'BARBELLA'S BIG ATTRACTION'
by Mary Crawford and Alan Templeton
Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Barbella, Jaws, Nick Nack, Scumlord, Ms Fortune.
run-of-the-mill visit to a London waxwork museum plunges James Bond Jr
into a web of intrigue, as he spots S.C.U.M. agents Barbella and Jaws
sneaking into the building. Quickly locating a wax statue of the famous
pirate Blackbeard, Barbella orders Jaws to grab it, wanting to present
it as a gift to Scumlord. But as James watches them, another of the
waxwork statues comes to life and points a gun at him! It's Napoleon -
or Nick Nack. He fires his laser but James deflects it by borrowing a
sword from another statue. Nick Nack escapes, stealing a double-decker
bus to make his getaway. But James grabs onto the back of the bus and
scrambles onboard. Realising he's trapped, Nick Nack starts driving
erratically, into newsstands and parked cars. Realising he's cornered,
he leaps from the vehicle while it's still running. James rushes to the
controls and brakes, screeching to a halt just inches away from
Back at the hotel they're staying in in
London for an ecology club event, James shows I.Q. a walkie-talkie that
Nick Nack dropped - it's fingerprint-locked so that only Nick Nack can
pick up S.C.U.M. signals, but I.Q. rewires it so they can listen in on
Barbella. She plans to present the statue she stole to Scumlord at the
organisation's crime conference in Rio, Brazil - right after S.C.U.M.
decides which world city to drop an asteroid on! At that moment I.Q.
realises he's set off a security system by modifying the walkie talkie,
and James disposes of it just before it explodes. James decides they
should go to Rio and locate the S.C.U.M. conference, precipitating a
mass arrest of S.C.U.M.'s entire leadership. Trevor offers them an
opportunity - he's collated a 'save the rainforest' petition, and wants
to present it to the Ecology Council of the Brazilian government. He
and Tracy go off to convince Mr Milbanks it's a good idea.
Meanwhile, James heads to the Brazilian Embassy to pick up visas for
the gang. An official there, Carmen Marimba, not only gives them
permission to fly a private plane into Brazilian airspace - she also
says she wants to go with them, explaining that her father is a
scientist at the ecology research laboratories. James agrees.
Meanwhile, deep in the Brazilian jungle, Barbella, Jaws and Nick Nack
are preparing S.C.U.M.'s 'Sky Magnet', a magnetic cannon which they
plan to use to pull Asteroid 604 out of its orbit as it passes the
Earth and plunge it into a major city. Scumlord calls on the
videoscreen to check their progress. When Barbella tries to tell him
she's devised a master plan for world domination, he slams her down,
telling her she's the muscle, not the brains. Then when the trio
reveals the statue and claim they had it made, Scumlord furiously tells
them that he knows they stole it, and that it's allowed James Bond Jr
to trail them to Brazil.
Scumlord shows them a video image of the private plane flying across
the jungle, and tells them to test the magnetic cannon by using it to
bring the plane to the ground! Once Scumlord has logged off, Barbella
has a temper tantrum, cursing Scumlord for being so ungrateful and
taking her anger out on the statue. On the plane, while ultra-green
Trevor complains that the dinnerware isn't recyclable, I.Q. realises
S.C.U.M. must be planning to use magnetism to crash the asteroid - and
provides James with some gizmos to help combat them. At that moment,
Barbella turns the magnet cannon on the plane, and it spirals down
towards the jungle. With the pilot and his assistant knocked
unconscious by the lurch, James and Gordo are forced to break into the
cockpit and manage to perform an emergency landing - on quicksand! The
passengers escape as the plane disappears beneath the bog, and a rescue
team takes them to Rio.
That evening, Barbella watches in fury as news reports show the teen
arriving safely in Rio after the crash. Scumlord is quick to contact
her, admonishing her for failing to destroy the plane. He then tells
her that the S.C.U.M. High Council has decided on the target for
Operation Overkill - they want to bring Asteroid 604 down into
stationary orbit over London, wiping out the city completely! Barbella
then begs to come to the crime conference, but Scumlord acidly tells
her he doesn't reward incompetence. Once he's hung up, Barbella goes
into another fury, wrecking control panels and terrifying Jaws and Nick
Nack. She throws the scientist operating the cannon out of his seat and
takes control, resetting the coordinates for the asteroid to those of
Rio! She tells her accomplices that she plans to crush Scumlord and the
rest of the High Council, so she can take over as head of S.C.U.M.!
