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This is what BJ (from Barney & Friends) told in June 7, 1999.

Prologue

BJ tells the prologue:


Several years ago, I bought and received a job lot of early Thomas & Friends videos and the like from an eBay seller, with the help of my friends Barney, Sissy and Riff. The auction's description mentioned that several of the videos were actually given to him prior to the release of the series on VHS, implying that the seller originally worked on the show in some way. Some of the early tapes he sent me were in relatively good condition (considering they're almost 3-15 years old) and some are a little worse for wear, with missing boxes, labels, etc.

Some of the tapes had the original labels missing and had crudely-written replacement labels stuck to them. Other tapes had earlier versions of certain episodes with extra (or missing) sound effects, as well as short bits of footage that did not make it to the final versions of the episodes. Some VHS tapes are US ones. Some are the UK ones.

The video that grabbed my interest the most, however, was a video simply called "The Lost Episode from 1996", which I believe was filmed in 1996, before the rest of the 4th season episodes in 1996-1998.

I knew what the plot says:

Seventeen is still rude to the other engines, and tries to show them how he can pull cars, but he gets himself in harm's way!

Video

Intrigued, I played the video before any of the others I received in the Job lot.

The video starts with a date displayed in the bottom right hand corner. It only appears for a few seconds, and it says "5/2/1996" which would mean the 5th Feburary, 1996. According to most sources, 1996 is the year which more Season 4 episodes are made that year.

After this, the 1996 version of the Thomas & Friends Season 4 intro plays regularly. When the title card appears, it says "Seventeen's Worst Day".

Michael Angelis narrates this episode, and the sound effects from Season 4+ is used. Also, the Season 4 Thomas & Friends models and sets are still used.

The episode starts out with Knapford Station, which an engine named Seventeen is rude to Duck, then Duck warns him not to go over dangerous things, that might destroy you. But Seventeen doesn't listen and puffs away to collect some freight cars (which Michael Angelis the narrator calls them trucks).

Did I mention what Seventeen looks like? He looks like Sir Handel, except he has six drive wheels. His wheels are also slightly painted yellow and his running plate is lower, obscuring part of his wheels, similar to Sir Handel's model as it was used in the fourth season. He is bigger than Sir Handel, and his whole look has a more industrial feel about it, and he is painted yellow instead of blue. He has the number 17 on his tanks, and has Peter Sam's face.

Then we see Sir Topham Hatt (which Michael Angelis calls him The Fat Controller) telling Percy to collect some stone from the quarry. Then Percy puffs away.

Next we see Seventeen banging the freight cars hard. The cars are angry about this and vow to pay back Seventeen. Seventeen puffs away with his cars. Then we see him puffing through the countryside, still angry.

Immediately following this, Seventeen gets sent down the wrong line. We see a shot of Seventeen rolling down the wrong line with a surprised look on his face. It is silimar to Peter Sam's S4 shocked face, except it is more detailed and convoys horror. The Season 3 Runaway Theme is used.

We see Seventeen roll down a steep gradient, with the cars surging against him. The shocked face from the last scene is still present. A level crossing is ahead of Seventeen, which he immediately runs into and breaks. To make matters worse, a car is on the level crossing at that point in time, which Seventeen rams into, sending it tumbling out of control.

A semi-mountainous set similar to the one from "Thomas in Trouble" (Where Thomas is confronted by the policeman) is seen with Seventeen in the far distance. The difference is that there are more rocks, ridges and cliffs, and less grass. a pair of derailed cars are present on the line in front of Seventeen. Seventeen, unable to stop, smashes into the derailed cars and flies off of the rails.

Seventeen continues to roll along the ground (a thin piece of string is visible in a few scenes) until he tumbles off a rocky ledge. He falls all the down the mountain with a more unsettling face. It is similar to Peter Sam's "Eyes shut" face from Season 4, but conveys intense fear and his teeth are gritted. While this is going on, House Of Horror, a piece of stock background music from some SpongeBob episodes is used (only the end part).

Seventeen reaches the bottom of the mountain and crashes into the rocky ground below. A loud crash can be heard (heard in The Wombles episode "Running Out of Steam, when the train crashes) (as Seventeen's top crumples on contract with the ground, and his whistles and handrails flying everywhere). An explosion (another stock sound effect) is added for a more dramatic effect. Even worse than this that is Mario's scream from "Super Mario 64" (when Mario falls off a level), except it is heard twice, which I assume are Seventeen's driver and fireman, being badly injured or killed by the crash.

