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The Great Discovery

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This article is about the movie. You may be looking for the book or the audiobook.
"Oh my my! Whatever will Thomas say?"
— Henry
TheGreatDiscoveryUSDVD
The Great Discovery
Director(s)

Steve Asquith

Producer(s)

Simon Spencer

Writer(s)

Sharon Miller

Starring

Pierce Brosnan

Music by

Robert Hartshorne
Ed Welch

Distributor

HiT Entertainment
(US/UK)
Lionsgate (US)
ABC for Kids (AUS)
Deltamac (China)
UHE (Taiwan)
Europa Mini (Germany)
Sony Creative Products
Inc.
(Japan)
Dynit Kids (Italy)
HVN (Malaysia)

Released

September 9th,
2008 (US)
October 6th,
2008 (UK)
October 16th,
2009 (GER)
October 21st,
2009 (NOR)
October 23rd,
2009 (JAP)
November 3rd,
2009 (DEN)
November 4th,
2009 (SWE)
November 27th,
2009 (FIN)
December 22nd,
2010 (TWN)
November 23rd,
2011 (ITA)

Runtime

60 mins

Preceded by

Calling All Engines!

Followed by

Hero of the Rails

The Great Discovery is a feature-length direct-to-DVD special.

Plot

The railway is preparing for Sodor Day and Thomas and James are racing to the wharf to be given a special job by Mr. Percival. Thomas wins and is sent into the hills to collect lumber with Duncan. After Thomas teases Duncan, Duncan pays Thomas out by sending him on an old, disused line which he claims will lead Thomas back to the wharf faster. After avoiding an old, collapsing bridge, Thomas takes another route at the old junction, and as he journeys further down the line, he comes across an old overgrown town.

The news of Thomas' discovery spreads, and eventually reaches the Fat Controller, who tells Thomas that the town is Great Waterton - the largest town on Sodor when steam engines first came to the island. The Fat Controller decides that the restoration of the legendary lost town would be perfect for Sodor Day and calls the Pack to help. Thomas is told to take charge of the engines working around the town, while a new tank engine named Stanley is brought to do Thomas' regular jobs.

All of the engines take to Stanley, who does a good job and has fun as well, but when Thomas sees Stanley doing his jobs and fraternising with his friends, he becomes jealous. Thomas is furious when Stanley takes his place at Tidmouth Sheds, and the final straw comes when Stanley takes his place as the leader of the restoration project after Thomas has an accident.

Later, Thomas is shunting stone trucks for Stanley to take away when he decides to make Stanley look foolish by giving him a train too heavy for him to pull, but the plan backfires - as Stanley ascends the hill, a coupling breaks and the trucks race down the hill, veering into a siding, and crashing into the newly finished tower. The Fat Controller states that this will likely set back the restoration past Sodor Day, and Thomas is blamed. Stanley, however, realises that Thomas merely missed his friends, and wants to set things right.

That night, Thomas decides to clear the rubble out of the way. He is almost finished when he accidentally bumps a truck into an old mine shaft. Racing in after it, Thomas crashes onto a wooden platform and floats down an underground waterway. The engines soon realise that Thomas is missing, and the Fat Controller organises a search effort. Meanwhile, Thomas continues floating until he reaches an opening to the mine, and is flung across a canyon and down a hill.

Stanley decides to make another search effort by himself before he returns to work. Thomas, with the last of his steam, sounds a loud, long whistle. Stanley hears it and hurries to where Thomas is stranded beside the track. The two make up for their quarrel and Stanley pulls Thomas back onto the rails, but the strain is too much for Stanley and a valve bursts. Thomas, using some of Stanley's coal, pushes him back to Great Waterton. The word soon spreads that Thomas has been found.

The standpipe is rebuilt, completing the restoration. As a sign of friendship, Thomas offers Stanley his last job - bringing the mayor to the festivities at Great Waterton. The engines gather at the town for the celebration and Thomas realizes just how important his friends are.

Characters

Locations

Merchandise

  • Take-Along - Thomas and Morgan's Mine car, Great Waterton Grand Opening 4 pack, Morgan's Mine Set, Great Waterton Fold and Go set, Great Waterton Expansion Pack, and Stanley
  • Wooden Railway - Morgan's Mine, The Great Discovery Set, and Stanley
  • TrackMaster - Remote Controlled Stanley with Stone Trucks, Stanley, Thomas at Action Canyon, and Thomas at Morgan's Mine 

