Note: Channel 2, Fox Family and Nick Jr. only aired the second and third seasons of Shining Time Station. Fox Family also used the opening credits from the family specials.
Behind the Scenes
Shining Time Station was created to introduce Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends to American audiences, as The Railway Series has never been published book-by-book in the United States (only compilation volumes have been released) until the late 1990s but only ten were published. Another reason was due to stricter broadcasting schedules, meaning episodes were broadcasted to a mere 28 minutes rather five minutes.
Schemer (portrayed by Brian O’Connor), is the only major adult character from the series to not appear in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, though O’Connor reprised the role in a fan parody of the film much later.
Kevin Roth sang the theme song that played during the opening and closing credits of the show.
The footage of the Union Pacific #844 seen in the opening and closing credits was reused from the 1981 promotional film, Eighty Four Forty Four.
All of the Shining Time Station episodes only ever had three sets: the main room of the station, the workshop and the interior of the station's jukebox where the Jukebox Band resided. This changed in the specials, in which scenes took place outside, in the signal house and in a large basement-type room that may or may not be part of the station building.
Didi, the female drummer of the Jukebox Band, is shown to have a crush on Mr. Conductor, who learns about this in "One in the Family" and they apparently begin dating.
Mr. Conductor has various forms of his magic gold dust, including some for teleportation, forgetfulness, love, sleep and pranks. It also has life-giving qualities and can make inanimate objects come alive. His whistle also has some magic and is used to start a Thomas story by means of blowing.
In the specials, Mr. Conductor shows that he can appear and interact with the Jukebox Band Characters.
Also in the specials, Mr. Conductor has a name tag on his uniform.
"Whistles and Sneezes" and most episodes of the second series are the only episodes that were never narrated by Ringo Starr in the US although the US Ringo Starr narrations of "Whistles and Sneezes" and most episodes of Season 2 were planned but cancelled due to Ringo Starr having left the series after 1990 to focus on his music career and tour with The All Starr Band, though he often praises his work on the show.
In the episode "Washout" when Mr. Conductor tells the story "Bertie's Chase" the beginning (Edward waiting for Thomas) was omitted. This scene was also omitted from the James in a Mess picture book. But in the Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales Episode Splish, Splash, Splosh and in all VHS and DVD releases, the episode is in its entirety.
When the show aired on Fox Family, it used the credits from the television specials but episodes were edited significantly so they could fit the time slot, and even though the series originally aired on PBS the Fox Family airings added commercial interruptions as well.
The Indian Valley Railroad (where the station is located) is an actual defunct short line in California. It was constructed to serve the Engels Copper Mine, the largest copper mine in California and was a branch connection of The Union Pacific Railroad at Paxton, California. Indian Valley is where the mine was located.
Throughout the series, entire episodes (and at one point, an entire season) were knocked out of continuity due to flashbacks from later episodes. For example, the series finale, "How the Station got its Name" changed the continuity of the entire first season.
On the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends VHS tapes from Thomas Gets Tricked and Other Stories to Better Late Than Never and Other Stories, the Thomas stories featured on the tapes were in order from their Shining Time Station air dates from the first season. All the tapes including the first ones always advertised "As Seen on Shining Time Station" some copies even including the Shining Time Station Sun on the top right corner it was then stopped after the release of James Goes Buzz Buzz and Other Thomas Stories when the show ended the previous year. Later prints of the VHS covers from Thomas Gets Tricked to James Goes Buzz Buzz would take out these advertisements.
When the second and third seasons aired in New Zealand, the third series VHS releases of Thomas in that country used George Carlin's narrations and advertised "Stories as seen on Shining Time Station" at the bottom of the front cover.
When George Carlin assumed the role of Mr. Conductor in the second season, all Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends stories from the first and second seasons were re-dubbed by him, although not all of them aired on television.
Restored clips from Shining Time Station could be seen at the Explore the Rails travelling exhibit.
After Shining Time Station, the fate of most of the props are unknown. The jukebox was featured in the series "The Doodlebops".
According to Britt Allcroft, she and Rick Siggelkow are currently working on releasing Shining Time Station onto DVD. However, Siggelkow confirmed in 2021 that the masters of Shining Time Station and Thomas are with Mattel, and no other news regarding a DVD release for the series has been announced, so it is currently unknown if the DVD project will be completed.
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