by Francis Moss and Ted Pedersen
Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Scumlord, Jaws.
Aston Martin DB5 speeds along a country road, pursued by a black car
with tinted windows. Behind the wheel of the Aston is James Bond Jr,
nephew of the famous James Bond of MI6, from whom he's borrowed the
car; his pursuer is Scumlord, the leader of S.C.U.M., an international
criminal organisation. Soon things turn nasty, as Scumlord trains a
laser attachment at the back of the Aston Martin - luckily there's a
shield to deflect it, hitting Scumlord's car and sending it careering
off the road. As the Aston Martin flies over a passing farm vehicle,
Scumlord is left behind - but a nasty gang of bikers take his place,
chasing James's car over the fields and firing missiles at it until it
plummets off a cliff. But James activates the car's flight conversion
system, and swoops away to safety. Scumlord is furious - as is his
vicious dog, Scuzzball.
At Warfield Academy, the
headmaster Mr Milbanks welcomes the students back for the new school
term, but somebody is missing. To Milbanks' horror, the flying Aston
Martin appears overhead and lands in the car park, causing quite a
scene. James introduces himself, but is quickly dragged to Milbanks'
office for a telling off - this isn't the sort of behaviour he expects,
and James will be confined for a week to the school grounds as
punishment. Later, Coach Mitchell, the P.E. teacher, shows James around
the campus. He explains he knows 007 from his time in the FBI, and
tells James that security is strong at Warfield as it's the home to the
sons and daughters of very important people. He leaves him to unpack in
the dorms, where James meets his new roommate, Horace Boothroyd - or
I.Q. for short.
I.Q. reveals himself as an enthusiastic amateur inventor, following in
the footsteps of his grandfather, Major Boothroyd or Q, who also works
with James's uncle. He demonstrates a couple of his gadgets for James,
before introducing him to some of his friends - Gordo Leiter, a
Californian surfer-dude whose father Felix is also an associate of
007's, as well as Tracy Milbanks, the headmaster's daughter, and her
best friend Phoebe Farragut. Tracy and Phoebe both immediately find
themselves attracted to James, who also seems particularly taken with
Tracy. Finally, he's introduced to Trevor Noseworthy IV, the school
toff - who quickly shows his true colours on the football field by
deliberately tripping I.Q. during a match.
From a nearby hillside, Scumlord and his henchman Jaws watch the
football match through binoculars with interest. Scumlord explains that
he's not interested in capturing James himself, but in getting his
hands on the Aston Martin, which he says contains a pulse generator
capable of erasing the data from every computer in a 50 mile radius.
Rather than ordering Jaws to steal the car, he leaves a message at
Warfield telling James there is a package for him from his uncle at the
post office. Still grounded, James is desperate to fetch the package,
so in exchange for a ride in the Aston Martin, Tracy shows him a secret
exit from Warfield that's hidden in her father's office - Milbanks
doesn't even know about it. Trevor climbs a tree to see what they're up
to in the office, but Gordo sets a hose on him so he falls down.
Safely outside the grounds, James and Tracy meet I.Q. and drive to the
post office. But while James and I.Q. are inside, Jaws appears. Seeing
him approach, Tracy hides herself in the back - but he gets in the car,
hotwires it with his teeth, and drives off! Realising he's been duped,
James emerges from the post office seconds too late. They're shortly
joined by Gordo and Phoebe in the Warfield van, and the gang set off to
find Tracy. I.Q. has a device which can track the homing signals
installed in all MI6 vehicles - and it can also start or stop the
vehicles remotely! He also gives James his gadget watch, saying he'll
make better use of it. They follow and observe as the car is hidden
inside a lorry, before being transported to an old airfield. James
spots a S.C.U.M. cargo jet landing, and hatches a plan.
To create a diversion, he pours some of I.Q.'s super-conductive liquid
into the lorry's fuel tank, so that when a S.C.U.M. agent drives it
over to the jet it explodes. While the agent and Jaws fix the truck,
James enters the back of the lorry and finds the Aston Martin, and
Tracy in the boot. He's caught in the act by Jaws though, who stuffs
him in the boot too! He loads the car onto the jet where Scumlord is
eager take off for S.C.U.M. headquarters - he plans to hold every
databank in England to ransom with the pulse generator. During the
flight, James uses the rockets on his watch to get himself and Tracy
out of the boot, and he plans to burst his way out of the plane and fly
the car to safety - but the flight converter has been damaged. Jaws
catches them and picks up the car, beginning to chew it with his teeth!
James uses a ram-rod feature in the car to punch Jaws in the stomach,
sending him toppling back into the cabin on top of Scumlord. James and
Tracy spot a parachute - there's only one but they opt to share. Before
they jump, James uses I.Q.'s remote to set the car on a continuous loop
so it repeatedly bashes at the door of the jet cabin, causing Scumlord
to lose control as the plain spirals downwards. While Scumlord and his
dog get a parachute each, Jaws is forced to leap from the plane without
one - and crashes into a farm barn, which promptly collapses on top of
him. He vows to have his revenge on James some day. Safely back at
Warfield, James climbs back through the window just before Milbanks and
Trevor burst into his room - so that Trevor's the one who gets the
detention for being a telltale! But James is devastated to learn from
Coach Mitchell that the Aston Martin had no pulse generator, so was
destroyed for nothing. But 007 has left James a present - a brand new
sports car all of his own!
the writers had just 22 minutes to explain the premise of the whole
series, introduce all the regular characters, and tell a
self-contained, action-packed story at the same time, they've done
remarkably well with The Beginning. It's not as glamorous as
some later installments precisely for that reason, but it doesn't
necessarily need to be - Tracy's kidnap brings the required element of
danger to proceedings, and Scumlord is a suitably sinister antagonist
(though as with his later appearances, we don't actually see that much
of him and he never comes face-to-face with James, except in the comic
story Sure as Eggs is Eggs). As
effectively the 'Bond girl' of the day, Tracy has more to do here than
in subsequent episodes, and I.Q. is also given an in-depth
introduction; Phoebe and Gordo's characters are nicely outlined, but
see considerably less action, a trend that would continue in the next
episode, Earthcracker. Meanwhile, the
other Warfield characters are are swiftly introduced too - from
troublesome Trevor, to strait-laced Milbanks, to mysterious Mitchell.
