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Preface

Welcome to the COMPLETE Shining Time Station Episode Guide! Our team of reviewers were able to write detailed episode summaries and notes thanks in large part to the Shining Time Station fans who uploaded their old VHS taped episodes up to YouTube. To preserve the 'surprise' for those of you who haven't seen them, we've enclosed the detailed episode summaries within 'spoilers'.

 

Shortcuts to all Shining Time Station season and associated episode guides are provided at the top and bottom of every page. We hope that you enjoy reviewing them and conclude as we have, that this series was indeed special and one-of-a-kind. Without further ado, we welcome you all to...

Reach for the steam, reach for the whistle
Go where the railway runs
Reach for the words, reach for the story
Follow the rainbow sun

 

To a Shining Time Station
Where dreams can come true
Waiting there for you

 

So much to see, so far to travel,
So much to learn, to know
Friends by your side, hopes to hold onto
Who knows how far you'll go

 

To a Shining Time Station
Where dreams can come true
Your own imagination
Waiting there for you...

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Full episode details for Shining Time Station Season 1 (1989)

A Place Unlike Any Other

Production #1 (1.01) - First Aired: 1989-JAN-29 (US)
Written by Brian McConnachie
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by N. Middleton & D. Dobrydney

Episode Characters/Stars:

  • Stacy Jones (Didi Conn)

  • Harry Cupper (Leonard Jackson)

  • Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr)

  • Matt Jones (Jason Woliner)

  • Tanya Cupper (Nicole Leach)

  • The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • Banjo-playing passenger (Richard Stillman)

 

Episode Synopsis: In the first episode, we are introduced to the main characters and inhabitants of Shining Time Station. Stacy Jones, the new station manager, arrives at Shining Time Station and shows her nephew, Matt, around the charming old station. Matt meets the magical Mr. Conductor and Harry Cupper, the new engineer, and his granddaughter, Tanya, are also introduced.

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As the scene opens, we see a gentleman dressed in a railroad conductor's uniform looking around the deserted, cobwebbed waiting room of a railroad station. Hearing someone approaching, he magically vanishes. In walks a lady with a small boy. This, we will soon learn, is Stacy Jones and her nephew Matt. Stacy welcomes Matt to Shining Time Station and after gazing around the station, with its elaborate murals and arcade full of games, the awestruck boy can only stammer out that it looks nice. Stacy laughs and whispers a secret: there’s just “something” about this place!

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Stacy then begins to show Matt around the station. First, there is the Information Desk, where passengers can ask what time the trains arrive and so forth. Matt gets behind the desk while Stacy pretends to be a passenger with a question. They continue their make-believe at the ticket counter, where Matt punches a ticket for Stacy. This is also where it’s revealed that Shining Time Station is on the Indian Valley Railroad. Next, Stacy brings Matt over to the waiting area, with a bench so passengers can rest.

Stacy shows Matt some activities passengers do to pass the time as they wait. Last of all, there is the Arcade, with music, games and movies. Matt starts to watches an old cartoon in the Arcade picture machine, but the movie is cut short when the crank breaks off. Stacy says the crank probably needs some glue and she’ll fix it later.

With the tour complete, Stacy asks Matt what he thinks of the station. Matt says the station is different than he expected, and as a train rushes past, he and Stacy ask the same question: do trains ever stop here? Stacy brings Matt close to her and shares her dream of making the old station as great and busy as it was when her grandmother ran it a long time ago. She enlists Matt's help and tells him that an engineer from the railroad will be coming by to visit, and might decide to stay and help too. In the meantime, the two of them will start cleaning up the station.

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Stacy gives Matt a nickel to put in the Jukebox so they have some music to work by. Matt inserts the nickel and it’s revealed that the Jukebox is populated by a band of tiny puppet musicians. The band members realize that someone wants them to play a song. After a brief tiff about what to play, they decide to just perform something they know, and play “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad.”

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While Matt dusts the large wall mural, he hears a voice telling him he missed a spot. Suddenly, the gentleman from earlier reappears. Only a few inches tall, he introduces himself to the shocked Matt as Mr. Conductor and compliments Matt for cleaning the windows of the signal box in the mural, which is where he lives. Mr. Conductor says Matt reminds him of his friend Thomas. Matt asks if Thomas lives with Mr. Conductor in the signal box, and Mr. Conductor explains that Thomas is a steam engine who lives on the Island of Sodor. Since Matt likes trains and stories, Mr. Conductor decides to tell Matt about Thomas the Tank Engine and his encounter with Gordon the Big Engine.

After the story is finished, Mr. Conductor disappears and Matt excitedly tells his aunt all about the little guy living in the wall. Stacy already seems to know about him, revealing that he is shy and travels a lot. She also warns Matt not to mention Mr. Conductor to the new engineer when he arrives, because he might not understand. Just then, the engineer enters with a little girl in tow. He introduces himself as Henry "Harry" Cupper and the girl as his granddaughter, Tanya.

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Harry tells Stacy that he hasn’t decided whether he’ll take the job to help her run the station, so while they negotiate, Matt tries to introduce Tanya to Mr. Conductor. However, Mr. Conductor is nowhere to be found and Tanya doesn’t believe Matt’s claim about “the little guy who lives in the wall.” Tanya does take an interest in the picture machine, and even manages to fix the crank with a bobby pin. This time a different movie plays, with a song that convinces Tanya that perhaps Shining Time Station is worth exploring.

