'RED STAR ONE'
by Jeffrey Scott
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell,
On a dark, snowy night in Moscow, Commander
Yougetov, the man in charge of the latest Russian rocket launch, is
accosted and gassed by two mystery assailants. The masked figures carry
the space chief away from his car to where two bigger crooks are
waiting; namely, Doctor Derange and the Chameleon. Using his unique
face-morphing powers, the Chameleon replicates the space chief's
likeness, voicing his intention to use his new appearance to gain
access to the space station's top secret laser guidance codes; Derange
cackles with approval. Back in England, meanwhile, James, Tracy, Gordo,
Phoebe and Coach Mitchell are all packed and ready for their flight to
Moscow, with whom Warfield is participating in a student exchange
As they leave, the Russian students arrive, and Gordo warns them to
'steer clear of a jerk named Trevor Noseworthy IV'. Trevor subsequently
introduces himself, and the foreigners take Gordo's advice and ignore
him, leaving him suspicious of their intentions. Back in Russia, the
Chameleon, disguised as the space chief, watches the previous
inhabitants of the space station return to Earth. When they arrive, he is
very quick to request the laser codes, leading other officials to
suspect something is afoot. Believing he may try to sell the codes, two
undercover policemen follow the Chameleon and observe as he makes his
rendezvous with Derange, who properly introduces their two masked
assistants, Max and Jo.
The Chameleon changes his face back to 'normal' to greet them and, as
they discuss their plan to use the powerful laser on the space station to
cut open the steel walls of the Russian treasury and steal its
contents, the two policemen confront them. They are quickly overpowered
and gassed by the crooks and left in the snow, as the Chameleon changes
his face back to that of the space chief. At the
Russian academy, James and his friends are introduced to their
counterparts, including Boris Gregorovich and Nadia Glasov, today's
lukewarm love interest, whose father is one of the cosmonauts about to
blast into space. As the gang make friends, an electronic umbrella in
James's bag begins to bleep and Boris is shocked to see James plug it
into a nearby TV set and speak live to the umbrella's inventor, I.Q.,
who is back at Warfield.
I.Q. is suffering from being the only one left with Trevor, who airs
his suspicions about the Russians' intentions. He borrows I.Q.'s video
camera to catch them in the act. In Moscow, James, Nadia and the others
go to the Space Center to watch the launch and say goodbye to Nadia's
father, but Nadia is concerned when Commander Yougetov doesn't respond
when she says hello to him. Suspicious, James suggests that they follow
him into the launch site. The Chameleon attempts to cover his tracks
when he realises who Nadia is but, as the rocket prepares to blast off,
the Chameleon reveals his true colours and holds the pair at gunpoint.
After a struggle, the Chameleon ties James and Nadia with chains
directly underneath the rocket in the hope that they'll be burned to a
crisp when the spacecraft launches.
Luckily, he hasn't reckoned on I.Q.'s super-sensitive gloves, which
allow him to crack the padlock combination and escape just in time.
While Boris, Phoebe and Tracy rush off to tell the authorities that the
Chameleon is up to no good, James, Gordo and Nadia head off to stop him
in his tracks, remaining in constant contact with I.Q. via the
umbrella. Elsewhere, Trevor is busy spying on the Russian exchange
students, whom he hears talking about having been lucky to get their
cases through customs; he begins to speculate wildly about what they
might contain. Having caught them on film he goes off in search of Mr
Milbanks to inform him of what he's seen. Milbanks is sceptical, but
when Trevor mentions that they could be concealing weapons he decides,
against his better judgement, that he ought to investigate.
On the space station, Nadia's father enters the laser
guidance code; however, it has been swapped for a different one by
Derange and the Chameleon, who promptly use the new codes to seize
control of the laser from their mobile radar van,
sending the spacecraft spinning back towards the Earth, since, the
closer it is to the planet's surface, the more powerful the laser will
be. James and friends are in a car searching for the Chameleon, and
I.Q. tells them that they can use the umbrella to find the crooks by
panning it over the horizon so that I.Q. can detect the strongest
signal with his computer back at home. Time is running out; Derange has
already eliminated the military presence at the edge of the treasury by
destroying their equipment with the laser.
Spotting James, they turn the laser on his car, chasing it up and down
so that it almost penetrates the gas tank at the rear. They're forced
to abandon the car as it explodes, and the threesome run towards the
treasury gate where they bang on the door until the officials inside
let them in. There they discover a chest full of diamonds, which
appears to be what the crooks are after. James contacts I.Q. via the
umbrella and asks him to crack the laser guidance codes and get him
control of the laser by linking up to the Russians' computer.
Boris, Phoebe, Tracy and the police speed towards the treasury too, and
are attacked by the laser, but the crooks then decide to concentrate on
breaking through the steel roof. Finally creating a hole, the four
S.C.U.M. agents jump down, but are overpowered by James and the others.