The actual plot, involving the vaguely-defined electromagnetic pulse
generator, isn't exactly well thought-out (see 'Notes' below) - but
since there's thankfully no room for a reasoned analysis of Scumlord's
plan here, the episode as a whole doesn't suffer for it. The links with
the film series are more numerous here than for most of the run, with
Jaws, the Aston Martin and various references to the Warfield gang's
elders; once again this cross-referencing would survive briefly into Earthcracker before
allowing the franchise to stand on its own two feet by the third
episode. All in all, a strong start for a legend of a show.
opening sequence is particularly nicely done - notably the very
Bond-esque car chase, gadgets included, and the fact that we don't see
who is driving the Aston Martin until James turns his rear view mirror
towards us and makes the first in what will become a very long list of
uses the miniature rocket launcher in his watch to shoot down what is
presumably supposed to be an apple from a tree he's passing for James
to eat, but the fruit in question looks suspiciously like a red bell
Lines to Remember: Scumlord, as James plunges off the cliff: 'Goodbye, young Bond.'
Phoebe, overhearing James smooth-talking Tracy: "Oh brother, what a line... Oh brother, what a hunk."
James: 'I'm James Bond.' Phoebe, already in love: 'You certainly are.'
Lines to Forget: Jaws, on the electromagnetic pulse generator: 'Is that good?' Scumlord: 'For my S.C.U.M. organisation, yes. For England, no!'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s
super-conductive liquid can boil an egg in ten seconds - while his
wristwatch contains miniature rockets and a buzzsaw, and his remote
device can not only track MI6 vehicles, but also start and stop them.
When 007 sends James a new sports car as a gift for all his efforts,
I.Q. immediately sets about thinking how to modify it - though we don't
learn how until Pompeii and Circumstance. But
the prize for this week's unlikeliest invention goes to MI6. The
question is whether the 'top-secret, high-powered, electromagnetic
pulse generator' with 50-mile data erasure is less feasible, or the
notion that they'd risk installing such a device in their entire fleet
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Despite
being S.C.U.M.'s introductory episode, the acronym as disclosed by much
of the tie-in material (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem) isn't
spelt out here (or indeed in future TV episodes), and nor particularly
is the organisation's raison d'être, aside from a general
inclination towards evil. James does, however, describe it as an
'organisation that will stop at nothing in its quest for world
Jaws mentions that the plane will be flying to S.C.U.M. headquarters,
we don't learn of its geographical location here, or indeed for the
rest of the series - although the fact Scumlord plans to use the
50-mile-radius pulse generator to hold England to ransom perhaps
implies that the HQ is somewhere in England or just offshore.
Loco Parenthesis: Coach
Mitchell's loaded remark that the Warfield security system is efficient
'most of the time' implicitly tells James it can be circumvented with a
little effort, thereby setting the tone for Mitchell's lackadaisical
approach to pupil protection throughout the entire series.
Transatlantic Translation: Scumlord
repeatedly talks about holding England to ransom, and not the UK, as if
the former is the primary political entity - a telltale sign of
American authorship. And why do the cartoonists appear to think that
all English roads are simply dirt tracks?
O Mother, Where Art Thou: Coach
Mitchell tells James that Warfield is home to 'the sons and daughters
of some important people, including yourself'. It's unclear whether
he's referring to James's actual mother or father, or simply 007 in a
roundabout way, but this exchange marks the only potential reference to
James's parents we've been able to identify in the entire Jr canon.
Note also that other main characters are defined by their fathers -
Tracy is the headmaster's daughter and there's no mention of her mother
(again, for the entire series) while Gordo's father is Felix Leiter of
the film franchise.
Blunders & Bloopers: When
James mentions the flight conversion function to Tracy, she's
incredulous, and he responds that she 'had to have been there.' But she
was there - among the assembled pupils in the car park when he
first touched down at Warfield. So why is she so shocked at the idea of
the car flying? (This error is corrected in the comic version - see
'Comic Capers' below.)
S.C.U.M. thinks that the pulse generator is inside the Aston Martin and
this is what they are after, why on earth do they force it off a cliff
at the start of the episode?
VHS Vault: The Beginning featured on a three-episode VHS release for the UK, alongside A Race Against Disaster and Red Star One - as well as on a standalone release in the US.
Sticker Story: The episode also featured under the title A New Student in the Merlin sticker album.
Comic Capers: The Beginning was
adapted for the first edition of the Marvel Comics series. In this
version, Tracy introduces Trevor as 'Trevor Noseworthy III', but this
is an error; Trevor III is actually our Trevor's father, as revealed in
the episode Deadly Recall.
A Novel Approach: John
Vincent reimagined this episode for the first in a series of six
novelisations based on TV episodes, under the (arguably improved) title
A View to a Thrill.
makes his debut in the first episode, although he's often underused
throughout the rest of the series, generally being restricted to cameo
appearances. Jaws, a far more frequently featured villain, also debuts
We learn from Tracy that Warfield Academy
was once used as a counterintelligence training base - which explains
the secret passage.