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Recap / Thomas The Tank Engine S2 E12 "Pop Goes the Diesel"

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Air date: October 29th, 1986

Adapted from: Duck and the Diesel Engine, "Pop Goes the Diesel"

Duck is proud of being a Great Western engine and talks endlessly about it, but works hard too and makes everything go like clockwork. Since Duck came around, things on The Fat Controller's railway are going well; the coaches and trucks behave well and the passengers have stopped grumbling. However, the big engines are irritated with Duck's boasting about his Great Western heritage.

Soon, a new engine named Diesel arrives to the Island of Sodor. Duck is ordered by The Fat Controller to teach him what he can do in the yard since he is given a trial. Diesel introduces himself to the engines, and Gordon, Henry and James ware flattered by his polite manners, but Duck doesn't take a liking to Diesel's oily nature.

As Duck and Diesel arrive to the yard, Duck's dislike of him is mutual as he firmly orders him to refer The Fat Controller as "Sir Topham Hatt". Diesel smugly tells him that he doesn't have to be told what to do and that diesels know everything and that diesels always come to a yard and improve them; diesels are revolutionary. Duck, who doesn't correctly pronounce "revolutionary", orders him to collect his trucks as he shunts Gordon's Express train. Eager to show off, Diesel goes to work.


When Duck returns, Diesel is trying to take some trucks on a siding. The trucks are old, empty and haven't been touched for a long time. This gives Diesel a difficult time in pulling them. Duck is eager to see how this would go. A frustrated Diesel begins to get rough with the trucks; he gives a great heave, causing some of their brakes to snap and their gears to be jammed. Diesel tries moving them back, but they don't move.

Duck arrives with the other trucks Diesel arranged and thanks him for arranging it. Diesel asks if he wanted the old ones, but Duck declines. Flustered about this, Diesel asks Duck why didn't he tell him about it, but Duck tells him that he never asked and reminds him that he was too busy trying to show off what diesels can do. Duck leaves happily while Diesel growls with disgust.


Later, Diesel reluctantly helps the workman to clear up the mess while the troublesome trucks laugh and sing at him. As the mess is cleared, Diesel goes to sulk in the shed very angry with the trucks and Duck.

Tropes are waiting in the yard... (YMMV here):

  • Artifact Title: The episode name (and the trucks' song) seems to derive from a point in the novel version in which Diesel pulls so hard the trucks' coupling snaps and sends him hurtling across the line, which isn't adapted into the episode. note 
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Diesel.
  • Bowdlerisation: In Ringo Starr's narration, during the point where Diesel starts complaining to Duck about how the Fat Controller said that he needs to learn, he starts off by trying to refer to him as "Your worthy Fat Controller" before Duck corrects him with "Sir Topham Hatt to you". Meanwhile, George Carlin's narration has him start to say "Your worthy Topham Hatt", and Duck corrects him in almost the same way but with a particular emphasis on "Sir".
  • Break the Haughty: Diesel suffers this.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Duck has a hard time pronouncing the word "revolution" and calls it "revothingumy".
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Diesel, obviously.
  • Fantastic Racism: This episode marks the beginning of the rivalry between steam engines and diesels.
  • Giggling Villains: This was the first time the trucks are given high-pitched giggling.
  • Karmic Trickster: While not directly, Duck has no problem watching Diesel go on a wild goose chase with some dilapidated trucks after he proves conceited.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The troublesome trucks sing rudely to Diesel, who was earlier eager in showing off what he could do to prove his point to steam engines.
  • Obviously Evil: Diesel has black paint, a sinister smile, a sinister Leitmotif, and a shady voice that flatters the other engines.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Duck is quite vocal about his Great Western heritage, much to the annoyance of Gordon, Henry, and James.
    Duck: "There are two ways of doing things: The Great Western Way or the wrong way. I'm Great Western and..."
    Other engines: Don't we know it!
  • Story Arc: This is the beginning of the "Duck and Diesel" story arc, which continues in the next two episodes.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: The title of the episode. The Troublesome Trucks sing a parody of "Pop Goes The Weasel" in regards to Diesel's failure in pulling the trucks:
    "Trucks/Cars are waiting in the yard, Tackling them with ease'll,
    "Show the world what I can do," Gaily boasts the Diesel,
    In and out he creeps about, Like a big black weasel,
    When he pulls the wrong trucks/cars out, Pop Goes The Diesel!"
  • Visionary Villain: Diesel.
    "Your worthy Sir Topham Hatt thinks I need to learn. He is mistaken. We diesels don't need to learn, we know everything. We come to a yard and improve it. We are revolutionary!"
  • You Didn't Ask: Diesel asks if Duck wants the arranged, yet jammed trucks, but Duck tells him he already has a lot, and didn't tell Diesel because he didn't ask.


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