'DANCE OF THE TOREADORS'
by Alan Templeton and Mary Crawford
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell,
Baron von Skarin,
evening somewhere in Kent, and trouble's afoot at a secure facility,
where jewel thief Tiara Hotstones steals a collection of gems from a
safe deposit box. The guards attempt to stop her but she outwits them,
escaping on a motorbike just as James and I.Q. pass by in the sports
car, on their way back to Warfield. Noticing sirens wailing at the
facility and the speed of the biker, James gives chase, but Tiara
escapes. They head back to Warfield in time to see a performance by a
flamenco dancing troupe. The star is Dulce Nada, whom I.Q. immediately
falls in love with. Meanwhile, at a disused pottery in Pamplona, Baron
von Skarin is busy blackmailing a British general via telescreen - he
wants one billion pounds in gold bullion, or else he'll set his
Siegfried supercomputer to blow up the nuclear facility at Sandhill,
which will cut electrical power to half of England.
Von Skarin's assistant, Hilda, reminds him that they can't carry out
the threat until they have the memory gems needed to override
Sandhill's computers - but he explains that Tiara Hotstones has stolen
them and will deliver them to Pamplona for them. At that moment, Tiara
is headed into the theatre in Warfield where Dulce was performing. It's
the after-show party, and Phoebe rescues Dulce from an awkward
conversion with Trevor to introduce her to James and a lovestruck I.Q.,
but I.Q. messes up by inadvertently pouring a whole bowlful of punch
over Dulce and then wrecking the buffet. Trevor has a good cackle, but
I.Q. runs out in embarrassment. Milbanks apologises to Dulce, but she's
unconcerned and goes to change. We learn that the head of the dancing
troupe, Miss Lahoya, is actually Tiara Hotstones in disguise - and
she's woven the gems she's stolen into Dulce's dress!
Back at Warfield, I.Q. is distraught over the humiliation of having
drenched Dulce in punch, but James manages to cheer him up by
encouraging him to showcase his latest gizmos. Dulce wants to call in
to see him before they leave, but 'Miss Lahoya' - aka Tiara - tells her
they have no time. Later, James hears on the news about the gems that
were stolen: they are memory gems, which can store unprecedented
amounts of data. The gang's concerned about I.Q, who's still suffering
over Dulce. Aware that the troupe is heading to Pamplona to dance at
the Festival of the Bulls, the Warfield crew decide to follow in the
name of true love! To get out of Warfield, I.Q. lies to Milbanks,
claiming he's going to his grandfather's latest book launch - an
untruth that's reinforced when James uses a voice synthesiser to feign
Major Boothroyd's tones over the telephone.
The gang borrow the Warfield van for their journey and travel via
hovercraft to Spain, where they soon catch up with Tiara's van. But
Baron von Skarin and his henchwoman Hilda are also chasing the van in a
chopper: he wants to double-cross Tiara and use a huge magnet to pick
up her van and tale the memory gems without paying her for them. But
James leaps onto the magnet himself, destabilising the chopper, before
attaching it to a passing truck and sending the helicopter hurtling
into the distance. The Warfielders move on to Pamplona, where the bulls
are being prepared for the annual festival. They head to the cafe where
Dulce is performing, and immediately spot the Baron and Tiara in heavy
negotiations. Tiara wants double the price for the gems after von
Skarin's stunt on the road - but he's unwilling to play ball and
decides to take the gems by force, incarcerating Tiara behind a
rotating wall and kidnapping Dulce.
James gives chase, following the Baron's car over the rooftops - he
manages to jump onto the top of the car and hangs on, despite the
Baron's men shooting lasers through the roof. Though they try to shake
him off with some reckless driving, James manages to slip a hand
through the window and attach I.Q.'s homing device to Dulce's dress.
The Baron escapes but James returns to the cafe, where he explains to
I.Q. and Tiara that they can track von Skarin. For some reason, the
pair release Tiara, before using the tracking device in I.Q.'s fishing
case to pick up the signal. At the Baron's pottery base, Hilda and the
other scientists fit the memory gems into von Skarin's Siegfried
supercomputer: this allows them to remotely sieze control of the
nuclear plant at Sandhill. Contacting the army general, the Baron
demands double his earlier price within an hour - or England will
suffer a massive blackout.
Warfield Academy is evacuated on news of the takeover, with Trevor
pushing straight to the front of the bus queue. Back in Pamplona, James
and I.Q. trace the Baron to his hideout, with Tiara following
stealthily behind. I.Q. storms in, determined to rescue Dulce, and is
captured - but James escapes on a moped, chased by the Baron's men.
