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Journey Beyond Sodor is the 2017 Thomas & Friends special.

Plot

One day, Henry is pulling a goods train to the Mainland, but because of a faulty signal at Vicarstown, he runs right into the back of Hiro's train and derails, dangling dangerously over the edge of the viaduct.

Meanwhile, on his branch line, Thomas is feeling bright and sunny, whistling hello to everyone he meets. As he pulls into Knapford station, he is complimenting how wonderful the day is, and feels like bursting into song. He is then promptly interrupted by James, who is boastfully singing about how he believes he is the best engine on Sodor. As James pulls up to the platform, Thomas rolls up, telling him that he isn't the favourite engine and that he was going to sing a song. James calls out to everyone at the station that Thomas is going to sing, and everyone listens. Hesitant at first, Thomas is just about to sing, but James interrupts him and starts singing again about how he's the favourite engine.

Thomas and Ryan meet up with James at Knapford station yard, once again insisting he's not Sir Topham Hatt's favourite engine. James begs to differ, boasting how he always gets the best jobs and teasing him for collecting pigs from Farmer Trotter.

That evening, Edward arrives at Vicarstown with the Judy and Jerome to help lift Henry back to safety, and Harvey handles the derailed trucks. At his office, Sir Topham Hatt is talking on his telephone and using a map and wooden trains to monitor the situation. Thomas overhears Sir Topham Hatt making plans for James to take Henry's trucks to a goods yard in Bridlington, where the trucks were meant to go. Thomas plans to tease James back over pulling a goods train, but James takes Thomas and Ryan by surprise, as for the importance of the goods train, James is not bothered. Later that night, Thomas is upset. He complains to Percy about James' show-off attitude. Percy doesn't listen and leaves to collect the mail train. Frustrated with James, Thomas then has an idea to pay him out.

The next morning, James arrives at Vicarstown and asks Rosie for his trucks, who tells him that Thomas and Ryan took them instead. James is left shocked, while Thomas and Ryan, proud of themselves, depart for the mainland.

At the Steamworks, Henry is being repaired with Sir Topham Hatt supervising. James arrives and complains about Thomas' act. Sir Topham Hatt is not upset, however, and in order to keep the railway in order, decides to put James on Thomas' branch line for the time being.

On the mainland, Thomas and Ryan are marvelling at the mainland's scenery. However, they then head through a very busy yard. Engines to and fro and the trucks' annoying them, Thomas and Ryan are left confused as to where he needs to go. Meanwhile, James overshoots the platform at Maithwaite on Thomas' branch line. Unhappy with James' rough riding, Annie and Clarabel hope Thomas returns soon.

As Thomas and Ryan determined to find their way to Bridlington, they arrive at a canal, but their track is blocked by a gantry crane named Beresford, who refuses to let Thomas and Ryan pass. Asking him several questions, Thomas and Ryan eventually trick Beresford into letting them go. However, as they continue along the line, they run out of coal and water in an old rail yard. They are greeted by Lexi, a cab-forward engine, and a geared railway traction engine named Theo. Theo shunts Thomas and Ryan to the coal hopper and water tower while he and Lexi explains to Thomas and Ryan that they are experimental engines. They also tell them that another engine named Merlin lives in the yard with them. Merlin is a "stealth engine" who can supposedly turn invisible, but Thomas and Ryan don't see or hear him around the yard. They ask them for directions to Bridlington, but they cannot help them.

Thomas and Ryan set off once again and see a factory in the distance. They make their way over to the factory and find that it is a large steelworks. They decide to go in to ask for directions. Two engines emerge from the building: a large tank engine named Hurricane and a diesel shunter named Frankie. To Thomas and Ryan's delight, they know where Bridlington is, but they have them leave their trucks on a siding and give them a tour of the Steelworks. Thomas and Ryan instantly feel welcome and the two engines give them a shed to sleep in for the night. Meanwhile, on Sodor, the engines are all wondering what happened to Thomas. James talks about the other times Thomas tricked others, fell down a mine, and crashed into the stationmaster's house. Percy suggests that James goes to look for him and Ryan, but James is unsure.

