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Episode #44
'A DERANGE MIND'
by Jeffrey Scott


Featuring:
James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Doctor Derange, Barbella, Odd Job.

Synopsis: When an unidentified flying object is shot down by the military near New York, the craft - which appears to be a spaceship - is taken for analysis at a laboratory. When opened, three sinister pods are discovered, containing what look to be aliens. There's excitement at Warfield Academy following the discovery, and the gang head out to New York thanks to Phoebe, whose father's company is involved in the investigation. At the airport James meets a female professor, Lynne, who is working for Phoebe's dad. They're soon attacked with a laser gun by a man posing as a baggage porter, leading James to believe there's more than meets the eye.

At the New York military research facility where the craft is being kept, Lynne brings James and the gang in with her - but during an examination of the pods she slips and hits a button which opens them. The creatures inside are bright green and terrifying - but they soon reveal their true colours, as Dr Derange, Barbella and Odd Job! Armed and dangerous, the three begin shooting scientists and soldiers alike with lasers. During the struggle, Derange manages to lock James inside the craft and sets it to auto-destruct! Thankfully he escapes, using the laser attachment on his watch to cut his way out and disabling the destruct mechanism.

As the crooks change back into their usual attire, Derange throws one of the alien costumes onto a passing service robot, which spends the rest of the day terrifying Trevor Noseworthy. The S.C.U.M. agents break into a top-secret area where a number of humanoid robots are under development by scientists, and seize control. Derange soon finds what he's looking for - an electronic helmet that greatly increases intelligence, allowing the wearer to control electronic devices with his mind. Demonstrating on one of the robots, he sets them on James and his friends when they rush in to confront him. The crooks escape and lock the gang in the lab, leaving the robots to tear the gang apart. But James tricks the robots into destroying one another, and the locked door, allowing them to escape too.

As the crooks try to leave the military compound, they're set upon by armed soldiers and tanks - but Derange outwits all of them with his increased brain capacity, blowing one tank to smithereens. As Odd Job and Barbella creep off to steal a helicopter so the three can make their escape, they're cornered by James and Lynne, who overpower them and take the chopper themselves. Derange climbs in, thinking his minions are the pilots - and is furious to discover it's James flying! He soon informs them that he can control the helicopter with his helmet, however, and sure enough the controls stop responding. The doors open and James and Lynne fall to their doom, as Derange flies off. Luckily, James has a jetpack about his person and the two land safely in some trees. They're soon picked up in another chopper by I.Q. and Phoebe.

Derange flies back to the military base to pick up his stooges, before flying to the United Nations building - his plan is to use the helmet to seize control of worldwide military communications. Infiltrating a control room there, he opens up a computer and hooks the wires in it up to his helmet. The gang follow to the UN building, where I.Q. tries to override Derange's control via another computer terminal, but Derange sees them on CCTV and sends Barbella and Odd Job to finish them off. James overwhelms both of them, however, and rushes upstairs to confront Derange while I.Q. keeps working.

Derange and James battle it out, leaving James hanging out of the window by a computer cable, far above the ground. Derange proceeds cuts the cable, but in doing so gives James his chance of salvation, as James sticks the cable into Derange's helmet, frying the circuitry. I.Q. overrides Derange's control at the same moment. A confused Derange, minus his enhanced mental powers, flees from the open window with Barbella into Odd Job's waiting helicopter - just as the army bursts into the room. James is rescued, and they head back to the military compound just in time for a good laugh at Trevor, who's finally captured his 'alien' opponent. But it terrifies him even with the costume removed!


Review: It's just two episodes previously, in Invaders from S.C.U.M., that Derange last tried to fool people into thinking he was an alien - but repeat material aside, A Derange Mind is a vast improvement on its predecessor for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the plot doesn't hinge on the alien hoax being sustained throughout - it's simply a means to give Derange access to the military base. Secondly, the Odd Job/Barbella combo is far more menacing than that of Jaws and Nick Nack in the previous episode. Thirdly, there's a lot more action here thanks to the setting; New York lends itself much better to this sort of story than the home counties did. Derange's mind-enhancing helmet may not win this episode any awards for subtlety, meanwhile, but it's crazy enough to suit the character perfectly and ends up working rather well. Overall a satisfying episode both visually and in terms of the plot.

Highs:
Derange's evident pleasure in causing carnage at the military research facility with the help of his new toy is particularly fun to watch.

Lows: Although it's interesting to see Barbella and Derange working together, it would have been good to hear more from Barbella. She seems to act more as a minion in this episode than on other occasions, when she shares a more or less equal partnership with Goldie Finger.

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q.'s super adhesive is almost impossible to pull apart - as Gordo and Tracy discover! Meanwhile James' trusty watch laser attachment helps him out of yet another tricky situation; as does the jetpack I.Q. has installed in his jacket.

Notes: Derange would next attempt to artificially increase his brainpower just two episodes later in The Last of the Tooboos.

In some German airings of this episode, the scenes in which Derange, Barbella and Odd Job terrorise soldiers at the army base, including by blowing a tank to pieces, are excised altogether, possibly owing to sensitivities regarding depictions of terrorism, particularly within the military context.

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