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“I want to go places and do things! I want to-"
"See the world!”
― Thomas, Gordon and James

The Adventure Begins is a 2015 feature-length Thomas & Friends special. It is the tenth Thomas & Friends film overall and is an adaptation of The Railway Series books, The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine, which were previously adapted for the first series in 1984. It was made to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the franchise. The special was originally released as a Walmart exclusive in the US and Canada and later as an ASDA exclusive in the UK before becoming widely available in those three countries.

Adaptation

The Adventure Begins is a computer animated retelling of the first seven episodes of the first series of Thomas & Friends, which were based on the first two books of The Railway Series (The Three Railway Engines and Thomas the Tank Engine). It contains elements from both the original stories and their previous adaptations, along with three new characters (all reimagined versions of existing concepts), new arrangements of two songs from the live action model era (Really Useful Engine and Troublesome Trucks) and a completely different narrative.

Plot

On the Island of Sodor, there was a little railway known as the North Western. The engines working there are Edward (who is the smallest engine, who shunts trains for the bigger engines) and Gordon (the biggest and proudest engine, who loves pulling the express); unfortunately, he sometimes has to pull trucks. One day, Gordon is pulling a goods train and informs Edward that a new engine will be arriving soon. Edward is very surprised and curious by this. Gordon goes on explaining how the last engine to arrive, who has wooden brake blocks, is too small. Suddenly, the engine, James, pulls in front of them, protesting that he is not small and that there is nothing wrong with his wooden brakes.

Gordon continues on with his goods train, but when he reaches the Main Line hill, the trucks hold him back and he refuses to try and make it to the top. His driver makes a phone call to the railway director of Sodor, the Fat Controller via Sir Topham Hatt who sends Edward to give Gordon a push. Together, they make it to the top of the hill, but Gordon just continues on his way without even saying thank you to Edward.

Later, Edward is shunting when he hears a voice he has never heard before. He finds James talking to a tank engine from the Mainland, who introduces himself as Thomas and the two tender engines welcome him to Sodor. But however, Gordon arrives and scoffs at Thomas' claim that he is really useful for anything more than shunting coaches. As Gordon leaves, Edward apologizes for Gordon's bullying by telling Thomas that he is often like that (even though that is a bit of an understatement). Edward and James introduce themselves to Thomas before the Fat Controller arrives and gives Thomas his orders to make himself useful and that Edward will show him what to do.

Thomas and Edward set to work shunting trains for the big engines. But all day long, Thomas unintentionally causes trouble by bumping trucks and going onto the wrong tracks. And even getting harshly bullied by Gordon. Later, Thomas spies Gordon sleeping on a siding and wakes him up with his whistle, leaving Gordon very cross.

That night, Thomas arrives at Tidmouth Sheds and pulls into the berth beside Edward. He is excited about pulling trains soon, but Edward knows that he has to learn how to shunt properly first. Then a nervous big green engine pulls into the sheds, wanting to get into his berth quickly before it rains. Edward tells Thomas about Henry and how much he does not like rain. Edward then tells the story of how a scared Henry refused to leave a tunnel in case the rain spoiled his paint. After the passengers and even James could not get him out, the Fat Controller gave up and left Henry there. He also had a wall built in front of the tunnel, as it was now rendered unusable to other engines now. Edward begins to explain how Henry finally came out of the tunnel after Gordon burst his safety valve outside the tunnel, but Gordon interrupts him, not wanting to be embarrassed in front of the new engine, but claims he wants to get to sleep.

The next day, Thomas is sent to the Sodor Steamworks to be painted into the colours the Fat Controller likes to see on his railway - blue with red stripes. Thomas shows Edward his paint, as well as his new number one. The other engines tell Thomas about the previous number one, who was a coffee pot engine. Edward has a train to pull, so Thomas goes to fetch Gordon's express coaches, but he accidentally couples to two small coaches named Annie and Clarabel, who belong to James. Thomas kindly apologizes, explaining how he is new. The coaches think he is a very sweet engine and Annie seems sure that he will go far one day.

