'PLUNDER DOWN UNDER'
by Perry Martin
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Coach Mitchell,
the tranquil coast of Greece, calm waters suddenly become choppy as a
huge metallic claw rises ominously from the seabed, and grabs a passing
ship! The captain of the vessel is Tracy's uncle, Captain William
Milbanks, who orders his crew to evacuate in a lifeboat. As he leaves
to escape himself, the cabin door gets jammed, and he's pulled into the
depths along with it. Meanwhile, James and the Warfield gang have
arrived in Athens with Coach Mitchell for a field trip. Their first
stop is the Parthenon, but Gordo's too busy playing his portable video
game, Ship Ahoy!, to pay much attention to the
Soon Coach Mitchell informs them of the disappearance of Tracy's uncle,
putting a downer on the day. The police aren't able to shed any light
on the affair, and neither are the other sailors in the area - so to
distract Tracy from her worries James suggests the gang go scuba
diving. While Phoebe stays behind with Coach Mitchell, I.Q. and Gordo
agree to come along; but Gordo only does so on the condition that he
can bring his video game. Trevor is also staying behind, having been
challenged to a contest on Ship Ahoy!
by Gordo; he pretends to be ill so he can get in some practice. The
gang heads down to the dock to rent a boat, but soon spot Jaws in the
vicinity, driving a minisub.
The gang follow Jaws out
to sea in a boat and watch as he dives from the sub, before jumping in
after him. On the way down, they see the 'sea monster' rising from the
depths - it's a giant mechanical apparatus extending from the seabed.
They observe as it steals a ship from the surface, and pulls it down to
a huge undersea fortress encased in a glass dome. They swim back to the
surface to inform the police, but are soon pursued by a great white
shark - which swallows all four of them whole! Luckily, they find
themselves not in a shark's stomach, but in the air lock of a submarine
disguised as a shark. Unluckily, Jaws is the one piloting it, and he
soon arrives to take them prisoner.
Back at the hotel, Coach Mitchell and Phoebe start to worry where James
and the others are, and realise that they can use I.Q.'s homing remote
to track them - so they head out to the docks. Under the sea, the
shark-sub takes the gang to the giant dome, where Jaws leads them out
into a marine dock where all the stolen ships are moored. They're taken
towards the brig, but Gordo appears unconcerned, still concentrating on
his video game. Tracy has an idea, and sets off the fire alarm. Jaws
loses them in the confusion, and is forced to report to his boss,
Captain Walker D. Plank, that they've escaped.
The gang come across Tracy's uncle safe and well in the brig, but Jaws
catches up with them and marches them onward to Plank's control room,
where he locks them inside a glass tube before explaining his scheme.
The stolen ships are being fitted with state-of-the-art weaponry, and
control devices so that Plank can control them remotely from his lair.
Then he'll send the ships back to the surface to 'conquer the world'.
As he prepares to activate the fleet, a video control screen appears on
the wall showing the position of each of the vessels. Just then, Gordo
completes his video game, giving I.Q. an idea - he rewires Ship
Ahoy! so that rather than controlling virtual ships, the
console controls Plank's real fleet!
To modify the console, I.Q. uses his homing transmittor, so that Phoebe
and Mitchell, who have rented a boat, are worried when they can no
longer track him. I.Q. gives Gordo the console back and tells him to
play, allowing him to turn the ships against one another, firing their
weapons and causing chaos and destruction. One of the ships crashes
through the side of the dome, causing the complex to begin flooding.
Plank and Jaws head for the escape pods, leaving James and the others
trapped in the tube as the water rises - but James uses his laser ring
to cut through the glass. They rescue Tracy's uncle from the brig
before heading to the exit themselves, where they see Plank and his
pirate goons escaping in a sub.
It appears Jaws has stayed behind to finish James off, however - and a
showdown commences between Jaws and James. Jaws quickly bites through
an oar James uses as a weapon, as well as a fishing net he gets caught
in. But then James has a bright idea; he ties his watch to a chain on
one of the boats and turns on the electromagnet feature, which causes
Jaws to fly teeth first into the chain! James then winches the chain
overboard, with Jaws stuck to it! On the surface, Phoebe and Coach
Mitchell are shocked when the stolen ships start appearing from the
water - followed by a great white shark! But it's just the submarine,
which has returned James and the gang to the surface. Back at Warfield,
Trevor demands his video game contest with Gordo - but Gordo tells him
that after the video game he's just played, beating Trevor would be an
the first appearance in the series for walking piratical cliché Captain
Walker D. Plank, who would become one of the show's most popular lead
villains - as well as one of the most frequently featured, second only
to Dr Derange. Although Plank is a delightful stereotype to behold, his
contribution is actually fairly limited here, with the role of
antagonist being fulfilled by Jaws for most of the episode, whose
character takes a more menacing turn here since his last appearance in The Beginning.
There's plenty to enjoy besides, including the inspired great white
shark submarine, the obligatory control room confrontation and,
unusually, Trevor, whose wicked cackle as he promises to trounce Gordo
at Ship Ahoy! more
than lives up to S.C.U.M.'s
laughing fits. Notable by its absence is any sign of a girl to be
Captain Milbanks takes on that particular role in this episode,
although despite Tracy's concern for him we're never particularly
engaged by his plight, not least because he seems to speak exclusively
in nautical clichés. Perhaps most impressive is the artwork,
particularly that depicting the undersea fortress, which definitely
ranks as one of the series' top villainous hideouts. All that said, the
plot isn't particularly well-conceived; it's far from clear how Plank
could possibly succeed in conquering the world via remote control, and
the plot is foiled far too soon after it's explained. Nonetheless, this
is still a strong episode, and a tantalising debut for one of the
show's most enduring characters.
episode is worth watching for Plank's sea-dog accent and laugh alone
which, as with all other aspects of the character, genuinely puts all
other bad pirate impersonations to shame.
may be a merciless cut-throat, but Captain Plank is so conscious of
health and safety legislation that he's installed fire alarms and
sprinklers in an undersea base surrounded by water.
Lines to Forget: Plank's
creepy parrot, as the crooks escape by submarine: 'Yo-ho-ho
and a sub full of S.C.U.M.!'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.
invents a waterproof homing device that attaches to a wetsuit belt, and
a hi-tech remote to track it; there's a waterproof radio system in
their scuba helmets, too. He also provides a laser ring that can cut
through solid steel. In addition, James's watch now produces a powerful
electromagnetic charge, activated by pressing the time set button.
Finally, I.Q. rewires Gordo's video game so he can play real-life Ship
Ahoy! with Plank's terror fleet.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: There
are no uniformed S.C.U.M. agents patrolling Plank's base - just a
couple of pirates. But there is a name-check: see 'Lines to Forget'
Loco Parenthesis: At
least Coach Mitchell makes a half-concerted effort to find James and
pals when he discovers they're missing in this episode, which is a
considerable improvement on some of his other field trips.
Vault: The episode also appeared on the UK VHS release
entitled 'James Bond Jr vs Jaws the Metallic Munch',
of Terror and Invaders
Comic Capers: This
was adapted for the fourth installment of the Marvel Comics series,
with no significant alterations.
is Plank's first appearance in the show, but James instantly recognises
him. Plank comments to James that they are about to 'cross swords
again', suggesting they've had at least one previous run-in.
The use of a fake sea monster to terrorise boats is a plot device that
also crops up in the later Walker D. Plank episode, No Such Loch.