Harry, meanwhile, is still skeptical about taking the job at Shining Time Station. However, when Stacy shows him a workshop he can call his own, Harry begins to warm to the idea since he always had to share a space with others in his previous job. He doesn’t like Matt getting underfoot though, and scolds him. This causes Matt to become upset and hastily exit the workshop. As he sits dejectedly on the steps leading to the platform, Mr. Conductor reappears and explains to Matt that he was off traveling with Edward. Matt asks who Edward is, which

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makes Mr. Conductor realize that if Matt didn’t know Thomas, of course he wouldn’t know Edward. Mr. Conductor tells Matt a story about Edward the Blue Engine, who in helping Gordon up a steep hill proved that being small doesn’t mean one can’t be helpful. After Mr. Conductor disappears, Matt calls after him asking more about Edward. Harry spots Matt talking to the wall and asks Stacy if the boy is all right in the head. Stacy calls Matt over and he asks Harry if he’s going to work at the station. Before Harry can answer, they are interrupted by the appearance of the station's first passenger, a banjo-playing tap dancer who puts on an impromptu show for Stacy, Harry and the children.

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The man asks for and pays for a ticket to Leaping Log, Alabama, and continues to dance and strum his banjo as he exits the station. Harry has seen enough, and tells Stacy that he’s used to working in places where things are taken more seriously. However, he adds that it’s time for a change, and asks Tanya if she’d like to visit him at Shining Time Station. Tanya excitedly agrees and Harry kindly asks Matt to fetch his toolbox. As the episode closes, Stacy asks Harry what made him decide to stay. After taking in his surroundings, Harry can only reply that “there’s just something about this place.

Episode Morals:
  •  Even small jobs can be important.

Featured Jukebox Puppet Band Song:
  •  I've Been Workin' On the Railroad

Featured Picture Machine Song:
  •  Start Where You Are

Featured Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Stories:
  •  Thomas' and Gordon (Thomas Gets Tricked)

  •  Edward and Gordon (Edward Helps Out)

Episode Notes:

  • Schemer does not appear in this episode.

  • The episode features one of the few times the waiting area beyond Harry’s workshop door is seen.

  • The shot of Matt being surprised by Mr. Conductor while dusting the mural wall was used for Matt's character oval in the original Season 1 "clip show" opening sequence.

  • The first Picture Machine video is an excerpt from the 1939 George Pal Puppetoon "Philip's Calvalcade."

  • Scenes from the second featured Picture Machine music video "Start Where You Are" were recorded at the Keansburg Amusement Park in New Jersey.

  • Continuity Goof #1: The cobwebs on the bench beneath the window at the station exit disappear and reappear between shots. It is particularly noticeable during the scene where Stacy and Matt play make-believe at the ticket counter.

  • Continuity Goof #2: Stacy goes behind the ticket counter to get the tap dancer’s ticket. However, when the dancer starts singing, Stacy is back with Matt, Tanya and Harry.

  • The banjo-playing passenger asks Stacy for a ticket to "Leaping Log, Alabama". While "Leaping Log" is a stop on the Indian Valley Railroad Line, it's not known if Richard Stillman ad-libbed identifying the state, or if it was part of his script. 

Does it Bite?

Production #2 (1.02) - First Aired: 1989-FEB-05 (US)
Written by Brian McConnachie
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by D. Dobrydney

Episode Characters/Stars:

  • Stacy Jones (Didi Conn)

  • Harry Cupper (Leonard Jackson)

  • Schemer (Brian O'Connor)

  • Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr)

  • Matt Jones (Jason Woliner)

  • Tanya Cupper (Nicole Leach)

  • The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • Clown (Michael Bongar)

Episode Synopsis: Interacting with new people causes a certain amount of anxiety for both Matt and Tanya. But as they get to know Harry and Mr. Conductor, the children learn how to overcome their fears and make new friends.

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Shining Time Station is completely deserted, but Mr. Conductor’s disembodied voice can be heard loudly declaring something to be impossible, ridiculous and foolish. He materializes on the ticket counter and points to the train schedules lying next to him, almost walking off the counter as he complains that they are tommyrot, balderdash and cuckoo to emphasize about how wrong they are. Among other errors, the schedule says that a train can go from Point Pokey to Cloggyville in eleven seconds!

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Just as Mr. Conductor is about to correct the schedules himself, Stacy enters and demands he stop what he’s doing. Those are the new schedules from the railroad, Stacy explains, and she is the only one with the authority to alter them. Mr. Conductor protests they aren’t train schedules even if they are new, which prompts Stacy to insist that Mr. Conductor surrender his pencil to her. Mr. Conductor stubbornly refuses and disappears, mentioning that a train can’t get from Butter Town to Chubby Corners in four seconds.

Stacy is confused, and is further distracted by the entrance of a strange-looking man in a tacky business suit. The man knows Stacy’s name, but still asks to be directed to the station master. Stacy takes her position at the information desk and says she is the station master. The man is initially surprised, but recovers and directs Stacy’s attention to the machines in the Arcade. He runs over, kisses the Jukebox and declares the machines his. As proof, he produces a long-term lease from the railroad which gives him control over the whole Arcade beginning that very day.

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The man then begins regaling Stacy with his plans to bring new, loud, expensive machines to the Arcade, and asks if she noticed the new schedules he had printed. Stacy, beginning to catch on, says that those schedules are all wrong and will cause passengers to miss their trains. The man doesn’t care about that, indeed he considers it perfect. If passengers miss their trains, he reasons, they’ll have nothing to do and will thus go spend their money in his machines. Stacy starts to get angry and says the man really is a schemer. The man reveals that “Schemer” is what his friends call him and invites Stacy to do likewise. Stacy responds by tearing up Schemer’s worthless schedules and chasing him around the information desk, demanding to know what he did with the real schedules. Schemer relents and gives Stacy the schedules, saying it was just an idea as he leaves.

