'THE EIFFEL MISSILE'
by Doug Molitor
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell,
is returning to Warfield from a holiday when he spies Skullcap at the
airport, clutching a mysterious brown envelope. Spotting Bond, Skullcap
flees onto the runway where he hijacks an aeroplane to escape in - but
James makes chase in an airport vehicle, hooking onto the aeroplane's
wing with the mobile steps on the vehicle. He manages to climb into the
plane and confronts Skullcap, who begins firing a laser at him; but
James overpowers him and takes control of the plane. During the
confusion Skullcap loses his brown envelope and James catches it,
before ejecting and allowing the plane to spiral out of control. James
touches down at Warfield just in time for a P.E. lesson!
In Milbanks' office, James receives a severe telling-off from the
headmaster for parachuting onto the grounds. Milbanks also happens to
mention that a scheduled class trip to Paris has been cancelled, due to
a report that terrorists have smuggled a nuclear warhead into France.
On his way out, James inadvertently gets Trevor into hot water with
Moose, the school meathead. James heads to the gym to take out his
frustrations; convinced S.C.U.M. is involved with the rumours about the
warhead, he talks to I.Q. and Gordo. The envelope Skullcap lost
contained plans for an Achilles Missile; but with the Paris trip
cancelled, James can do nothing. Luckily Coach Mitchell 'accidentally'
lets slip that the security guard goes for a break at three in the
I.Q.'s digital lock analyser gets him, James, Tracy and Gordo through
the gates - followed swiftly by Phoebe, who charms her way into the
adventure by buying the tickets to France. Since James is banned from
the airport (!), they decide to go by hovercraft. On board, James is
introduced to a Parisian art student, Marcie Beaucoup, who has drawn a
sketch of him. Marcie seems very taken with James, and offers to be the
group's tour guide in Paris. But when she goes out on deck for a minute
she contacts somebody via a transmitter hidden in her pencil, telling
them that 007's nephew is on board and she's sure he's looking for the
warhead. At that moment, a cackling Skullcap appears from the sky in a
helicopter, and begins firing lasers at them, taking out much of the
James rushes to the controls of the craft and begins to steer the craft
away from a small island that almost wrecks them - while I.Q. grabs a
waiter's tray and uses it to reflect Skullcap's laser, bursting a hole
in his chopper. The hovercraft reaches the port at Calais but continues
across the land as James flees from Skullcap. I.Q. works out the
chopper has heat-seeking missiles, so James hands a flare gun to Gordo,
telling the gang to push the surplus fuel barrels off the back of the
hovercraft and light them with the flare. Sure enough, Skullcap's
missiles go awry, crashing into the burning ground instead of the
hovercraft. In the confusion, Skullcap's chopper crashes into a farm
where he lands in a pig pen, and is berated by the farmer.
Some time later, the gang arrive in Paris, where Tracy and Phoebe are
jealous of the attention James is lavishing on Marcie. He invites her
on a dinner cruise on the Seine that evening, and she accepts.
Meanwhile, the hunt is on for a huge steel gantry that Skullcap's
schematics show is needed to launch the Achilles Missile. Climbing the
Eiffel Tower to get a bird's eye view, the gang are disappointed to
find that they can't see a steel gantry anywhere. Back at the hotel,
James prepares for dinner, but Tracy's worried Marcie isn't who she
seems - and I.Q. isn't convinced either, so he's prepared a few deadly
gadgets! On the riverboat, James finally shows his cards. He's been
suspicious of Marcie from the start when she had an ink drawing of him
but was only carrying a pencil. He surmises it must have been to
identify him with. And she mistook an impressionist painting for an
expressionist, suggesting she knows nothing about art.
As he asks Marcie what she's really up to, the pair are attacked by Dr
Derange, who has been disguised as a waiter on board the boat along
with Skullcap. He runs at them with a flaming service trolley, but
James extinguishes him with a burst of champagne, while Marcie takes
care of Skullcap. Once both the crooks have been thrown overboard,
Marcie reveals her father is a French policeman, whom she's helping to
find the missile. They'd had word from Coach Mitchell that James was on
his way - that's why she was on the hovercraft. They spy Derange and
Skullcap escaping into the sewers, and go down a manhole to track them
down. Meanwhile, when James doesn't turn up to rendezvous with Tracy
and the others as planned, Gordo manages to get them all locked up by
accidentally confessing to stealing watches!
As they move through the sewers, Marcie loses Derange's trail and
decides she's not cut out for spy work - instead she'll stick to
showing tourists the Eiffel Tower. Then it twigs: James realises the
Tower is the intended gantry for the missile! Following the sewer
system there, they soon come across Derange in his lair - he's just
arming the missile. They overhear Derange talking to himself: his plan
is to aim the warhead at Russia, causing diplomatic relations between
France and Russia to disintegrate. At that point Skullcap captures
them, and the crooks tie them to the missile. It begins to rise to the
top of the tower, and James uses the acetylene torch on his watch to
set him and Marcie free, before rewiring the missile guidance system so
it flies into empty space.
He creates a makeshift zip line from a reel of rope at the top of the
tower, and he and Marcie plummet to safety, as the missile blasts out
of the earth's atmosphere. Returning to Derange's lab under the tower
to apprehend him, James and Marcie find Derange and Skullcap gone,
having left a recorded message vowing revenge the next time they meet.
