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Episode #42
'INVADERS FROM S.C.U.M.'
by Jennie Tremaine

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Dr Derange, Jaws, Nick Nack, Scumlord.

Synopsis: It's a clear, dark night, until Warfield Academy is suddenly bathed in an eerie, green glow. Noticing how unusual this is, James and Gordo venture out of the dorms to investigate - and is shocked to see one of the students, Hayley Comet, being attacked by a small, humanoid figure in a purple jumpsuit and what appears to be a gas mask. James and Gordo manage to fight the creature off, but it runs back into a large, hovering vehicle which looks a flying saucer - and disappears into the sky. Hayley is convinced that she's just had an alien encounter, but James isn't so sure. The next day, Mr Milbanks hears about the event and sentences James and Gordo to two weeks' confinement to Warfield. Hayley escapes with a warning as she's a new student, but later rings her father to tell him what happened. Professor Comet, an eccentric scientist and rather gullible old man, believes the whole story and tells Hayley that the aliens have already arranged to come and pick him up tonight.

Hayley's worried, but can't convince her father otherwise - and when she tells James, he decides they ought to sneak out and prevent her father from going with them. Meanwhile, Gordo, Tracy and Phoebe are assigned with the task of keeping Trevor out of the loop regarding James's whereabouts. I.Q. uses a megaphone to ask Trevor to report to the gymnasium where Coach Mitchell has a special assignment for him. All that happens, however, is that Trevor ends up getting caught in the gym equipment and bouncing around the room indefinitely. Later, he attempts to listen in at James's window to check if he's still on campus, and the others play a tape of James's voice to trick him. When Phoebe pokes her head out of the window, Trevor loses his balance and falls head first into Mr Milbanks' prize plants. At night, he is caught snooping around the dorms looking for James, and when Tracy pretends she thinks he's an intruder Milbanks goes mad, and punishes him appropriately.

Meanwhile, at an old castle not too far away, the 'aliens' take off their masks and are revealed as none other than Jaws, Nick-Nack, and... Doctor Derange! They receive a briefing from Scumlord, who warns them not to mess things up. We learn that England is about to launch its first particle beam satellite, and that Scumlord aims to control it, thus threatening the stability of the entire world. Since Professor Comet is a member of the team involved with the satellite launch, the best way to get to the satellite is to get to him. Tracy arranges for James to leave via the secret passage through Milbanks' room, and he meets I.Q. and Hayley outside in the sports car. Sure enough, the 'spaceship' turns up at the appointed hour, and Jaws and Nick-Nack, in disguise, collect Professor Comet and take him on board, just before James and his friends pull up to stop them.

James leaps out of the car and manages to hang onto the ship as it flies away, while I.Q. uses his boomerang CD, with integrated homing device, to track the spaceship and see where it will go next. He and Hayley also find a piece of metal that fell off the ship, marked 'Essex Foundry, Birmingham' - another suggestion that the 'aliens' aren't from another world. On board the ship, the S.C.U.M. agents trick Comet into thinking he's travelling at warp speed into space with some clever visual effects. James has managed to get on board the spaceship, and soon finds himself confronted by Jaws and Nick-Nack, who try to chase him but fall on top of one another instead. Eventually, they get him at gunpoint and lock him in a cell - but the Professor is still none the wiser.
Meanwhile, I.Q. and Hayley follow the signal towards the old castle, where the S.C.U.M. agents have landed.

With James still locked up on board the ship, they take the Professor outside; he's flabbergasted that their planet is almost identical to the Earth! However, they make it clear that all they're interested in talking about is the satellite launch, which they wish to observe - Nick-Nack has even manage to steal the disk containing the launch software. The Professor still sees no problem with this, and starts up the software, thus giving Derange control. The S.C.U.M. agents take their masks off, revealing their true natures and showing the Professor what a fool he's been. At this point, James has escaped from his cell, but he is powerless to stop Derange as he is shooting at I.Q. and Hayley as they drive towards the castle. The Professor begs them not to shoot at Hayley and Derange agrees on the condition that the Professor cooperates and helps out with the takeover; he reluctantly agrees. When I.Q. and Hayley finally arrive, I.Q. uses the car's x-ray mirror to determine whereabouts the flying saucer is inside the castle walls, and then uses a laser cutter to make a hole in the wall through which they can climb.

