'THE LAST OF THE TOOBOOS'
by Mark Jones
Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Dr Derange, Skullcap.
Synopsis: Following the theft of a tooboo, the world's rarest animal, by Dr Derange and Skullcap in Tibet, James and his friends pay a visit to the London Zoo, where they encounter the only other known tooboo in existence. But security obviously isn't tight because, as I.Q.'s camcorder is stolen by monkeys, a mysterious van pulls up and a suspicious-looking individual breaks into the animal enclosure. James and Gordo approach as the other tooboo is led into the van - James pulls off the crook's disguise. It's Skullcap, and he attempts to evade them by leaping into the enclosure! James and Gordo chase him through the lion and crocodile habitats, but he evades them in the polar bear cage, where they're almost eaten. A zookeeper called Hildy rescues them, and is horrified when they tell her the tooboo's been stolen - she explains about the other theft in Tibet.
At the zoo laboratory, Hildy's father, who has been working with Doctor Rovin in Tibet, explains that the tooboos carry a rare enzyme which has been found to vastly increase the strength and intelligence of humans. This is what Derange is after; and the animals might not survive an enzyme transplant. Back at Warfield, the gang examine the video from I.Q.'s camcorder - when the monkeys stole it, it was pointing towards the tooboo cage. Sure enough, they are able to zoom in on Skullcap and an airline ticket in his shirt pocket. It's marked 'Tibet' - so without further ado, James, Tracy, Gordo and Phoebe hitch a ride on one of Mr Farragut's planes. Trevor's convinced they're up to no good, but is unable to prove it to Mr Milbanks. On arrival in Tibet, the gang are soon attacked by Skullcap, who attempts to run them down at the airport with a jumbo jet! James uses a fuel pump to send the plane slithering off the runway, but Skullcap escapes.
At the crooks' camp, Derange is furious with Skullcap for failing to do away with James. He decides that their next move should be to kidnap Dr Rovin, Hildy's father's colleague, and force him to help them extract the enzyme. Meanwhile, James and the others head to Rovin's lab - the scientist explains that if Derange extracted the enzyme, it would not only kill the tooboos but also spell disaster for the world due to Derange's increased intelligence. Assuming Derange will be coming for Rovin, the gang sets a trap, dressing up Phoebe as the scientist. Sure enough, Derange and his goons soon arrive - putting Phoebe and Hildy to sleep with gas, they attempt to kidnap them. A fight ensues as James has prepared an ambush, but the crooks get away with their sleeping prisoners in a van.
Back at Warfield, I.Q. fobs off Trevor, who's wondering where James is, by telling him Mr Milbanks has James in his office, having nominated him for an award as Warfield's most outstanding pupil! Meanwhile, Gordo and James chase Derange's van in a pair of snowmobiles - but Derange doubles back on them, causing them to swerve and crash into a ravine where they're buried in snow. James uses one of I.Q.'s gizmos to melt the snow and free the pair of them, and they rejoin the trail. At Derange's camp, the crooks attempt to force Phoebe and Hildy to operate on the tooboos and extract the enzyme. They buy themselves some time by claiming they need to prepare the animals, so the crooks lock them in a trailer and leave them to it.
James and Gordo soon arrive to rescue them and the tooboos, cutting a hole in the window with his watch. Gordo ties skis to the back of one of the snowmobiles so that the tooboos can ride behind them. Derange is furious when he realises they've escaped, and he and Skullcap pursue in a snowjet, complete with deadly weaponry. But just as he gains on them, Gordo jumps into James's snowmobile and sends his own unoccupied vehicle back on a collision course with Derange. The vehicles explode and a humiliated Derange and Skullcap crawl away to safety. Back in England, the gang head for a second trip to the London Zoo for a special surprise - waiting for them are both the tooboos, with their new baby! Everyone agrees the youngster looks like his godfather - James, of course.
Review: One of the more reasonable of the (many) Dr Derange episodes in the second half of the series, The Last of the Tooboos combines a novel range of settings with a generous dose of action. While admittedly light on plot, having borrowed the central idea of Derange endeavouring to increase his mental powers from A Derange Mind two episodes earlier, there's plenty here to make up for it - not least the presence of Skullcap, whose scenes with Dr Derange are even more amusing than usual. The tooboos are also an original innovation; clearly filling the space that would otherwise have been occupied by unicorns (this was evidently deemed too outlandish), they're just about realistic-looking enough to be believable, even if their facial expressions are somewhat too human. Unfortunately, the supporting characters in this episode are invariably non-entities, from dull zookeeper Hildy, to her raging stereotype of a father, to the unassuming Doctor Rovin who's apparently so bland that Derange fails to notice Phoebe has taken his place (and wouldn't he have recognised her given his many run-ins with the Warfield crew?). But since they play a relatively minor role, they're hardly to the detriment of the episode as a whole.
Highs: The zoo chase sequence is a particular highlight, although animal welfare groups may disagree given the way both Skullcap and James use crocodiles' mouths as stepping stones.
Lows: The Trevor B-plot is more banal than usual here, with I.Q. successfully duping Trevor with the transparent lie that James is up for an 'outstanding student' award, and Trevor not even bothering to investigate or put himself up for the award.
Lines to Remember: Skullcap, on Derange's suggestion he organises a 'welcoming party' for James: 'You want me to get a cake and ice-cream, boss?'
Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s miniature jetpack is worn on the wrist, and can propel the user upwards. The acetylene torch and diamond cutter on the watch also make an appearance, and the timepiece also now features a long-range radio over which he explains his inventions from half way across the world.
S.C.U.M. on the Surface: The organisation appears to go without mention - although James assumes Derange's involvement from Skullcap's presence, despite his working for other S.C.U.M. agents on at least one occasion.
Bloopers & Blunders: In the scene when Trevor and Mr Milbanks walk in on the gang watching the film sequence from the zoo, the artwork for Trevor from one angle is replaced by that of Coach Mitchell, despite him not being present in the rest of the scene.
Despite the fact that I.Q. goes out of his way to explain the portable wrist jetpack, it's never actually used in the episode. It's possible that this was intended for use in the scene in which James frees himself and Gordo from the snow, but the artwork clearly shows the torch in his watch as the gizmo of choice, and there's no mention of either in the script.
Notes: Coach Mitchell appears in this episode but has no speaking part.