Shining Time Station is an American children's television series co-created by Britt Allcroft and Rick Siggelkow. It was produced by The Britt Allcroft Company and Quality Family Entertainment in New York for New York City PBS Station, WNET, and was filmed in New York City and aired on PBS in 1989.
After the success of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends in the United Kingdom, Allcroft and her production company teamed up with PBS Station WNET in New York to produce and distribute the sitcom-esque Shining Time Station. Every episode would include two episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. The series starred Ringo Starr, Didi Conn, Brian O'Connor, The Flexitoon Puppets, and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. Ringo Starr, who had already been providing the voice of the storyteller for the British series, agreed to extend the role to include the on-screen character Mr. Conductor in Shining Time Station.
Shining Time Station received critical acclaim. In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker stated, "Compared to the faster paced Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, Shining Time Station wants to slow things down; it's an old-fashioned show that creates a gentle, lulling atmosphere to convince children that life is fun and that trains are the way to travel."
Shining Time Station is a train station that resides on the Indian Valley Railroad. It is managed by Stacy Jones, the station master whose grandmother, Gracie Jones (who gave the station its name), ran it when she was Stacy's age. Its workshop is run by railroad engineer and mechanic Harry Cupper.
A local named Horace Schemer (simply called Schemer) runs the station's arcade and is always finding new ways to make more money or to protect it. He serves as the series' comic relief. He believes that strange goings-on in the station happen because it is haunted.
Harry's granddaughter, Tanya, and Stacy's nephew, Matt, also visit the station.
Other visitors to the station include various townspeople, such as socialite and gossip Midge Smoot, Mayor Osgood Bob Flopdinger of East Shemp (The town name likely a reference to comedian Shemp Howard), and Mr. J.B. King, Esq., the superintendent of the Indian Valley Railroad.
There is a jukebox in the arcade that houses a band that perform for the nickels that are dropped inside. It consists of lead singer/drummer Didi, twin guitarists Tex and Rex (who play one oversized instrument together), bassist/vocalist Grace, and pianist Tito.
Mr. Conductor is a tiny man who lives in a signal house inside the station's mural and tells the stories of "Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends" to the kids and by blowing on his train whistle a cloud fills the room and goes to the Thomas short. He can teleport in a cloud of his magic gold dust.
- Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor
- Didi Conn as Stacy Jones
- Leonard Jackson as Harry
- Nicole Leach an Tanya
- Brian O'Conner as Schemer
- Jason Woliner as Matt
- Flexitoon Puppets as The Juke Box Band
- Thomas The Tank Engine
- A Place Unlike Any Other (Thomas Stories: Thomas Gets Tricked and Edward Helps Out)
- Does it Bite? (Thomas Stories: Come Out, Henry! and Henry to the Rescue)
- And the Band Played Off (Thomas Stories: A Big Day for Thomas and Trouble for Thomas)
- Pitching In and Helping Out (Thomas Stories: Thomas Saves the Day and James Learns a Lesson)
- Show and Yell (Thomas Stories: Foolish Freight Cars and A Proud Day for James)
- Faith, Hope and Anxiety (Thomas Stories: Thomas and the Conductor and Thomas Goes Fishing)
- Agree to Disagree (Thomas Stories: Terence the Tractor and Thomas and Bertie's Great Race)
- Whistle While You Work (Thomas Stories: Tenders and Turntables and Trouble in the Shed)
- Two Old Hands (Thomas Stories: Percy Runs Away and Thomas Comes to Breakfast)
- Happy Accidents (Thomas Stories: Henry's Special Coal and The Flying Kipper)
- Ring in the Old (Thomas Stories: Toby the Tram Engine and Thomas Breaks the Rules)
- Impractical Jokes (Thomas Stories: A Cow on the Line and Old Iron)
- Finders Keepers (Thomas Stories: Double Trouble and James in a Mess)
- Just Wild About Harry's Workshop (Thomas Stories: Duck Takes Charge and Percy Proves a Point)
- Promises, Promises (Thomas Stories: Better Late Than Never and Pop Goes the Diesel)
- Word's Out (Thomas Stories: Diesel's Devious Deed and A Close Shave for Duck)
- Mapping it Out (Thomas Stories: The Runaway and Percy Takes the Plunge)
- Too Many Cooks (Thomas Stories: Gordon Takes a Dip and Down the Mine)
- Things That Go Gahooga in the Night (Thomas Stories: Percy's Ghostly Trick and Woolly Bear)
- Is This the End? (Thomas Stories: Saved from Scrap and A New Friend for Thomas)
- Tis A Gift (Thomas Stories: Thomas's Christmas Party and Thomas & The Missing Christmas Tree)
Occasionally, there were a few differences between the narrations heard on the first five VHS releases of Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends and what was heard on Shining Time Station.
- Thomas likes to tease Gordon with his whistle./And off he ran laughing./"Maybe I don't have to tease Gordon to feel important," Thomas thought to himself./Edward's driver came up. (Retaken)
- How long do you think Henry will stay in the tunnel before he overcomes his fear of the rain and then decides to journey out again?/"I'd like to come out of the tunnel." But Henry didn't know how to ask. (Retaken)
- "Hurry, hurry, hurry", puffed James. (Absent)
- "We'll it tomorrow, Sir Topham Hatt will look silly." (2 seconds early)
- The outro theme in Thomas Breaks The Rules is not shortened.
- The coal chute sound effects are muted in Double Trouble.
- Gordon, James and Henry were furious. (1 second early)
- One key in Duck's theme is off after he backs down on the trucks in Pop Goes the Diesel.
- Ringo gasps after he says "Duck would never do that" in Diesel's Devious Deed.
- The narration is a split-second out of sync with the music and sound effects in Percy Takes the Plunge.
- Not released on DVD.