To distract the crooks, I.Q. sets the flying saucer on time delay so that it sets off flying on its own, forcing Jaws and Nick-Nack to go and investigate. Hayley and I.Q. burst into the nerve centre, allowing James a chance to knock Derange's gun out of his hand so that the Professor can stop Derange launching the satellite for S.C.U.M.. During the fray a stray laser beam damages the control panel, shorting it out and meaning that they no longer have control over the satellite and that it will launch by itself, causing mass disaster. Derange and his henchmen flee from the scene in the saucer (actually a modified hovercraft), but forgets to turn off the automated laser defence at the castle. The hovercraft is bombarded with laser beams; this, combined with Jaws and Nick-Nack's bickering and some shoddy workmanship by the Essex Foundry causes the ship to crash and burst into flames. Scumlord is on hand on the telescreen to give all of them a telling off, while back at Warfield Trevor also suffers in detention for all his escapades by getting stuck in a bucket - to everyone's amusement.


Review: With sixty-five episodes during which to milk the franchise and a collection of remarkably odd-looking villains, it was practically a dead cert that the 'alien hoax' card would be played sooner or later. Invaders from S.C.U.M. certainly came later, and the gaping loopholes in this episode obviously didn't put the writers off, since A Derange Mind two episodes later covers very similar subject matter, and again with Doctor Derange. The problems with this episode outweigh the successes by far; Scumlord's appearance seems spurious and gratuitous, and the already shaky plot - involving the hijack of a 'particle beam satellite' whose implications for the world are devastatingly vague - is hardly enhanced by the all-too-frequent attempts at comedy involving the three lead villains. More than ever before the villains' physical abnormalities are played upon for laughs in a manner which may leave some viewers feeling a little uncomfortable, the clear implication being that Jaws, Nick-Nack and Derange might as well have left the helmets off. The two henchmen are so badly caricatured here that they can barely move without falling on top of one another, and their appeal isn't improved by the fact that the visual footage from one scene (in which the three argue over the controls) is repeated frame-for-frame later on. To worsen matters, the guest girl of the day, Hayley Comet, is wooden and poorly realised to say the least, while such criticisms would be compliments when applied to her father, who obligingly fulfils every eccentric professor stereotype in the book. The script is barely passable; the factual material, too, is poorly presented: since when could a hovercraft 'hover' high enough to pass unobstructed over a castle wall? And how on Earth did the Essex Foundry end up in Birmingham? Of course, if we take this episode as purely comedy-driven, which largely it is, many of these points can be overlooked. And there are more positive moments; I.Q. actually gets a piece of the action for once, confining Bond to the back seat for at least three minutes. All in all, however, this episode is pretty dismal and would be one of Derange's least memorable outings were it not for the fact that it is all so unashamedly unlikely.

Highs:
The villains' complete lack of effort in keeping up the act while speaking in front of the Professor isn't remotely detrimental to their plan; he falls for it hook, line and sinker. In fact, Derange's sloppiness is evident and amusing throughout; he forgets to turn off the automated defence systems on the castle before they escape, and has clearly had the craft constructed on the cheap, as the steering wheel comes off in his hands.

Lows:
Just about everything else. At one point, Gordo has to have the word 'fortnight' defined for him. And perhaps most disappointingly, some 'amusing' footage of a bickering Jaws and Nick-Nack being separated by Derange at the hovercraft controls is unsubtly recycled later on in the episode.

Lines to Remember:
Professor Comet: 'Truly astounding! Your planet is almost identical to ours!' Derange: 'Yes! Amazing, isn't it?'

James to Hayley, on the abduction attempt: 'That's most disturbing. It's also most disturbing that we haven't been introduced.'

Lines to Forget:
Hayley Comet, unafraid to state the bleeding obvious having almost been abducted and dragged into one: 'That was a spaceship!'

Professor Comet on Jaws, Nick-Nack and Derange: 'Why, you're not an alien! You're a large human! And you're a small human! And you're a loose human!"

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q. has invented a boomerang disc for James's CD player. It sticks to anything and, rather predictably, contains a homing device. Some of the many features of James's sports car are also showcased in this episode including an 'x-ray' rear view mirror that can see through walls, laser-proof shields, and a miniature laser gun of its own that can cut through solid stone. I wonder if they have a license for that...

S.C.U.M. on the Surface?:
This is one of the most overtly S.C.U.M.-controlled plots, with Scumlord visible and clearly in command of an otherwise entirely hopeless situation. It is rare that Derange is seen communicating directly with the leadership but this episode asserts more clearly than ever before his allegiance to the organisation.

VHS Vault:
This episode is available on the UK video entitled James Bond Jr. vs. Jaws the Metallic Munch, alongside Plunder Down Under and Ship of Terror.

Notes:
Why were Derange and his henchmen so anxious to escape at the end? Why would the satellite launching by itself pose any immediate threat to them? Why are we even bothering to ask?

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