Cows, retitled A Cow on the Line for American releases, is the second episode of the second season. It first aired in the US on the Shining Time Station episodes Impractical Jokes in 1989 and Fortune Teller Schemer in 1993.
Edward's age is beginning to show as he has some worn-out parts which cause him to make clanking sounds. One bright and sunny day, Edward is taking some cattle wagons to a nearby market town. The trucks are making a lot of noise, as is Edward by this point.
On the line is a field where some cows were grazing. The noise and smoke produced by the train disturbs the cows as they are not used to it. As Edward passes by, a number of cows break the fence, run across the line and break a coupling, causing a truck and the brake van with the guard to be left behind. Edward, believing the jerk to be the trucks getting up to mischief, continues on his journey, unaware of the mishap. It isn't until Edward gets to the next station that either he or his driver realise what happened.
When Gordon and Henry learn about the accident, they laugh and tease Edward about letting a few cows damage his train, which makes him very angry. Toby is also indignant towards the larger engines, knowing they've never encountered cows and don't know the trouble they cause.
A few days later, Edward is still in a bad mood when Gordon sails through Wellsworth with the express, teasing him. Gordon continues down the line telling the coaches to hurry, when he and his driver think they see something on the upcoming bridge. The driver shuts off steam and applies the brakes and as Gordon gets closer, he sees the obstacle is a cow. Gordon isn't worried and tries to shoo the cow away but she doesn't budge having had her calf taken away and feeling lonely. Gordon's crew and the passengers try to get the cow to leave to no avail.
Henry soon comes by with his train and also thinks that the cow can simply be ordered away. Again, this doesn't work and Henry nervously backs off, as he doesn't want to hurt her. Reversing back to the station, Henry's guard tells the stationmaster about the cow blocking the line. The porter realises it's Bluebell and says that her calf is at the station. The two men decide to send the calf in a truck pulled by Percy.
At the bridge, Percy arrives with the calf and reunites it with his mother. The two cows are then easily led away by the porter. As they leave, Gordon and Henry make an agreement not to tell anyone about the incident. Despite this, the story quickly gets around and Edward is ready to tease Gordon and Henry that night in the shed. Gordon defends himself, claiming that he simply didn't want Bluebell to hurt herself by running up against him.
Edward tells Gordon that he understands and Gordon worries that Edward all too well does understand.
- This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Edward the Blue Engine.
- In the British narration, the porter notes that Bluebell's calf is "ready to go to market." In the American narration it is said to be "looking for her mother." It is not clear why the line was changed, although the reference to cow slaughter may have been removed due to censorship issues.
- A deleted scene shows Henry on the bridge without his coaches.
- From 1986 when originally first showed as a doublebill with Thomas, Percy and the Coal, the credits showed the story title of the previous story credited, when individually showed later from 1987 the end credits from Duck Takes Charge are used.
- When Edward crosses the viaduct he is pulling five trucks. However, in the next shot, he is pulling four trucks but when the cows break the coupling, he is pulling five again.
- The narrator says that "some trucks were left behind," but only one truck was left behind.
- When Gordon comes through Wellsworth he is pulling two brake coaches at the rear of his train. But when he crosses the viaduct, the middle coach has turned into a regular coach.
- When Gordon goes on the bridge he stops but his wheels go on for a few more seconds.
- When Gordon is looking into the camera in the last shot his right eye is slightly off-centre.
- Edward's eyes are wonky in some scenes, including the ones with his angry face.
- When Percy is on the bridge, he has a large lump of glue keeping his middle lamp iron on.
- When Percy puffs through Crosby, he passes Henry, but in the next shot, Percy passes Henry again.
- In the close up shot of Percy watching the cows being lead away, his right eye is wonky.
- When Edward says, "Well, well, well, two big engines afraid of a cow?" Gordon can be seen next to him, but in the following scene, Gordon is just backing off the turntable.
- In the Japanese dub, Henry's wheels sound different and he uses James' whistle when he passes Gordon toward the end. This sound seems to have been taken straight off the sound effects track of Percy and the Signal since James' whistle sound is present with the puffing.
- Thomas' eyes are wonky in a rare picture.