Saturday, October 10, 2009

Clash of the PBS Kids Titans

Anyone who knows about Transformers knows that combiner teams are where it's at. It all started with the Constructicons- six construction vehicles that merged to form the most powerful Decepticon warrior, of his day, Devastator. Around the same time, a team of mighty robotic lions formed VOLTRON and protected the galaxy and later as a confusing bunch of cars and spaceships. The less said of the latter version the better. Now a nameless genius in China has bestowed upon the island of Sodor a mighty protector of her own- Combining Thomas! It would seem that Thomas the Tank Engine and four of his friends have joined forces to protect their idyllic island nation from some before unheard of menace in the form of a giant, smoke-belching, entirely unlicensed steampunk titan!
When Thomas' show was first broadcast here in the States as a segment on the "Shining Time Station" program, the closest thing to a villain was Schemer, the weaselly guy who ran the station's feeble 19th century arcade. This was back when the twelve inch tall "Mister Conductor" was played, to much disbelief, by George Carlin, and the place was run by Didi Conn, a simpering low-rent version of Shelley Duvall. I hesitate to guess how that cast would have taken the appearance of a towering amalgam of steam engines bestriding their non-animated island town, much less what Sir Topham Hat would think of the havoc that their gestalt form would reek on his provincial railway system, but something has obviously changed to warrant this level of Paul Verhoeven-ian over-kill.
The modern, half-hour version of the show, "Thomas and Friends" would be better equipped to fully realize Thomas' team in action, what with it's new-fangled CGI and such, but the question still remains, who are they protecting the Island of Sodor from? I'd like to think that they acquired this new power to combat the forces of sappy pablum like "Super Why", "Miya and Miguel" or any of the horrid talking vehicle shows that have sprung up in the wake of Pixar's CARS. Of course the obvious foe for a giant robot is an atomic monster. A radioactive purple dinosaur who emotionally manipulates children with promises of love but rewards that love with a punitive level of copyright protection that forces even the bravest souls to avoid even the mere mention of his unholy name. Hopefully Word Girl and Captain Huggyface will lend a hand in that historic battle. Word Up!
You can pick up your Combining Thomas Team at, a site with a dizzying array of knock off toys from the far east. I'm seriously thinking about this one.

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