In Rio, Trevor heads to the Ecology Council to hand in his petition,
while Gordo, Tracy and Phoebe hire fancy dress and go out to take part
in the Mardi Gras festival. James and I.Q. search for the crime
conference, and quickly come across a suspicious mass booking at the
Hotel Del Rio for the 'Society of Classical Ukelele Manufacturers'.
Sure enough, when they reach the hotel there are two floors sealed off,
so James heads to the roof and down the side of the building on a
janitor's lift. He's soon peering into a vast conference room where
Scumlord and the rest of S.C.U.M.'s high command, including Ms Fortune,
are sitting around a table. James listens in with one of I.Q.'s
gadgets; Scumlord plans to hold London to ransom with the threat of the
asteroid looming over the city. Scumlord suddenly spots James's
silhouette in the window, and orders his sky patrol to capture James.
Two men on a jetpack drift into view and fire lasers, causing the lift
to fall - so James grabs onto one of the jetpacks, and the two plummet
into a giant bunch of balloons, part of one of the floats in the
Meanwhile Trevor rejoins the rest of the gang at the festival, having
apparently sustained a bit of a mauling at the environment ministry.
The gang sees James fall from the top of the building and onto the
float - but there's more trouble as he spots some familiar
plain-clothes S.C.U.M. agents in the crowd, with guns. The driver bails
in terror, and James takes control of the float, while the S.C.U.M.
agents chase him on mopeds they've stolen from festival-goers. As they
fire their lasers at the float, it bursts into flames - so to put them
out, James drives the float straight into the sea. He uses I.Q.'s
oxygen ring to swim underwater to safety, while the S.C.U.M. agents,
seeing that he doesn't emerge, assume he's drowned. At the hotel, James
rejoins I.Q., Carmen and her father, who has told the police but can't
get them to believe James's story. But his lab has been using infrared
cameras to survey the jungle, which reveals the heat signature of a
large, unidentified building that wasn't there at the time of the last
survey. Realising this must be Barbella's base, James, I.Q. and Carmen
take a chopper out into the jungle to investigate.
On their way towards the base, a giant anaconda grabs and almost
suffocates I.Q. - but James uses his friend's sonic device to stun the
snake. They pick up the reptile and carry it towards Barbella's base,
releasing it just as it's waking up. The snake sets off the intruder
alarm and Jaws goes to investigate, before getting wrapped up by the
snake himself. As Barbella and Nick Nack go to free him, James and the
others creep into the control room and lock the door, as I.Q. sets to
work redirecting the asteroid to stop it hitting Rio. He eventually
succeeds in altering the asteroid's course to hit their current
location. A furious Barbella breaks back into the control room, but
when I.Q. tells her that Asteroid 604 will hit them in five minutes,
the crooks lock James and the others in a holding cell and escape in a
helicopter. James uses the oxygen ring to freeze the lock off the cage
and kick it in, and the three escape, agreeing to invent a story to
tell Scumlord. As the asteroid appears in the sky, James and Carmen
dive to the ground, but I.Q. simply sniggers. He'd been trying to tell
them that the asteroid's mass-density ratio and composition was such
that it would burn up almost entirely in the atmosphere. When it hits
the ground, it's the size of a tennis ball! The gang reunites,
including Trevor, who's been arrested for breaking into Mr Marimba's
research lab in order to get more signatures!
With all its changes to the traditional format, this episode is one of
just a handful of 'special cases' in the series, and also stands out as
among the best of the 65 shows. Freed from her usual underdog role in
the partnership with Goldie Finger, firebrand Barbella is a great
character to have chosen as lead antagonist. She comes across as truly
unhinged here, as she plans to destroy not only the city of Rio, but
also all of her S.C.U.M. colleagues at the crime conference, in an act
of betrayal unprecedented in the series. Given Scumlord's consistently
unpleasant treatment of Barbella, we're led to empathise with the
misunderstood madam in an unusual kind of way. We might even have been
rooting for her to succeed by the end, were it not for the fact that
everyone else in Rio is in danger, and not just the crime conference.
