Schemer's Special Club is the fifteenth episode of the third season.
Schemer enters the station dressed in fancy clothes and trying to act super polite, much to the kids’ confusion. Schemer asks them if a Hobart Hume III has been asking for him, and Kara asks who that is. Schemer explains that Mr. Hume is the owner of the Snarlyville Toxic Chemical Company and also president of a club that Schemer adores, the Nickelaire Club. He adds that Mr. Hume is going to be coming by, and if he can impress him, he’ll let Schemer join. He has a plate of desserts with him to hopefully impress Hume, which includes some very sticky toffee.
Schemer then begins to practice his introduction to Mr. Hume, pretending to offer him some toffee but then allowing himself to eat it first. But after the first bite, Schemer begins to panic when he realizes he can’t open his mouth because the toffee is so sticky. As the kids laugh, Schemer stomps away to get his mouth unstuck.
The kids begin to wonder why Mr. Hume would be coming to the station in the first place. Kara suggests that maybe he is coming to see if he could hold club meetings there. At that moment, Mr. Conductor appears and asks the kids what’s going on. After Dan tells him that Schemer will be joining the Nickleaire Club, Mr. Conductor tells them of the Messy Club, whose meetings consist of completely trashing Mr. Conductor's house and yard, and the Clean Club, which puts everything right again. The kids are confused until Mr. Conductor explains that the two clubs have only one member, himself. He then leaves for a Messy Club meeting after realizing he is late.
Meanwhile, inside the Jukebox, Tito has returned from the tailor with his tuxedo and is excited about Mr. Hume's impending visit. The other members are just as excited, and begin to fantasize about Schemer taking them to the club and being surrounded by important people with nickels. As Didi comments on Schemer showing some class for once, Tito comes out of the dressing room and shows himself off in his new tux.
Back in the station, a very refined-looking man comes in and asks in a haughty manner for someone to help him. Schemer, trying to act refined as well, asks the man if he is Mr. Hume, which he is. Schemer then introduces himself (after stumbling in the Arcade) and proceeds to show Mr. Hume the station. At that moment, Stacy and Billy appear, and Mr. Hume asks Stacy to tell the stationmaster that he has arrived, not believing at first that Stacy is the stationmaster. After Stacy makes it clear who she is, Mr. Hume states that he’s familiar with her last name and how "common" it is. Billy then introduces himself, and Mr. Hume asks if his last name is translated from the French, but Billy corrects Mr. Hume that his last name is actually from the Lakota-Sioux. When Mr. Hume realizes this, he makes a rather rude comment about Billy being an Indian, to which Billy states that the preferred term is Native-American.
Already feeling bored, Mr. Hume asks if Schemer and the kids can provide some entertainment. Schemer agrees but the kids do not. Schemer motions for them to cooperate, heads over to the Jukebox, inserts a nickel, and selects a song. Inside the Jukebox, the Band immediately, and excitedly, begins to play "Ol' Joe Clark". As Grace is singing, Schemer begins to dance and gets the kids to join in, so as to entertain Mr. Hume, much to Stacy and Billy's bewilderment.
After the song is over, Mr. Hume comments on how Schemer was able to pull off such a performance. But when Schemer asks him what he thought of the song, Mr. Hume responds by saying how dreadful it was and how appalling the Jukebox is. Schemer tries to show how great the Arcade is, but Mr. Hume only sees it as a joke. The kids try to say that Schemer loves his Arcade, with Schemer immediately chiming in to suggest maybe they could use the space to sell chemicals. Mr. Hume finds the idea interesting and they both leave to talk some things over.
Back in the Jukebox, the Band begins to blame Grace for not trying hard enough but she tells them that they should blame Mr. Hume. The Band then starts to think what will happen to them if Schemer does join the club; maybe they’ll be left behind, or put up for sale in an antique store (real cheap), or maybe placed in the basement forever.
As they return to the station, Mr. Hume is wondering if Schemer is really "one of their kind". After mentioning that he doesn't mind that Schemer works for a living and the club is now more tolerant of "that kind of people", Stacy mentions that things do change over time. Realizing that she knows her history, Mr. Hume asks Stacy to regale him with some railroad tales, to which Stacy kindly refuses. But when he keeps pressuring her, Billy notices that Stacy’s beginning to lose her patience and quietly suggests that they talk in his workshop.
At this, Mr. Hume begins to say how appalled he is by their inability to make his visit more enjoyable. Schemer tries to show him other things but Mr. Hume begins to implore Billy to do some sort of demonstration of his culture. When Billy refuses to do so, Mr. Hume makes a rather racist insult which gets Billy riled. Realizing that tensions are coming to a head, Schemer tries to convince Mr. Hume that everybody is just joking, and goes on to say that the whole station is just one big joke. Mr. Hume then takes Schemer aside, and says that he did have his doubts about him, but now believes that he might just be "one of their kind", much to Schemer's pleasure. He states that he is going to return to the club and discuss the matter with his colleagues, promising to return. Wishing everyone farewell, Mr. Hume leaves the station.
After he is gone, Schemer begins to talk about how great Mr. Hume is and how he was able to impress him. Stacy and Billy try to explain how insulting, arrogant and prejudiced Mr. Hume is, but Schemer completely ignores them and explains that once he’s accepted into the Nickelaire Club, he will be able to get everybody else into the club as well, much to their disgust.
