Tillie to the Rescue is the first episode of the first season and the pilot special of The Railways of Crotoonia. It first aired in workprint form on August 19th, 2017 and made its proper premiere on August 21st, 2017.
The special was first developed in 2014 as a regular episode of the series, but as the series switched to a ten-minute episode format, the episode became a half-hour special that would take three years to complete.
Tillie is a young switch engine living at the bustling Kahlville Junction, where she arranges trains for bigger engines that travel on the mainlines of Crotoonia's many railways. Farnsworth, the mountain local diesel, impatiently demands for his coaches, claiming "silly little engines" like her aren't worth his time and that he'll never touch dirty freight cars. Tillie teases him back, saying this makes him "disposable" and unable to handle last-minute trains that will come up, but Farnsworth rebuttals by saying he's an "indispensable ending" and that he's as important to big engines "as that puny little tender engine from the circus"....who then proceeds to cut in front of him as payback for his rude remarks.
As Farnsworth departs, Montana, the express engine in charge of The Fairytale Arrow, is told that he won't be working on the trains until much later, due to the railway company manager, Mrs. C. Ella, receiving orders for a last-minute slow goods train at Celgreb City Central. As Montana worriedly heads to work, Tillie (feeling a bit hurt after Farnsworth's remarks) laments to a passing Thomas, who confidently reminds her that he got his own branch line after proving his worth as a shunter. He encourages her by reminding her of her hard working attitude and that she'll have a larger job soon enough.
A few hours later at the bustling Celgreb Central, Gordon is found by Farnsworth sitting at the platform; he is waiting for his driver to return with a schedule of his work. The two then bicker with each other, which is interrupted by the Freight Manager of the station requesting Farnsworth to leave his coaches, report to the goods yard, and get to Celgreb Bay Harbour by 12:30pm to collect a load of containers. Farnsworth is flabbergasted as Gordon departs from the station, and causes problems for Oliver and Sir Reginald; Oliver's passengers are on-board Farnsworth's coaches, and are rudely dropped off in the middle of the line as Sir Reginald hurries in with his own express.
As the two leave, Montana arrives to find Calley pulling in with a delivery of emergency supplies. It's here where we learn Montana isn't worried because he has to pull coaches; it's because his express run later will take him to the United States, and that makes him anxious about being late. Calley reassures him that things will go fine, and that Henry and Chatsworth have taken over his usual express runs for the time being. After this, the engines are sent on their way as Calley's cargo has been unloaded and the station staff are quickly arranging to have Montana's goods train brought in, due to Thomas' run to Grofflen Harbour arriving soon
Back at Kahlville, Calley is surprised to find a depressed Tillie sadly going about her work. She opens up to her about being stuck in the junction yards, while everyone else gets to travel. Calley then proceeds to show the advantages of being a smaller engine working in the yards; she can deliver trains safely without the risk of hitting the points, and plenty of smaller engines like Tracy, Emma, and Ivor have big jobs of their own thanks to their hard work. However, their talk is interrupted by an alarm; Timothy and Pufle race down the line as a heavy milk train has broken free from Jebediah, and is racing into the junction at a dangerous and destructive speed! With Calley stuck in the sidings and no one else to help, Tillie bravely hurries in to stop the milk wagons. With great force and great effort, she manages to grind them to a halt, just as Jebediah hurries back to the junction to recover the runaway freight cars. The rescue manages to boost Tillie's confidence once more.
At the docks, Farnsworth and Gordon impatiently wait for Terex to unload their containers so they can get going. The two bicker once again, with Farnsworth boasting about his passenger services, before getting shut down by Salty and Ariel, who go to collect the last wagons for their trains. Fed up with all that he's had to put up with, Farnsworth hurries off with only one car in tow, while Gordon rushes behind with three loaded wagons. Ariel and Salty give chase as the two passenger engines cause chaos in their fued-fueled race; they nearly ram into Big Old Rusty at the harbour intersection and nearly smash into Emma and her small goods train in the outskirts of the docks. During this, Montana is told to head for a loop, as they've neglected some flatbeds for Gridinia Bay.
Ariel and Salty give up chasing them in Great Wolf Forest, where Ariel (following Salty's comment of "They're used to racin'....I'm not sure if rule-breaking's typical") realizes the two are headed for a collision. She orders him to head back to the harbour to send a warning before its too late.
Montana is hurrying down the line to Great Wolf Junction at a fairly quick speed due to the delays that have been caused by the train, when he notices Gordon and Farnsworth are about to ram into each other. Finally snapping out of their racing fever, the two brake hard, but are unable to prevent a crash; Gordon is sent boiler first into the ditch, with Farnsworth falling on top of him, while Montana, braking hard to avoid a further crash, hits the points and rams straight into a hill near the signal box.
