Promises, Promises is the fifteenth episode of the first season.
Outside the workshop, Mr. Conductor is trying to make adjustments to the schedule board when he decides to take a break. Matt asks if there are ever scheduling problems on Sodor, which Mr. Conductor affirms, and tells them the story of how repairs on the viaduct caused delays and created a conflict between an impatient Thomas and his friend Bertie.
Mr. Conductor concludes the story by saying that things did go back to normal again and is sure it'll be the same with the Indian Valley Railroad.
Stacy emerges from the workshop to invite everyone in for a meeting. Mr. Conductor asks about Harry's sketch of the Indian Valley Railroad. Harry has re-worked the railroad's schedule for the main line so that no one will be late, with the added benefit of attracting more business to the station. Harry and Stacy plan to present their ideas to J.B. King at the Indian Valley Railroad's main office, but can't leave the kids alone at the station. Just then, Schemer calls out asking if someone needs help and Mr. Conductor takes this as his cue to disappear.
Schemer enters the workshop and, offers to manage the station and to watch over the "adorable tykes". Stacy doesn't think Schemer would want to babysit. She expresses her doubts as we hear a train stopping at the station. Harry announces that it's the 10:35 express, the last train bound for the main office that day. As Harry gets ready, Stacy leaves Schemer with instructions to call the train dispatcher within the next half hour to tell him that there's a broken signal on track 2. Schemer promises and quickly flashes two thumbs-up behind Stacy's back as she and Harry hurry to board the train.
Schemer's attitude changes as soon as the other adults are gone. He orders Matt to take down the railroad schedule board and tells Tanya to cover the items in the lost and found with a sheet. He giddily goes over to the jukebox to play a song to celebrate his promotion. Inside the jukebox, Didi questions Schemer's so-called promotion, saying that Stacy only put him in charge of the station for a day. Tito grumbles that the moment Schemer put on Stacy's cap, he turned into a big shot. Schemer inserts the nickel and chooses "Oh! Susannah," which the band begins to play.
Schemer is basking in power when the telephone rings. The caller is asking for train schedule information, but Schemer is extremely rude with them, ending the call with the declaration that he doesn't have time to talk about trains. Tanya reminds him that he needs to call the train dispatcher. Schemer brushes off her reminder and Matt warns him that he'll be in trouble with Stacy when she gets back. Schemer retorts that Stacy will reward him with a medal once she sees what he's doing to the station. When Matt asks, Schemer elaborates that he's going to turn the station into a moneymaker and is off to see a friend who will help make it happen. Schemer then sends the kids to play in Harry's workshop as he leaves.
Once inside the workshop, Matt wishes that Stacy was back just as Mr. Conductor appears. He's been watching what Schemer's doing and Matt asks if he can stop him. Mr. Conductor explains that while his magic can do many things, it only works if you believe in it, and Schemer only believes in himself. All of the trouble with Schemer reminds Mr. Conductor of when Diesel first met the engines on the Island of Sodor, and goes on to tell them the story.
At the end of the tale Mr. Conductor compares Diesel to Schemer; he has his mind more on himself than on anything or anyone around him. Suddenly, Schemer is heard ordering someone around in the station. Mr.Conductor is reluctant to leave, but does not want to actually confront Schemer.
Tanya says that they have to talk to Schemer all the time, with Matt adding that right now they have to do everything he says. Schemer calls them to come out into the main station where they're surprised to see pinball machines, arcade games and rides all over the station. Schemer introduces them to Tony, a very muscular fellow, moving an arcade pony ride.
The kids are shocked by what they've just witnessed when Tony comes over to tell them that he's charging a quarter a ride, then leaves. Schemer climbs onto the pony ride as he inserts a quarter into the machine. Tanya looks on in dismay as Schemer is having fun, but it ends with the ride abruptly stopping. Matt rebukes him for messing up the station with rides that don't even work, and Schemer admits that he'll need to speak to Tony about the matter and to get his quarter back.
As Stacy and Harry come in, Mr. King is complaining how their train was kept in a siding all day because no one from the station notified the train dispatcher. Stacy explains and is shocked when she glances at the arcade machines everywhere. Seeing Matt and Tanya, Mr. King accuses Stacy of leaving two children in charge of the station. Stacy panics and whispers to the kids asking where Schemer is. Schemer walks in saying he has a maintenance man coming over to repair them.
Mr. King calls Harry and Stacy that he will be reducing the number of trains that stop there, cutting back their service to secondary branch line traffic only. Mr. King then shouts at Schemer to remove all of the arcade equipment before leaving.
Schemer thinks it's all a big joke until Harry sternly reveals that was Mr. King. Stacy told him he broke every promise made to her. Schemer tries to defend his position by insisting that they'll do a lot of business as soon as the machines are repaired.
Tony returns and informs Schemer that he changed his mind. He will be putting his machines in a new shopping mall, and will be back the next day to take them away. Schemer says that he's disappointed after trying so hard to make the station work. Stacy angrily tells him that his interference almost got her and Harry fired, and the railroad might take away the station. Schemer tells them to change their attitude and not to worry because he'll think of something and leaves in a chipper mood.
Mr. Conductor appears and suggests explaining Schemer's actions to Mr. King. Stacy replies that Mr. King would only tell them that they should have known better than to leave Schemer in charge. She suggests removing the rides from the station.
- Mr. Conductor
- Stacy Jones
- Harry Cupper
- Matthew Jones
- Tanya Cupper
- J.B. King
- Tony the Mover
- Thomas (mentioned)
- Duck (mentioned)
- Diesel (mentioned)
- Bertie (mentioned)
The viaduct on the Main Line is undergoing repair work, delaying everything and everyone. This makes Thomas very cross as he has to wait for the Main Line trains at the junction, making him late with his own connection with Bertie the Bus. Eventually, Bertie begins to tease Thomas about his lateness, until one day Bertie breaks down at a level crossing. Thomas, running late as usual, takes Bertie’s passengers home and sends for help. Afterward, Bertie apologises to Thomas, and they both agree that being late at times isn’t such a bad thing.
Sir Topham Hatt brings a diesel shunter to the yard on trial and asks Duck to show him around. Duck tries to help, but Diesel refuses to listen to him, claiming he knows everything. But whilst collecting cars for Duck, he pulls out the wrong ones, looses his temper and makes a dreadful mess of it. Duck finds it all amusing and so do the cars, who embark in a delightful singsong of “Pop Goes the Diesel!” leaving Diesel angry and in disgrace.
Jukebox Band Song Segment
- Oh! Susanna
- This is the only episode in the series to use a 'To Be Continued' cliffhanger.
- Schemer reveals that he weighs 146 pounds (if that number is to be believed!).
- This is the first time J.B. King is seen in person.
- The audio from the scene where Stacy and Harry are talking about how railroad timetables are promises has been reused in many subsequent episode sped-up telephone conversations.
- The sped-up telephone voice heard when Schemer is speaking to a caller on the phone is actually T.S. Eliot reading the poem Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.
- Schemer: (after finding out who J.B. King is) Open foot, insert mouth.
- Stacy: I'm very worried, Harry. The railroad told us the repairs will be done in 3 days. It's already been 6 days and it's still not finished.
Harry: Well, the repair crew is doing the best they can. People have to travel in safety.
Stacy: I know, but the main office sends us a new schedule impractically every day. The Indian Valley Railroad has to understand that a train schedule is like a promise and a promise has to be kept whether it's made by a person or a railroad. We've got to come up with something to help our passengers.