 

Now that she has the correct schedules in hand, Stacy begins calling out to Mr. Conductor, but is interrupted again by a clown who walks into the station juggling several rings. Stacy determines from the silent clown’s gestures that he wants to go to Dillylick, and informs him that the train will arrive in half an hour. The clown juggles his way back to the platform just as Matt comes in. Stacy explains that she needs to find “their little friend who lives in the wall” so she can apologize to him. Matt agrees to help Stacy look and heads to the workshop.

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Matt finds the workshop empty and starts calling out to Mr. Conductor. Matt is just looking into one of the drawers in the filing cabinet when Harry comes in and brusquely asks Matt what he’s doing. Matt is momentarily frozen before he manages to say he’s looking for Mr. Conductor. Harry replies that if Matt wants to find a conductor he should wait on the platform, as there are none in his workshop and certainly none in his drawer. Harry asks Matt if he wanted anything else, and the boy mumbles that he was just leaving before running out.

Matt runs across the station and bumps into Tanya. Tanya invites Matt to see her grandfather in the workshop and maybe help him fix something. Matt says he doesn’t think Harry wants him in his workshop. Tanya starts to giggle and teases Matt about being afraid of Harry. Matt denies this but still refuses to go with Tanya, saying he’d rather look for Mr. Conductor. Tanya has to be reminded who Mr. Conductor is, thinking he’s a goblin or animal, and Matt hastily explains that Mr. Conductor is just a "little guy," and asks Tanya to help find him. Tanya becomes jittery, prompting Matt to ask who’s afraid now. Tanya declares she isn’t afraid of anything and the two children begin arguing when Matt spots Mr. Conductor laughing with Stacy. He invites Tanya to come over and be introduced.

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Stacy tells Matt that she and Mr. Conductor have just been discussing train schedules on the Island of Sodor. Matt asks about how Thomas or Gordon are doing, and Mr. Conductor pulls out what looks like a watch from his vest to see if he has time. Matt sees that it’s not a watch but actually a bathtub plug, which Mr. Conductor confirms. He goes on to say he wears the plug to remind him that one day, the railroad will give him a gold watch as a reward for his years of service. Tanya, meanwhile, is still hanging back at the information desk, stunned by what she sees. Mr. Conductor says that he has some time, so he’ll tell a story about Henry the Green Engine. However, he warns them that it’s a very sad story, as Henry was left walled up in a tunnel after refusing to come out in the rain.

After he finishes the story, Mr. Conductor spots Tanya and asks if she ever wears green with red stripes. Tanya is more interested in finding out if Henry will get out of the tunnel, but Mr. Conductor looks at his bathtub plug and says that he’s late. However, he promises to tell the story when he returns and asks the children to shake on it. Tanya puts out her hand, but Mr. Conductor clarifies that he meant them to shake their whole body and shimmies away as Matt and Tanya do the same.

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Stacy is amazed at Henry’s fear of rain, but says it goes to show that everyone is afraid of something sometimes. Matt and Tanya share some of the things that frighten them and Stacy counsels that the best thing to do when you’re afraid is to talk to someone you know about it. Just then, the mail train from Pelican Falls arrives and Stacy goes out to the platform to meet it. While they wait for Stacy to return, Tanya suggests she and Matt see what’s in the Picture Machine. Matt takes a look and says he sees flying saucers! He lets Tanya look while he turns the crank. The machine then plays a movie about not being afraid when meeting new people.

Schemer finds the children in the Arcade and genially asks their names and why they aren’t putting more money in his machines. Matt and Tanya reveal they have no more money, and Schemer’s attitude instantly changes. He rudely shoos the children away and tells them to go get some more money. Since he is now alone, Schemer decides he’ll have to spend some of his own money and puts a nickel in the Jukebox. Inside the Jukebox, Didi is too exhausted to play while Tito claims the nickel for his private collection. Schemer gets impatient for his song and starts shaking the Jukebox, before declaring he wants his nickel back. Tito refuses, so Schemer climbs on top of the Jukebox and attempts to look inside. He can’t see the band, but the band can see Schemer and become terrified of being exposed. Schemer gives up and leaves, walking past Matt and Tanya just as they're calling out to Mr. Conductor in his signal house on the mural. 

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Stacy calls Matt over and asks him to bring a book to Harry in the workshop. Matt is hesitant and tells Stacy that Harry doesn’t want him there. Stacy reassures Matt and instructs him to tell Harry that she sent him. Matt reluctantly enters the workshop to once again find it empty. He quickly sets the book on the workbench and is about to run out when he bumps into Harry. Matt backs away nervously as he explains why he’s in the workshop. Harry asks if Matt ever found that conductor he was looking for. Matt concedes that he did, which makes Harry glad that there aren’t train conductors in his drawer, the idea of which makes him nervous. He goes on to say that while he isn’t the type of person who gets nervous, he does get scared. In fact, Harry tells Matt he had the biggest scare of his life when he was about Matt’s age.

He opens the book Matt brought and shows him a picture of a large steam engine and remembers the first time he saw one, the wheels appearing ten feet tall to him. Matt, incredulous, asks if Harry was really afraid of a train engine. Harry admits that he was at first, until he was allowed to ride in the engine and even blow the whistle. That experience made him want to be a railroad man from then on, Harry concludes. As he and Matt continue to look at the scrapbook, Tanya appears in the doorway. Mr. Conductor appears and calls out to Tanya that she ought to join them.

