All That We Know About Journey Beyond Sodor YET (by ThomasFan3000)

May 12, 2017

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With the trailer out, and a few other articles with Behind-The-Scenes videos, as well as old books which we can now see with more perspective [All links below], Here's everything we know about the 2017 special, Journey Beyond Sodor, yet:

Here we go!


> From Articles

One of the two main articles published today (5/12) along with the trailer reveals an expanded synopsis that explains the base of the plot:
Thomas leaves the Island of Sodor for the first time ever to travel to the mainland where he sees and experiences things that are beyond his wildest dreams. On his epic journey Thomas befriends the Experimental Engines, Lexi, Theo and Merlin, who look like no engines he has seen before. Merlin even has a special power - all he has to do is say ‘Invisibility on!’ and shut his eyes and he is convinced that nobody can see him! 
After spotting a magical-looking place on the horizon, Thomas stumbles into the Steelworks, where he meets two engines, Frankie and Hurricane, who aren’t quite what they seem and soon put Thomas to work. When James comes to find Thomas and gets trapped in the Steelworks, it’s up to Thomas and his newfound friends to rescue James and prove that friendship always wins!
So that explains most of the plot. While it sounds like Misty Island Rescue, the key difference that sets it apart is the fact that there are villains (Hurricane and Frankie) here, and not all good people. This special explores more on the "experimental" engine aspect, which is comparatively new, and adds a whole bunch of railway realism. 

To add to that, it appears that the trailer doesn't show an important part: the part where Thomas goes to the mainland, the beginning. We might meet Flying Scotsman and some other returnees - maybe for just a bit, but there is a possibility. Thomas certainly couldn't have gone straight to the Experimental Engines, he had to get to a station in Mainland, where we might meet some familiar and new faces.

Another question that rises is if Thomas wasn't lost [or was he?] why would James go looking for him? Is it because he was late and didn't return to Sodor on time? We'll see. As of yet, though, this is all we know.

> From the Trailer

Not much is inferred from the trailer, that is different from the plot. One thing, though: Merlin will be used in the plot as comic relief. That sounds like a good idea, the new Marion. Imagine a Merlin + Marion episode...

My assumption is also that when Thomas and James [separately or together] stumble upon the Steelworks, and when Thomas is in danger, it will be the experimental engines [Lexi, Theo, Merlin] that would come to save him (?).

> From the BTS

Andrew Brenner (Head Writer) comments that this special shows how one can make friends in various places, one where they least expect to. Thomas on this journey, discovers a lot about friendship by making new friends. Producer Ian McCue comments how Thomas faces a lot of new challenges, all when he's away from the friends he has, from the community he's built. He's in a completely new world. This actually explains how this special has a wonderfully thought dynamic. It sounds like a strong plot, so far.


> Merlin

A very interesting character! He thinks he can be invisible, [much like Marion's magic fantasy in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure] and he might just be the prime comedy gold of Thomas, if done right... and he looks like he is.

Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill) is his voice actor. He does an incredible job - it looks so. He will have a musical number, as well (I still think that bouncing's only for the music; he bounces about a bit in the clip of the song he sings.)

Merlin thinks he can be invisible. In Hugh Bonneville's own words: "He is completely confident that he has the ability to become invisible, when if fact, we the audience know he doesn't have that power. And its rather enchanting to watch him sail through life, full of confidence, but actually sometimes, he [] can be a bit silly." Micaela Winter (line producer) also comments that Bonneville actually looks like Merlin.

SONG: Merlin's song is seen in the BTS on the official channel. The lyrics go:

"Oh Can't you see?
"Who said that?" You Ask? Its only me!
You look surprised, but have no fear!
Its just a little trick to make myself, disappear!"

The title is unclear.

> Theo

The following is said about Theo in a trailer:
Geared engine Theo is “very shy, extremely cautious and awkward.” He has an “unusual experimental drive system that doesn’t always run very smoothly and he makes sudden jolts forward or back when his rods or cogs jam.”

Quiet and thoughtful, with a habit of blunt speaking, his confidence is often jolted. But Theo is  “genuinely kind and caring” and would “just like to keep himself and his friends as safe as possible so they can hide away and have a quiet life.”

Moreover, producer McCue comments how Theo has nods to Autism, and will help autistic kids (which Thomas has always supported) relate to him. That sounds like a really good thing, I love it.

> Lexi

The following is said about Lexi in an article:

Another “experimental engine”, Lexi, nods towards a more fluid approach to gender. She is  “cab forward”, even though she is convinced this this makes her “an un-useful engine.” Lexi likes to “experiment with how she presents herself, often trying out different voices and how she phrases her expressions just to see which one she thinks works best. 

It appears that she struggles with her personality, which is really a thoughtful thing to include in this special, for kids. Love this initiative.

> Hurricane & Frankie

These are the villains in this special. From the looks of it, they are a new type of villains - maybe like Sailor John... they appear good, but they aren't. [See the synopsis above.] They probably lure in Thomas and or James, and then... try to kill them? I don't know.

But they are the villains. They're from the Steelworks, not experimental engines. That's about it. 

> Crane (unaudible name)

Not much is known about him, except that he's a clumsy, sort of grumpy crane at the Experimental Engines "yard."

So, well, that's about all we know. The plot, and the newbies. Are you or are you not excited about the special?!

Also, the animation in this shot is truly impeccable. And before you judge animation in other bits, know that this is a new studio, rendering new locations and engines in a short time, and they will probably fix it in the final render...


Article 1
Article 2
Behind The Scenes
Previous JBS Post
Screengrabs from Trailer
Screengrabs from BTS

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About the author:
ThomasFan3000 - Jainil Devani
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