'A CHILLING AFFAIR'
by Mark Jones
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell,
Synopsis: At a cryogenics facility somewhere in England,
there's an almighty explosion as a gang of ninjas blast their way
through the wall. They steal a frozen, man-sized cylinder, which they
attach to a portable freezer and wheel into the back of a van. Doctor
No appears, asking if 'it' is still alive - the ninjas respond that it
appears to be breathing. He orders them to destroy the laboratory; he
doesn't want a trace of the building to remain. The next day, James and
his friends enjoy a day away from Warfield at a shopping centre. As
I.Q. demonstrates one of his latest gadgets, the gang are shocked by
screams from a building across the road.
The shouting is coming from a science lab, where Professor Ivan Frost
is demonstrating to his daughter Julia the reanimation of a mouse that
has been deep-frozen. Sure enough, when warmed through the mouse comes
back to life. But Doctor No's ninjas turn up, attempting to kidnap the
pair of them. James quickly intervenes, starting a fight with the
ninjas. But they escape with the professor, knocking out James with
chloroform in the process. However, they leave a clue as to their
whereabouts in the form of a matchbox branded 'Takas Sushi Bar'. As
Tracy and Gordo head back to Warfield to study for a science exam,
Phoebe and I.Q. accompany James and Julia to the sushi bar.
They quickly identify the chef behind the counter as one of the ninjas,
who tries to kill them by mispreparing a deadly blowfish. When they
expose him he runs, and James
gives chase, trapping the crook in a curtain and threatening to feed
him a piece of blowfish unless he tells them who he's working for. The
chef explains he was hired by No to take the professor to his base up
in the hills near Maidstone - but he doesn't know why. Back at Warfield
Trevor attempts to get James in trouble by telling Mitchell he's left
Warfield grounds, but Tracy and Gordo cover for him, as James and the
others head up into the hills in a rented jeep to seek out No's lair.
Inside the cliffside base, Dr No receives a phone call telling him
James has been spotted; and soon enough, a team of ninjas are on the
jeep's trail in a helicopter, firing missiles at it as it crosses a
huge viaduct. I.Q. and Phoebe are thrown aside in the blast, but James
and Julia are trapped on the bridge in the jeep, before the whole
structure collapses and they plunge into a river below. They are
rapidly moving towards a waterfall, but James releases the air from an
inner tube that was on board the jeep, and they safely arrive back on
dry land - only to be captured by the ninjas and taken to Dr No.
Dr No explains to the gang that the man frozen in the cylinder is a
master criminal, who had himself frozen forty years ago to avoid being
caught after hiding fifty million dollars worth of platinum that he'd
stolen - in the hope that he could be defrosted 100 years later and
reclaim his stash. He tells Professor Frost that if he wants to see
Julia again he'll keep working on defrosting the crook, so No can force
him to lead him to the platinum. Meanwhile he takes Julia and James to
a room containing a vat of liquid nitrogen. Tying them above it, he
sets a winch to slowly lower them into the liquid, where they'll be
frozen at 300 degrees below zero.
James uses the new heat beam on his watch to boil away the nitrogen,
and the pair escape through an air vent. But when Phoebe and I.Q. sneak
into the complex and find James's watch at the bottom of the nitrogen
vat, they fear the worst and believe he's been dissolved by acid. They
creep into the vent as well, and soon bump into James and Julia. The
four head back to the laboratory area to rescue Professor Frost, where
he explains he's been bluffing to keep No sweet - the scientific
knowledge needed to defrost a human simply doesn't exist yet. Noticing
that the body in the cylinder bears a striking resemblance to I.Q.,
James uses Phoebe's and Julia's make-up to make I.Q. look exactly like
the frozen criminal.
Meanwhile Dr No has found the nitrogen room empty and sends his ninjas
to search for the intruders, but they're nowhere to be found. When No
heads to check on the Professor he finds the 'criminal' defrosted and
about to be revived. I.Q. does a very good impression of the thief
considering they've never met, and agrees to split the platinum he's
hidden 50/50 with Dr No - they all head off in a van to pick up the
stash. But No tells his chief ninja he'll give him a signal to
eliminate the Professor and the criminal as soon as they know where the
loot is. To compound matters, James, Phoebe and Julia are captured by
ninjas. They stage an escape, immobilising the crooks and stealing
their chopper, before following Dr No's van in it.