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Instead, Tanya rushes over and reminds Mr. Conductor that he promised to tell what happened to Henry. Mr. Conductor agrees that he did promise, and shares his motto of never disappointing a child. After confirming that Tanya and Matt are indeed children, he tells the story of how Henry left the tunnel to help Gordon and Edward after Gordon broke down. When the story is over, Mr. Conductor asks Matt and Tanya if they are becoming great friends. The children nod and Mr. Conductor says that now they can help each other if they need it, then he sparkles away.

Schemer then returns carrying a tool box, declaring he is going to take the Jukebox apart piece by piece so he can get his nickel back. He takes out a toy plastic saw and hammer and starting banging on the Jukebox. Didi urges Tito to give up the nickel so Schemer will leave them alone. Tito relents and tosses the nickel out, hitting Schemer right on the forehead!

 

While he’s glad to have his nickel back, Schemer says that Shining Time Station is very strange and tells Stacy he’s having second thoughts about bringing his new, heavy, expensive machines to the Arcade.

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Just then, the juggling clown from before returns and Stacy tells him that his train is right on schedule, emphasizing the word “schedule” while looking in Schemer’s direction. Stacy tries to hand the clown his train ticket, but he has his hands full juggling, so Stacy sticks the ticket between his lips. Schemer hastily leaves, saying everyone around the station is crazy, while Matt and Tanya admire the clown’s costume.

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Back in the Jukebox, the band decides to play a song and perform their own rendition of “Camptown Races.” As they finish, Harry has come out of his workshop and can only roll his eyes and shake his head at the sight of the clown as the performer goes out to catch his train all the while juggling. As soon as he departs from sight, Stacy says to Matt and Tanya that it’s been quite a day and invites them to help her post the new schedules as the episode comes to a close.

Episode Morals:

  • It is normal to be nervous when meeting new people and new situations.

Featured Jukebox Puppet Band Song:

  • Camptown Races

Featured Picture Machine Song:

  • Don't Be Afraid (sung by Eric Troyer)

 

Featured Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Stories:

  • The Sad Story of Henry (Come Out, Henry!)

  • Edward, Gordon and Henry (Henry to the Rescue)

 

Episode Notes:

  • Two firsts in this episode: Tanya meets Mr. Conductor, and Schemer is introduced.

  • The shot of Stacy sticking the clown’s ticket in his mouth was used for her character oval in the original Season 1 ‘clip show’ opening title sequence.

  • In the opening scene, Mr. Conductor mentions "Doodletown" instead of the familiar "Doodlehaven". Since this is early in Season 1, perhaps the producers were still defining the towns and stops along the Indian Valley Railroad.

  • Because he's too busy sobbing about Henry, Mr. Conductor does not actually blow his whistle to start either of the Thomas stories, though the whistle sound effect is heard. 

  • The photo Harry shows Matt is of a Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad articulated steam locomotive, possibly an H-8 class engine with a wheel configuration of 2-6-6-6. However, Harry’s reminiscence of his first exposure to railroads is accompanied by footage of preserved Union Pacific Railroad locomotive #844. Some of this footage was used in the credit sequences for all three seasons.

  • An old-style microphone can be seen in this episode on the ticket counter, which would imply that the station has a public address system.

And the Band Played Off

Production #3 (1.03) - First Aired: 1989-FEB-12 (US)
Written by Brian McConnachie
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by D. Dobrydney

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Episode Characters/Stars:

  • Stacy Jones (Didi Conn)

  • Harry Cupper (Leonard Jackson)

  • Schemer (Brian O'Connor)

  • Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr)

  • Matt Jones (Jason Woliner)

  • Tanya Cupper (Nicole Leach)

  • J.B. King, Esq. (Mart Hulswit, voice only)

  • The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • One Man Band (Russel Brown)

Episode Synopsis: When a new train is scheduled to serve Shining Time Station, Stacy gets excited, and she thinks she can remember the timetable in her head when the superintendent of the Indian Valley Railroad gives it to her over the phone. However, when a passenger asks about the schedule, she accidentally gives misleading information to him. Meanwhile, the kids make musical instruments to play music for the passengers of the new train.

The episode begins with the phone ringing in the empty station. Mr. Conductor answers and the voice on the other end asks to speak to Stacy. Mr. Conductor says she is unavailable and asks to take a message. The message is from the Indian Valley Railroad main office; a new train, the local from Leaky Park, will begin stopping at Shining Time Station that day. Just then, Stacy comes in and Mr. Conductor lets her take over the phone call. When Stacy hears the news, she is excited and so are Matt, Tanya and Harry. Stacy assures the caller she will not get the schedule wrong and listens as the new timetable is dictated to her. Mr. Conductor asks if she wants to write the schedule down, but Stacy silently indicates she can remember it.

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Stacy looks at her watch. The new train is due in an hour. Stacy realizes that the timetable has to be posted on the new schedule board, which hasn’t been put up yet. She opens a cardboard box and but instead of the board, music comes out. That gives her an idea: a band to play music when the new train arrives to entertain the passengers and make them feel welcome.

Mr. Conductor then reappears and says what Stacy ought to do is post the new schedule. He also asks what happened to the station’s regular  train. As Stacy tries to remember how the schedules of the two trains coordinate with each other, she begins to see her memory isn't as good as she thought and runs off to re-collect her thoughts. Mr. Conductor tells the children that mistakes can happen when one is impatient. To illustrate his point, he tells them about the time Thomas got impatient when pulling his first passenger train. After the story, he leaves to go to a mountain climbing lesson.

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A passenger comes into the station and asks Stacy what time the regular train to Mount Careful departs. Stacy, thinking from the top of her head, says it leaves 20 minutes before the hour. The passenger asks for a one-way ticket and quickly leaves. Harry brings out the schedule board from his workshop and Stacy quickly tries to arrange the schedule information from memory. However, she keeps forgetting and worrying about getting it wrong. Then Mr. Conductor, still in his mountain climbing gear, hands Stacy a note. He had written the schedule information down himself while Stacy was on the phone.

