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Off the Rails

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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the book or the Buzz Book.
"Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch, fell in a ditch. Silly old Gordon fell in a ditch. All on a Monday morning!"
— The boys
OfftheRails26
Off the Rails/Gordon Takes a Dip
Director(s)

David Mitton

Producer(s)

Britt Allcroft
David Mitton
Robert D. Cardona

Writer(s)

Reverend W. Awdry
(original)
Britt Allcroft
David Mitton (adapted)

Narrator

Ringo Starr (UK/US)
George Carlin (US)

Air date

November 19th, 1984
(UK)
May 21st, 1989 (US)

Previous episode

Dirty Objects/
James
in a Mess

Next episode

Down the Mine

Off the Rails, retitled Gordon Takes a Dip in American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the first season. In the US, it aired on the Shining Time Station episodes, Too Many Cooks and Bad Luck Day on Shining Time Station.

Plot

One morning, Gordon is resting his eyes at the station while bragging to himself just how important he is. Henry suddenly pulls up and wakes Gordon rudely. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine who has never had an accident should be treated with full respect. Percy arrives and innocently asks if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon shrugs this off and tells Percy that those are malfunctions that could happen to any engine, not like Henry who came off the rails.

It is Henry's turn to take the express and Gordon reminds Henry "not to come off the rails today", much to Henry's anger. When he leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but it is not long before his driver arrives telling him that they have been asked to pull a special goods train. Gordon, who is already in a grumpy mood, balks at the idea of taking trucks, very much wanting to take some coaches.

Gordon's fire does not start very quick, so Edward is called in to push him to the turntable to get him facing the right way. Gordon complains the whole way, and refuses to take the train. Edward chides him for his silliness as they reach the turntable. By now, the movement has got Gordon's fire burning nicely and steam is being produced.

As the turntables turns, Gordon is now in such a bad mood that he is willing to do anything that stops him from taking the train regardless of the consequences. When the table gets halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it. However Gordon finds himself unable to stop and slides down the unused rails into a ditch. Gordon is horrified and screams that he wants to get out, however his crew furiously tell Gordon that he is stuck.

In his office, the Fat Controller is called and told everything that has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he arranges for Edward to take the special train and leaves Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by and start to tease Gordon with a rhyme. Utterly humiliated, Gordon now wishes for nothing more than to be rescued.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours and the rescue operation does not occur until that night. After extensive work preparing sleepers to keep Gordon out of the mud, he is pulled out from the ditch by James and Henry.

Late that night, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.

Characters

Locations

Trivia

  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Gordon the Big Engine.
  • The telephone conversation is a sped up version of conversation between the policeman and the Fat Controller in Thomas in Trouble.
  • According to the boys' song, the events of this episode take place on Monday.
  • In the American narration, "fat face" is changed to "lazybones". Also, when the Fat Controller is asked what to do with Gordon, his reply in the UK narration is: "Leave him where he is, we haven't time to bother with him now!"; whereas in the American narration, he says: "Leave him where he is, we'll get him out later."
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so early American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line.
  • A scrap model of Thomas is seen beside the ditch. This is most likely his pilot model as seen in Down the Mine.
  • In Denmark this episode is named "The Great Derailment". In Germany this episode's title is "Derailed". The Italian title is "The Grumpy Locomotive". In Wales, it is called "Keeping on Track". In Japan this episode is called "Gordon Fall into a Ditch". The French title is "The Derailments". In Finland this episode is called "Rails Falling".
  • When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, a train's lights can be seen passing on the left.  This is believed to be the Marklin engine.

Goofs

  • In the opening scene Gordon's front bogie wheels are slightly derailed. 
  • When Henry comes up to Gordon and then leaves, Gordon's trailing wheels are derailed.
  • After Henry left the first time, Percy's coupling chain is up.
  • Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tak under his feet.
  • When Gordon snaps "Trucks?! Pah!", a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • When Edward buffers up behind Gordon the steam platform is easily noticeable.
  • Gordon was taken to Vicarstown Sheds, which is on the other side of the Island from Knapford.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a gap is visible through his left eye.
  • When Gordon puffs into the ditch his face looks wonky and wires are visibly attached to his cab.
  • When the boys sing the camera shakes.
  • When Gordon is getting pulled out of the ditch, his bufferbeam snags a wooden post.
  • How James and Henry rescue Gordon from the ditch is questionable because there are no tracks leading towards the turntable opposite the ditch.
  • In a rare picture, several workmen have Blu-Tack on their feet.
  • James' drive wheels are not moving when he pulls Gordon out of the ditch.
  • Henry is not behind James in the scene of Gordon being rescued as the narrator stated.
  • In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon used in Percy Runs Away and Down the Mine attached to his front, but in the close up, he has a chain attached to his front instead.

Gallery

Episode

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