by Doug Molitor
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks.
Synopsis: James and his friends are on a visit to Egypt to
assist with the excavation of a recently-discovered tomb. In charge of
the operation is Professor Giza, who casually informs them that the
tomb they're working on bears a warning in hieroglyphics, promising a
violent, horrible death to anyone who opens it. Such a curse is
standard fare for ancient tombs, but some of the workers are
superstitious and stand back as he opens it. As Giza breaks the seal,
he and fellow sceptic I.Q. are grabbed and pulled inside the tomb!
James and the rest of the gang chase them inside, and come face to face
with two tomb robbers armed with lit dynamite, which they throw at
Trevor! He catches it and faints, so James throws it through the tomb
roof as the robbers run for the exit, leaving a scarab behind with a
Back at the hotel, Milbanks gives James a telling off for his
recklessness at the tomb, but when Tracy tries to tell him what really
happened James interrupts, apologising and saying he'll do better from
now on. He explains to Tracy that he's realised the scarab bears the
symbol of Pharaoh Fearo, who must have employed the robbers. Professor
Giza arrives with an Egyptology student, Cleo Daway, who says that
Fearo wants to sell Egypt's treasures to 'wealthy infidels like
yourself'. Despite Giza's assurances, Cleo is unwilling to trust James
and his friends, and she demands to be in the excavation party when
they next visit the tomb.
I.Q. rustles up some gadgets in preparation, and James finds a map
inside the scarab which appears to show proposed pipelines across the
Egyptian peninsula. Trevor has stolen one of I.Q.'s gizmos, a sonic
shovel that can produce earthquakes, and brings it to the excavation
site in secret. They are opening the mummy case of Pharaoh Hiphurrah,
an ancient Egpytian ruler. When James recognises Queen Nefertiti on a
mural, Cleo begins to wonder if she's misjudged him. Suddenly, they
hear screams from the mummy chamber - one of the guards runs out,
saying he's seen the mummy walking! Near the entrance, Trevor decides
to have a go with I.Q.'s shovel, and ends up causing a violent cave-in,
trapping all of them in the tomb and separating James and Cleo from the
While Professor Giza worries that the oxygen in the tomb could run out,
James and Cleo find the mummy case empty, but there are hieroglyphs
which Cleo translates: 'By the beard of the pharaoh your life will be
enriched'. When James pulls on the pharaoh's beard the ground slides
open beneath them, and the two of them tumble down into a huge treasure
room full of golden artefacts. But that's not all there is: before they
can get their bearings, a steel door opens and the pair are pulled into
a huge subterranean sand vessel. The Subterranean is Pharaoh Fearo's
underground warship, which uses a diamond drill to move under the
earth's surface. Fearo tells them that because he's a distant
descendant of Hiphurrah, he is the rightful heir to all the dead king's
As Fearo gets caught up counting the generations between Hiphurrah and
himself, the guards fall asleep and James and Cleo slip away unnoticed,
freeing themselves from the ropes using James's watch. Meanwhile, back
in the other side of the cave-in, I.Q. uses his calculator to work out
whether they have enough oxygen between them; he thinks they have. But
he doesn't factor in Trevor, who's hiding nearby - not to mention the
mummy, which they can still hear stalking the corridors. In the
Subterranean, James and Cleo work out that Fearo is after oil - this is
what the pipelines on the map were for. But the Pharaoh's men soon run
after them. James evades them for a while, but when Fearo captures Cleo
he's forced to surrender.
The Subterranean moves closer to the surface - causing a nearby
sheikh's tent to collapse in the process - and James and Cleo are
locked in a section of pipeline where any minute, oil will begin to
flow. Using I.Q.'s acid flask, James burns a huge hole in the pipeline
which allows them to escape, and also causes the oil to flood the
Subterranean. Fearo's forced to surface to drain out the vehicle, but
James and Cleo persuade an initially hostile Sheikh Hassan, whose tent
was demolished, to mount a charge on the crooks in a fleet of cars.
Back in the tomb, the gang are feeling sleepy - Giza explains that this
is due to the diminishing oxygen. Trevor mentions the shovel, and a
furious I.Q. realises Trevor was responsible for the cave-in. At that
moment the mummy appears!