Stacy is very grateful, but needs a magnifying glass to read Mr. Conductor’s tiny notes. She then asks the kids if they ever looked at their hands through a magnifying glass. They examine the small details of their hands and faces with the glass before Stacy sends the kids over to the arcade while she works on the schedule board. The kids drop a nickel in the jukebox. Inside, the Puppet Band has some trouble remembering which song is which on the Jukebox's selection board before playing "She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain." When the song finishes, the kids find a nickel on the floor. They presume that Schemer dropped it while collecting his money from the machines. They drop it in the Picture Machine and it plays a movie about learning from your mistakes.

By the time the movie ends, Stacy has successfully assembled the schedule from Mr. Conductor's notes. Schemer and the passenger from before re-enter, and look at the schedule board. Finding it contradicts the information Stacy gave earlier, the passenger demands an explanation. Stacy attempts to give him one, but Schemer interrupts, claiming that since Stacy gave out wrong information, the passenger will miss his appointment. Schemer, suggesting perhaps he should be in charge of the station, encourages the passenger to report Stacy to the railroad and escorts him away to do so.

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In Harry’s workshop, Matt and Tanya have seen everything and want to do something to help. Harry explains that Stacy cares so much about the station, she simply got carried away when the good news about the train came in. Deciding to do something to cheer Stacy up, Tanya mentions Stacy's earlier idea of having a band meet the new train. Harry latches on to the idea, and together they create makeshift musical instruments out of various objects around the workshop.

The kids show their musical instruments to Mr. Conductor. Matt comments that they are not as good as store-bought musical instruments, but Mr. Conductor says they just need the right rhythm. He directs the kids' attention to the Anything Tunnel, which shows how a musician can make music out of anything with just a pair of drumsticks. Mr. Conductor also points out that we are all born with our own instruments -- our voices.

Mr. Conductor vanishes and reappears on the ticket counter, and listens to Stacy's side of the incident with the passenger. Mr. Conductor comments that people sometimes get impatient and complain, as do engines. He them tells the story about how Thomas’ complaining and impatience nearly got him into trouble when he pulled his first freight train.

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Mr. Conductor disappears as Harry comes out of his workshop and asks Stacy if she put the schedule together from memory. She admits she had help from Mr. Conductor. Harry asks who he is and Matt says he’s the little man who lives in the wall. Harry laughs in disbelief. The passenger then comes back and takes a closer look at the schedule. When Stacy confirms that it is correct this time, he happily says he won't be late at all.

He then sees the kids and asks about their instruments. Matt and Tanya explain that they're playing music when the new train arrives. The passenger asks if he can join, and when the kids say yes, the passenger returns wearing an assortment of musical instruments and starts playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The Jukebox Band overhears the music and Tito says what they’re hearing is a one-man band. The passenger explains that he is the only participant in a one-man-band convention at Mount Careful and apologizes for being upset with Stacy earlier.

At that moment, Harry announces the arrival of the new train. Accompanied by the Jukebox Band, the one-man band plays his way out to the platform, followed by Tanya and Stacy carrying Matt piggy-back. Harry watches on, but stays behind in the station. As the new train departs, Harry finds a tiny piece of paper on the bench next to him. After unfolding it, he is taken aback by the tiny handwriting. Harry once again questions the existence of a little guy who lives in the wall and laughs to himself, while Mr. Conductor appears behind his back.

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Episode Morals:

  • Mistakes happen, especially when one is impatient.

Featured Jukebox Puppet Band Song:

  • She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain

Featured Picture Machine Song:

  • Learn From Your Mistakes

Featured Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Stories:

  • Thomas' Train (A Big Day for Thomas)

  • Thomas and the Trucks (Trouble for Thomas)

Episode Notes:

  • This is the first time we hear the voice of Mr. J. B. King, Esq. He would not appear in person until episode 15, "Promises, Promises."

  • This is the first episode where Mr. Conductor wears an outfit other than his usual uniform.

  • This is the first time we hear of Schemer's ulterior motive of taking over Shining Time Station.

  • This is the first time that Mr. Conductor is mentioned to Harry.

  • The closing shot of Harry laughing with Mr. Conductor behind his back was used for Harry's character oval in the original Season 1 "clip show" opening sequence.

  • When Stacy learns about the new train, the telephone conversation is actually a sped-up version of T.S. Eliot reading a few lines from his poem "The Naming of Cats". ~ contributed by Daniel Celano

Pitching In and Helping Out

Production #4 (1.04) - First Aired: 1989-FEB-19 (US)
Written by Ellis Weiner
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by M. Cooper

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Episode Characters/Stars:

  • Stacy Jones (Didi Conn)

  • Harry Cupper (Leonard Jackson)

  • Schemer (Brian O'Connor)

  • Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr)

  • Matt Jones (Jason Woliner)

  • Tanya Cupper (Nicole Leach)

  • The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • Scuba Woman (Annette Holloway)

 

Episode Synopsis: Stacy tries to fix the station’s clock, while Matt and Tanya discover ways to use a ball of string to be both creative and helpful.

 

Stacy is up on a ladder trying to fix the ticket counter’s clock, while Schemer is dusting off the Jukebox with his tie. When Stacy asks for his help, he claims he’s too busy. Stacy protests that the clock must be fixed so the passengers can board their trains on time. Schemer thinks that it’s better for the clock to be broken; this means the passengers can spend more money in the arcade. Schemer then tries to sell Stacy a “brand new, antique teapot” for five dollars. Stacy thinks it’s too dirty, causing him to lower the price to four dollars, then three. Stacy points out that the teapot has a hole in the bottom.

