The New Series is a term used to refer to the seasons of Thomas and Friends produced by HiT Entertainment between 2004 and 2008. The eighth season introduced many new changes to the series: the new title sequence featured a new theme tune based on the song Engine Rollcall; the series featured newer models with different paintwork, new facial expressions and more dynamic camera work; the episodes became longer, being seven and a half minutes long; and the series, when aired on television, was often split into thirty-minute blocks with three episodes, educational puzzles and songs and the "Engine Rollcall" played at the end.
The new series was a big change from the classic series and often included recycled plots, such as Henry again requiring "special coal", and the engines appearing to possess the ability to move without a crew, like in Thomas and the Magic Railroad. The series also introduced more female characters, which the classic series was criticised for the lack thereof.
- The Halloween Engine (does not speak)
- The first season to be produced by HiT Entertainment and the first produced by Simon Spencer.
- The first season to not introduce any non-human characters, excluding the Halloween Engine.
- The first season to use the new opening titles and theme.
- The first season to have Sam Barlow as story executive.
- Caroline makes her first appearance since the fifth season.
Calling All Engines! is the first Thomas and Friends special. It was released in 2005 in the United Kingdom and United States. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Michael Brandon in the US.
- The first appearance of Daisy since the fourth season, the first and only appearance of Derek since the fifth season, the first appearance of Diesel 10 outside of Thomas and the Magic Railroad and the first and only appearance of Lady outside of the aforementioned film. This also marks Daisy's last appearance until Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
- The only special to feature learning segments.
- The first appearance of the rebuilt Tidmouth Sheds.
The ninth season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2005. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and by Michael Brandon in the US.
- Molly - a shy yellow tender engine
- Neville - a large, black tender engine
- Dennis - a lazy diesel shunter
- Mighty Mac - a double fairlie narrow gauge engine
- Mr. Percival - the Thin Controller - Controller of the Skarloey Railway
- Proteus - a legendary narrow gauge engine (does not speak)
- This was the first season to have Sharon Miller as script editor.
- The first season to have Thomas appear in every episode, however he did not speak in all of them.
The tenth season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2006. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and by Michael Brandon in the US.
- Rosie - a pink tank engine
- Freddie - an old narrow gauge warhorse engine
- Rocky - a recovery crane
- Jeremy - a jet plane
- The Admiral - a Man fascinated by treasure
- Alice - a Little Girl who lives on High Farm (does not speak)
- "Dusty" Dave - a Miller who runs a Flour Mill
- The only season to have twenty-eight episodes, making it the longest in the show's history.
- The only season not to air in Australia. Instead, it was released directly to DVD.
- Sir Handel makes his first appearance since the fourth season, and Duck and Bulgy make their first appearances since the seventh season, albeit Duck in special footage for a music video and Bulgy making a cameo appearance in an actual episode. The Chinese Dragon also made its first appearance since the third season.
The eleventh season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2007. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and by Michael Brandon in the US.
- Whiff - a rubbish-collecting engine
- Billy - a bubbly orange tank engine
- Hector - a large coal hopper
- Madge - a snub-nosed lorry
The Great Discovery is a direct-to-DVD special. It was released in autumn 2008 in the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Stanley - a strong, silver tank engine
- The final production to use models exclusively.
- The first and only production to be narrated by Pierce Brosnan.
- The first appearance of The Pack since Jack and the Sodor Construction Company and Terence makes his first appearance since the seventh season. This also marks Terence's last appearance to date.
- The song 'Where Oh Where is Thomas' is the last song to be sung by children until 'Really Useful Engine' in 'The Adventure Begins', 2015.
As part of a transitional period, the twelfth season would see computer-animated faces and characters superimposed over the live-action environment of earlier seasons. Characters could now display a variety of new expressions and their mouths would move in sync with the storyteller's voice when they are talking, whilst their thinking is evident when their mouths are not moving in sync! People, animals, and certain other characters became wholly CGI elements.
This change was made possible by motion-capture animation. When a character's face needed to move, the moulded faces of earlier seasons would be replaced by a target, to which the computer could attach a face in post-production. The animation for this and future seasons would be provided by Nitrogen Studios, based in Canada.
- The first season to have only twenty episodes.
- The first season to use CGI elements.
- The last season to use models and clay faces.
- The last season to have the characters voiced by the narrator.
- This is the only season that sometimes clay faces are seen in the background instead of CGI.
The titles have a duration of 30 seconds and displays the main tributes to the episode.
Production Crew Credited:
- Based on the Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry
- Created for television by Britt Allcroft
- Told by Michael Angelis/Storyteller Michael Brandon
- Directed by Steve Asquith
The ending has the Engine Roll Call followed by the ending credits with Thomas next to the Windmill looking at the rolling credits.