Trivia

  • The Great Discovery was shown in select theaters in the US throughout July, in the UK throughout September, and in Australia throughout November of 2008. It made a return to Australian theaters on January 17th, 2013.
  • Big Mickey and Vienna from TUGS can be seen.
  • This was the final Thomas and Friends production to use an all-model set. The twelfth season aired with several parts of the set in CGI, and starting with Hero of the Rails all footage was done in CGI.
  • Thomas, Percy, and James' large scale models were used.
  • This was the last special to feature songs by Ed Welch.
  • This was the first special to be written by Sharon Miller.
  • This was Jamie Thomason's only special as voice director.
  • Stock footage from various eleventh season episodes is used.
  • In Japanese releases, this runs under the name of "Rescue Thomas!! Mystery Mountain".
  • Pierce Brosnan was to take over as narrator starting with this special, but after HiT Entertainment announced its plans to switch to CGI, his status was changed to "special guest narrator". Michael Angelis and Michael Brandon then returned to replace him.
  • Before Pierce Brosnan would take the role as the special guest narrator, Gwyneth Paltrow was in talks with HiT Entertainment, thus would have made her the first woman storyteller for the series, however she immediately left.
  • In the original US trailer, Fox was originally going to distribute the DVD.
  • Among other things, the Sodor Daily newspaper reports that "Percy is in tears", and mentions something about "Trevor the Traction Engine". Another article reports on an Alicia Botti concert. The paper's articles are apparently written by "J. K. Lee". The date for the newspaper is Monday, March 24th, 1955.
  • This special was broadcast on PBS Kids Sprout on June 5th and 6th, 2010, and on ABC2 in Australia on April 24th, 2011.
  • This was the first US DVD to be released by Lionsgate.
  • Special Wal-Mart editions, including a bonus CD featuring all five songs from the special, were released.
  • This special takes place between the eleventh and twelfth seasons.
  • This special marks the last appearance of Bill until the seventeenth season episode, Percy's Lucky Day,  Arthur and Alfie's last speaking roles to date, the last time Max & Monty were seen together to date, as well as the last appearances of Molly, Elizabeth, Terence, Madge, George, Dennis, Oliver, Ned, and Buster to date.
  • This special also marks the last time Bill and Ben are seen together until Percy's Lucky Day, as well as Harvey's last speaking role until Gone Fishing.
  • Some US trailers states that Thomas goes on a dangerous mission but this does not happen at all.
  • This is the first special to be filmed digitally in high definition.
  • This is the last special to be filmed interlaced.
  • The first UK trailer was narrated by Tim Whitnall, who later joined the voice cast in 2014.

Goofs

  • When Thomas and James race to the Wharf, the number of lines between them changes.
  • When Thomas and James enter the wharf, Freddie and Skarloey appear twice in two different places.
  • Stanley's siderods are out of alignment when his wheels spin as he struggles with the trucks.
  • When the engines are shown covered in brick dust, Toby's face looks crooked.
  • When Stanley returns to Great Waterton after the accident he is on the track to Thomas' left. In the next scene, when Thomas is alone in a siding, Stanley is on the track to Thomas' right.
  • When Stanley leaves Great Waterton to look for Thomas, James is seen at the back of the group of engines. After Stanley realises that Thomas has been feeling upset, James is seen behind the line of stone trucks.
  • When Thomas sees the barrier in the disused mine he brakes, but before he smashes through the barrier his wheels move.
  • When Thomas falls off the bank the planks of wood that also fall are bigger than him.
  • When Thomas tips over, a bent piece of rail used to push him up and off the rails can clearly be seen.
  • When Thomas comes to a stop at the bottom of the hill, the grass goes over his face, but in every following scene, the amount covering his face is different.
  • After Stanley pulls Thomas onto the tracks, the points that lead to where Thomas landed can be seen; this proves a hidden track was used to help Thomas onto the line.
  • After Thomas is pulled back onto the rails, he becomes clean.
  • As the events of this special take place in 1955, the appearances of several characters are anachronistic.
    • Salty's basis was not built for another seven years.
    • Diesel 10's basis was not built for another three years.
    • Madge's basis was not built for another nine years.
    • Jeremy's basis would not have been built for another eight years.
    • Bill and Ben arrived on Sodor 11 years later.
    • Emily arrived in 1967 or later, as Oliver, who she saved on her first day, arrived in 1967.
    • Rheneas was also away for repairs at that time and didn't come back 1962.
    • Peter Sam had not acquired his special funnel until that same year.
    • Rusty and Duncan had not joined the Skarloey Railway until 1957 and 1958 respectively.
    • Mavis was not loaned to Sodor until 1972.
    • Diesel would not have visited Sodor until 1957.
    • It also seems unlikely that most of the Pack members featured would be around at the time.
  • At the opening of Great Waterton, Gordon and Henry swap places twice by the standpipe, and Jack is sitting on the rails.
  • Jack and Bertie have Caroline's horn sound.
  • Brakevans should have been added to Edward, Stanley, Peter Sam, Duncan, and Freddie's trains.
  • Thomas was constantly going up and down inside the mine which would have been too dangerous as the water in his boiler wouldn't cover the crown of the firebox.
  • When Stanley pulls Thomas back on the tracks, a thin wire is seen pulling Stanley.
  • On back cover of the US DVD, all of the engines are sad, yet there are balloons floating around.
  • On the UK DVD, in the game "Follow the Whistle", Gordon is in Edward's place.
  • The narrator said that Sir Topham Hatt and Miss Jenny arrived after the tower fell down, but Sir Topham Hatt was still at Great Waterton when the trucks rolled down the hill.
  • According to a behind-the-scenes photo, there aren't any rails on the bridge that Molly and Rosie are on.
  • Madge's eyes are wonky when she first starts talking to Mighty Mac.
  • For some reason, most of the engines cab windows are greyed out throughout the special.

Songs

DVD Bonus features

UK

US

  • Thomas, You're the Leader sing-a-long
  • Behind the Scenes with Pierce Brosnan
  • Spot the Difference
  • Tough Trucks!
  • Thomas' Puzzle Parts
  • Trailers

In other languages

Language Name Meaning
German Die große Entdeckung The Great Discovery
Norwegian Den store oppdagelsen The Great Discovery
Japanese トーマスをすくえ!!ミステリーマウンテン Rescue Thomas!! Mystery Mountain
Dutch The Grote Ontdekking The Great Discovery
Italian La Grande Scoperta The Great Discovery
Finnish Suuri Loytoretki Exploration of Large
Polish Wielkie Odkrycie Great Discovery
Swedish Den Stora Upptacten The Great Discovery
Danish Det Store Fund The Great Finds

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