Thomas spends all day working on his own, but it is hard work and he continues causing problems. Late in the afternoon, James pulls in with Annie and Clarabel and screeches to a stop next to Thomas, who notices a smoky smell. It is coming from James' wooden brakes, but James pretends not to notice. Thomas sees Henry taking on water and asks him why he is afraid of rain, explaining how it is only water, just like he puts in his boiler and that he should not spend all day worrying. Henry claims that he is usually very happy, when it is sunny, much to Thomas confusion.

The next morning, Thomas' fire is slow to start, making him late to bring Gordon's coaches to the platform. Gordon is still grumpy that Thomas woke him up by whistling, so when Thomas brings him his coaches, Gordon makes a vengeful plan. As soon as he is coupled up, he quickly pulls away before the workmen have a chance to uncouple Thomas from the other end of the train. Thomas is forced to race along with the express as Gordon bullyishly pulls him along, all the way to Wellsworth. Edward sees the whole thing and is shocked and furious with Gordon. As soon as the train stops, an exhausted Thomas is uncoupled and he goes to a water tower for a drink; Gordon bullyishly laughs and continues on his way.

Thomas is later shunting when he spots two very strange looking trucks on a siding. He wakes them up, causing them to panic, wondering what the emergency could be. Annie and Clarabel explain that the trucks, Judy and Jerome, are cranes who make up the Breakdown Train. They tell Thomas that the cranes are used to lift things back onto the tracks. James pulls in with a goods train, ready to take the coaches; Thomas notices the burning smell again, but once again, James pretends that he has not seen or smelled any smoke, this time blowing the smoke away.

The next morning, Henry is feeling ill, so Thomas thinks he might have a chance to take Henry's train. When Henry still does not come, the Fat Controller decides that Thomas is the only engine available. But Thomas is too excited to listen to the Fat Controller's instructions and after hearing a guard's whistle for Edward's train on the other platform, he pulls away without his train; he hurries along, thinking pulling a train is easy. He comes to a red signal, where the signalman asks him where his coaches are. Thomas is shocked and very sad that he has left his train behind. He comes back to Knapford, where all the passengers are complaining, and Thomas finally listens to the Fat Controller's instructions, but he still feels miserable.

That night, Gordon and James find the story of Thomas' train very amusing, but Edward feels sorry for Thomas, and asks him if he would like to take his train of trucks in the morning; Thomas happily agrees.

The next day, Thomas can hardly contain his excitement. He and Edward make their way to the train of trucks, but Edward tries to warn Thomas about how much trouble the trucks can cause. Thomas feels confident and pulls away, but the trucks try to hold back. As he finally leaves, Edward calls out to Thomas to be careful.

Thomas makes his way along the line, with the trucks getting crosser and crosser. He comes to Gordon's Hill where the big blue engine was stuck on and struggles to make his way to the top. But as soon as they begin to run down the other side, the trucks see their chance. They push Thomas hard, causing him to run down the track at high speed. Thomas flies down the line until he is sent into a siding at Maron and finally comes to a stop in front of some buffers. The Fat Controller has seen all of this and is cross with both Thomas and Edward. He orders the two engines to stay in the yard until Thomas knows as much about trucks as Edward.

Thomas and Edward are shunting when they notice a train at the platform without an engine. Thomas realises that it is raining and races back to the sheds, where he finds Henry. He once again tells Henry about how rain is just water like he puts in his boiler, and Henry finally comes out into the rain, very happy.

Thomas begins to work hard, and he knows he is not as clever as he first thought. But as he is talking to Edward, James rushes through the yard with a train of trucks, screaming and with black smoke coming from his brakes; the trucks are pushing him and Thomas bravely hurries after James, despite Edward's protests.

Out on the Main Line, James begs the trucks to stop pushing him, but this only prompts them to push him faster. Thomas runs alongside James and tells him to use his brakes, but they are already on fire and are useless against the trucks. Thomas allows James to overtake him so that he can switch onto his line and have the guard couple Thomas to the brake van so that he can slow the train down. After multiple failed attempts to couple Thomas up, James goes around a bend too fast and derails, tipping onto his side and sliding along a field along with his trucks. Thomas sees this and now knows that Edward was right about the trucks being able to derail an engine easily. After seeing that the guard is okay, he tells James that he will go back to the yard and get help.

