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The Missing Coach was an episode originally being developed for the second series, but was cancelled. It was to be based on the stories "Hullo Twins!" and "The Missing Coach" from The Railway Series book, The Twin Engines.

Plot

Work on the Fat Controller's railway has become more difficult, so he orders a goods engine from Scotland. However, two identical twin engines arrive instead. When the Fat Controller is informed, he goes to meet the engines, named Donald and Douglas, and discovers they have lost their numbers. The Fat Controller orders for them to have numbers painted on them and puts them to work, but is determined to find out which engine should be sent back.

Donald and Douglas have the numbers 9 and 10 added to their respective tenders, which they realize is the only way to tell them apart. The Fat Controller introduces the twins to Duck, who shows them around. At night, the twins put Gordon and Henry in their places after the two big engines tease them about their whistles.

Sometimes, the Express has a special coach added for passengers traveling on Thomas’ branch line. Whoever takes away Gordon’s empty coaches must remember to separate them from Thomas’ coach and shunt the latter onto the bay platform at Tidmouth for him to collect.

Douglas offers to do this job for Duck one morning and frets about being sent away, causing him to shunt the special coach, still full of passengers, with the empty ones in the carriage siding. Thomas arrives shortly thereafter and is angry when he finds that his coach is missing. The angry passengers emerge from the coach and complain to the Fat Controller.

The twins and their crews decide to swap tenders so as to fool the Fat Controller that they have nothing to do with the missing coach. Donald, impersonating Douglas, takes Douglas’ goods train, while Douglas stays behind with Donald’s still-uncoupled tender and makes up an excuse.

The Fat Controller and a few of the passengers confront Douglas, who tells his cover excuse. The Fat Controller appears to have fallen for it, but after the passengers have left, he suddenly swings around furiously and severely excoriates Douglas.

Characters

Locations

Trivia

  • In an interview released on Sodor Island Fansite shortly before his death in 2008, David Mitton confirmed that the episode was in production in 1985 and half way through filming when Britt Allcroft considered the episode unworthy of airing since she thought the plot would be too confusing for children. The twins swapping their tenders was what would have been too difficult for children to understand. Mitton also mentioned that he was in possession of all the footage filmed for this episode. He described the episode's plot as being "complicated and without too much action".
  • Several photos of promotional material are currently publicly visible of the filmed footage:
    • A shot of James wearing his angry face in-between a truck and a siding with the Fat Controller at Knapford Yard.
    • A shot of the Fat Controller with his assistants can be found in the American Random House Books releases of Thomas Gets Tricked and Other Stories (book) and Thomas' Big Storybook and other various books.
    • There is an image of a portion of what would have been the opening in the Fat Controller's office.
    • Two close ups of the Fat Controller in his office, the second one has him holding his hat.
    • A shot of the inspector from the Fat Controller's desk.
    • Two close-ups, each of Donald and Douglas from the beginning of the story. Donald's close-up is seen in various books, posters and on Douglas' Take-Along card. It was also seen on the cover to the New Zealand re-release of The Deputation and Other Stories on VHS.
    • There is an image of Donald beneath the coal hopper with Duck by his side and another of Duck and Douglas at Tidmouth Station.
    • Two stills of the twins at Tidmouth Sheds, while Gordon and Henry talk about their whistles in the background. These can be seen in a Japanese book and other merchandise.
    • Three close up shots of Gordon, Henry and one of the twins at Tidmouth Sheds, after both Twins put the two bigger engines in their place.
    • A scene of Douglas shunting the coaches is seen in the 1989 annual.
    • There are two shots featuring Thomas' Special Coach (an orange coach) attached to an express coach on a siding, one also featuring the Fat Controller in front of a group of passengers.
    • Douglas without his Tender and his crew getting ready with Donald's in front of the Brick Berth of Ffarquhar Sheds, revealing the turntable before the junction which leads to Tidmouth station.
  • Two photos from this episode that later made it into Break Van are a shot of the twins greeting the Fat Controller and the one where the tenders are given numbers.
  • Britt Allcroft's nephew stated that he was in possession of the original footage.
  • This is the first episode known to have been cancelled. However, the series pilot was never broadcast but was re-shot as the twenty-fifth episode of the first series.
  • The first clip in the episode Saved from Scrap and the first two clips in the episode Break Van were originally filmed for this episode beforehand.
  • This episode would have been the first (and only) appearance of Thomas' special coach in the television series, as well as the first episode to feature engines swapping tenders. However, because the episode was cancelled, the first episode to feature engines swapping tenders is the tenth series episode, It's Good to be Gordon.
  • At one point during development, the episode was referred to by the name Hullo Twins!, taking the name of the first story from The Twin Engines rather than the second.[1]
  • Had this episode been aired, it would have been the third time a tender engine was seen physically separated from their tender, the first being Thomas and the Breakdown Train and the second being Off the Rails.

Goofs

  • In what was to be the opening shot, Gordon stops shortly after passing the signal due to derailing. Due to this shot being reused for Saved from Scrap, this goof is shared between the two episodes.
  • Despite being told that both engines would be given numbers, Douglas' "10" is already painted on his tender when the Fat Controller meets the twins the first time while Donald's "9" is seen but blurred in the picture of him way in front of Ffarquhar Sheds' middle berth. Due to the former shot being reused for Break Van, this goof is shared between the two episodes.
  • In all existing images of the scene at Tidmouth Sheds, both Gordon and Henry's eyes are wonky.
  • In the scene where Douglas is separated from Donald's tender, the line of coaches is missing in the background.

References



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