The next morning, Hurricane and Frankie wake Thomas and Ryan up early. Hurricane had delivered the trucks in the morning, so Thomas and Ryan says that they need to head back to Sodor. However, Frankie convince Thomas and Ryan into staying and helping her and Hurricane in return. Thomas and Ryan reluctantly join Hurricane and Frankie and spend the morning taking ladle trucks up to the slag heap. As he and Ryan were taking empty slag wagons back into the building, Thomas bumps into Hurricane's full wagons, derailing them. The molten slag spills and Hurricane warns Thomas about the extreme danger that it poses. However, Hurricane and Frankie are proud of Thomas and Ryan's work.

Meanwhile, Sir Topham Hatt had received a notice that the trucks have been delivered, but Thomas and Ryan are still missing. James asks if he can go to the mainland to look for Thomas and Ryan, but Sir Topham Hatt refuses, telling James that he still needs to work on Thomas' branch line, as he can't afford having one more engine out of work.

At the Steelworks, Thomas and Ryan are out of breath from all of the hard work. To make matters worse, Hurricane and Frankie leave to make a delivery, leaving Thomas and Ryan to manage the heavy workload on their own. The gates are locked, leaving Thomas and Ryan trapped at the Steelworks and feeling homesick.

Thomas and Ryan try to escape out a track that go out of the Steelworks. The track soon ends in a forest and Thomas gets derailed.

On Sodor, James just gets further frustrated of the slow pace of Thomas' branch line, dealing with his line blocked by Farmer McColl's sheep. Meanwhile, Hurricane and Frankie rescue Thomas and tell him that he and Ryan still has lots of work to do.

At Tidmouth Sheds, James says that he should go to the mainland to get Thomas, as he was the engine who was supposed to take Thomas' train in the first place. Edward argues that if he does that, then nobody will be left to look after the branch line, however, Percy says that James would be a hero if he brought Thomas and Ryan back, so James eagerly decides to go to the mainland.

That night at the Steelworks, during a thunderstorm, Thomas and Ryan once again try to sneak out. They end up breaking the gates open with flatbeds of steel. The racket awakens Hurricane and Frankie, who set chase after them, but he and Ryan succeed into escaping into the woods. There, they hear a voice telling them to hide. The voice then reveals itself to be Merlin, the stealth-engine Lexi and Theo had mentioned. Thomas and Ryan wake up the next morning, only to find Merlin is no longer there.

James arrives at Bridlington and finds diesel shunters, asking if they had seen Thomas, to no avail. However, James finds Thomas and Ryan's trucks, who tell him they were delivered from the Steelworks by a big engine named Hurricane. James then asks if the diesels have seen Hurricane. Despite getting no answer, Hurricane, who was at Bridlington at the moment, watches on...

Trying to find his way back home, Thomas and Ryan return to the yard where they met the experimental engines. Lexi and Theo are excited to see Thomas and Ryan again. Thomas and Ryan depressed about their disappointing journey on the mainland. Theo and Lexi, however, cheer them up, telling them that they're messy and can't do anything. Claiming he CAN do something, Merlin reveals himself. Thomas and Ryan discover that Merlin can't actually become invisible, as his design was a failed attempt of using steam out of his three funnels to keep him hidden. Merlin responds to Lexi and Theo with positivity, saying they'd still give anything a try. They offer to help Thomas and Ryan find their way back home, but Thomas and Ryan decide to go alone, thanking the experimentals for their help.

Thomas and Ryan leave the goods yard and finds the canal where they met Beresford. They try to sneak past Beresford so he won't stop him again, but Beresford sees Thomas and lifts him up by his cab with his hook. Thomas begs Beresford to put him down, but Beresford refuses, upset that Thomas had left him alone when he was trying to get to know him. Thomas and Ryan convince Beresford it's not nice to force people to talk to you and that they have to do something nice for each other to be friends. Beresford drops Thomas down, only to see Hurricane and Frankie with James passing by. Thomas asks him to hide him and Ryan quickly from them. Beresford hides Thomas and Ryan right over the canal. After they pass, Beresford swings Thomas back. Having done something nice for him, he ask Thomas and Ryan to be friends and to talk to them. Thomas tells him that he and Ryan has to rescue James from Hurricane and Frankie. To Thomas' surprise, Merlin arrives at the canal, asking who James is. As it turns out, had been following him to make sure he gets home safely. Thomas say that he has to help James. Merlin decides to help Thomas rescue James.

