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Episode #47
'S.C.U.M. ON THE WATER'
by Jeffrey Scott

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Coach Mitchell, Captain Plank, Bilge & Pump.

Synopsis: On a nuclear-powered naval ship off the English coast, a lieutenant is surprised to see three submarines on the radar. The captain reassures him they’re just whales – but unbeknown to him, one of them is in fact a submarine disguised as a whale. On board are Bilge and Pump, who attach their vessel magnetically to the underside of the ship and cut out a section of the hull in order to clamber aboard. Pump terrorises the technicians and security personnel with laser blasts, who are prevented from returning fire because they don’t want to hit the radioactive material. Meanwhile Bilge uses his metal-cutting device to cut a ring around the nuclear engine, so it drops into the sea below. The core attaches to the crooks’ sub, and they quickly depart with it as the ship sinks behind them.

At Warfield, Coach Mitchell prepares to take the gang to St Catherine’s Docks to take part in an inter-academy rowing competition, as part of a regatta. Trevor is already getting in practice for his role as coxswain by shrieking at his teammates Tracy and Gordo through a megaphone; James, Phoebe and I.Q. are on a second team. As they begin the race, Trevor bets James a week of room-cleaning that his team will come in first, and James agrees. Meanwhile, Bilge and Pump go after the last item on a ‘shopping list’ Plank has provided: nautical engineer Walter Gibson, who is on-board a nearby yacht with his daughter Jenny.  Bilge and Pump hijack the yacht, kidnapping Gibson and stealing some blueprints he is working on. During the confrontation a lamp is smashed and a fire starts, but the crooks leave Jenny trapped inside the burning cabin.

As Bilge and Pump push Gibson onto their sub, James’ team pass in their rowing boat and he recognises the crooks, who chase them off with lasers. But the gang notice the yacht is on fire, and row around the other side to help. I.Q. and Phoebe help Jenny put out the fire, while James wrestles with Bilge on the deck of the sub. But Bilge wraps the chain on a detonator around his neck and throws him overboard; if it hits a metallic object it will explode. The fire on the yacht is out, but it is rapidly approaching James’ position – so he wraps I.Q.’s inflatable windbreaker around the detonator, causing it simply to bounce off the hull. The others drag James onto the yacht, and Jenny explains her father was working on blueprints for secret state-of-the-art hydrofoils for the navy – which is why Plank has ordered his kidnap.

In Captain Plank’s island hideout, his technicians are building ‘the deadliest pirate ship afloat’ – the nuclear engine Bilge and Pump stole from the navy ship being a key component. On the yacht I.Q. rigs up a camera system to locate Bilge and Pump’s vessel underwater, and they soon locate and follow the sub all the way to the island base. But Plank spots the yacht on his security system and begins firing lasers at it. A ‘heat-seaking, anti-ship missile’ finally destroys the yacht, with James, Jenny, I.Q. and Phoebe jumping overboard just in time. Plank forces Gibson to get to work on the hydrofoils, which will be the final component of his ultimate pirate ship. Meanwhile, Trevor’s rowing team gets waylaid and has a close encounter with the exploding detonator James allowed to float away.

James and his friends clamber ashore on the island and manage to find the entrance to Plank’s lair, where James quickly overcomes some of Plank’s men and starts a laser fire-fight with Plank. But the pirate ship is complete, and leaves the island to wreak havoc. James and Jenny fight off the remaining pirates, rescue Gibson, and dash for the nearest speedboat, followed in another by several of Plank’s goons firing lasers. Gibson fires a torpedo at them, which misses the pirates’ boat but hits the island, chunks of which then hit the pirates’ boat, sinking it. But Plank, Bilge and Pump are still aboard the master ship, and set about plundering a nearby yacht. As they slow to board it, James is able to catch up with them, and Plank rushes back to the bridge to destroy the boat with his weaponry. Plank uses an old navy manoeuvre to broadside them, but Gibson realises what he’s up to. As Plank prepares to ram the boat with his ship, I.Q. sets a torpedo to detonate with a ten-second delay and the gang jump overboard. The two vessels collide, both exploding and sinking – but Plank and his men escape in the whale sub. Back at the docks, Trevor finds he has indeed come in first – but in the wrong race. Their race ended hours ago – and James is already on the dock.

Review: An action-packed episode which effectively works the boat race B-plot into the main story, S.C.U.M. on the Water is perhaps thinner on humour than some other Plank episodes, but this does not significantly detract from its charm.
There's a welcome return for seafaring sidekicks Bilge and Pump, who play a far more prominent role than in their previous appearance on board the fake Loch Ness Monster in No Such Loch; here, the first half of the show is dominated by their crooked and callous antics. A somehow more sinister (and competent) duo than the obvious comparison, Jaws and Nick Nack, the two manage to sink a navy cruiser, steal a nuclear engine, kidnap an engineer and leave his daughter to burn, all without falling on top of one another. James comes across rather charmlessly at certain points this episode, however, revealing a competitive streak in the boat race and in the process, berating I.Q. for his coxswain skills and his lack of knowledge about the equipment. Luckily these failings are not enough to make the team lose to Trevor, however, who comes in hours after the race has finished - with Tracy and Gordo reduced to minor roles alongside him.

Highs:
A ginger-haired unnamed pirate sidekick, seen at Plank's island base and briefly in the final boat chase scene, has a gravity-defying haircut to rival even Plank's, and a beyond-daft voice to match. Such little eccentricities are central to the charm of James Bond Jr.

Lows: In order to locate Bilge and Pump’s submarine below the surface, I.Q. puts a security camera inside a plastic bag, ties it with rope and lowers it into the ocean. Something tells us this may not work as intended in real life.

Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. supplies James with a windbreaker which inflates into a life vest at the touch of a button, and a winch attachment for the watch.

Lines to Remember: Trevor: “My family has a tradition of winning oarsmen that goes back four generations.? Phoebe: “Hmm. And a tradition of being obnoxious that goes back even further.?

Lines to Forget: Phoebe wins the award for expository dialogue of the week: “Gee, I’ve never been in a co-ed inter-academy rowing competition before!?

Notes: Bilge and Pump make their second and final appearance in this episode.

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