The Chameleon gets a fire extinguisher squirted in his face by James
and is captured - much to Derange's joy, who then attempts to steal the
gems all for himself. However, at the last moment, I.Q. regains control
of the laser and instructs the cosmonauts to send one last
burst to the treasury roof, thus sealing over the hole and trapping the
S.C.U.M. agents inside. There are celebrations all round back at the
Moscow academy, but at Warfield, Milbanks and Trevor burst into the
exchange students' quarters with security guards. The large cases are
soon revealed to contain not weapons, but musical instruments, and
Milbanks furiously chastises Trevor as he's forced to dance with one of
the Russians! Needless to say, James and friends watch the whole sorry
affair with much amusement via umbrella link.
Of Doctor Derange's many outings in James Bond Jr.,
Red Star One has to be one of our all-time
favourites. And, in addition, we are treated to the second of three
appearances of the Chameleon, a much-underused villain in the Bond
The two complement each other perfectly; the Chameleon is menacing
enough and Derange is barmy enough for their ambitious plan to very
nearly succeed to the extent that we almost wish they had. (I.Q.'s
gadgets are far too effective in the episode; the umbrella seems to
be capable of doing just about anything, allowing I.Q. to control a
satellite in space and track laser guidance signals from the other side
of the world. With that sort of power the villains have no chance.) The Russian
exhange students story was an interesting development considering the
emphasis on the Cold War in many of the Bond films; although the
students are completely benign, viewers are
tricked into mistrusting them thanks to Trevor's adventures
in the B-plot. It highlights the tension and mistrust that still plagued east/west relations to an extent even at the time James
Bond Jr first
aired - personified here not only by Trevor but by Milbanks who, in a
position of authority and supposed enlightenment, still veers towards a
deep mistrust of his Russian counterparts. Come to think of it, why
does the Russian government need a satellite with a deadly laser
attachment anyway? Is there something we should be told? Perhaps
they're not portrayed as innocuously as it at first seems.
Nevertheless, they must have been doing something right because, in
quite a rare moment for the show, both principal villains were caught
and (presumably) jailed at the end of the episode, rather than the
usual cop-out about them having inexplicably escaped. Not that it
prevents either character from returning later on in the series, but at
least it leaves a more satisfying aftertaste than usual, and, more
importantly, provides Derange with the opportunity to shriek 'Noooooo!'
in his appalling faux French accent. This episode was a shining example
of Derange, and James Bond Jr, at their very best.
Highs: The opening in particular is very atmospheric and
works well as a scene-setter, particularly thanks to the sinister
Chameleon. And it almost goes without saying that Doctor Derange is
fantastic as usual.
Lows: Derange's pair of bunglers Max and Jo, while notable for being women, are otherwise two of
the least interesting henchpeople in the entire series - although it is
highly amusing when one of them trips, lands on her head and is bashed
on the behind by Nadia with I.Q.'s umbrella. Yet another
use for it...
Lines to Remember: Derange celebrates as he notices
that he, and the diamonds, are on the same side of the cage as the hole
in the roof: 'Looks like for once, I'm on the right side of
Gadgets & Gizmos: As we have seen, I.Q.'s electronic
umbrella can be used to achieve pretty much anything short of world
domination - while his super-sensitive gloves have 'vibrational amplifiers' in
the fingertips and are perfect for cracking safe and padlock
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: James notes that 'the
Chameleon and S.C.U.M. are up to their old tricks', although arguably
this presents some ambiguity as to whether or not the Chameleon is a
member. (Indeed, in his next appearance, The Art of Evil, his plan centres around becoming one.)
'Take good care of them, Mr Mitchell,' says Milbanks as he bids
farewell to the coach and his pupils. But Coach Mitchell is entirely
absent from the rest of the episode,
leaving the gang to battle international terrorists on their own.
Indeed, he's not even present for the introductions at Moscow Academy,
so it's far from clear he even travelled to Russia!
Blunders & Bloopers: When
Trevor films the Russians talking on the camcorder, it is a male
student who is speaking. But when we see the footage he recorded later
on, the same voice is overlaid on images of a female student talking!
VHS Vault: Red
Star One featured on a three-episode VHS release for the UK,
Beginning and A Race Against Disaster
- as well as on a standalone release in the US.
Notes: Even if I.Q. is a genius, surely
it would take longer than that to crack what ought to be such a
heavily-encrypted set of codes? Especially when he doesn't know
This episode is notable for the fact that (albeit unseen) people
apparently die - while James's friends escape the laser beam in their
police vehicle, one of the other police cars is blown to smithereens
before anyone has the chance to evacuate it. No mention of this is made
in dialogue, however.