At the Steelworks, Hurricane and Frankie are showing James around, like they did with Thomas and Ryan. However, James immediately sees through their act, demanding they show where Thomas and Ryan are now. They act like they have never seen him before, but when James realizes that they're lying, they tell him he was long-gone, but pretend he was going to come back. They tell James to do work for them until Thomas and Ryan return.

Thomas, Ryan and Merlin go back to the goods yard and ask if Theo and Lexi can help them to rescue James. Lexi is eager, but Theo isn't confident. Thomas, Lexi, Ryan and Merlin all eventually persuade him into going. They head to the Steelworks and make a plan. Merlin says that he should use his invisibility powers to sneak in and rescue James, but since his invisibility obviously doesn't work, Thomas proposes that Theo and Lexi should stage an accident to act as a diversion while Merlin keeps watch and Thomas and Ryan sneak in. They set to try pull off their plan. Theo pretends to crashes a flatbed full of engine parts while Lexi calls Hurricane and Frankie for help. When they go to investigate, they're confused, as Lexi had told them that there had "been a derailment", the accident instead looking as though an engine "fell apart". While Merlin is back keeping watch, he worries about Thomas taking too long, so he tries to sneak into the Steelworks. Theo sees this and tells Lexi, which grabs the attention of Hurricane and Frankie. His invisibility powers evidently don't work, so they catch him sneaking into the Steelworks.

Thomas and Ryan find James at the slag heap and tells him that they have to go. James, upset in the first place with Thomas and Ryan, refuses, saying he will leave after finishing the job he is working on. However, Thomas explains that Frankie and Hurricane won't let him and Ryan leave, as Merlin warns Thomas and Ryan that Hurricane and Frankie are coming back, so Thomas, Ryan and James make a run for it. Hurricane crashes into James' slag wagons, buying Thomas, Ryan and James some time.

Thomas tells James to go around the building, but he has to go onto the track that leads inside the building to avoid crashing into Frankie. Hurricane and Frankie chase James through the Steelworks and he manages to lose them briefly, but they find him hiding behind some shelves. James continues to run away, prompting Hurricane and Frankie to become more aggressive. They begin bumping flatbeds at him, trying to block his way out. While Hurricane blocks James' track with a line of trucks, Thomas and Theo push it out of the way just in time. However, the trucks derail and hit a switch that activates a magnet, which picks Thomas up and suspends him in the air. Meanwhile, Lexi and Merlin shunt flatbeds of rails onto an intersection, blocking Hurricane and Frankie's lines and allowing James and Ryan to escape.

Lexi, Merlin, Ryan and James get out safely, but Thomas is still hanging by the magnet. It brings Thomas over a vat of molten steel. Theo pushes the trucks into another button, hoping to make the magnet drop Thomas. The magnet drops Thomas, but into the vat of steel. Fortunately, another bucket hits him away at the last second. While now free from the magnet, Thomas skids on the ground and hits a slag wagon, which spills its contents onto the floor. The molten slag is dangerously close to Thomas, so Hurricane pushes Thomas out of the way. However, Hurricane ends up in the pile of slag and his front wheels start to melt. Quickly thinking, Merlin pushes him out of the molten slag.

Frankie is upset and begins to cry, however, because not only can Hurricane not make deliveries with melted wheels, but the other engines are going to leave her alone without any help. She says that the only reason she and Hurricane kept Thomas, Ryan and James at the Steelworks was because they wanted some help, but were unable to find anyone who wanted to. Thomas and Ryan suggest having the experimental engines work at the Steelworks. Lexi and Theo believe that they can't do it, but Merlin says that they can try it!

As they head back to Sodor, Thomas and Ryan apologise to James for taking his trucks away. James apologises in return for his teasing about "being the favorite", saying that Thomas is probably the favourite instead. Thomas says that nobody is the favourite and that the most important thing is their friendship. Meanwhile, after Hurricane has been repaired, he and Frankie become fast friends with the experimental engines. Thomas, Ryan and James go back to Tidmouth Sheds where Sir Topham Hatt and all the engines are.

Henry comes back from the Steamworks and asks what he has missed in his absence.

Characters

Characters Introduced

Locations

Voice Cast

UK, AUS & NZ

US and CAN

Songs

Bonus Features

UK/US/AUS

  • Music Videos: Who's Thomas?, The Hottest Place in Town, We Can't Do Anything and The Most Important Thing is Being Friends
  • Landmarks of Sodor: Travelling to the Mainland
  • Top 5 Funniest Moments!

