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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 in 1989 and Bad Luck Day on Shining Time Station in 1993.
One morning, Gordon is resting at Knapford while noting to himself that being important can sometimes be very tiring, yet he must keep up on his appearance. Henry suddenly pulls up and wakes Gordon rudely, who becomes very cross, believing that an engine who has never had an accident should be respected. Percy arrives and innocently asks if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon denies it and tells Percy that those sorts of malfunctions could happen to any engine, not like Henry who came off the rails.
It is Henry's day to take the Express. As he prepares to leave, Gordon warns him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. When Henry leaves, Gordon is about to go back to sleep, but is soon awakened by his driver, who tells him that they have been asked to pull a special goods train. Gordon scoffs at the idea of having to take trucks, as he would rather take coaches.
Gordon's fire is unable to burn right away, so Edward comes to push him to the turntable to be turned around. Gordon complains the whole way and Edward rebukes him as they reach the turntable. By now, the movement has gotten Gordon's fire burning nicely and making steam. As the turntable turns, Gordon is so cross that he is willing to do anything that stops him from taking the special regardless of the consequences. When the table turns halfway round, Gordon moves forward in an attempt to jam it like last time, but is unable to stop and slides down some old unused rails into a marshy ditch. Gordon is horrified and begs someone to get him out, but is crossly told by his crew that he was being silly and is stuck.
In his office, the Fat Controller receives a phone call from the crew who tells him about Gordon's accident. Seeing Gordon from his window, he arranges to have Edward take the special train instead of Gordon, whom he decides to leave where he is for now, for they will get him out later with no time to bother him. Meanwhile, some little boys come by and start teasing Gordon with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.
Gordon stays in the ditch for hours until the workmen come to rescue him late at night. After extensive work preparing sleepers to keep him out of the mud, he is pulled out from the ditch by James and Henry.
Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Little Boys
- James (does not speak)
- The Märklin Engine (cameo)
- 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 a Monday.
- in the US narration, Henry called Gordon "Lazy Bones" instead of "Fat Face".
- 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 can be seen beside the ditch.
- When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, an engine's lights can be seen passing on the left. This is believed to be the Märklin engine.
- The boys' song, "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" is a similar tune to the Mother Goose rhyme: "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush."
- On its original broadcast, this episode was paired with Down the Mine. However, early VHS releases have it paired with Dirty Objects, as do Norwegian and Swedish broadcasts.
- In the opening scene, Gordon's front bogie wheels are slightly derailed and his buffers are crooked.
- When Henry comes up to Gordon and then leaves, Gordon's trailing wheels are derailed.
- In a close-up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot as he rolls over to Gordon, it is suddenly dangling down.
- Gordon's tender is derailed when Percy puffs up.
- When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tack 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.
- 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 between his cab and tender.
- When the boys sing, the camera shakes.
- When Gordon is getting pulled out of the ditch, his bufferbeam snags a wooden post.
- 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.
- The narrator states Henry and James rescued Gordon, but James is the only one seen.
- In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon used in Percy Runs Away and later in Down the Mine attached to his front, but in the close-up, he has a chain attached to his front instead. However, when Gordon is on the turntable, James has the rescue cable on him again.
- When Gordon says "I won't go, I won't go!" there is steam coming from his funnel, even though it was said that his fire wouldn't burn and greenery appears instead of Knapford.
- In Ringo Starr's US narration, when Gordon and his driver are talking about the special train, there is an echo in the background. This is audio from the UK version.
- Buzz Books - Gordon Off the Rails
- Ladybird Books - Edward, Gordon and Henry and Gordon Off the Rails
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