'CRUISE TO OBLIVION'
by Jeffrey Scott
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Goldfinger, Odd Job, Nick Nack.
Synopsis: In the North Atlantic Ocean, a US air force pilot
completes a routine patrol of the area surrounding the Bermuda
Triangle; he jokingly tells his colleagues over the radio that there
are 'no UFOs today'. But he speaks too soon: seeing a glint on the
ocean surface, he swoops down to take a closer look. A dark, ray-shaped
shadow moves under the surface, and suddenly fires at the plane,
causing the instruments to go haywire. He fires missiles at the object,
but in vain - it blasts his wing off, and the pilot ejects as the plane
crashes into the water. The shadow comes to the surface, and the pilot
is sucked into a huge yellow submarine.
At Warfield Academy, the gang is packing up for their latest jaunt
abroad: Mr Farragut has invited them all to be on board the maiden
voyage of his new cruise ship, named the SS Phoebe after his daughter.
I.Q. finishes off his latest gadgets before the gang head for the plane
to Bermuda, where the ship sets sail from. But off the coast of the
island group, the air force pilot is put in the brig of the submarine
by its owner, Goldfinger. Accompanied by Odd Job and Nick Nack, he's in
the area to salvage a wealth of gold he's located in a sunken galleon.
He first tries to raise the galleon using pumps, but the gold in the
ship is too heavy and the pumps short out.
At Bermuda, the gang is welcomed on board the SS Phoebe by Debbie, the
cruise director, with whom James quickly bags a dinner date - much to
Tracy's annoyance. There's trouble ahead, as Goldfinger picks up the SS
Phoebe on his radar. He orders Nick Nack and Odd Job to go out in a
minisub and head out to the cruise ship, to see if there's any
equipment that might help him get at the gold; using sucker pads, they
climb up the hull of the ship. Quickly spotting James, I.Q. and the
others, they report back to Goldfinger - who's particularly interested
that I.Q. is onboard. Aware he's a genius, Goldfinger decides he may be
able to help with the galleon. While Nick Nack grabs I.Q. and takes him
to the sub, Odd Job goes after James and Debbie, ruining their date and
locking them in the food freezer, before turning the power to full.
Luckily James remembers I.Q.'s camera film with flammable magnesium
backing - it allows him to burn a hole in the floor so the pair can
escape into the room below. But it's too late for I.Q., who's already
back on Goldfinger's submarine. He refuses to help raise the galleon,
until Goldfinger threatens to sink the SS Phoebe if he doesn't. I.Q.
reluctantly agrees, and looks at a map of the area that shows a nearby
oil rig. He tells Goldfinger that if he attaches chains to the galleon
and drapes them over the rig, all he'll need to do is sink a heavier
weight on the other side, and the gold will rise to the surface. But
I.Q.'s plan backfires, as Goldfinger realises that the only thing
heavier than the galleon in the vicinity is the cruise ship! Goldfinger
decides to do so, despite his deal with I.Q., and orders Nick Nack to
set a course for the oil rig while Odd Job takes I.Q. back to his cell.
Meanwhile, James, Debbie and the others have searched the ship for
I.Q., to no avail, and decide to call in the US navy, while James and
Debbie take a boat out to see if they can find him. Picking up the oil
platform on the sonar, James ecides they should check there, to see if
anyone's spotted anything unusual. When they arrive, the crew haven't
seen anything odd - but Goldfinger's sub emerges suddenly, firing
lasers at the platform. Odd Job and Nick Nack climb onto the rig,
almost making mincemeat out of James, before holding him and Debbie at
gunpoint. Goldfinger arrives, explaining his plan before sending out a
distress signal, claiming the rig is on fire. The crew of the SS Phoebe
pick up the signal and head towards the oil rig.
When it's close enough, Goldfinger's scuba team dive underwater,
secretly welding huge chains to the hull of the cruise ship. Debbie and
James escape from their shackles but there isn't enough power in
James's watch to cut through the chains, so they decide to head back to
the SS Phoebe and get the passengers into the lifeboats. Nick Nack
fires the first torpedo at the ship just as James and Debbie approach
the ship in their boat. Using I.Q.'s electronic fishing rod and
magnetic hook, he manages to destroy the torpedo - so Goldfinger fires
the next torpedo at James's boat! Realising they have to let it hit in
order to save the cruise ship, James and Debbie are winched to safety
by Gordo just in time. The smaller boat is destroyed - but a piece of
it pierces the hull of the Phoebe, causing it to start taking on water.