Back at the police station, James explains everything and Marcie's
father releases Gordo, Phoebe, I.Q. and Tracy from jail. James receives
a goodbye kiss from Marcie just before his friends come out to meet him
- and they find him 'not shaken, but stirred.' Back at Warfield, the
gang get back just in time to join the end of Coach Mitchell's running
session. Milbanks appears, telling James that with the nuclear threat
over the trip to Paris is back on!
apparent that this episode was considered a 'flagship' of sorts, and
was likely one of the first to be produced given the fact that numerous
clips from it appear in the title sequence (only two other episodes, Earthcracker and Live and Let's Dance,
share this honour). In addition, a swathe of spin-off material featured
adapted versions of this particular story - see below for further
details. All this is understandable - The Eiffel Missile is
undoubtedly one of the best episodes, and an archetype for the series
as a whole. With the exception of Trevor, who barely appears, all the
characters are endearing here. With the Parisian backdrop there's
naturally love in the air, giving James, Tracy and Phoebe all the
chance to display more sensitive sides to their characters in some
character sequences that actually border on nuanced - while Marcie
comes across as a likeable and interesting female lead who keeps us
guessing for the first half of the episode as to her real reason for
being involved. Humour is provided by I.Q., whose gadgets are both
borderline offensive and deeply irresponsible - and also Gordo, whose
attempts at speaking French aren't exactly a ringing success. On top of
the action sequences, which are some of the best the series ever
offered - explaining in part their prevalence in the opening titles -
the villains of the piece are also played perfectly. Dr Derange is at
his absolute best, with some great lines and a hilarious disguise to
cap it off, and Skullcap bounces off his boss perfectly throughout,
while simultaneously retaining a sinister and ruthless side during the
hovercraft chase. To conclude, The Eiffel Missile
virtually all respects a top-rated episode: very difficult to improve
on, and emblematic of the spirit of the show as a whole.
scene where the gang stand atop the Eiffel Tower looking across the
city in search of a structure made from steel girders is nicely played.
I.Q.'s French-themed gadgets are sublime. And the hovercraft action
sequence is one of the highlights of the series.
Noseworthy appears in one small scene here which is entirely redundant
- so why not just drop him altogether, as the comic version does?
to Remember: James,
having knocked Phoebe over with the punching bag: 'Sorry
Phoebe! I'm afraid I didn't see you.' Phoebe:
'I'm afraid you never do.'
Derange to James, after ordering Skullcap to tie him to
the missile: 'We
will see how amusing Moscow finds you. If they find anything!'
James, on Derange's recorded message: 'Don't
you just hate reruns?'
Phoebe, finding James
shellshocked following his goodbye kiss with Marcie: 'Oh,
the poor dear! Our being arrested must have really shaken him.' I.Q.: 'Offhand I'd
say he looks not shaken, but... stirred.'
to Forget: James to
Marcie: 'It makes me wish I were an artist, so I could keep
looking at you.'
Marcie: 'I not only know the
Paris, I also know the sewers!' Why?
Marcie on expressionist paintings: 'Oui,
they are so... how you say... expressive!'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s
the man behind the digital lock analyser that helps them escape from
Warfield, as well as the latest watch modifications - a homing
transmitter and an acetylene torch. But that's nothing compared to the
array of special accessories he provides James with in Paris: notably,
a sword disguised as a French baguette, and a beret that's actually a
on the Surface: Yes - James immediately
identifies Skullcap as 'an agent of S.C.U.M.' in the opener, and the
organisation is name-dropped throughout - although admittedly there are
no uniformed agents creeping around.
unperturbed by talk of nuclear warheads in Paris, Coach Mitchell
irresponsibly encourages James and pals to use a digital lock analyser
to escape Warfield during the guard's 3am coffee break. Although in a
rare moment of competence, he does tip off the French police as
& Bloopers: There's
one fairly major flaw in the plot: namely that the Eiffel Tower is
clearly far too narrow for the missile, and in any case not
open-topped. Presumably when the missile reaches the tip of the tower
it would simply explode on impact, killing everyone in the area -
although conveniently we're only shown the warhead in the few seconds
before it reaches this position, followed by a radar screen of it
flying into space. But we like this episode far too much to care about
trivialities like that.
Vault: This episode was released on a standalone video on
both sides of the Atlantic, in PAL and NTSC formats.
Story: Merlin retitled this The Eiffel Tower
Missile in its adaptation for the
2 of the Marvel Comics series was based on this episode. There aren't
many differences between the two, with the exception that Marcie looks
very different, the hovercraft chase culminates slightly less
explosively in the comic, and the Eiffel Tower is used as a traditional
gantry, with the missile moving up its side, not
its centre (see Blunders & Bloopers).
Also, the beret-landmine and sword-baguette are (perhaps wisely)
Novel Approach: John
Peel (under the John Vincent pseudonym) reworked and expanded the
episode for the Fantail novelisations, with the catchier name of The
This is Dr Derange's first appearance of many in James
Bond Jr. Likewise with Skullcap.
This is James's first visit to France; but he would
return there, and
indeed to Paris, in The Art
of Evil. Indeed
it's possible that this is the very class trip that was rearranged at
the end of in this episode - since Milbanks encourages James to 'learn
a bit about art' when they get there.
Warfield gym has a S.C.U.M.-branded punchbag for what reason,
The English Channel hovercraft service so heavily
featured in this
episode ceased to operate in 2005.