Having three boys, my family has done our share of Thomas the Tank Engine. We've collected the wooden trains, created elaborate tracks, gone to Day Out With Thomas, and have tried to watch the DVDs and TV show.
I say tried, because my kids have always been slightly deathly afraid of the traditional Thomas DVDs, voiced by George Carlin or Ringo Starr. They always claim to want to watch them, but then run away and watch them by peeking around corners.
Anyway, all of this to say that HIT Entertainment recently sent me a copy of Thomas and Friends: Hero of the Rails, which is a brand new CG-animated 60-minute special that is airing on PBS Kids all through September. News that we would be watching a Thomas video was not met with glee by my four-year-old, who ran away screaming. (Let's be honest here. I think the old-style Thomas shows are cool, but they are a little creepy and dark.)
I put on the TV show and my little guy started edging his way back forward...
...until eventually he was happily sitting in the same room as the TV, laughing and smiling at the TV.
I think he liked Hero of the Rails because it is a little more natural than the original show. Because it is animated, the facial expressions are more fluid and easy. Also, the characters all have their own voices, which was fun. The story is cute too. Thomas helps save an abandoned, broken-down train from being scrapped. However, as might be expected on the Isle of Sodor, mishaps abound. You can watch a trailer for it on YouTube.
It really is worth a look if you have a child that loves Thomas the Tank Engine. If your child watches and likes the original Thomas shows, s/he will LOVE this.
Find out when PBS Kids is showing Hero of the Rails on the PBS website. (They also have a new CG-animated Angelina Ballerina and a new Barney special airing this month.)
Honesty Clause: I received a review copy of Hero of the Rails at no cost. You can watch it for free on PBS Kids or buy it at a list price of $19.98 (although it is currently on sale at Amazon for $13.99).