Meanwhile, the alarm has gone off at the Crotoonian Fire and Rescue Centre, and Jackman sends off Harold and Calley (who has just finished her supply run) to the rescue, who set to work trying to get things back in order. However, with the accident decommissioning Montana until further notice, the Fairytale Arrow's "Border Special" is left without an engine. With all the big engines scheduled with work, Ivor and Tillie are put in charge of the train, with Henry and Sir Reginald meeting them at Celgreb Central. Though they encounter tough hills along their travels, they manage to make it to the station in record time, as Henry and Sir Reginald collect their coaches for the US run.
A few days later, a ceremony is held by Sir Allen Featherington at the Junction to award Ivor and Tillie for their contributions and work from the eventful day: Ivor receives a passenger run on the Crotoonian Seaside Railway, and Tillie receives a rake of mail cars. Tillie now confidently works at the junction, while handling mail runs to and from Celgreb City, taking pride of finally having her own job.
(in order of appearance)
- Tootle (cameo)
- Katy Caboose (cameo)
- Lenny The Railway Twin (cameo)
- Wendy (cameo)
- T.Jerry (cameo)
- Ten Cents (cameo)
- Big Tim (cameo)
- Devious Diesel (cameo)
- Olwin (cameo)
- Edward (cameo)
- James (cameo)
- Ivor (doesn’t speak)
- Mary (cameo)
- Casey Jr
- Strong Bad
- Rini The Railway Twin (cameo)
- Bubs (cameo)
- Rosie (cameo)
- Harold (cameo)
- Sir Reginald
- Chatsworth (mentioned)
- Scoop (cameo)
- Muck (cameo)
- Lofty (cameo)
- Huey (cameo)
- Trevor (cameo)
- Magic School Bus (cameo)
- Yaemon (cameo)
- Percy (cameo)
- Electra (cameo)
- Nelson (cameo)
- Timothy (cameo)
- The Greendale Rocket (doesn’t speak)
- Blake Hawkins - Tillie/Emma
- Joel Hunter (GeebMachine) - Thomas/Salty/Big Old Rusty
- Alice Stone - Ariel
- Lachie Vincent (credited as Lachie V) - Strong Bad/Farnsworth
- Michelle Hurtado - Mrs C. Ella
- Luca Dollar - Henry
- Phillipa Alexander - Calley
- Dean T. Moody - Montana
- Leo Jones (L.J.Productions) - Gordon
- RetroPokeFan (credited as RetroMagFan) - The Workmen/Additional Voices
- Cinnamonpig - The Kahlville Station Announcer
- Stephanie Panisello - Tracy
- Matt Michaud (EnterprisingEngine93) - Casey Jr
- Milan Prsa - Additional Voices/Narrator
- The special was, for a time, intended to be released direct-to-home-video; however, constantly changing release dates pushed the special to make a YouTube debut instead.
- The special took three years to complete; the script was written between July and September 2015, with the July-written portions being done whilst on a Croatian holiday. The animation itself was produced in-and-out during Milan's Grade 11 and 12 years of high school, with the majority of the work being completed in July and August 2017.
- The decision to bring on Phillipa Alexander as Calley was one made towards the final stages of animation on the special; the original actress had been fired, and Milan was unable to find a replacement that would fit. Seeing the opportunity for a guest spot on the special, he contacted Phillipa, who agreed to record for the special after a deal was made.
- Thomas tells Tillie how he started off as a shunter but after proving he was really useful he got his own branch line and coaches. This is a reference to his first few episodes of season 1 of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, most notably Thomas and the Brakedown Train.
- The "Nothing Can Stop Us Now" musical sequence was done during the final stages of production; the scene originally contained narration, but it was decided that a cover of the song would be better suited. Only the "I think I can, I THINK I can" line was retained. There was also another Tillie line was cut from the scene: "Make way for the Little Engine Express!", originally written in for the "Run-Over" shot of the sequence.
- Many changes occurred during the scriptwriting phase:
- A variety of scrapped shots for the intro, including:
- Henry stopping at Gridinia Bay Junction, next to Chugs and Sir Reginald; we would then follow T.J. as he hurries off to work, passing Toots, with Celgreb City in the distance serving as the final credit shot.
- An alternate version of this scene with Cliffstone Junction replacing Gridinia Bay Junction.
- Henry passing through a prototype Bluthsburg Freight Yard (as seen in the early teaser trailer/early intro). This was scrapped due to the uploader of the set raising concerns.
- Luke the Engine Driver and Ivor having speaking roles, which were reduced to silent appearances in the special.
- Tillie would have had her driver from Soeren Hermansen's earlier project, Heidi, but was scrapped as animation went underway.
- Farnsworth would have had a driver
- A scene following the crash at Great Wolf Junction in which the signalman on duty raises the alarm to the Crotoonian Fire and Rescue Centre. A later version (cut due to the production schedule) would have humorously had Mr. Lazy as the signalman.
- Calley would have collected her breakdown train from a mountain station, rather than Gridinia Bay Junction.
- RetroPokeFan originally was supposed to have voiced Sir Reginald but due to time constraints Milan Prsa voiced him instead.
- This is Ivor's only appearance with a face, he will be faceless episode 3 onwards
- A variety of scrapped shots for the intro, including: