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James' Search Party
Season 5, Episode 11
Air date January 22nd, 2016
Written by DonaldDouglasandToby6
Directed by DonaldDouglasandToby6
Episode guide
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Silver Steam
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Culdee and the Enthusiasts

Plot

Between the Sodor Dairy and Crosby, there is a little farm beside the Main Line. On the farm is a little farmhouse and a farmer who raises sheep for a living. The sheep grazes in the surrounding grass and sleep at a barn at night; the farmer always protects his sheep. James is good friends with the farmer. "Hello, Farmer Walsh! How's the livestock today?" asked James as he puffed in with some trucks that were to be filled with wool. "Just in time." sighed Farmer Walsh, "It's a good thing, too. I was worried they wouldn't produce enough wool." "Be careful loading that." chuckled James, "Wouldn't want my paint to be all disgusting with wool." "Oh, James." laughed Farmer Walsh and the trucks were soon loaded. Despite James loving to be cleaned and Farmer Walsh's lifestyle, the two got on very well indeed.

But one day, when James puffed in with some lumber to help repair the barn after a recent storm, he noticed that Farmer Walsh was worried as he paced the platform. "What's the matter, sir?" James asked concernedly as he came to a halt. "Oh no, no, no, this can't be happening!" groaned the farmer as he hadn't even noticed James had arrived. "Uh... sir?" James asked. "I can't lose her! She has a lamb to take care of!" moaned Farmer Walsh. James sighed and he blew his whistle to get his attention. Farmer Walsh jumped and grinned sheepishly at the red engine. "Oh... hello, James." "What's wrong?" James asked worriedly, "You're not usually this jumpy." "Oh, it's the worst possible thing!" Farmer Walsh groaned. "No, the worst possible thing would be if mud appeared out of nowhere and coated me." James muttered. Ignoring the red engine, the farmer continued his rambling. "One of my beloved sheep escaped from that hole in the barn last night! I knew I should've fixed that earlier! What shall I do?" the farmer sighed, burying his face in his hands. James tried to think of a solution. "Perhaps I can keep a lookout while I do my duties." suggested James. The farmer looked up and his expression turned to glee in an instant. "Thank you, James. That would be very helpful." he said gratefully. "It's no problem for a friend." said James and the lumber was soon unloaded.

Soon, James had dropped off the flatbeds in the yard and was now looking for some trucks that were to be delivered to Lower Tidmouth. He found Norman, who had already finished shunting them. "Hello James." said Norman, "You look rather down today." "It's Farmer Walsh's sheep. You remember that farm, don't you?" said James. "Uh... I think so. What's wrong with his sheep?" asked Norman worriedly. "One of them got lost last night due to a hole in the barn. I promised to look for it, but I can't exactly look when my destination is nowhere near the farm." James sighed. "Ah, I see." chuckled Norman, "Why not look tonight?" "I... have night jobs?" said James. "No, you don't," laughed Norman, "You're just making excuses." "Alright, alright, I am," sighed the red engine, "I mean, I want to help my friend but... how am I supposed to find the little sheep?" "The answer's right on your footplate," smirked Norman. James looked down at his lamp. "...oh." "Come along, James," said his driver, "We must take this train to Lower Tidmouth." James sighed "Alright, don't rush." he muttered as he backed onto the trucks. He whistled quickly and set off. "Good luck with your search!" cried Norman. "I'll need it," muttered James.

Soon, James arrived at Lower Tidmouth, but he was a bit distracted. Edward chuffed in with a local train. "Hello James!" he said as kindly as always, but James didn't answer; he was too deep in thought of how he was going to find the sheep. Edward sighed and whistled loudly. James jumped and gave a sheepish smile. "What's wrong, James? You're not usually so distracted." said Edward. "Oh, uh... I have to find a lost sheep for my friend tonight, but I have no clue where to start!" James cried, "I mean, what if the sheep ran off into the hills?" Edward grinned. "Well, it's good you're helping a friend, James. But... I think it'd be best if you looked in the area around the farm. That'd be the best first place to look." and Edward puffed away. James sighed. "Well, I suppose all I have to do now is wait..."

Soon, night came. At Tidmouth Sheds, all the engines were there, except for James. "Where's James at?" asked Emily worriedly, "He's not usually this late." "I think he's just going for a nightly run. Perhaps the Flying Kipper!" laughed Gordon. "I'm doing that job later tonight," said Henry, "I think he's just... shunting? I'm not too sure." Edward smiled. "He's actually looking for a lost sheep and-" Gordon burst out laughing before Edward could finish. "Yes, look for a lost sheep instead of getting some rest! That's just like little James!" Edward rolled his eyes. "Gordon, you're being rather disrespectful towards that little sheep. It's all alone and helpless." "Edward, you're being too dramatic again," moaned Gordon in disgust. Edward just sighed.