He's soon chased by a herd of bulls as well, as he inadvertently
becomes embroiled in the running of the bulls - which Phoebe, Gordo and
Tracy are watching. He runs out of petrol, but runs by foot, luring one
of the bulls into the pottery where it causes havoc, destroying all of
the ceramics and scaring away the Baron and his servants.
Using I.Q.'s fishing rod invention, James winches himself, Dulce and
I.Q. to the ceiling at the last moment, causing the bull to run
straight into the Siegfried computer and destroy it - 0:07 seconds
before it destroys Sandhill. I.Q. then leads the bull outside, and gets
a cuddle from Dulce, while Tiara tries to retrieve the memory gems -
but James takes them instead, reminding her they're the property of the
British government. She leaves unimpeded. Back at Warfield, the gang is
chastised by Coach Mitchell. Major Boothroyd, it seems, has turned up
for a visit and is waiting in I.Q.'s room for an explanation as to why
he lied about the book launch. James quips that with grace for good
behaviour they could be out in ten years.
there's no end of poor dialogue and even poorer European accents in
this episode, the really dubious element is the plot. The whole premise
of the episode, indeed, is flawed: why does Tiara Hotstones go to the
effort of setting up an entire dancing troupe simply in order to get
the memory gems to von Skarin? If they can get through border security
on Dulce's dress, why not on Tiara's? Or is dance instruction just an
incidental hobby? Nevertheless the episode is a relatively enjoyable,
with a good number of chase sequences and some interesting character
development thanks to I.Q. (see 'Highs') and also the debut of Tiara, a
jewel thief whose character is treated as morally ambiguous. Clearly
she's indirectly culpable for the nuclear meltdown but patently
despises the Baron (whom she denounces as a 'double-crossing, lowlife
backstabber'), and also seems to have found favour with James (see
'S.C.U.M. on the Surface'), whom she's apparently encountered before.
While the Spanish setting is perhaps not used as well as it might have
been - the 'bull in a china shop' motif is crowbarred into proceedings
in a manner that's crude and downright predictable - the Flamenco
device does add a further layer of intrigue. All in all more of a
character piece than an action-based episode, which will be welcome for
some, and disappointing for others.
infatuation with Dulce is a new and interesting departure, leading to
an unusually poignant example of the obligatory gadget explanation
scene, during which James attempts to cheer him up. James's
impersonation of Desmond Llewelyn's Q from the Bond films is also an
accent and dialect of Baron von Skarin, his henchwoman Hilda and his
ridiculous talking computer are excruciatingly caricatured throughout
in a manner that borders on offensive.
Lines to Forget: Baron von Skarin
to his assistant: 'There's nothing to fret about Hilda, my
Von Skarin, to a stooge, in the midst of his
takeover of Sandhill: 'Fix some popcorn, would you? I
always like to munch when I'm watching a good show.'
Gadgets & Gizmos: A
fishing rod with a high-speed power winch and a line made of
high-tensile mono-filament is I.Q.'s gadget of the day - you could haul
in a submarine with it if you had to. It comes with an array of false
bait; one is magnetised, one harbours a microphone and - needless to
say - one is a homing device.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: The
only mention of S.C.U.M. here is in relation to Tiara, when it's far
from clear she's actually a member at all. Von Skarin refers to her as
'S.C.U.M. agent Tiara Hotstones', but this episode and others appear to
treat her more as a freelance. If she were really a member of S.C.U.M.,
why would I.Q. free her from the cafe, and why would James later allow
her to leave unchallenged from the crime scene?
Transatlantic Translation: The
English accent of the newscaster reporting the theft of the memory gems
is shown up to be an impersonation when he pronounces 'data' like an
American, rather than to rhyme with 'waiter' as a real English person
would say it.
of the Toreadors featured on a three-episode VHS release for
the UK, alongside A Worm in the Apple
Such Loch. The episode also received a
standalone release in the US.
Comic Capers: The
fifth edition of the Marvel Comics series was adapted more or less
line-for-line from this episode, albeit in a slightly abridged form. In
the comic though, Milbanks is absent, the memory gems become 'memory
crystals', and Dulce looks completely different. Tiara also ups the
ante in her friendship with James, shouting a warning to him as the
Baron's men approach and bidding him an even friendlier goodbye than in
the TV episode. This is perhaps to set her up for an even more
sympathetic role in the original comic Sure
as Eggs is Eggs.
Notes: Tiara Hotstones makes her first of three appearances
in the show here.
We learn in this episode that Mr Milbanks' first name is Bradford.
This is not the only occasion on which Baron von Skarin attempts to
cause an electrical blackout: see also Sherlock I.Q.
and Northern Lights.