As the crash dies down, the camera pans and, before Michael Angelis completes the sentence "Luckly, no one was-", we see some of Seventeen's remains, including the upturned, crumpled body shell, as Dramatic Cue A (another piece of background music from SpongeBob) is played. We see a shot of Thomas and Duck (with their usual shocked faces) as they yell "OH MY GOSH! THEY KILLED SEVENTEEN!! YOU FOOLS!". James then is seen laughing at the sight of the corspe of Seventeen and says "Seventeen now got what he deserves". After that, the breakdown train is seen, which appears to be coupled to Edward. The breakdown train then is seen lowering the broken, destroyed, crumpled Seventeen onto the flatbed. His face is now gone and faded to a smokebox door, his whistles and handrails are gone as well, his side rods are gone as well, his the right side of his can roof has broken right off, and also, his front end, his boiler and running plate are crumpled right off. Then Edward pulls away with the broken Seventeen on the flatbed. At the end of the episode, the end credits from Season 4 played normally.

Afterwards

Since then, the tape has been still in good condition.

My original theory regarding "The Lost Episode from 1996" was a episode written by Trey Parker and directed by David Mitton. He wrote this episode with Britt Allcroft to see how much action and violence would work in a 'Thomas' episode. Note that the show's fifth season contained more violence and crashes- it was the first to consist entirely of newly-written material, not written by the Awdry Family, who had written the Railway Series books.

I assumed that the incredibly violent scenes, not suitable for a children's cartoon, were likely added simply because the video would never go public, so they didn't have to worry about things being too violent or scary. It may be worth noting that earlier in 1981 (6th March) a train in Argentina travelling to Buenos Aires crashed into a pair of derailed trucks at Brandsen Partido. This could be a coincidence, but it could also be a way of continuing the Awdry's tradition of basing the accidents in the series off of real life events.

Prior to the tape still in good condition I contacted Britt Allcroft, David Mitton having passed away several years back. She was curious as to how I'd gotten hold of the DVD, as it had been missing for about thirty years. She confirmed to me that David Mitton did not have any input in the film, but was written by a caretaker at the studio whose name had escaped her, but she belived that his surname was Richmond. This employee had had a grudge for David Mitton ever since they were teens, but the reason behind this has not been confirmed. Some believe that during education He felt that Mitton was finding ways to make him fail all his courses, depriving him of a future. It's not known how this may have been done, though Mitton was a distant relative of the head of one of the exam boards at the time. Richmond was 'certain' that Mitton had a hand in making him fail, and swore revenge on him. Britt believed that Richmond created this short film with the intent passing it off as Mitton's work, in an attempt to get Mitton sacked as a means of revenge. I told her that I had received the film in a job lot of old, rare Thomas VHS tapes, some of which were dated during the filming of the 1996 Season 4 episodes on the show. It turned out that the eBay seller was called "Richard Almond". Britt was uncertain whether this was this "Richmond" fellow, but told me to contact her if I found any more news.

I watched the film one last time for clues. I was actually surprised to see that there were some secrets I had not seen before. At the big station, there were advertising posters for Richmond cigarettes. I was unsure whether or not this was a coincidence, but decided I'd contact Britt Allcroft once I'd watched the whole video again. I got to the scene where Sevrnteen bangs the freight cars hard. On closer inspection, I could make out markings on the truck closest to Sevrnteen. It was text that read "LWA 150697". I wondered what this meant, so I did some searching, only to realise that the Rev. W. Awdry passed away on the 15th June 1997. I wondered what the "LWR" would have stood for, before I realised that the "WR" would be Wilbert Awdry, and due to the date of his death written on the truck, the L would have probably stood for Late. The following truck had an even more interesting message on it. "073093" was the number written on it, which happens when the Season 3 Barney costume was introduced. Another number combination was written on the same truck: "NO B23S3". I was initially puzzled before realising that Book 23, Story 3 of the Railway Series is called "Escape!".

The climatic crash in the film was likely to be where more secrets lied. I paused the tape and advanced frame by frame. For a split second I saw a frame with a black background and nothing but a date in a plain, sans serif font. It said "4.1.2024". Several seconds in the film later was another freeze frame, saying "doom is inevitable".

I couldn't find anything more, but was interested with what I had. I tried to contact Britt Allcroft only to find that she'd stopped using her old email and had begun using a new one, which I was unable to find, and no one else I asked knew what it was, either.

I don't particularly believe that what was said in the tape is going to happen, but, meh. If I die on the 1st April 2024, then I'l take back what I said.

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