Trivia

  • This special takes place between the twenty-first and twenty-second seasons, but was released before Season 21.
  • Hugh Bonneville, Colin McFarlane, Darren Boyd, Jim Howick, Sophie Colquhoun, Lucy Montgomery and Nicola Stapleton join the voice cast.
  • The special was shown in select cinemas:
    • In the US at Edaville Railroad on 19 August 2017.
    • In Australia, Hoyts previewed the special 1-3 times everyday between 31st August - 6th September 2017 and on 9th, 10th and 12th September 2017.
  • A month of production was lost due to Arc Productions' bankruptcy, and as a result, the animation in some scenes appears unfinished.
  • This special holds the record for the most cameo appearances in a Thomas & Friends production, with 71 cameos altogether.
  • References to the first season episode, Down the Mine, the second season episode, Thomas Comes to Breakfast and The Adventure Begins are made by James.
  • When crashed, Henry ends up hanging halfway over the edge of the side of the Vicarstown viaduct. This was likely inspired by a 1948 incident in Los Angeles' Union Station, in which a diesel overran a bumper and crashed through a fence, overhanging the wall above a street in a similar fashion.
  • When Beresford hides Thomas, James has slightly different dialogue when talking to Frankie and Hurricane in both dubs; he says "I don't mean to blow my own trumpet, but yes, it's true!" in the UK version, but in the US version, he says "Oh yes, It's true!"
  • There are a few references to the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz:
    • In the scene where Thomas first sees the Steelworks, it looks very similar to Emerald City.
    • When Thomas goes through the gates, one of the trucks mutters "I have a feeling we're not on Sodor anymore."
    • In the scene when Hurricane's wheels are touched by the slag, Hurricane shouts "I'm melting! I'm melting!" like the Wicked Witch of the West did when she was splashed with water.
  • In the US dub, when Thomas is about to crash into the ladle trucks after falling off the pipe, a soundbite from Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure when he falls down the cavern is re-used.
  • The sound of the female Knapford station announcer announcing the Great Waterton Special's arrival when Percy arrived at Knapford station is re-used from Tale of the Brave.
  • The sound effect heard when Beresford's hook hits his nose sounds different in the trailer then in the actual special, sounding more like a clown's nose.
  • At 73 minutes, this is the longest special to date, the previous longest time was 63 minutes.
  • This special marks the first of a few things:
    • The first special animated by Jam Filled Toronto.
    • The first special produced by Mattel Creations.
    • The first special since Tale of the Brave to have a stylized opening sequence.
    • The first special where James is voiced by Rob Rackstraw in the UK.
    • The first time the engines, trucks and vehicles perform non-static body movements.
    • The first appearance of the salt vans in full CGI and their first appearance since the twelfth season episode, Best Friends.
    • The first time that tankers have had faces since the fourth season episode, Toad Stands By.
    • The first time the Mainland diesels have spoken, however, only two of them speak in this special. In addition, one of them is named Ulli.
    • The first time since the second season episode, The Diseasel where an engine's basis is said in the TV series.
    • The first special since Hero of the Rails in which Cranky does not have a speaking role.
    • The first appearance of Vicarstown Goods Yard since the first season episode, Tenders and Turntables which was also its debut appearance.
    • Rusty's first appearance since the eighteenth season episode, Duncan the Humbug.
    • Jem Cole's first speaking role since the fifth season episode, Lady Hatt's Birthday Party.
    • The first special since Calling All Engines! not to include the French narration on the US DVD.
    • The first special since he joined the cast in Tale of the Brave not to have Tim Whitnall as part of the voice cast.
  • This special also marks a few milestones for Rosie:
    • The first time she is voiced by Nicola Stapleton in the UK and US, taking over from Teresa Gallagher and Jules de Jongh, respectively.
    • Her first appearance in her new livery.
    • Her first speaking role since the sixteenth season episode, Sodor Surprise Day.
  • This is the second musical special, with the first being The Great Race.

