“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver on Sunday turned to what he described as the “most disturbing” episode ever of children’s TV to shine a light on the issues facing America’s rail freight industry.
Oliver aired clips from a 1984 episode of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends,” a British series later named “Thomas & Friends.” In the episode, a train named Henry ends up being bricked inside the tunnel he refuses to come out of over fears the rain will damage his paintwork — to expose the effects that deregulation of railroads in the U.S. have had on workers and communities.
“I love trains,” Oliver emphasized during his deep dive into the topic, in which he noted that “nasty” derailments maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the widespread deregulation of the industry more than 40 years ago.
Oliver ended with a 2023 remake of the iconic “Thomas & Friends” show, which imagined what would happen if Henry were plying his trade in America today.
Watch Oliver’s full monologue here:
And watch the original Season 1 episode titled “The Sad Story of Henry” here: