o.j

O.J. (TUGS)

O.J. is a fictional character who appeared in the 1988 television series TUGS, created by the producers of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, David Mitton and Robert D. Cardona.

O.J. is a paddle-driven harbour tug, the only one of his kind remaining in Bigg City Port, and Captain Star's eldest tug. He is often described as "versatile, but slow". He is indeed capable of a variety of tasks, but is sometimes restricted by his age and mechanical condition. As Captain Star once said, "he had given many years of good service, but time was catching up on him".

Prior to an overhaul during the year of the 'heat wave', O.J.'s aged engine was the cause for a number of mishaps, including an accident that resulted in the sinking of the Fulton Ferry. OJ's weakness and age has often placed him on the receiving end of jokes and insults from Star Tugs and Z-Stacks alike. For a period, he was the primary target of Burke and Blair, the evil-minded scrap dealers who attempted on a number of occasions to persuade Captain Star into selling O.J. and his engine for a cheap price. But after O.J.'s quick thinking prevented Ten Cents from having to enter Quarantine, Captain Star sent the scavengers on their way.

OJ's whistle is the deepest of the Star Tug's, and has a distinct 'warble' in it, sounding very much like a distress klaxon sounded for short bursts.

As the Star Fleet's 'wise elder', OJ possesses unbeatable wisdom. He has extensive knowledge and experience of harbour life and manoeuvres, and because of this, Captain Star often places him in charge of large operations, such as ocean liner docking maneuvers. On various occasions, OJ has demonstrated his ability to devise swift and clever strategies to help himself and his fellow Stars out of predicaments. He does not stand for nonsense, and is quick to correct the younger tugs if they make mistakes. Despite his occasionally harsh approach, OJ cares for his brothers as a grandparent would for their grandchildren.

A possible basis for OJ is the Eppleton Hall, built by Hepple & Co of South Shields in 1914. Eppleton Hall originally worked in 1914 for the Lambton and Hetton Collieries Ltd. She later worked for France Fenwick, Wear and Tyne Ltd until 1964, and after fifteen years was donated to the USA National Park Service. She is still afloat at Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, to this day.

He speaks with a Welsh accent. According to production crewmember Chris Tulloch, his name is short for "Old Jones". He is voiced by British actor Timothy Bateson. In Salty's Lighthouse he was voiced by Ian James Corlett, and renamed to the more commonplace sounding "Otis". Also in the Japanese version he was played by Masaaki Tsukada.

The Model

Chris Tulloch noted that OJ's model was one of the most reliable. This may have been for many reasons. But, according to Tulloch, the vast majority of main characters (those with machinery inside them) would often threaten to "turn turtle" and would have to be fixed firmly to a chassis to keep them upright. However, due to OJ's paddle-wheels, he rarely had this balance problem. The chassis was still used on OJ to keep him from bobbing up and down like a toy boat.

The model was later rebuilt and used in the series Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends as a prop for harbour scenes, making OJ the only Star Tug to appear in TTTE. However, it only made random cameos on the narrow gauge railway and disappeared after the fifth season. This was the fate of many other TUGS models (with the exception of Big Mickey because he was the only character to make it through all the Seasons starting with Season 3).

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