by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell
I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell,
Jaws, Nick Nack.
A skiing holiday for James and the gang in the Swiss
Alps gets off to an unpleasant start, when James is spotted by Jaws and
Nick Nack. Keen to get Bond out of the way, Jaws lobs a grenade in his
direction, setting off an avalanche. James is forced to speed to the
rescue of a fellow skiier, Bonnie Slope, then ride the avalanche down
the valley - where they crash through the window of the ski lodge,
relatively unscathed. Later, Tracy phones Mr Milbanks to let him know
all of them are okay. Coach Mitchell, who's in Milbanks' office, is
suspicious; the area they're skiing in never has avalanches. Meanwhile,
Jaws and Nick Nack report to Scumlord via videophone - he's furious
that Bond is there, and that his henchmen failed to eliminate him. He
tells them to proceed with the plan, and not to mess it up.
James scores two kisses from Bonnie for his efforts, and is introduced
to her father, Mr Slope, a train driver who is driving the afternoon
express, which is due to take James and the others home. He thanks
James for rescuing his daughter and tells Bonnie to pack her bags ready
for departure. But when Slope goes upstairs to collect his bags, he
finds Jaws and Nick Nack in his room - who tell him he won't be
catching the train after all. Meanwhile, James meets up with the rest
of the gang for some final skiing fun (or in Gordo's case,
snowboarding) before the gang heads home. James, however, tells them
he'll be sticking around at the resort to find out what Jaws and Nick
Nack are up to. I.Q. has prepared some gadgets just in case, while
Trevor warns the others not to sit on his table on the journey home -
as he's invited a 'gorgeous girl' to have dinner with him. It happens
to be Bonnie!
Shortly after the train pulls away, James hears shouting from Mr
Slope's room and bursts in to find him tied up. He says Jaws and Nick
Nack have hijacked his train. On board, they report to Scumlord again.
He explains that the nearby nuclear power plant, into which he wants
them to crash the train, has walls of reinforced concrete - so the
train will have to hit it full-blast. As the crooks turn up the speed,
so does James - chasing the train on his rocket-powered skis. I.Q.
begins to notice they're moving faster than they should be. After being
pinched on the nose by a live lobster he's ordered for dinner, Trevor
then gets a faceful of spaghetti when the carriage lurches suddenly -
much to Bonnie's amusement. James catches up with the train and leaps
with his skis onto the roof, opening the hatch in the driver's cabin
and overhearing Jaws, Nick Nack and Scumlord discussing the plan to
blow up the power plant.
He heads to the passenger section and warns Bonnie and his friends of
what's going on - just as Scumlord hits the button which switches the
train onto the track towards the power station. Bonnie, who has picked
up knowledge of the train from shadowing her father, tells James how to
separate the engine from the rest of the train. He goes to do it, while
I.Q. and Gordo attempt to find the manual brakes to stop the passenger
carriages in their tracks. But as James removes the coupling pin
between the engine and carriage, Nick Nack emerges, and kicks him
through the gap between the two. Luckily he manages to hang on
underneath the train, and when Nick Nack goes back into the engine
section, Bonnie helps James up again. With the two of them on the
engine side, Bonnie uncouples the carriages and they speed ahead along
with Jaws and Nick Nack, who remain unaware of their presence.
As Nick Nack brags to Scumlord about having got rid of James, Bond
bursts through the door with his jet-powered skis in hand and uses them
as a weapon against the two crooks. Jaws swings an axe at James, while
Bonnie gives Nick Nack a steam clean by opening a valve on him. But in
the end Jaws bites through the skis, and James and Bonnie are overcome.
Meanwhile in the passenger carriages, Gordo and I.Q. have found the
manual brakes but are having trouble applying them as they're difficult
to move. The girls lend a hand too, although Trevor refuses,
claiming he only exerts himself when absolutely necessary. In the
engine, James and Bonnie are tied up by Jaws and Nick Nack, who are
arguing over who will get to fly their escape helicopter, which they
summon to the train using a remote control. Before climbing up the rope
ladder dangling from the chopper, Jaws rips out the controls and severs
the brakes - leaving James and Bonnie helpless.
On the rope ladder, Jaws and Nick Nack continue to bicker, causing the
remote control to slip from their hands and crash to the ground below.
The helicopter therefore begins to spiral out of control. Back on board
the train, Bonnie tells James there's a siding between their current
position and the nuclear power plant, if only they can untie
themselves. They cut the ropes by placing them against the spinning
driveshaft, then use I.Q.'s jet-powered skis to fire a rocket blast at
the upcoming siding switch. moving the train off the track to the power
plant. James then uses the mini grappling hook I.Q. gave him to swing
himself and Bonnie off the train to safety. The train shoots off a dead
end and into a deep ravine, exploding. The passenger section is
following quickly behind, but the manual brakes screech the carriages
to a halt just in time. James bids Bonnie goodbye, getting his third
kiss of the day - while S.C.U.M. is left to wallow in their defeat.
While Avalanche Run is
certainly a watchable episode for the most part, and hinges on a
devilishly good concept, its big failing lies in the prominent roles
played by Jaws and Nick Nack. Any chance that Scumlord's simple but
devastating plan had of being taken seriously (and indeed, it arguably
has a good deal more credibility than most villainous plots in James
Bond Jr) is ultimately decimated by the two minions'
incessant bickering. When used sparingly, the pair can be mildly
amusing and act as counterpoints to the action. When put in charge of
one of S.C.U.M.'s most abominable plots, they are simply annoying, and
detract altogether both from S.C.U.M.'s status as a formidable criminal
organisation, and the show's credibility as a whole. All that said,
there are some redeeming features here. Bonnie is more interesting as a
character than she appears at first glance - she kisses James no less
than three times, while also two-timing him on a lunch date with
Trevor! There's a more tangible sense of danger brought also by the
fact that Warfield staff are absent from the Alpine resort - not that
Coach Mitchell ever does anything that could pass for loco
parentis, of course. Finally, as we're in an aesthetic
mood, there's some nice use of the musical score here, which captures
both the darkness of Scumlord's plot and the beauty of the scenery he
intends to destroy.
Highs: The sinister undertone brought to this episode
by Scumlord, his recipe for outright chaos and his gas-mask-clad army
could have worked incredibly well - were they not undermined by the
Lows: Bonnie Slope's oaf of a father is not only a
train-driver cliché of the most unfortunate variety; he also has the
most affected bad Scottish accent imaginable. So it's just as well he
spends most of the episode gagged and tied to a chair.
Lines to Forget: James, hanging onto the
underside of the train, to Bonnie: 'Would you mind giving
me a hand? And I don't mean applause.'
Bonnie, at the end of the adventure: 'I
hope you won't forget me!' James: 'How could I,
after a train ride so... smashing?'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. has prepared a pair of
jet-powered skis for James, as well as a mini grappling hook with a
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Undoubtedly.
We're led to believe Scumlord is in the immediate vicinity, since he
has in his command centre a battalion of rather sinister-looking
S.C.U.M. soldiers dressed in orange uniforms and protective helmets,
ready to loot Switzerland in the aftermath of the explosion.
Notes: This is the first time since
that Scumlord holds main villain status - and he would only do so again
on a couple of further occasions.