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- “Honestly Luke, the quarry is no place for an animal.”
Luke's New Friend is the eighth episode of the seventeenth season.
It is dusk at Blue Mountain Quarry and Rheneas and Luke decide to race each other to the crushing shed. On the way, Rheneas has to stop sharply to avoid hitting an animal which has strayed onto the line. Neither Luke nor Rheneas have any idea as to what the animal is. Rusty and Sir Handel roll by and inform them that the animal is a young deer. Rheneas is a little shaken up and says that the animal does not belong at the quarry. As Luke teases Rheneas for being scared, Skarloey arrives and tells them all that it is nearly time to stop working and close down the Blue Mountain Quarry for the night.
That night, everything is quiet and peaceful - except for Luke, who is too excited about the next day's work to sleep. As Luke rolls into a tunnel for the night, he spots the deer from earlier. The deer is timid and hides when he hears Owen's loud snoring. Luke falls asleep, not expecting to see the deer again, but when he wakes up he discovers the deer sleeping in his cab. Rheneas steams past and Luke tells him to be quiet. Rheneas tries to tell Luke that the quarry is no place for an animal, but Luke is sure that the deer will grow to like it there. Rheneas is not convinced, but Luke is sure that he can look after the deer and he sets off to work.
Luke puffs around the quarry quietly with the young deer still in his cab, but every noise scares the little deer even more. Suddenly, the deer hears a loud explosion and leaps from Luke's cab. The deer scampers towards Owen with Luke following close behind. Owen does not notice that the deer is standing on his platform and he starts to move it. Luckily, the deer makes it to the bottom safely and wanders off again. Like Rheneas, Owen is not sure that the noisy quarry is the place for a little deer. Luke agrees that Owen is right and he starts to order everyone to work quietly.
Although the engines are happy to see Luke reunited with his little friend again, they find it hard to adjust to working quietly. Peter Sam tries so hard to work quietly that he forgets to watch where he is going and he runs into Rusty's trucks that are being loaded up. The accident causes a whole series of loud noises that the deer does not like one bit. The deer leaps out of Luke's cab as Merrick explains that they are unable to do their jobs properly if they are being quiet. Rheneas tells Luke that it is impossible to be really useful at the quarry and look after a little deer at the same time. Skarloey suggests that Luke take a trainload of gravel to Ulfstead Castle where it is nice and peaceful. Luke agrees and is soon coupled up to the gravel train. The deer bounds into Luke's cab and they set off on the narrow gauge line to Ulfstead Castle.
The park around Ulfstead Castle is extremely scenic and quiet. The young deer is very happy to be finally away from the hustle and bustle of Blue Mountain Quarry. Then, the deer spots another deer, presumably his mother, in the park. The deer hops out of the cab and runs over to the other deer. The two deer are extremely happy to be reunited and Luke watches sadly as his new friend runs off into the park. Although Luke is upset, he understands that the deer is much happier in the castle park than he was at the quarry.
Back at the busy Blue Mountain Quarry, Luke explains that he has left his little friend at Ulfstead Castle and is happy when Skarloey tells him that he will still be able to see him when he takes more gravel to the castle. Luke then cheerfully and noisily sets back to work with his old friends at the quarry.
- Ben Small as Rheneas and Owen
- Michael Legge as Luke
- Keith Wickham as Skarloey and Sir Handel
- Matt Wilkinson as Rusty and Merrick
- This is the first episode of a few things:
- The first episode to have exactly the same cast in both the UK and US versions. In addition, the narrations are the same.
- The first episode of CGI Series not to feature Martin Sherman as part of the US voice cast.
- The first episode in the CGI series and since the twelfth season episode, Gordon Takes a Shortcut in which Thomas does not appear at all. It also marks the first episode in the CGI series and since the twelfth season episode, Mountain Marvel not to feature anyone from the Steam Team.
- This episode aired before King of the Railway premiered in the UK, meaning the audience would not know about Ulfstead Castle yet.
- Going by production order, this is the sixteenth episode of the seventeenth season.
- When the deer runs off with its mother, recreated music from Henry's Forest is heard.
- According to interviews, writer Davey Moore states that this is his first episode ever written and it is also his favourite alongside Rusty and the Boulder and Thomas' Train.
- This episode marks the last of a few things:
- In the first shot, Skarloey is running along the track near Merrick, but a few seconds later, he is on the quarry floor.
- When the trucks of gravel are being coupled to Luke, the brake van is white and also standard gauge, but when Luke pulls away the brake van is a brown narrow gauge one. This was later fixed for the release of The Thomas Way DVD and the PBS airings in the US, except on The Complete Series 17 DVD. Although, the white standard gauge brake van can be seen in one of the shots in the US airing.
- In the first morning shot, when Luke wakes up, the deer is not visible, but in the next shot, the deer is sleeping with his head hanging outside Luke's cab.
- Rusty can be seen pulling some trucks passing the sawmill, but in the next shot, he is behind some trucks when Peter Sam was backing up.
- When the engines and machinery at the quarry were working quietly, part of the quarry beside Owen is missing and the background can be seen.
- During the first half of the episode, Peter Sam is seen with no lamp or lamp-irons on his footplate, but during the second half, he somehow gains them.
- When Rheneas says "Morning, Luke!" the track that Luke is on is gone, and in the next shot, it is back.
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