It's not long before a bump in the road causes I.Q.'s disguise to slip
off, and a furious Dr No realises he's been duped. Meanwhile, James
flies overhead, leaping from the chopper to attach I.Q.'s electronic
control gizmo to the top of the van so he can steer it from the roof.
Phoebe and Julia fly behind in the chopper as the van drives into a
city - climbing back up to the helicopter, James hooks the chopper onto
the van and lifts it over the rooftops, dumping it in a nearby pond.
When the police arrive No has somehow escaped, but I.Q. and the
Professor are unharmed. Back at Warfield, Tracy and Gordo work hard to
convince Trevor that James is still on campus, pretending he's
disguised as a gardener. The gang get back just in time for the science
exam, with 007 seconds to spare!
One of the more disappointing of the
earlier episodes, A Chilling Affair has a great
central concept - it's the realisation that lets it down. On the plus
side, the scenes in Doctor No's hillside headquarters are nicely
presented: No is the perfect villain for this frosty story, getting
some good lines and bringing his plot to fruition in a calm, cool and
calculating manner that suits the storyline perfectly. There's no
problem either with Ivan and Julia Frost, who are both fairly
believable as supporting characters, even if the English accents leave
a little to be desired. But there are a number of significant issues
that disappoint - the fact that I.Q. and the frozen criminal look
identical is a little too far-fetched to swallow, and there's no
explanation as to whether the Professor has let the original body die
or simply hidden it in a freezer somewhere. The van chase also leaves a
lot to be desired: it goes on for too long for a start, and James's use
of I.Q.'s control gadget to steer the van is vague and unrealistic.
Meanwhile the Trevor B-plot in the episode is practically nonexistent:
the scenes that do make the final cut feel cringeworthy and tacked-on,
and would have been better scrapped altogether. At one point, Tracy and
Gordo's assertion that James is 'around', 'somewhere', is enough for
Coach Mitchell to angrily reject Trevor's assertion that James has left
Warfield; in another scene, Tracy and Gordo successfully convince
Trevor that James is pretending to be a gardener, without any further
explanation. Later, he mocks their sorry excuse for a story by asking
if James is disguised as one of the empty chairs in the exam room,
reflecting what the viewers may also be thinking by this stage.
Highs: Doctor No's at his icy best here. The
rose in the liquid nitrogen is a pretty touch, presaging (no doubt
unintentionally) the future episode Garden
Lows: The air flow from an inner tube is apparently powerful
enough to propel James and Julia away from the edge of a waterfall.
Afterwards Julia says: 'That was unbelievable, James.' She's not wrong.
Lines to Remember: Dr No, when
Julia asks where her father is: 'He's doing very important
work for me: defrosting a colleague of mine.'
Dr No, realising he's been duped: 'I
should have known: Bond! Up to his young tricks.'
& Gizmos: There's
a new heat beam function and walkie-talkie feature on James's
(acid-proof) watch, as well as a gizmo that controls any electronic
device it's attached to. It can even make coins come out of British
ATMs - miraculous, since they categorically don't dispense them.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: No
- the organisation isn't even mentioned, and Dr No's base is staffed
entirely by his own-brand ninjas.
Blunders & Bloopers: The
van/helicopter chase visibly takes place at night, yet as soon as the
police turn up the gang rush back to Warfield so as not to be late for
the exam. They only just arrive on time, but the clock shows it's 2pm
the following afternoon.
VHS Vault: This episode
was released on a standalone VHS in NTSC format only.
Notes: Doctor No makes his first James Bond Jr appearance
in this episode, but No explicitly states that this isn't his first encounter with James.
James and the gang are rather unpleasant to I.Q. in this episode. First
Gordo calls him a 'soda jerk' when a vending machine explodes on him;
then they all point and laugh when the ATM starts shooting out coins;
and finally Phoebe wonders aloud why she has to get stuck with him
instead of James. They ought to watch out, or he might put some of his
gadgets to use against somebody other than S.C.U.M...
Gordo's enthusiasm for video games - seen here in the amusement arcade
at the start of the show - appears to have carried over from the last
episode, Plunder Down Under.
We learn that James has visited the island of Shikoku in Japan at some
point in the past, where presumably he learned the correct way to cut
up a deadly blowfish.