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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 his eyes at the station 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. Gordon is 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 reminds him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. When Henry leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but then his driver soon wakes him telling 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 gets halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it like last time. However Gordon is unable to stop and slides down some unused rails into a ditch. Gordon is horrified and wants to get out. However, his crew are cross with him for his silly actions and refuse, telling him that he is stuck.
In his office, the Fat Controller receives a phone call and told everything that has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he arranges to have Edward take the special train and chooses to leave Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by and start to tease Gordon with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.
Gordon stays in the ditch for hours and no rescue team comes until 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, 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 Monday.
- In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so early American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line.
- Although Thomas doesn't appear in this episode, a scrap model of him is 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.
- 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.
- 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-tak under his feet.
- When Gordon snaps "Trucks?! Puh!" 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 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.
- 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 later in Down the Mine attached to his front, but in the close-up, he has a chain attached to his front instead.
- 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 could not be lit to make the steam.
- Buzz Books - Gordon Off the Rails
- Ladybird Books - Edward, Gordon and Henry and Gordon Off the Rails