Goofs

  • When the eight-minute preview was uploaded to the official YouTube channel, the audio was distorted.
  • When Henry passes Connor in the beginning, he is near a grassy area, right after that, when the camera changes, both engines are at Vicarstown.
  • Connor has Caitlin's whistle sound at the beginning.
  • The trucks that Hiro is pulling at the beginning change between the crash scene and the recovery scene
  • At Knapford, steam is shown coming out of James' whistle even though Thomas is the one whistling.
  • When James sings 'Somebody Has to be the Favourite' for the final time, Judy and Jerome are seen in their Knapford siding, but they had just before been helping Henry at Vicarstown.
  • Thomas' driver uncouples Thomas to the trucks when Theo pulls him to the coal hopper, but when Lexi replies to him, his trucks are coupled. While coupling Thomas to Theo, his shunters pole disappears
  • When Thomas points out that the houses are bright blue, there are trees in the middle of the road.
  • James' US voice is heard throughout the chase in the Steelworks in the UK dub.
  • As to the fact that a month of the special's production was lost due to Arc Productions' bankruptcy, there are several unfinished and animation errors, these being:
    • At Vicarstown, the trees on the streets aren't animated properly as they look like undetailed bushes.
    • Also at Vicarstown, while Henry is hanging over the edge of the viaduct, the tramways in the streets below have the slots to accommodate the rails, but do not have any rails within them.
    • In the opening, the coal in the Flying Scotsman's coal tender isn't rendered properly, as it appears as a flat texture. This also happens with Gordon, Caitlin, and Hiro, and some trucks too.
    • Throughout most of the special, James' rear tender axle box is clipping through his rear buffer-beam.
    • During The Hottest Place in Town, Hurricane's valve gear can be seen floating when he's dancing. Merlin suffers the same issue.
    • When Thomas gets lost in a junction with his trucks, he goes under a curved trestle and part of the trestle is blocking three lines next to him.
    • In the scenes of Tidmouth Sheds, the bushes behind the sheds are seen clipping through the back wall.
    • Some sets on the Mainland don't have ballast under the rails; yet the grey outline where the ballast should be can still be seen.
    • The hazard stripes above Beresford's crane leg are not fully-detailed, plus making them look more like a magenta colour.
    • A lot of points in the Steelworks are missing rails.
    • At Bridlington Goods Yard, the trucks aren't rendered properly while being shunted, as their buffers don't touch with each other.
    • After Lexi spins around on the turntable, her first two trucks' buffers are clipping through each other. In the next scene, they have disappeared.
    • When Frankie Sings "these are the sights you were meant to be seeing" her coupling chain doesn't move
    • When Merlin first shows up in the distance, his tender isn't properly connected to him
    • When James Fades in During "I wan't to go home" his Number is missing
    • When Merlin says "I can Do Something!" the audio is out of sync
  • In the close up of Lexi when she explains how they are fully stocked in coal and water, Thomas and his train have disappeared.
  • When Thomas travels along the canal, he passes the area where Beresford usually is, but Beresford is absent. In the next scene, Thomas has been moved back, as Beresford is back in his original position, Thomas passing the same building twice.
  • When Merlin, Thomas, Lexi, and Theo peer over the bushes, they are not on the rails.
  • When Beresford picks Thomas up so he could hide from Hurricane and Frankie, Beresford appears higher and further away from his rails.
  • Thomas' eyes shift positions in between the shots when Beresford and Merlin ask, "Who's James?" and when Thomas says, "Merlin! What are you doing here?"
  • Quite a few times in the US dub, a character says cars but they mouth trucks
  • After Theo offers for Thomas to stay with them, Thomas is on the same track as Theo, but when Thomas says he'll find his way home, he has changed track.
  • When Hurricane and Frankie first show up at the canal, James is not visible, but when they pass after Beresford hid Thomas, James is suddenly visible.
  • Some actors are not credited for voicing their characters:
    • David Bedella for voicing Victor in the UK and the US.
    • Matt Wilkinson for voicing Kevin in the UK.
  • During "I Want to Go Home", Rusty is seen on standard gauge tracks.
  • During "We Can't Do Anything", Thomas' driver's hand clips through his cab door.
  • When Merlin says "Hello again!" he appears beside Thomas, but there were no tracks beside Thomas before.
  • When Theo pretends to have an accident, he is facing away from the Steelworks, but when Hurricane and Frankie find him, he is facing towards the Steelworks.
  • When the trucks get shunted out of the siding at Bridlington Goods Yard, they are a vent van, a slate truck, a 7-plank truck and two salt vans. But when James asks if Thomas brought them to Bridlington, the salt vans have become another 7-plank truck and a vent van.

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