Friday, August 03, 2007

The Real Thomas The Tank Engine

Of all the children's shows my kids watch, Thomas the Tank Engine is one of the most realistic. By that I mean that the interactions between the characters are more genuine than in, say, Bob The Builder. While Bob and friends are all preternaturally happy, the engines are rude to each other, they get in trouble, and they each have a distinct character. Nevertheless, there are some very unrealistic things about Thomas The Tank Engine (least of all the fact that the trains talk). For one, the cardinal sin on the island of Sodor seems to be Causing Confusion And Delay. This will get you a very stern talking-to by Sir Topham Hatt, where in the real world you'd probably be fired instead. Also, there seems to be an incredibly consistent problem with cracks in the tracks, which seem to appear at random and for no good reason.

So here's my list of Top Ten ways Thomas The Tank Engine could be made even more realistic:
10. Mavis gets Diesel fired for sexual harassment after he "accidentally bumps her buffers" one too many times
9. Bertie the Bus breaks down on the tracks, but his friend Thomas can't stop in time and crashes into him, injuring 6 schoolchildren
8. One of the firemen is caught sabotaging the tracks by cracking them in an effort to score more overtime hours waiting for the Breakdown Train to come
7. Harold the Helicopter comes to Gordon's rescue by taking his passengers when he's broken down, only to crash in a fiery explosion on the hills from being overloaded
6. Sir Topham Hatt involved in sex scandal with the herds of sheep that roam the island at will; Lady Hatt subsequently discovered to be "getting it on" in the sheds with Thomas' driver
5. Affirmative-action hire Rosie can't cut it on the Sodor railway and is sent back home to America
4. Engines unionize over the issue of coats of paint, but they decide to also demand more coal. This angers the diesel engines, who then break with the union and collude with management to foil the steam engines' plans to suddenly all contract "boiler ache" on the same day.
3. Cranky the Crane gets put on antidepressants, but they only make him feel worse, and he topples himself over into the sea, where he is rescued from his suicide attempt by Bulstrode the Barge
2. Salty's mob-style execution triggers an investigation wherein it is discovered that before he came to the Sodor railway he was involved in drug smuggling at his previous location, which explains why he wouldn't reveal the secret to his unusual ability to keep trucks in line

And our #1 most realistic Thomas scenario...

1. Stepney and Toby are finally sent to the scrapyard, where they foment a revolt among the scrapped engines. The engines fix each other and stage a coup wherein Sir Topham Hatt is run off the island on a rail and the socialist Sodor Railway is privatized.