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Schemer claims that that is for pouring two cups of tea at once, and drops the price down to two dollars. Stacy still says no, so Schemer leaves the teapot on the information desk so she can think it over.

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Matt and Tanya arrive from the platform. Schemer greets them then trips over his shoelaces as he walks away. Tanya asks Stacy if she can climb up to help, but Stacy says no: she wants her to keep an eye on the ladder. Matt is asked to grab a screwdriver. Tanya asks Stacy what’s wrong with the clock. Stacy demonstrates by spinning the hands, which makes a springing sound. Both Stacy and Tanya like the sound, but the clock is needed to keep everyone on time. Matt asks Stacy if he can keep a ball of red string he found with the screwdriver. Tanya wonders what you can do with just string, which prompts Stacy to recall something her grandmother once said: “Let my life be like a piece of string: long, strong and soft at the end.”

Mr. Conductor appears on top of the clock wearing a chef hat and a long red apron, carrying two wooden spoons. He protests that Stacy’s grandmother never said such a thing. Stacy admits that she made up the saying herself. “Not bad, for a beginner,” replies Mr. Conductor. Stacy thanks him and then leaves to find some oil. Mr. Conductor drums on the side of the clock with the wooden spoons, disappears, and then reappears on top of the information desk.

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Matt asks Mr. Conductor if he actually knew Stacy’s grandmother. He reveals that she ran Shining Time Station years ago, which is when he first met her. She used to know which train was coming just by the sound of its whistle, and took good care of both her trains and her passengers. She always knew how to have fun better than anyone else. Tanya protests that everyone knows how to have fun. Mr. Conductor replies that that idea isn’t true, and explains that everybody likes to have fun, but not everyone knows how to go about it. Stacy does, and so did her grandmother.

Matt asks if Stacy’s grandmother ever played with string. Mr. Conductor replies she used to play Cat’s Cradle. Tanya tries demonstrating, but only gets her fingers tangled up. Matt quickly helps her out. Mr. Conductor congratulates him, saying that it always feels good to help someone out. To the engines on the Island of Sodor, this is called feeling “Really Useful.” Clicking his spoons together, he tells them the story of how Thomas felt really useful when he helped use a breakdown train to rescue James the Red Engine.

Tanya thinks that Thomas must have felt important pulling the Breakdown Train, but Mr. Conductor points out that he was more concerned about helping James. Matt wishes that someone could help them figure out what to do with the string. Mr. Conductor replies that they’ll have to help each other out with that one, because he has to go home to feed his parrot a carrot and stretch out some spaghetti. Matt remembers that Stacy taught him how to make flowers out of string, and proceeds to show Tanya using only a fork and some drinking straws.

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Mr. Conductor, now dressed in his usual attire, appears by his front door to compliment them on their progress. He claims that string can do a lot with itself. When Tanya complains that that doesn’t make sense, he proceeds to show them a magic bubble about shapes made out of string. This gives the kids some new ideas, and they run off to gather some supplies.

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Harry comes out of his workshop and walks towards the Jukebox. He’s had a song in his head since this morning, and wants to hear it played. The nickel drops inside the slot, but no one in the band wants to go pick it up, being comfortable where they are. They play the song “Railroad Corral.” Matt and Tanya come into the workshop, where Harry is fixing a sign with a broken chain. The sign used to hang on the ticket booth long ago and reads: “Shining Time Station: Trains from here… to Everywhere!” Harry is using a soldering iron to fix the chain. Tanya tells him all about their day so far, from their escapades with string to Mr. Conductor’s story. Harry tests the chain by hanging the sign on a hook, but the chain breaks. Matt offers him some string instead, which proves to be just the ticket.

Mr. Conductor appears on the Information Desk again, complimenting them on how busy they were. Matt only has a little bit of string left, and Tanya wants to do something really special with it. Mr. Conductor says that string can be a great problem solver as well, which reminds him of James. Tanya doesn’t think that a train can be fixed with only string. Mr. Conductor agrees, explaining that people are very clever on the Island of Sodor, and tells them the story of how a shoelace and a newspaper once helped James pull his train.

Stacy is searching by the lost and found for something. Mr. Conductor asks if he can help, but Stacy says she has to learn how to fix the clock on her own. She suddenly remembers where she left the oil, but when she looks in one of the trunks, she comes up empty handed. She finally asks Mr. Conductor to tell her where the oil is. He replies she had left it on the floor in the ticket booth yesterday. He complains that the clock has made him late to his appointments for nine years, three months, eight hours, two minutes and twenty-three seconds. Stacy teasingly smiles at him, and Mr. Conductor admits that he made that one up. Stacy thanks Mr. Conductor, who disappears just as Schemer walks in.

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Stacy’s goodbye makes Schemer think she’s talking to furniture. He once again trips over his shoelaces, as he’s too busy to even tie them. When he tries, he accidentally pulls the laces out of his shoe completely. He angrily pulls out the laces from his other shoe too, claiming he doesn’t need them. When he tries walking, the shoes fall off his feet altogether. Stacy whispers to Matt and Tanya that they should give the last bit of their string to Schemer. Tanya and Matt protest, as they wanted to do something special with it. Stacy replies that helping someone out is special.

The scene is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a woman dressed in a wetsuit, scuba gear and flippers who flops into the station carrying a bowl of goldfish. She asks Stacy when the next train to Lucky Lake is leaving. Stacy replies that it’s twenty minutes, and the woman leaves for the platform. Schemer points out that the woman wasn’t wearing shoes either, claiming some people know how to live. Stacy asks the kids if they will give Schemer the string, because otherwise he’ll be complaining about his shoes all day.

