Dirty Objects - UK/James in a Mess - US is the twenty-third episode of ever made in Season 1.
Toby and Henrietta are settling into their new lives on the Island of Sodor, but they still look very old-fashioned and could use new paint. Due to their bad paintwork, the two become a subject of scorn for James, who calls them "dirty objects". When Toby asks why James is red, James says that it is because he is a splendid engine who is never dirty and ready for anything. Toby then reminds James of the bootlace incident, causing James to become cross.
Later, James leaves his coaches and picks up a line of trucks for a slow goods train. James, who is already in a bad mood, is made even worse due to his hate of slow goods trains. Although the trucks start off behaving well, James is so rough with them that they vow to pay him out. As he climbs Gordon's Hill, James is supposed to stop and have his brakes pinned down. James, who had an accident with trucks before, should have remembered this, but forgets as he is too busy thinking of what he will say to Toby next time they meet. Seizing their chance, the trucks push James down the hill. Unable to stop, James zips through the station and crashes into some tar wagons.
Although James is not hurt, he is left looking very dirty from the tar. Percy and Toby come to help clean up the mess and Toby makes fun of James reminding him that, as a red engine, he's supposed to look splendid and ready for anything. Percy and Toby shunt James back to the sheds where the Fat Controller is waiting. He thanks Percy and Toby for their hard work and tells James that he needs to be cleaned.
The Fat Controller awards Toby a new coat of paint and agrees when Toby requests one for Henrietta too. Toby happily runs off to tell his coach the good news.
- When James arrives at Knapford, his brake coach is in the middle of his train.