It's unclear whether Scumlord ever found out about her plan - but since
she's back working for S.C.U.M. just a few episodes later, we can
probably assume not. Juxtaposed against the carnival atmosphere of the
Mardi Gras, the conference itself is also particularly sinister, with
all of S.C.U.M.'s key agents gathered under one roof to provide a
unique sense of tension and danger magnified by their intention to hold
London to ransom. We get a first and only glimpse of the organisation's
High Council here, and only Ms Fortune is identifiable within the room
aside from Scumlord - but it's probably safe to presume that most of
our other favourite villains are sat around the table, too. There's so
much action and intrigue in so many different locations, from the
London bus chase, to the conference and carnival, to the Brazilian
jungle, that it's easy to forget the episode is still only 22 minutes
long. We can certainly credit the writers for that; the quality of the
dialogue is much higher than usual, and the plotting is sufficiently
complex to tell an interesting tale, while remaining neat and concise.
Even Trevor gets something original to do here, within his newfound
role as eco-warrior. Though still his obnoxious self (deliciously so at
times, berating James who has just saved him and the rest of the plane
passengers for having landed them in 'another fine mess'), we can also
very much empathise with Trevor's cause here, which is a refreshing
improvement on the status quo.
or less everything. But if we have to pick one moment it's Barbella's
mischievous assertion to Jaws and Nick Nack as they escape by chopper
that they'll tell Scumlord 'the absolute truth' about what happened -
'as soon as we make it up.'
Lows: While everyone else in the gang dons relatively modest costumes, Tracy goes out to the carnival dressed as a giant fish. Why?
Lines to Remember: Barbella on Scumlord: 'Ooh, why, that overbearing, rotten creep!' Nick Nack: 'Now now, Barbella - remember your blood pressure!'
Scumlord, to Barbella: 'Why is James Bond Junior still breathing?'
Jaws on Barbella, to a S.C.U.M. scientist whom she's just thrown out of his chair: 'She was misunderstood as a child.'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.
has modified James's class ring with compressed liquid oxygen, so it
can be used as a breathing apparatus for diving underwater. Since
liquid oxygen would freeze one's lungs, he provides a regulator hidden
in a pen which will bring the oxygen to body temperature. Meanwhile, an
'ordinary-looking roll of mints' is actually a microsound amplifier,
that's perfect for tranquilising snakes.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface?: Very
much so. This is probably the most important episode in terms of
learning about the organisation. While the information we get is still
very threadbare, we learn that the organisation has a High Council
(also referred to as 'High Command'), which incorporates Scumlord, Ms
Fortune and around ten other members who are unidentifiable, being
shown only as silhouettes at a distance. We also see the first
prominent example of outright treachery within the organisation from
Barbella (and Jaws and Nick Nack, although whether their involvement is
entirely voluntary is open to interpretation). It's worth mentioning as
well that the amount of security around the crime conference -
including uniformed agents on jetpacks, and the rarely-seen band of
plain-clothes operatives patrolling the festival - is a reminder of
just how powerful S.C.U.M. is. And there's yet more evidence of their
ubiquity in Scumlord's own assertion that: 'I know everything!' when
questioned by Nick Nack about how he found out they stole the
Blackbeard statue. How does he know? Has he bugged James's
hotel room, or does he have police moles with access to the CCTV in
London? Worse still, could he have a mole at Warfield who has heard
from Milbanks that the gang is going to Brazil? These questions, while
intriguing, remain tantalisingly open-ended, allowing us to draw our
Buzz Books: This
episode was adapted and simplified by Caryn Jenner for the Buzz Books
series, under the title 'Barbella's Revenge'. While Nick Nack remained
in the adaptation, Jaws did not feature. Various other changes were
made to shorten the story, including the removal of most of the
carnival scene, and a change to the initial confrontation with Nick
Nack, which in the book takes place in an airport rather than the
Sticker Story: This is entitled 'Barbella's Dream' for the Merlin Stickers album adaptation.
Notes: This episode should not be confused with the similarly-themed Goldfinger episode, Killer Asteroid.
In a non-speaking cameo, Ms Fortune can briefly be seen
around the table at Scumlord's crime conference in Rio, presumably
making her a member of the High Council.
The band of plain-clothes S.C.U.M. agents seen chasing James through the festival in this episode also appear in Hostile Takeover, Mindfield and No Time to Lose.
Trevor must really have rubbed up the ecology ministry the wrong way.
He comes back from his petition handover with his suit in shreds,
including one full arm missing!