Meanwhile, out on the Main Line, James puffed along with a cattle van and a brakevan, keeping a good eye out for any sign of a sheep. "We have to be quiet if you think we'll be able to hear a sheep," said the driver. "Well, I can't help being loud!" James snorted, "If only Stafford was here, but he's in the yard." The driver sighed. "Indeed. Stafford once found some of Farmer McColl's lost sheep by listening carefully." "Let's try it," said James so they puffed onto a siding. James' driver, the fireman, and James all listened. But all they heard was a dog barking nearby, and some cars driving on the road. "Bother!" said James crossly, "Nothing!" "It's called patience, James," said the driver, "Learn it or we'll never find the sheep." James sighed and listened again. This time he heard something, but it wasn't what he expected. Beside James' siding was a red signal. The sound James had heard was Rosie's whistle as she puffed in with a special load of supplies. She came to a halt at the signal and looked over at the red engine. "Hello, James! What are you doing here? Is Tidmouth too sooty for you?" she giggled. James snorted. "No. I'm looking for a lost sheep, but I haven't the faintest idea where it is." Rosie looked confused. "Why are you looking for sheep? Are you a shepherd?" the tank engine asked cheekily. James quickly lost patience. "I'm doing this for my friend, Farmer Walsh!" James said crossly. Rosie chuckled. "Oh, you? You have a good side? Doubt it!" James hissed in fury as the signal went back to green. "Well, soon I'll be in a nice, cozy shed while you're stuck out here all night! Goodbye!" and Rosie puffed away. The red engine was cross, but he didn't want to let Farmer Walsh down by scaring away any possible clues to the hidden animal. "I don't think this is working; let's go," James eventually sighed.

Suddenly a loud "Baaaa!" could be heard. "Listen!" hushed the fireman. "Baaaa!" James grinned broadly. "There it is! The sheep! Ha ha, I knew I could find it!" James said as he started to whistle. "James, no!" cried the driver but it was already too late. The sheep was behind some bushes which were in a field beside the line. It had heard the noise and ran off down towards Crosby. "Oh no!" cried James hastily as he swiftly puffed out of the siding. The driver quickly switched the points and James started off after the sheep. The sheep was barely visible, as she kept scurrying into bushes, but James wasn't ready to give up. "I'll return it to its farmer! Let's go!" he shouted as he puffed on. The sheep scurried away from the line; it wanted to hide away from all the loud noises of the railway. It perked up its head to find Bertie driving by on the road. The noise of Bertie's engine was too scary for the sheep and it scurried away back in the opposite direction. James was nearing Crosby when the sheep ran out of the bushes. "Driver, stop!" yelped James. The brakes were applied and the red engine quickly stopped, but the screeching of James' brakes startled the animal even more. "Whoops," said James sheepishly as the sheep scurried off his track and onto the track next to him. The animal's stomach growled, and it realized it hadn't eaten in a while. Down below her hooves the sheep felt grass. She lowered her head and started to feed on some of the grass that was growing in the ballast. "Well, at least there aren't many night trains... Henry won't be out with The Flying Kipper for a while," muttered James as he came to a halt, a bit away from the animal. "I think I have an idea," whispered the fireman as he put out James' fire and ran away from the sheep and his engine. "What in the blazes is he doing?" asked the driver. The fireman chuckled to himself as he grabbed a handful of grass and pulled it out of the ground. "Sheep eat grass," he explained as he walked back to James, "So we can use this to lure her into the cattle van." James grinned. "Now we'll get her!" James said happily, "And she'll be safe, back in her barn where she belongs!" But the trio hadn't remembered a very important detail...

Pip and Emma neared the Sodor Suspension Bridge with glee and excitement. "I can't believe we got the night run!" said Pip. "That's what happens when Gordon's resting," sneered Emma, "It's a shame for him though. The island looks beautiful at night." "Doesn't it?" grinned Pip as they scurried onto the bridge. Pip and Emma were coming back from Barrow-in-Furness, and were heading back towards Tidmouth before resting for the night. They glided over the suspension bride and were soon heading towards Crosby.

Meanwhile, the fireman was trying to lure the sheep. "Come sheep. Come along. I've got food..." But the sheep was still grazing, so she didn't really care about the grass. "...ugh. This'll take forever!" moaned the fireman. The sheep looked up and blinked at the fireman, then went back to its meal. The fireman slapped his forehead. James and his driver giggled in amusement. "Quiet," snapped the fireman, "I'm trying my best here. I doubt a sentient engine could help with this anyhow." James scoffed. Pip and Emma scurried on, taking in the beautiful scenery as they could. "I wonder what Gordon would say with our work," said Pip. "Gordon's friends with us now, remember?" said Emma, "I don't think he's jealous anymore. He's got... bigger enemies." The two Diesels giggled as they rounded a bend. "Well, we're about to enter Crosby," said Emma.