Thomas heads into Knapford Yard and wakes up Jerome and Judy again, letting them know that this time there really is an emergency. The two cranes and the workmen are soon ready and Thomas sets off. The Fat Controller demands to know what Thomas is doing, but Thomas tells him that this is an emergency.

At the accident site, Thomas pushes the unhurt trucks away while Jerome and Judy lift a very battered and dirty James back onto the tracks. The Fat Controller tells Thomas to take James to the Steamworks while Edward takes away the cranes.

Later that night, at Tidmouth Sheds, the engines and workmen cheer for Thomas. Even Gordon is impressed. The Fat Controller tells everyone that James will be fitted with proper brakes and given a new coat of paint and he is going to give Thomas his own branch line as a reward for being so brave; Thomas is delighted. Gordon asks the Fat Controller who will shunt the trucks and coaches while Thomas is away, and the Fat Controller tells him that until he can find another small engine like Thomas, he might have to do it himself. Gordon is distraught at hearing this, but the other engines laugh.

A few days later, Thomas and Edward are in the yard when they see a red engine approaching. It is James in his new bright red paintwork and with new proper brakes. James asks Edward to fetch his coaches, but Annie and Clarabel tell him that they belong to Thomas now. He collects them and sets off on his way, but not forgetting to wake up Gordon first as payback for his constant bullying towards him.

Thomas happily chuffs along the branch line with Annie and Clarabel. He pulls into Ffarquhar and is surprised to see a coffee pot engine on one of the sidings, covered in overgrown plants. The engine tells him to wear his number one with pride and as Thomas leaves, the engine introduces himself as Glynn. Thomas continues on his way, as happy as can be to be starting his new life on the Island of Sodor.

Characters

Main Feature

Characters Introduced

Credits

Locations

Main Feature

Credits

Cast

UK

US

  • Joseph May as Thomas
  • William Hope as Edward
  • Kerry Shale as Henry and Gordon
  • Rob Rackstraw as James
  • Teresa Gallagher as Annie, Clarabel, Judy and Some Children
  • Tim Whitnall as Jerome
  • Keith Wickham as Glynn, Sir Topham Hatt and the Other Human Characters
  • Christopher Ragland as the Troublesome Trucks

Releases

DVD Release

Opening and Closing

US
Opening
  • FBI Warning
  • HiT Entertainment logo
  • Universal logo
  • Dinos and Discoveries Trailer (Available now) (YouTube)
  • Tale of the Brave Trailer (Available now on DVD, Blu-Ray & Digital Download)
  • Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle - Sneak Peek (Look for it on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD) (YouTube)[note 1]
  • Minions Trailer (YouTube)
  • HiT Entertainment Auto Play menu
Closing
UK/IRL
Opening

Select A Scene

UK/IRL
  1. Important Engine
  2. Very Busy
  3. Working Together
  4. Well Done

Bonus Features

US/UK/IRL/AUS/CAN
UK/IRL/AUS
Japan

DVD Packs

US
AUS

Online

Trivia

  • This special was made to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the franchise. Sodor Island Fansite hinted on Twitter that, if the special sold well, a follow-up would be possible. The special was also hoped to be the start of a new 'mini special' series. These plans, if any, were ultimately cancelled.
  • This is also the second special to celebrate the franchise's anniversary, the first being Calling All Engines! for the 60th anniversary in 2005. Unlike Calling All Engines!, this special pertains directly to the anniversary of The Railway Series.
  • The events of the first series episodes Edward and Gordon, The Sad Story of Henry, Thomas and Gordon, Thomas' Train, Thomas and the Trucks and Thomas and the Breakdown Train are featured and remade. The events of Edward, Gordon and Henry are also briefly mentioned. The events are also shown in the exact order they come in The Railway Series books. Edward's Day Out was not retold in this special as it was combined with Edward and Gordon into one episode. Also, the special elements are similar to the book, Thomas Gets His Own Branch Line.
  • The Fat Controller says that the big engines "would have to fetch their own coaches until he can get another small engine," which foreshadows both Percy's arrival and the events of the first series episode, Trouble in the Shed.
  • Starting from this special onwards, James has obtained a habit of declaring "Here's James!" whenever he appears in certain scenes, similar to the 1980 film, The Shining.
  • When James had his black livery, his tender had back lining, but was removed when he was painted back to red. This lining was later regained when James imagines himself in different liveries in the twenty-second series episode, An Engine of Many Colours. He gained the lining permanently in his red livery when his model was updated for the twenty-third series.
  • Henry was shown pulling red branch line coaches rather than the green express coaches in Edward's flashback of The Sad Story of Henry. In addition, Henry's train during the events of Thomas' Train is again made up of red branch line coaches instead of green express coaches.
  • At the beginning of the film, Edward is the first engine to be introduced and Gordon is the second. This is a direct reference to The Three Railway Engines, as Edward and Gordon were indeed the first two engines introduced. Also, Thomas is the fourth engine introduced in the special, which also references The Railway Series, as he was indeed the fourth engine introduced. However, James is the third engine introduced here rather than Henry.
  • The Sad Story of Henry is altered slightly in the special, specifically with Henry's behaviour to accommodate more with his CGI series personality. Instead of Henry acting arrogant of his paint work when refusing to leave the tunnel, in this version, Henry is genuinely scared, apparently not knowing if the rain could harm him. And instead of being bricked up in the tunnel as punishment for his arrogance, in this version, it seems like the tunnel was walled up because with Henry in it, it was now deemed unusable to other engines.
  • Several recomposed pieces of music from the Clearwater Features era are featured. Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell receive credit for "original songs and themes." Peter Hartshorne did research on YouTube for inspiration to recompose the pieces.
  • The end credits feature original illustrations from The Railway Series.
  • This special marks the first of several things:
  • This special brought several casting changes:
    • Keith Wickham takes over the role of Sir Topham Hatt in the US dub.
    • John Hasler, Joseph May, Rob Rackstraw and Christopher Ragland join the voice cast:
      • John Hasler and Joseph May take over the role of Thomas in the UK and US dubs, respectively.
      • Rob Rackstraw takes over the role of James in the US dub.
      • Christopher Ragland takes over the role of the Troublesome Trucks in both dubs.
  • This is the only special of a few things:
    • The only time James is seen in his black livery in the television series (aside from a brief flashback to the special in The Fastest Red Engine on Sodor).
