Yep I am with you on all of this. Couldn't agree more with your opinions of the narrators and their episodes.Loved it when I was little. The Ringo Starr/George Carlin-narrated episodes were the best, but the Alec Baldwin-narrated episodes I watched after that were good too. The Michael Brandon-narrated episodes I watched were just okay.
Yes Thomas the Tank Engine is awesome. The old format is way better.I grew up on it. Always loved the Ringo Starr narration, also enjoyed George Carlin's work on the show (both the particular train stories, and the Shining Time Station episodes).
I've seen clips of the newer versions, where everything's CGI and the narrator's different... it just ain't the same.