Back near the station, James could feel rumbling on the ground. "What's going on? Who's pulling a train at this time of night?!" cried James. The driver gasped suddenly. "I think Pip and Emma's coming with the midnight express," he shouted, "Fireman, get out of there.'' "Huh?" "Train coming! We've got to alert Pip and Emma!" cried James. The fireman gulped and quickly ran off the tracks. "I've got this," he said determinedly and, as quickly as he could, lit James' fire again. James, knowing he had to before it was too late, whistled loud and long. The echo could be heard from all around, as dogs started barking at the noise. The sheep looked up and cried out in fear. "Well, we're almost at the station now, Pip." said Emma. "Yep, but no time to stop. Tidmouth awaits!" cried Pip as her light beamed out in front of her. The high-speed engines scurried along the line in their usual happiness. Then Pip heard a whistle, and it was a very loud one. "Emma, did you hear that?" asked Pip worriedly. "It sounded a bit like an alert," said Emma, "I wonder what's wrong!" Pip pondered the situation when she noticed something on the line. "Emma, brake! Quickly!" cried Pip. "What? Why? This isn't our-" "Just do it!" yelped Pip. Emma gulped as the brakes were applied. James gasped as Pip and Emma could be seen approaching the station. The sheep tried to jump out of the way, but she tripped over the metal rail. Pip and Emma raced in, their brakes sparking. "Come on Pip, stop!" yelped Emma. "I'm trying!" cried Pip. James shut his eyes in horror. "I can't look!" he said. Pip and Emma shut their eyes as well as they all feared for the worst. An eerie silence followed. Pip slowly opened an eye, but she realized the sheep wasn't hurt; they had stopped just in time. "Oh, hooray, hooray! Open your eyes, James and Emma! The sheep is alright!" Pip exclaimed. James did so, and was overjoyed. "We did it!" he cried. "But I can't see what's happening," said Emma. "Just know the sheep is fine," said James' fireman, "Here, sheep. Sheepie. I've got some tasty plants." The sheep sniffed the food, and the fireman took a step back towards the cattle van. This continued until the sheep was next to the cattle van. The sheep licked her lips and the fireman threw the grass into the van. "Go on girl," he said kindly. The animal, desperately wanting some food after the incident, jumped in. The fireman closed the door and locked it to make sure it was secure. Pip and Emma honked their horns in delight, and James blew a final "Toot, toot!" "Sorry we were an inconvenience," apologized Emma. "Oh it's alright. You didn't mean any harm," grinned James, "I'm just glad this little fellow is safe." And she was, munching on the grass. Pip and Emma oiled away and James set off for the farm.

Farmer Walsh was pacing in his bedroom, waiting for James. "Oh no, what if James can't find the sheep! What if it got hurt?! Where's the vet?! Oh dear, oh dear, what if-" Before the nervous farmer could say anything else, James' loud whistle rang through the air. "James!" grinned the farmer as he scurried down the stairs and out the door. He ran out onto the lawn and raced up to the platform. "James, oh thank goodness you're back with my sheep safe and sound," Farmer Walsh said in relief. James smiled broadly. "It's no problem, Farmer Walsh. All your sheep deserve to be back home... even if this one is a bit.. dirty." The lock was unlocked and the sheep, happy to see her owner, ran over to him. "Come on, little one. It's time to go to sleep," and the farmer yawned, emphasizing his point. James chuckled and puffed away as soon as the lock was secure again. He dropped the two pieces of rolling stock back at Knapford Yard. "Phew... Glad that's done," the red engine said to himself.

At Tidmouth Sheds, Emily was still a little worried. "It shouldn't take this long to find a sheep..." she murmured. "Emily, you're about as dramatic as Edward," scowled Gordon. Emily frowned. "Well, it's true," said Gordon. James puffed in on the turntable. "Hello everyone... I'm back... What a night I had!" James yawned as the turntable turned to his berth. "What happened?" asked Edward. "It's a long story," said James sleepily. "Whatever; it's still ridiculous you tried to find a lost sheep..." Gordon muttered. James chuckled. "Gordon, I may admit that I may sometimes care about my paint more than anything else, but that doesn't mean I'm heartless." That silenced the express engine as James went to sleep after his long search party. He was glad the sheep was back to her home, and that it wouldn't get into any more danger.

Characters

  • Edward
  • Henry
  • Gordon
  • James
  • Emily
  • Pip and Emma
  • Rosie
  • Norman
  • Farmer Walsh
  • Bertie (does not speak)
  • Stepney (cameo)
  • Murdoch (cameo)
  • Stanley (cameo)
  • Dave (cameo)
  • Caroline (cameo)
  • Stafford (mentioned)
  • Farmer McColl (mentioned)

Locations

  • Farmer Walsh's Farm
  • Tidmouth Yard
  • Lower Tidmouth
  • Tidmouth Sheds
  • Crosby
  • Sodor Suspension Bridge
  • Sodor Dairy (mentioned)
  • Barrow-in-Furness (mentioned)

Trivia

  • A reference to the seventeenth season episode Steamie Stafford is made.
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