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"The tugboat, for its size, is the most powerful craft afloat. And the Starr Tugs are the power behind the docks and waterways that make up the Bigg City Port."
From the makers of Thomas the Tank Engine comes a short-lived sister series. Set in Bigg City Port in The Roaring Twenties, it chronicles the adventures of the Star Tugs, a fleet of Thomas-esque boats with faces as they compete for contracts with their biggest rivals, the Z-Stacks.
What really sets this show apart from Thomas is the maturity of the stories. There are dangerous perils that the Tugs have to deal with, such as being crushed by a wayward ocean liner, or the risk of being scrapped.
- Affably Evil: Zebedee, especially in "High Winds".
- Alliterative Name: Names to be exact, with the Z-Stacks being named Zorran, Zebedee, Zak, Zip and Zug, working for Captain Zero.
- Australia Gangster: Johnny Cuba.
- British Accents: Ten Cents has a Cockney accent, while Sunshine is a Geordie. Big Mac is Glaswegian, Top Hat has an upper-class accent, while Hercules has a sort of Cary Grant thing going on. And yet it's set in America...
- British Brevity: The show ran for 13 episodes.
- Cool Boat
- Cut and Paste Translation: Aired as part of Saltys Lighthouse on TLC with American accents re-dubbed over the characters, name changes, and other edits.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to Thomas the Tank Engine, and done well. Some Tugs risk their lives to protect their friends.
- It is meant for a slightly older crowd, after all.
- Dumb Muscle: Warrior.
- Everything Is Better With Explosions: Billy Shoepack thinks so. Also, many episodes have some sort of explosion or another.
- High-Class Glass: Top Hat.
- Honor Before Reason: Bluenose likes to put orders before common sense.
- Killed Off for Real: Big Mickey the Crane, though this depends on whether you're watching it on TV or video.
- At least Big Mickey would have a quiet happier future in Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends, along with various other models.
- The Klutz: Warrior.
- Last of His Kind: O.J., the last paddleboat tug in Bigg City.
- Meaningful Name: The tramp steamer "Krakatoa" from the episode "Munitions".
- Mighty Glacier: What else would you expect from boats?
- New Transfer Student: Sunshine from "Up River". Not a school per se, but has a different paint job until he's accepted at the end of the first episode.
- Noodle Incident: It's not entirely clear what happened between Captain Zero and Johnny Cuba, but Zero is still pretty sore about it.
- Ominous Fog: "Ghosts".
- Quintessential British Gentleman: Top Hat, again.
- Scenery Gorn: "Munitions" features a ten-minute sequence of the docks blowing up.
- Scenery Porn: The harbor, the docks, the boats....
- Sixth Ranger: Near the end of the series, Grampus the submarine joins the Star Tugs.
- Shout-Out: The Line "Goodnight Vienna" is a direct reference to Ringo Starr's album of the same name.
- Spiritual Successor: Co-producer Robert Cardona would go on to produce the Canadian series Theodore Tugboat.
- The Faceless: Captain Starr and Captain Zero. The closest we see of any human is a megaphone.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Not exactly the theme music, but there is a dramatic piece of music played whenever a Tug is acting heroically.
- Upperclass Twit: Bluenose and Top Hat.
- Violent Glaswegian: Big Mac.