    • Being an adaptation of the first two books of The Railway Series and retelling the events of the first seven episodes of the first series, this is the only retelling story. This also makes it the only special to not take place between any two series.
    • The only special not to feature Percy, Emily (since her introduction in the seventh series), Rosie (since her introduction in the tenth series), Cranky or any talking road vehicles, as this special takes place before they arrived on Sodor. However, Percy was indirectly mentioned near the end of the special.
    • The only time that the runaway theme has been used in the CGI Series.
    • This is the only time where the title "Voiceover Artists" is shown above the voice actor names in the DVD version and then "The voice talent of" on the PBS Kids and Nick Jr versions and Nigel Plaskitt is given credit for it too.
    • The only special based on stories from The Railway Series, as well as the only television series story based on two books.
    • The only special to feature Rob Rackstraw in the US cast, but not the UK and not to have Jules de Jongh as part of the US cast.
    • The only special directed by Don Spencer.
    • The only special not to have music composed by Robert Hartshorne.
    • The only CGI special not to air on ABC Kids, but air on 9Go!.
    • The only special dubbed in Latin American Spanish, but not in Brazilian Portuguese. Also, this is the only special to not be dubbed in Brazil.
  • In the US dub, just before Edward asks, "What are you so happy about today, Thomas?" Thomas is humming "Really Useful Engine."
  • This special was shown at The Theatre at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, USA on Tuesday May 12, 2015, the same day of The Railway Series' 70th anniversary. It was also shown on PBS Kids on May 11. The PBS airings included two Mr. Perkins segments and The Best Friends Express music video at the end to fill the time slot.
  • This special also aired on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. in the US on March 12, 2018, making it the first Thomas & Friends special to air on those channels. It featured the opening from the nineteenth series in place of its own opening, and the Nick Jr. airing also had the ending from the nineteenth series in place of its own ending. It also featured the Mattel Creations logo at the end instead of the HiT Entertainment logo, probably because they were responsible for the editing of the special when it aired. The beginning was removed, and transitional shots were also included to indicate commercial breaks instead of the Mr. Perkins segments and the Best Friends Express song from the end of the PBS Kids airing. The transitions were still intact on the Nick Jr. channel's airing, despite only having one commercial break.
  • It was also shown in The Paul Greengrass Cinema in Kent, United Kingdom from 17 to 27 August.
  • Running at 45 minutes, this was the shortest Thomas & Friends special until the twenty-third series half-hour episodes. It still holds the record for being the shortest film in the franchise.
  • This special has fewer foreign dubs than any other to date.
  • The airing of this special on PBS Kids marks the last time to show The Railway Series second book's foreword, which had been seen in the eighth to thirteenth series PBS Kids airings.
  • This special is the only one which was never dubbed in Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, German and Russian.
  • This is the second special not dubbed in European Spanish, Romanian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Serbian, Czech, Polish and Indonesian since Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • This is the second special not dubbed in Korean since Calling All Engines!.
  • This is the third special not dubbed in Greek since Blue Mountain Mystery.
  • This is the fifth special not dubbed in Hebrew since Blue Mountain Mystery.
  • In one of the promotional images of James during the runaway scene, he has a different brake van than the one in the rendered special.
  • In 2020, to coincide with the franchise's 75th anniversary, CoolProps revealed a replica model of Thomas in his green livery from this special.
  • Also to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the franchise, in 2021, the Ōigawa Railway painted Thomas in his LBSC green livery for its Days Out with Thomas events.
  • In 2022, both the UK and US dub of the special were officially released in full on YouTube.

Goofs

  • Due to the nature of the special's production, several continuity errors are created by the inclusion of several things:
    • Tidmouth Sheds has seven berths, despite the seventh not being built until the events of Calling All Engines!.
    • Henry is in his new shape.
    • The Sodor Steamworks appears, despite it not being introduced in Thomas & Friends until Hero of the Rails.
    • Kellsthorpe Road appears, despite the fact that the station was not built in the television series until the eighth series.
    • Jem Cole and Farmer McColl appear, despite them not being introduced at the time.
    • The Fishing Village appears, despite it not being introduced in Thomas & Friends until the fifth series.
    • When Thomas is looking at the signal gantries before exiting Knapford station, Salty briefly appears pulling some trucks despite not being on the Island at this time or even built until the sixth series.
  • The US DVD is de-interlaced, thus presenting the feature in 240p instead of either 480p or 1080p in quality.
  • In the close-up of Gordon when he almost runs into James at the beginning, James' tender appears in its red livery.
  • The tunnel that Gordon emerges from at the beginning is not rendered properly, as it overlaps the rails.
  • When a train is being pulled out of Knapford station, the trucks are separated from each other.
  • In the first scene of Edward shunting, there are two workmen standing at the signal box, but in the next shot, they have disappeared.
  • When Gordon first talks to Edward, he passes a signal at least three times between shots. Also, the light of the signal changes from red to green in between the shots.
  • When James moves away from blocking Gordon's line at the beginning, his pony truck does not turn.
  • When the Fat Controller receives a phone call at the beginning, there is a train moving through Knapford with very large gaps between the trucks.
  • When Edward is shunting after helping Gordon, the wheels on the trucks he is pushing slowly stop moving, then stop completely before Edward stops moving.
  • When the Fat Controller first meets Thomas, a train of oil tankers in the background disappear and reappear.
  • When Thomas is shunting some trucks into Knapford, the shadow from the middle truck is missing.
  • In the UK dub, James has his US voice when he shouts "Thomas, get out of the way!".
  • When Thomas approaches Tidmouth Sheds for the first time, Edward's boiler stripes and the bottom half of his smokebox are missing.
  • While Thomas is being repainted, in the shot of the workman adding the yellow lining to his cab door, the red lining on his tank can be seen, but two shots later, the red line is applied.
  • When Thomas mistakes Annie and Clarabel for the express coaches and he pushes them back into the siding, they are lowered down so Thomas' low buffers meet theirs.
  • During the scene where Thomas has trouble waking up, the smoke from Henry's funnel goes through the shed.
  • Between the close-up of Gordon stopping at Wellsworth and another close-up of him saying "Oh yes!", the lighting changes direction.
  • In the first close-up of Thomas after waking up Judy and Jerome, a train of grey vans is in the background. In the next close-up, the train has disappeared.
  • After Annie and Clarabel tell Thomas not to bother Judy and Jerome, James approaches in the background, but there is no steam emitting from his funnel.
  • When Thomas puffs up to the water tower during his montage in the yard, no water is emitted from the spout despite the sound of splashing being heard. This is fixed in the Never Overlook a Little Engine and Rules and Regulations music videos.
  • When Edward takes Thomas to the yards to collect his trucks, all of the arms of the signals on the gantry are missing.
  • When Edward says, "It's not as easy as you think, Thomas!" the points he is going over are against him and a crew member's hand is emerging through the wall of Edward's cab.
  • When Thomas leaves with his train of trucks, Edward is on a long siding. However, in the next shot, when he says "Thomas, be careful!" he is closer to the buffers.
  • When Thomas leaves the coaches behind, in the very last frame of Thomas leaving Knapford, Edward's front bogie disappears.
  • When Thomas whistles at the waving signalmen, no steam emits from his whistle.
  • When Thomas passes Henry while being pushed by the trucks, both engines are on a curve in the track. However, in the close-ups of Henry, the track is straight causing him to slightly jolt forwards.
  • When Henry and Thomas leave Tidmouth Sheds together, Henry's wheels are moving backwards. Additionally, Henry is still laughing, even though his mouth has stopped moving.
  • In the US dub, when James says, "The trucks are pushing me!" for the first time, his mouth does not move.
  • James and his entire goods train were derailed and yet Thomas is seen pushing the trucks away at the crash scene.
  • When Thomas passes Gordon at Knapford at the end of the special, a goods train is seen derailed at the platform.
  • During the shot which pans underneath Thomas, Annie and Clarabel after they pass Henry in the second reprise of Really Useful Engine, the ballast is briefly layered over the sleeper chairs.
  • When Thomas arrives at Ffarquhar, he is not coupled to his coaches and Annie's wheels are missing.
  • Nigel Plaskitt is credited in the Nick Jr. US airing, but the Reverend's letter is not featured, and was only on the PBS Kids airing.
  • The Mr. Perkins segments and the song, The Best Friends Express, from the PBS Kids airing are listed in the credits on the Nick Jr. US airing, despite not appearing.

In Other Languages

Language Title
Chinese Mandarin 托马斯成长记
French La première aventure
Japanese トーマスのはじめて物語
Latin American Spanish La aventura comienza

Merchandise

TrackMaster

Books

Wooden Railway

  • Original James

Motor Road and Rail

  • Green Thomas & Black James First Story Set

Capsule Plarail

  • Original James
  • Original Thomas
  • Judy and Jerome

Tomica

  • Original Green Thomas
  • 75th Anniversary Multi-Pack

Adventures

  • Original Thomas

Push Along

  • Original James

Minis

  • Original Thomas
  • Original James

Bachmann

  • Original Thomas
  • Original James

CoolProps

  • Original Thomas

Clothes

  • Handcraft Underwear

Trailer

Special

Notes

  1. The YouTube video ends with "Coming to DVD and Digital HD on June 23" instead of "Look for it on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital HD".

* Rental only


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