Realising they're about to be caught, Fearo and his men dash back into
the Subterranean and prepare to dive again, while firing sand torpedoes
at the cars. James jumps onto the top of the rapidly disappearing
Subterranean and pries his way back into the vehicle with a sword the
sheikh has provided. The two battle it out but James gets the upper
hand, as Fearo misfires a gun at him, causing a pipe leak which covers
the Pharaoh in oil. With Fearo under lock and key, Cleo, James and the
Sheikh head back to the tomb in the Subterranean to save Giza and the
others, revealing the mummy to be Fearo's cousin Viper, who had been
employed to scare off the excavation team. Back at the hotel, in a
private moment, Cleo tells James that while their cultures are too
different for them to 'blend', she would like him to have a memento of
their time together. They're about to kiss but are interrupted by
Trevor whom, having been listening in on the next balcony along,
topples off it into a moat underneath, shrieking all the way.
The series continues to blossom with
this gem of an episode, making great use of the Egyptian location with
the deadly Pharaoh Fearo - a 'one-hit wonder' villain intent on looting
the peninsula of its treasure and oil. While undoubtedly nasty, Fearo's
almost crazy enough to be likeable, particularly in the scene where he
counts the generations of his family by hand; clearly he believes he's
entitled to the treasure, although whether he has quite the same claim
to the oil reserves is a different question. Meanwhile the context is
fleshed out somewhat by the character of Cleo, whose attitude towards
'wealthy infidels' like James provides a modicum of social commentary,
albeit not a particularly nuanced one; she's proven wrong about
Westerners (whom of course are all beyond reproach) and it turns out
the villain of the piece is one of her own people. (Interestingly, the
word 'infidel' seems to have set off alarms somewhere at James Bond
Towers, as the novelisation of this episode quietly replaces it with
the less loaded 'foreigner'.) Nonetheless she's a strong and
independent character, made more interesting by the fact that she's the
first female character in the series not to immediately fall for
James's charms. At the end, though, Cleo comments that hers and James's
cultures are 'too different to blend', which may be seen as a rather
pessimistic conclusion as regards international relations (and is again
deemed controversial enough to be excised from the novel). The Scooby-Doo
B-plot, with James's friends being terrorised by the 'mummy', is silly
but not overwhelming, and helps to create a tense and claustrophobic
atmosphere for the episode as a whole in which the plot duly thrives.
Highs: Pharaoh Fearo's
sand-burrowing Subterranean is truly a formidable creation and acts as
a nice centrepiece for the story - even if the presence of the
enormous diamond drill on the front rather negates the need for further
Lows: I.Q.'s happy to blame Trevor for the incident
with the sonic shovel, but he ought to take at least half of the
responsibility for having invented the dangerous contraption in the
first place - what possible benign use could it have?
Lines to Remember: Professor Giza
on the tomb robbers: 'For being sealed in a 3,000-year-old
tomb, they seem remarkably well-preserved.'
James, seeing Fearo's outlandish costume: 'Good
grief, is it Halloween already?'
James, as Fearo gets a faceful of oil and the authorities arrive: 'Your
mascara's running, Pharaoh. And just when you have company, too!'
Gadgets & Gizmos: The watch features a circular saw,
while I.Q.'s flask provides more than just refreshment; if you twist
the cap the wrong way, it releases a capsule into the water that
creates the deadliest acid known to man. But perhaps even more reckless
is his sonic shovel, that generates a magnitude six earthquake with a
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Very
briefly. As part of the explanation of his plan, Fearo remarks that:
'When I drain all the oil fields, S.C.U.M. will control the world's
economy, and I shall be the true pharaoh.' So he's either working for
them or in conjunction with them.
O Mother, Where Art Thou: James's closing pun to the effect that Trevor 'misses his mummy' is among the closest we get in the entire series to a reference to any of the main characters' mothers.
A Novel Approach: This episode was
adapted and extended for a novelisation by John Vincent, entitled Sandblast!
Notes: This is the first episode not to feature any of
recurring villains - but James does recognise the symbol of Pharaoh
Fearo, implying that he knows of the crook, even though this is
apparently their first meeting.
Unusually, James introduces himself to Fearo simply as 'Bond, James Bond', omitting the 'Junior' altogether.
theme of East/West cultural differences (see Review above) would be
further elaborated upon in another episode set in the Middle East, Valley of the Hungry Dunes.