A little bit later, the kids are in the Arcade when Mr. Conductor appears in a cleaning suit and states that the Clean Club is now in session. After the kids tell him about what happened with Mr. Hume, Mr. Conductor is reminded of what happened to Oliver, the new Great Western Engine, when he began to think that he was better than the other engines. Once he’s done with the story, the kids begin to compare Oliver to Mr. Hume, only to realize that even though Oliver was stuck-up, he isn't as bad as Mr. Hume because he eventually learned his lesson. Suddenly, the kids hear Mr. Hume calling for Schemer, and they quickly go back to their game. As they do so, Mr. Conductor tries to leave but accidentally steps in the toffee. After commenting on how sticky it is, he manages to get unstuck and disappears.
Upon entering the station, Mr. Hume notices that there is nobody to greet or entertain him. After ringing the bell on the ticket counter, Stacy appears and Mr. Hume begins asking her to tell him some stories. But once again she refuses, and Mr. Hume makes a misogynistic comment on how women always let people down. He starts to pressure Billy into entertaining him instead, so Stacy finally plucks up some courage and begins to tell Mr. Hume a story, but not the kind of story he is expecting.
Stacy begins her story with a stationmaster, on the Indian Valley Railroad who was well-loved by everyone. One day, the stationmaster wanted to join the local business and social club, only to be refused entry because the station master was a woman by the name of Gracie Jones, Stacy’s grandmother. The name of the club was the Nickelaire Club, run by its founder: former president, and Mr. Hume’s grandfather, Hobart Hume I.
Mr. Hume comments on how that was before his time, however Stacy points out that even though it was, he is acting exactly like his grandfather. She then goes on to say how insulting and insensitive he was to them earlier, expecting them to kowtow to his every whim while they were busy. Stacy tells him that the sad part is he does not have to be prejudiced, it's something learned from someone like his Grandfather. She also states that she’s sorry for him, because he will never be able to have true friends while he still retains his prejudices and superior attitude. She concludes by saying he can use the station to catch a train, but will otherwise conduct his business elsewhere. After she leaves, Mr. Hume is about to express his offense, until Billy says where he comes from there is a name for people like Mr. Hume: bigots. Billy describes them by saying they don't stay long when they come to Shining Time Station and they never come back. Mr. Hume is obviously perturbed by this, but remains silent as Billy leaves.
At that exact moment, Schemer appears and notices that Mr. Hume was talking with Billy. Oblivious of what has just happened, Schemer explains that the reason why everyone is acting out right now is because they're nervous and, at the same time, want to join the club. Hume refuses to do so as the kids are too young, Stacy is a woman, and Billy is an "Indian". As he talks, Schemer, who thought Hume would change the rules slowly, becomes disillusioned about him and the club, with the final straw coming when Mr. Hume says that to be “one of them” he'll have to cut off the curl in his hair. At this, Schemer returns to his normal self and states that he would rather throw all of his nickels away than cut his curl off, for it's what makes him who he is. He starts questioning Mr. Hume on just what kind of club he’s running and is disturbed at Hume's attitude and prejudice and that the club doesn't sound like much fun to him now. Mr. Hume states that the purpose of the club is simply to provide a haven from the rest of the world, and the members are like a dessert while the rest of the world is just leftovers.
At the word "dessert", Schemer remembers the treats he brought earlier, and slyly offers Mr. Hume some toffee, which he accepts. The second Mr. Hume realizes he can't open his mouth, Schemer begins to tell him off by saying if the club isn't good enough for his friends, then it’s not good enough for him either. As Schemer boldly kicks Mr. Hume out of the station, an outraged Mr. Hume slams his hand onto the table, smashing the cake, and then trips on the gingerbread men he knocked onto the Arcade floor. The kids begin laughing at his predicament and after Billy politely helps him up, Mr. Hume stomps angrily away, while everyone begins to congratulate Schemer for standing up to him.
A little while later, the kids find Mr. Conductor using his magic to clean up the Arcade from Mr. Hume's Mess. Mr. Conductor explains that he thought Schemer deserved some help after standing up to Mr. Hume.
- Mr. Conductor
- Stacy Jones
- Billy Twofeathers
- Dan Jones
- Kara Cupper
- Mr. Hobart Hume III
- Tito Swing
- Grace Bass
- Tex and Rex
- Gracie Jones (mentioned)
- Oliver (mentioned)
- When the engines learn about Oliver’s daring escape from scrap, they consider him an engine of infinite resource and sagacity. Oliver is glad to be working again, but becomes conceited from his praise. When the other engines warn him about working with freight cars, he thinks he’s able to manage them with his “sagaciousness”, but looses control over a heavy train and is pushed bunker-first into the turntable well. Oliver is sent to be mended, and returns home later a wiser engine.
Jukebox Band Segment Song
- Old Joe Clark
- This was one of a handful of episodes released on home video.
- The Jukebox Puppet Band reveal that the station has a basement.
- This is the first and only appearance of Hobart Hume III.
- This is also the first time Mr. Conductor directly helps Schemer with something.
- The working title of this episode may have been "Nickelaire Club".