Alrighty, so, I've managed to pick up the slack on DnD's JBS recently. Part 3 is now about...maybe halfway done. I was originally planning for the twins to talk to only 3 engines: Frankie/Cassie, Theo and Sir Merlin Gillimere. However, I recently stumbled upon a basic model of Lexi. Now, originally I planned to save her for an epilogue or another story as a museum piece. But with the discovery of this model from a...questionable source, let's just say, I've changed my mind. At least twice. While writing Part 3, I intended to only reference her. But I may just include her properly. She'll be included as an out-of-service member of the Steelworks gang; this will be to help not only build her character but Hurricane's as well, show his softer side hidden behind his brutish, blunt front act. I think this would also be a good way to integrate Beresford in- he's a crane, so he sees a lot of what goes on in the yard and this will come into play. I'm not sure if I'll have the twins question the Garratt and Hurricane or not, that's all up in the air. At this point I think I know enough about the characters finally to be confident in finishing this without the need for watching the special.
Speaking of specials, still have no watched BWBA. I have no way to, really. BUT, Season 22 (I refuse to reuse the same title from the special in reference to the season) just started in Italy, and episodes of varying quality have been uploaded. I've only seen one and heard of others, and the results are...mixed naturally. I've only seen the first episode- Duck's School, and it wasn't terrible! The plot was actually super classic: an old coach being found and renovated for a new purpose. Not only has this happened twice in the TV series with Old Slow Coach and the Refreshment Coach, but it also happened in the RWS with Victoria, AND happened on MANY occasions in the Magazine stories. The Cafe Coach, the Play Coach, the Stationmaster's Special Coach, the Coach Station, The Animal Sanctuary Coach, and Annie and Clarabel's Old Friend; these are all the uses of the trope of finding an old coach and making it new and useful again. And I loved it. My only problem was that the movements are not as reduced as I initially believed they would be from word of mouth. Still super bouncy, not on Chuggington levels but ehhhhh up there. The fantasies are also whacky. I don't think I like that very much. It's just one per episode, but it still feels overboard and throwing the realism/fantasy balance off-center.
Of course, people are still peeved that Rosie's development was pushed back to this Season, thus breaking continuity, not to mention the shipping moments. I've already covered this last journal with Rajiv and Norshen. From what I heard in this episode, the shipping stuff was mostly just fluff and fantasy, and Thomas even says "I'm glad we're just FRIENDS!" See? THIS is how you work shipping into the series proper. You make it a silly fantasy, or just imagine Rajiv has an eye for Royal looking engines like himself. There's literally nothing to complain about, except for the bouncing and fantasy moments.
Oh yeah, and Thomas as the narrator...no, it just doesn't work for me. He barely even narrates it. Just bits here and there. It's essentially where we were in Season 21 with more "show not tell" moments. The narrator may not be as essential in the series now, and let's be fair, in the Japanese dub, especially in the dark ages, it was already mostly show and not tell; but I still feel a proper narrator, not an engine character retelling the story from their perspective (essentially a 4th wall break) really suits the series. This worked fine for TUGS though; Captain Star was human, and his role wasn't reduced. I would honestly rather the series take Sir Topham Hatt as the narrator. In fact, I think this is the direction they should take. Thomas' role as narrator is as useless as Mark's was in Season 21 due to the reduction of narration and increase on focus of "show not tell". A retelling should have a more thorough narration, and if the stories are about the engines of Sodor and beyond, they should be told by an appropriate person in charge. For NWR stories, use TFC. For Skarloey Railway and CFR stories, use Mr. Percival. For Arlesdale stories, The Small Controller. For mainland stories, whatever engine is the focus. For international stories, same, unless Thomas is there; then it'll likely be about him, and that, I feel, would be a more appropriate approach to the "retelling" style of narration.
Small qualms aside, I think I'm going to enjoy Season 22. And stay tuned; more DnD's JBS and Trainz content coming soon.