James decides it's time he dived down to Goldfinger's submarine to
confront him head on - and Debbie insists on going with him. She
reveals herself as a CIA agent, who's been investigating the
disappearance of the US air force jet. Under the sea, they struggle
with some of Goldfinger's scuba divers, armed with knives, just as
Goldfinger's loading the next torpedo. But Debbie manages to send one
of the divers hurtling into the torpedo tube, jamming it. While Nick
Nack tries to fix the problem, James, Gordo and Debbie make their
entrance to the sub; Gordo and Debbie rescue I.Q. and the US air pilot,
while James confronts Goldfinger.
Using I.Q.'s fishing rod again, he controls the direction of the next
torpedo so that rather than destroying the cruise ship, it severs the
chain. At that point a fleet of divers from the US navy arrive to
apprehend Goldfinger, but he, Odd Job and Nick Nack manage to escape in
a minisub. With the threat from Goldfinger extinguished, the gang enjoy
the rest of their cruise worry-free - with the exception of Trevor
Noseworthy, whom to everyone's amusement is having terrible bouts of
seasickness, deliberately brought on by Gordo's graphic description of
an eel colony on a nearby island.
The great thing about Cruise to Oblivion
is that it's a very visually appealing episode, right from the dramatic
outset; Goldfinger's manta-ray submarine is very nicely designed both
inside and out, and the colours are a lot bolder and brighter here than
on other similar, ship-based episodes, complemented perfectly by some
of the choicest sections from the musical score. The plot works fairly
well too, all things considered; although it isn't explained exactly
why Goldfinger's scuba team can't simply swim over to the galleon and
retrieve the gold by hand, the rest of the story almost makes sense.
There's a disappointing lack of focus on most of the Warfield regulars,
but I.Q. benefits from a scene to himself with Goldfinger - S.C.U.M.
picking on James's individual friends is almost unheard of, and
Goldfinger's familiarity with I.Q. adds an entertaining dimension (even
though they didn't meet in Earthcracker
and Goldfinger hasn't featured on screen since). Junior Bond girl
Debbie is also a strong character, and the CIA twist is quite
unexpected, bring a nice circularity to the story that ties up the
loose end of the US air force jet. In terms of the villains, Goldfinger
is on top form - his dialogue is spot-on, and his accomplices Odd Job
and Nick Nack are more creepily effective than the Jaws-Nick Nack combo
often is. Another golden success.
Highs: The pre-titles teaser sets the episode off to a
great start: it's dramatic, intriguing and to-the-point.
Lows: In Never
Give A Villain A Fair Shake, James berates Trevor
for deliberately trying to stimulate seasickness in I.Q. - but here he
thinks it's quite justified for Gordo to do exactly the same to Trevor.
Lines to Remember: James,
on hearing Goldfinger's scheme: 'You're mad, Goldfinger!'
Goldfinger: 'If you mean mad about gold, then you're
The captured air force pilot to
Goldfinger: 'You'll be sorry when air-sea rescue gets here.'
Goldfinger: 'Hmm. You'll be sorrier if you
don't shut up.'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s
pocket-sized, electronic, telescopic, radar-controlled rod and reel -
phew! - is such an efficient sport-fishing accessory that it even baits
the hook for you. There's also an underwater camera, and a special reel
of film for it with a conveniently flammable magnesium backing.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: On seeing
Goldfinger's sub, James comments that 'something tells me that S.C.U.M. has
just floated to the surface' - although no uniformed agents are
present, and most of Goldfinger's henchmen are wearing black scuba gear
with gold stripes. Nick Nack's presence also arguably suggests S.C.U.M.
Loco Parenthesis: Mr
Milbanks is concerned for Tracy's interests as a father as well as a
teacher, when he spies a skimpy bikini among her luggage, and reminds
her that she'd promised to pack a "more substantial bathing suit."
Notes: Although James would never visit Bermuda again during
the course of the show, he does come up against a vicious Bermudian ski
team working for Doctor No, in the comic story Absolute Zero.
A scene in which James produces a book of matches in
order to set fire to the flammable magnesium backing on the photo film
was cut in some airings, presumably on safety grounds - so there's a
quick fade from James laying the ring of film down to footage of it
already on fire.
It's the maiden voyage of Phoebe's father's new cruise
ship, but Mr Farragut doesn't appear to be onboard himself - possibly
because he buys a new cruise ship every other week, or possibly because
he's still feeling nauseous after his exploits in Never Give a Villain a Fair Shake.