kids understand half the terminology of these decidedly retro tales of these chuff-chuffing little steam engines?

2. How can these happy little trains (and I am referring to those who abide in the town of Chuggington as well as on the Island of Sodor) stand to lead such a restrictive, “on the rails” lives?

3. How do they ever get anything done? They have no arms or hands or limbs of any kind! Just yesterday morning, I caught the tail end of an episode of Thomas in which one train helped another who had derailed. In one scene, they were looking at each other, wondering what to do; in the next, a chain was attaching the two and the derailed train was being pulled back onto the track. How did the chain get there? How was it attached? Is there a secret crew of unseen humans, who come out between scenes to do such things? I feel that my clever little girl will be questioning such discontinuities before long!

4. Who thought of the names Skarloey and Rheneas?

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Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom
Charlie and Lola
Peppa Pig
Sex and the City
Thomas and Friends