Fearless Freddie (Thomas & Friends)
"Fearless Freddie" is the eleventh episode of the tenth season of Thomas & Friends. It first aired in the October 7, 2006, in the UK and October 8, 2006, in the US.
An old narrow-gauge engine named Freddie challenges Rheneas and Skarloey to a race but due to his old age takes hidden shortcuts to win.
- The main problem with this episode is that it treats Freddie as a returning character, even though this is his debut episode, the narrator describes him as an "old friend".
- There's an unexplained plot hole about Sir Handel and Freddie knowing each other years ago, even though Freddie was never seen in Season 4 when Sir Handel was introduced.
- Freddie doesn't have much of an introduction or backstory other than knowing Sir Handel years ago. It has been theorized by fans that Freddie used to work on the Mid-Sodor Railway (albeit offscreen), but the episode never explains that because of how the live-action HiT Entertainment era (mainly the Miller era core of that same era) often contradicts continuity from previous seasons and doesn't remember it too well like it should. That's probably because the writers at the time didn't notice.
- Thomas is pretty pointless in this episode as he is never seen again after delivering Freddie to the Transfer Yards. The only purpose he serves this episode was delivering Freddie from an unknown random railway on Sodor before being phased away from the rest of the episode.
- As usual for Seasons 8-12, Rheneas and Skarloey are portrayed as hyperactive kids who want to race instead of work, even though they're supposed to be the oldest engines on the island.
- Freddie even refers to them as "young engines", even though they're possibly older than he is. Freddie, however, might just be assuming their ages wrong.
- As per usual with Sharon Miller era episodes, it has some cringeworthy alliteration such as when the narrator describes Freddie as "Fast, fun and fearless".
- There's one scene where Skarloey is mistakenly seen wearing Rheneas' laughing face, which makes him look uncanny.
- Despite learning his lesson in the end, Freddie is never told off by Mr. Percival for the racing incident because of how dangerous it is to have a race on the railway.
- If anything, Mr. Percival doesn't say anything at all in this episode, and at the very end, we never see him again for the rest of the episode just like how we don't bother seeing Thomas again for the rest of the episode either visually. Isn't that jarring?
- The events of the episode were literally spoiled in the Sodor's Special Places segment "The High Hills (Part 1)" that aired before this episode making it seem pointless to watch, not to mention it spoilt Freddie as a new character before properly being introduced. Thanks a lot to those television executives at HiT Entertainment.
- Skarloey and Rheneas are miscast choices of characters to race with Freddie. Had they have used Peter Sam and Sir Handel, this episode would've mostly worked. But because this one is the your typical "Skarloey and Rheneas are idiot children" episodes, this makes the episode work even less.
- The idea of having two oldest Sudrian engines being racing daredevils is an idea that was bad from the start. But of course, this is the second time Skarloey is shown to be the daredevil (thankfully, the final time) while Rheneas gets this treatment for the very first and only time.
- An old narrow-gauge returning to the railway is an interesting concept, but unlike the previous time it was done way back in Season 4, the execution here is presented on a mediocre note.
- As expected from Seasons 8-12, the visuals and model work look great.
- Good narration from Michael Brandon in the US (apart from the voices he gives Skarloey and Rheneas) and Michael Angelis in the UK.
- Michael Brandon gives a decent voice role for Freddie, though he would completely change his voice in Season 11. The same can be said about Michael Angelis, and him voicing Freddie with a Welsh accent after Season 11 was a very clever move considering the fact his basis is from Wales, which is a voice accent he never uses for Skarloey, Rheneas, Sir Handel, Duke, or Peter Sam since those five engines are
- Freddie is a decent character, even though he didn't have the best introduction to start out to begin with.
- Rheneas' crash scene was spectacular.
- The episode gives off a good moral about how old people can't always be as fast as how they were in their youth. Another moral this episode teaches is "Sometimes having fear can be a good thing, as it sometimes allows you to make better decisions.
- The US dub of this episode was never released on home media.
- This marks Freddie's only appearance in the tenth series, excluding the learning segment, "Up and Down the Hill."
- Some of the footage is sped up during the engines' race.