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Grudgingly, Tanya hands the string over to an excited Schemer. He again tries selling the teapot to Stacy for a dollar, then fifty cents, and then decides to give it to the kids as a present. Matt wonders what they can do with it. Stacy provides the solution: she puts the string flowers the kids made inside the old pot, making it into a decorative flower pot for the Information Desk. Harry comes in with his repaired sign for the kids to hang up, and then proceeds to help Stacy fix the clock. The episode ends with the now-repaired clock ticking away, while everyone cheers at a job well done.

Episode Morals:

  • Helping others, no matter who they are, is important.

  • Creative solutions can be found just by using simple tools or objects.

  • There are numerous ways to have fun if you keep an open mind.

Featured Jukebox Puppet Band Song:

  • Railroad Corral

Featured Picture Machine Song:

  • None

Featured Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Stories:

  • Thomas and the Breakdown Train (Thomas Saves the Day)

  • James and the Coaches (James Learns a Lesson)

Episode Notes:

  • Mr. Conductor has lived at Shining Time Station since Stacy’s grandmother ran it.

  • Mr. Conductor keeps a parrot in his house on the mural.

  • This is the first time a Thomas story isn’t started by Mr. Conductor blowing his whistle. Instead, he clicks two wooden spoons together.

  • Mr. Conductor demonstrates that he can drum using two wooden spoons. This is a nod to Ringo Starr’s career as a drummer for The Beatles.

  • Annette Holloway, who played the "Scuba Woman," also served as the show's assistant stage manager.

  • At one point Mr. Conductor dubs Tanya “Tanya Lasagna”. This nickname is referred to again in Season 2 by Mr. Conductor’s cousin (George Carlin).

Show and Yell

Production #5 (1.05) - First Aired: 1989-FEB-26 (US)
Written by Brian McConnachie
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by D. Dobrydney

Episode Characters/Stars:

  • Stacy Jones (Didi Conn)

  • Harry Cupper (Leonard Jackson)

  • Schemer (Brian O'Connor)

  • Mr. Conductor (Ringo Starr)

  • Matt Jones (Jason Woliner)

  • Tanya Cupper (Nicole Leach)

  • The Jukebox Puppet Band

  • Ventriloquist (Alan Semok)

Episode Synopsis: Matt and Tanya take an interest in ventriloquism, and decide early on to put on a show to demonstrate their newfound talent. When the play is a disappointing failure, Stacy, Harry and Mr. Conductor all try to encourage the children to practice their skills. They then try again with much more positive results.

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Everyone is exchanging greetings at Shining Time Station as the episode opens. Stacy greets a gentleman passenger carrying two large suitcases, Tanya greets Stacy and Matt, and the two children greet Mr. Conductor, Harry and Schemer. Everyone returns the children’s greetings except Schemer, who only wants to greet the money in his Arcade machines.

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The children are suddenly are distracted when they hear someone else greeting them. The voice appears to come from the waiting area, where the passenger is calmly reading a book. The children look curiously at the man, because his lips aren’t moving as the voice continues speaking, asking if Matt and Tanya are going to return his greeting. The man glances at the children, smiles, and takes a ventriloquist dummy out of one of his suitcases. The dummy asks Tanya if she’s Matt. Tanya identifies herself and the dummy asks where Matt is. A second voice is heard coming from the man’s other suitcase, which turns out to be a second ventriloquist dummy. This second dummy thinks Matt is Tanya.

By this point Stacy, Harry and Schemer have come over to watch as the two dummies and the man banter with Matt and Tanya. One dummy introduces himself as Lazlo, and the other Eugene, but they don’t know the man’s name. The man finally introduces himself as Al, and the three of them humorously discuss whether or not they should use the word 'dummy' when talking about each other. Everyone is very impressed with the impromptu performance; with Schemer quipping that Al should be selling tickets instead of performing for free. Stacy then takes a phone call from the train dispatcher, and informs the ventriloquist that his train will be late.

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This doesn’t bother him at all, and he asks Matt and Tanya if they will watch his luggage while he runs an errand. The children agree, and Tanya asks if they can play with the ventriloquist dummies in the meantime. The man says they can, and leaves.

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Matt asks Tanya if she thinks they can really make the puppets work, and Mr. Conductor appears to answer him. First, they’ll take dummy lessons, and then ‘smarty’ lessons! Mr. Conductor starts by asking Tanya to try saying “a bag of boots, a bag of boots” without moving her lips. Tanya immediately says she can’t, and Mr. Conductor says she’s not trying. Tanya attempts to say the tongue twister, which comes out as “an ag of oots.” Mr. Conductor says it’s a good start and suggests the two of them should chat with James the Red Engine. Matt asks if James knows how to work puppets. Mr. Conductor thinks for a moment, then says James can’t work puppets but is an authority on trying. To illustrate, he tells the children about how James didn’t give up when pulling an uncooperative freight train.

After the story, Mr. Conductor tells the children that sometimes they’ll surprise themselves with what they can do. After he disappears, Matt and Tanya begin working the puppets and after only a minute or two, decide to put on a show of their own. They go off and drag Stacy and Harry away from their work to watch them, with Schemer joining to see another free show. With the puppets set up on the ticket counter, Matt tries to replicate the ventriloquist’s skit about their names, while Tanya makes her dummy do a completely different skit about vegetables. The performance quickly breaks down as the children begin accusing each other of getting it wrong.  Stacy  tries to calm the situation by saying that neither of them is wrong, they just had different ideas about what right was. She suggests they practice and they’ll be better next time. Tanya pouts that there won’t be a next time, and Stacy replies with some words from her grandmother, "every time has a next time, sometime!"

