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New Series

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Season 8-11 Opening title sequence

The New Series is a term used to refer to the seasons of Thomas and Friends produced by HiT Entertainment between 2004 and 2008. Season 8 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 "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. The series also introduced more female characters, which the classic series was criticised for the lack thereof.

Eighth season

The eighth season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2004. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Michael Brandon in the US.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

  • 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.

Calling All Engines!

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.

Highlights:

Ninth season

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.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

  • 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.

Tenth season

The ninth 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.

Characters Introduced:

Highlights:

  • 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 makes his first appearance since the seventh season, albeit in special footage in a music video..

Eleventh 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.

Characters Introduced:

  • Whiff - a rubbish-collecting tank engine
  • Billy - a bubbly orange tank engine
  • Hector - a large coal hopper
  • Madge - a snub-nosed lorry

Highlights:

The Great Discovery

The Great Discovery is a direct-to-DVD special. It was released in fall 2008 in the UK and the US.

Characters introduced:

Highlights:

Twelfth season

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 aren't 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.

This season saw the return of old favourites such as Duck, Oliver, Toad, and Stepney.

Characters introduced:

  • Hank - an American tender engine
  • Flora - a yellow tram engine
  • Colin - a green crane who works at The Wharf.

Highlights:

  • 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.

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