|Shining Time Station|
|Created by||Britt Allcroft |
|Directed by||Matthew Diamond|
|Theme music composer||Joe Raposo|
|Opening theme||"Shining Time Station Theme" sung by Kevin Roth|
Paul Derrick Mason (season 1)
Stacey Hersh (seasons 2 & 3)
|Country of origin||United States|
Canada (seasons 2 & 3)
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||70 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Donald Johnson (1989)|
Angus Wright (1989)
Britt Allcroft (1991–1995)
Rick Siggelkow (1991–1995)
Jerry Hamza (1995)
|Producers||Britt Allcroft (1989–1990)|
Rick Siggelkow (1989–1990)
Nancy Chapelle (1991–1995)
Jim Corston (1995)
|Running time||28 minutes|
60 minutes (1995 specials)
|Production companies||Quality Family Entertainment|
Catalyst Entertainment (seasons 2 & 3)
YTV Canada (seasons 2 & 3)
|Distributor||The Britt Allcroft Company|
|Original network||PBS (USA)|
YTV (Canada; seasons 2 & 3)
|Original release||January 29, 1989 –|
June 11, 1993 (regular series)
28 February 1995 –
20 November 1995 (1995 specials)
|Related shows||Thomas & Friends|
Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales
Storytime with Thomas
Shining Time Station is an American children's television series jointly created by British television producer Britt Allcroft and American television producer Rick Siggelkow. The series was produced by Quality Family Entertainment (the American branch of The Britt Allcroft Company), in association with Catalyst Entertainment in seasons 2 and 3, for New York City's PBS station WNET, and was originally taped in New York City during its first season and in Toronto during the rest of its run. It incorporated sequences from the British television show Thomas & Friends, which was in turn based on the books of The Railway Series written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry. The series aired on PBS from January 29, 1989, until June 11, 1993, with four hour-long "Family Specials" premiering in primetime throughout 1995. Reruns continued to air on PBS until June 11, 1998. It aired on Fox Family from 1998 to 1999. It also aired on Nick Jr. in the summer of 2000 and on Canadian television networks such as APTN and SCN. Elements from the show were incorporated into the 2000 Thomas and Friends film Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
The initial 1989 season featured a cast that included Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor, Didi Conn as Stacy Jones, Brian O'Connor as Horace Schemer, Leonard Jackson as Harry Cupper, Jason Woliner as Matt Jones and Nicole Leach as Tanya Cupper. The show was retooled for the second (1991) and third (1993) seasons, with only Conn and O'Connor reprising their prior roles. George Carlin replaced Starr as Mr. Conductor, while Erica Luttrell, Ari Magder, Danielle Marcot, and Tom Jackson joined the primary cast in newly created roles. In addition to the three main seasons, a Christmas special featuring the original cast, aired in 1990, and four "family specials" aired in 1995 featuring the second cast. Providing the musical numbers for the show was "The Jukebox Band", a group of puppets. In 1996, only Carlin appeared in a spin-off series called Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales, which featured only six episodes with five Thomas stories and one Music video each. The station Interior was kept for the spin-off.
After the success of Thomas & Friends in the United Kingdom, Britt Allcroft and her production company teamed up with PBS station WNET in New York City to produce and distribute the sitcom-esque Shining Time Station, every episode of which would include a couple of episodes of Thomas & Friends. The series starred Ringo Starr, George Carlin, Didi Conn, Brian O'Connor, and the Flexitoon Puppets. Ringo Starr, who had already been providing the narration for the British series, agreed to extend the role to include the on-screen character called Mr. Conductor in Shining Time Station. He left the show after its initial season to focus on his musical career and was replaced by George Carlin.
Shining Time Station received critical acclaim. In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Ken Tucker states that, 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." It was a ratings success as well. In its first season, the show averaged a 0.9 Nielsen rating, translating to about 1.2 million viewers on average. At the peak of its popularity, the show brought in up to 7.5 million viewers per week.
The Shining Time Station is a train station on the Indian Valley Railroad in an unknown part of the United States. It is managed by Stacy Jones. Its workshop is run in the first season by Harry Cupper, and thereafter by Billy Twofeathers. A local named Horace Schemer, simply referred to as Schemer, runs the station's arcade and serves as the series' comic relief. He often comes up with tricks and schemes (hence his surname) to get his ways, although they usually backfire on him as a result of his foolishness. The narrative is driven by regular and incidental visitors to the station.
Mr. Conductor is a tiny man who lives in a signal house inside the station's mural and tells the stories taken from Thomas & Friends to the kids. He also introduces songs to the kids in The Anything Tunnel. Sometimes, he may present a magic bubble to the kids that has the song inside as a way of introducing it. On occasion, the kids may look through a film viewer to see the song or film.
The songs were arranged and performed by Steve Horelick with Larry Wolf. They featured vocal performances by Rory Dodd, Vaneese Thomas, Emily Bindinger and Jonathan Freemen.
The intro to each episode consists of the main theme song of the show, played to footage of the Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 844 and the credits of the series' characters. Only the first verse is sung for the beginning theme. The closing credits contain more shots of the Union Pacific 844, in addition to the full Shining Time Station theme song. For the Christmas special "'Tis A Gift" the footage used for the opening and closing sequences were filmed at the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams, Arizona and features their locomotive #18.
Main article: List of Shining Time Station episodes
The beginning of each VHS release (except for 'Tis a Gift, Shining Time Station Singsongs, Schemer Presents: The World According to Me, The Jukebox Band: A Day in the Life, and The Jukebox Band: Lullaby) featured a model scale of a typical 1950s drive-in movie theater called the "Shining Time Drive-In Movie Theater" with parody commercials before the episode started. Then, after the episode of Shining Time Station was shown, a short segment known as "Schemer Presents!" was shown. Each segment featured Schemer teaching the viewers how to do something, with one of the other regular characters helping him. Afterwards, the announcer wishes everyone a safe drive home. The Drive-In segments were created by Chip Lord & Mickey McGowan.