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Matt and Tanya aren’t convinced, and their mood isn’t helped by Schemer joking that his favorite parts of their show was when it was over and that it was free. The children begin arguing again about who was wrong, and Schemer settles the argument by saying they were both wrong! He then invites them to cheer up by spending money in the Arcade. Matt puts a nickel in the jukebox, and selects the song "Freight Train." None of the band knows that song, but they decide to play it anyway. Their dissonant performance shocks Matt and sparks an argument among the band members about who’s to blame. They stop arguing long enough to decide that it’s Tito’s fault, because he’s not there!

Later, Tanya is moping by the Information Desk when Mr. Conductor appears and points at her accusingly, saying she must be the culprit. Tanya is confused, but Mr. Conductor says he can tell by her face that she’s the one who ate all the lemons! Tanya denies eating any lemons, which leads Mr. Conductor to suggest they look for them in the Anything Tunnel. Inside the tunnel is a music video about being able to “bounce back” after a failure. Sure enough, a bowl with three lemons can be seen during the song.

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Meanwhile, Matt finds himself in the workshop, where Harry asks if they’ll be seeing another puppet show soon. Matt strongly rejects the idea, which prompts Harry to ask if he’s giving up. Matt says that everything went wrong and he and Tanya couldn’t make it work. Harry answers that Isaac had the same problem. Matt asks who Isaac is, and Harry tells him about Isaac Dripps, who at only 21 years of age was given the job of assembling the first railroad locomotive in North America, despite never seeing one before. The engine, named the "John Bull," worked but it kept derailing, among other problems. However, Isaac persevered and fixed the problems, making improvements to the engine to make it better and better.

Harry concludes his story with the fact that the engine is now in the Smithsonian Institute and is the oldest steam locomotive in America. Matt asks what happened to Isaac, and Harry says that he became a famous railroad mechanic. Isaac never gave up, Harry tells Matt, and neither should he. Matt doesn’t want to give up, but mentions that the ventriloquist will be back soon for his puppets. At that, Harry goes over to the workbench and starts tinkering with bits of discarded metal.

Outside the workshop, Stacy finds Tanya sitting by herself. Stacy says that she remembers putting on puppet shows herself as a girl, and all she needed was a sock and a big imagination. Tanya begins to cheer up as Stacy shows her how to make a puppet with a sock and some buttons, while Harry helps Matt make his own puppet out of nuts, bolts and some metal strips. Soon, they children meet back up and show each other their new playthings. Mr. Conductor appears and frantically tries to warn them about the horrible beasts that have eaten their hands, but Matt and Tanya quickly explain that it’s just their puppets.

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Mr. Conductor asks if that means another puppet show, but the children are reluctant as they don’t want to be made fun of. Mr. Conductor says that if they aren’t even going to try, he’ll talk to the puppets instead. He tells the puppets to think of what happened to James when the other engines made fun of him. Matt asks what did happen and Mr. Conductor tells the story of how James got to prove himself by pulling the Express.

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After the story, Mr. Conductor addresses the puppets again, telling them they’ll never know if they can do their best until they try again. He asks again for a show in exchange for the story, but says they should make sure they’re ready first. Over in the Jukebox Didi comments that she likes the children’s puppets while Rex suggests they provide some background music. Mr. Conductor disappears and reappears in front of his signal house with some popcorn and a pair of opera glasses, asking the puppets if the children are ready. Matt and Tanya duck behind the ticket counter and start performing. Mr. Conductor gives them a thumbs-up as they perform much better than the first time.

Just then, the ventriloquist returns and asks the puppets if they’ve seen Matt or Tanya. The children keep right on performing and impress the ventriloquist as well as Stacy, Harry and Schemer. Back in the Jukebox, Tex declares he’s just remembered the words to “Freight Train” and the band begins to play as the ventriloquist claims his puppets and goes out to catch his train. When the song is over, Schemer rushes up with a sign he just made which reads “Puppet Show, only 5 cents.” The episode comes to an end as Schemer flips the sign over to display another message, “A great deal!”

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Episode Morals:

  • Some tasks are difficult at first, but with practice, we can master them.

  • We can succeed if we don't give up.

Featured Jukebox Puppet Band Song:

  • Freight Train

Featured Anything Tunnel Song:

  • Bounce Back (sung by Vaneese Thomas)

Featured Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Stories:

  • Troublesome Trucks (Foolish Freight Cars)

  • James and the Express (A Proud Day for James)

Episode Notes:

  • The “John Bull” was originally put on display in the Smithsonian Institute in 1884. A replica was built in 1939; however the original locomotive was steamed in 1981 in honor of its 150th anniversary, making it the oldest operable steam locomotive in North America. The footage of the “John Bull” which accompanies Harry’s story about Isaac was provided by the Smithsonian Institute and might be a depiction of the 1981 re-steaming.

  • This is the only time a member of the Flexitoons team had an onscreen role in an episode of Shining Time Station. Normally Alan Semok did the puppeteering for Grace the Bass.

  • Tito (Jonathan Freeman) does not appear in this episode. According to the Boy Brothers, the band leader is too busy counting his nickels.

  • Nitpick: When the "Freight Train" number ends and Schemer walks over to the ticket desk, Harry is still bopping away even though the music ended moments ago!

  • Continuity Goof: When the ventriloquist leaves to catch his train, he has his two puppets but has left his suitcases behind!

Faith, Hope and Anxiety

Production #6 (1.06) - First Aired: 1989-MAR-05 (US)
Written by Brian McConnachie
Directed by Matthew Diamond

Summary by S. Das