I decided to combine the next two shows together because they are 1) both about personified modes of transportation and 2) both full of nightmare fuel.    First up, the oldest:
Thomas the Tank Engine
Better make yourselves
useful – FAST
                This is a show about trains.  Living trains.  With giant, creepy faces on their fronts.  Thomas is the main character.  He and his friends – the other trains – want more than anything to be “very useful engines” to their boss, Sir Topam Hat, who looks like that guy on the cover of the Monopoly games.  They have a weird competition going on with the steam engines, who are the bad guys, supposedly, although it is really hard to tell, because there isn’t a single likable character.
                I’m not sure if the trains are so grumpy because they are British, or just because they are forced to carry lots of people figurines around all over the place without a tip.  I don’t think I’d really like to carry people around in my stomach and eject them at various train stations.  I carried two people in my stomach, at different times, and that was really quite enough, thank you.  So I can’t imagine someone carrying a whole trainload of people inside them at once, with the exception of the some of the reality show stars on TLC.
All Aboard!  Hahaha . . . I’ll walk, thanks.
                But for whatever reason, these trains have serious attitudes.  They are always griping at one another about something, and getting all whiney and offended about the stupidest things.  Basically like most people on Internet message boards.  Sometimes they play nasty tricks on each other, just for the heck of it.  Some people have linked the show to a celebration of communism (everyone must be “useful”) but I think we shouldn’t disregard the possibility that it’s just a really awful kid’s show that happens to sell a lot of overpriced toy trains. 
                Anyway, I spent my time watching this show either bored to tears or hoping that somehow the trains would take part in one of those Math problems and smack into each other going at high velocity.  If I were at Shining Time Station, I would seriously reconsider other modes of transportation than climbing inside a living train with a surly personality.  Like, say, a plane.
Jay Jay the Jet Plane
“Gosh, Tracy, we sure are creepy!”
“You said it, Jay-Jay!” 
                Like Thomas, Jay-Jay is a living form of locomotion, this time for the “friendly skies”.   He also has a scary human face on the end of an otherwise normal looking vehicle, only instead of grumpy, his face could best be described as “manic”, sort of like the Joker on speed.  He has friends – a pink, female plane named Tracy and a young plane with a propeller for a nose, called Stuffy, because the propeller causes nasal congestion.  Or something.  There are a couple of other planes, one of them with an irritating Southern drawl, and finally, there is one human.  An actual, real-live human woman in a mechanic’s jump suit.  She takes care of the planes.  And talks to them.  And, as far as I can tell, never leaves the airport.  This is a woman in serious need of a date.  Or possibly psychiatric drugs (more on this in our next installment: Adventures in Psychosis: Bob and Manny.)
“Yeah, I dunno, she’s been standing on that lot talkin’
 to the planes for over an hour . . . better get the white coats.”
                These planes are more cheerful, flying about over “Terry Town”, wasting fuel all over the place, and almost never carrying around any passengers.  They are certainly not being “very useful planes.”  I figure Sir Topam Hat would have them stripped for parts in about five minutes.  They are usually learning lessons, like . . . actually I can’t really remember any of them.  I just remember . . . those faces.  OMG, the faces . . .
                I’m not sure how these shows could fail to freak out small children.  I mean, riding on a plane or a train can be scary all by itself.  You don’t need to think about it having a mind of its own – a creepy, twisted mind of its own at that.   If I’d watched those shows, I probably would have refused to board a plane or a train, just to be on the safe side.  The only use I can see for these shows is as a way to prevent terrorism.  Who would want to hijack something like that?
Final Analysis
General Weirdness: Yes
Scary, Maniacal Faces: Yes
Animate forms of Transportation: Yes
Useful Against Terrorists: Yes

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