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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #2
by Mel Gilden

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Goldfinger, Odd Job.

Synopsis: James, I.Q., Tracy, their friend Lotta Dinaro, and Trevor Noseworthy are picking fruit in the countryside surrounding Warfield Academy, when a gold-plated HGV turns up and offloads a mini-tank driven by Odd Job, who begins to fire the tank's lasers at them. Trevor runs away but falls down a small slope, hitting his head. James tries to distract Odd Job to protect the others, but the crook eludes him and manages to grab Lotta, pulling her into the tank. James runs up a ledge and leaps onto the top of the lorry just as it drives off with the tank inside. He remains on top of the vehicle all the way to the airport, where he sees the tank unloaded, marked 'Puerto, Peru' and put onto a cargo plane.

Back at Warfield, Trevor tells Mr Milbanks the story - but since he's banged his head and is being bandaged up by the nurse, Milbanks assumes Trevor's just concussed and doesn't believe him about the tank. The authorities don't seem to believe James either, Mr Mitchell informs him, and explains that Lotta's father has a record of being rather eccentric - he's spent his whole life searching for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. Mr Dinaro has also been missing for a month, having been searching for the city in Peru. James suggests that Tracy and I.Q. accompany him to Peru to find the pair fo them - and with a few gadgets packed up, they distract Milbanks with a fake phone call by Phoebe from the Prime Minister's office, before exiting Warfield in secret via the secret passage in Milbanks' study.

When the gang arrive in the village of Puerto on mules, James detects gold in the mountains using I.Q.'s detector, and heads off to investigate - while Tracy and I.Q. head into the village of Puerto to book into the hotel and ask around about the Dinaros. While they're there they see a gang of 'Mountain Men' - footsoldiers dressed in yellow - raiding a local merchant's fruit store and refusing to pay. When they try to intervene, the stall owner admonishes them, telling them that the Mountain Men take what they please - and that they have a 'big cannon' up in the hills. James is up in the mountains and spies Odd Job in a helicopter; using a slingshot he fires a homing device which sticks the chopper, allowing him to track it. Just then a huge earthquake shakes the area. The hotel and the other buildings in Puerto are crushed by huge boulders, and James is trapped in a rockfall.

Noticing the Mountain Men aren't concerned about the quake, I.Q. and Tracy head up into the mountains to assist James - who escapes from the cave-in with the help of one of the mini grenades I.Q. gave him, dropping the other grenade by accident in the process. He tracks the helicopter towards a cliff edge overlooking an area where Goldfinger is holding the Dinaros captive, alongside the huge cannon the merchant talked about. Goldfinger is also searching for El Dorado, but is annoyed that Mr Dinaro won't tell him which of the mountains it's hidden within. His ultrasonic cannon - Earthcracker - has been systematically crumbling mountains onto Puerto in order to locate El Dorado, with no success so far. Stepping things up a gear, Goldfinger has Odd Job tie up Lotta and points Earthcracker at her. If Dinaro doesn't tell Goldfinger which mountain hides the lost city, he'll hard-boil Lotta like an egg.

To save Lotta, Dinaro tells Goldfinger which mountain El Dorado is in, and the criminals set to work pointing Earthcracker at the relevant mountain, wearing headphones to protect them from the high-pitched noise the cannon produces. Lotta apologises to her father for never believing him about El Dorado; he replies that he wishes he'd been wrong. But as Earthcracker uncovers the ancient city Odd Job notices a beeping from James's gold detector, and spots him watching them from a rope on the cliffside! Odd Job flings his razor-edged hat at James's rope, and he topples to the floor. Odd Job takes him back to Earthcracker to be questioned by Goldfinger, who is unpleasantly surprised to learn he's 007's nephew.

Goldfinger explains that he plans to use giant lasers to melt the entire city into golden bricks so that they can be smuggled out of Peru. Dinaro is furious, citing the archaeological and cultural value of the find, but Goldfinger's of the opinion that the form of gold is unimportant. He forces James, Lotta and Dinaro onto one of the giant statues at the entrance to the complex, and turns his lasers on them - explaining that, once the statue melts, they'll find themselves floating in liquid gold at over 1000 degrees. As the statue slowly melts, Tracy and I.Q. arrive on the scene and decide to cause a distraction - they've found the grenade James dropped, and use it to create a rockfall.

During the confusion, James fires I.Q.'s pitons from his watch, pulling the statue to a tilt so that Lotta and Mr Dinaro can climb off it. James then fires the pitons to the floor, using his belt to zip to the ground, where he boards the Earthcracker machine. He turns the device to maximum and aims it directly at El Dorado, causing tremors that wreck Goldfinger's melting operation and bring the city tumbling down. Odd Job throws his hat at James, but Earthcracker slices it in two. The city collapses on top of Goldfinger and Odd Job, apparently burying them, as James rejoins his friends on the mountainside. James has picked up a small golden statue on the way out, which he gives to Mr Dinaro as evidence that El Dorado did exist, after all.

Review: One of the series' earliest episodes, Earthcracker is also one of the best. As the first 'proper' adventure following the necessarily limited action that takes place in The Beginning, this episode sets out the winning formula for the series in most major respects: the guest female character/love interest; the exotic locale; the mildly amusing Trevor sub-plot to keep things light-hearted; and the outlandish criminal master scheme - which on this occasion is taken up by 007's old foe Goldfinger, apparently resurrected following the incident in the aeroplane. Such details matter not in Bond Jr, where more or less anything goes; and the advantages of including the wily old villain far outweigh the continuity problems it poses, most of which will after all not have been apparent to the show's younger audience. On the love interest front, James doesn't actually 'get the girl' in any meaningful sense despite what I.Q. suggests. Lotta's character doesn't really do very much, but her mere presence is enough to drive Tracy to distraction; after her recent experience of being rescued, she's furious even at the prospect of another girl being at the centre of James's attention. The Warfield/Trevor storyline is subtle enough here not to cause too much of a distraction, meanwhile; most subsequent episodes would use increasingly contrived variations on this basic theme of Trevor grassing up Bond to Mr Milbanks. And the mountainous South American backdrop lends a great atmosphere to the episode too; the artwork is a cut above average, and the incidental music during the Peru sequences uses hints of the usual themes while being tailored specifically for the locale - a feature that would be lacking later in the series as more generic music was increasingly used. The overall verdict: a true James Bond Jr classic.

Film buffs will appreciate the reference to Miss Moneypenny, whom James's mule is named after. Likewise, the allusions to Goldfinger's encounter with James' uncle are a nice touch. Such instances are far more common in the earlier few episodes of the series; towards its end the villains' plots would become so outlandish that any attempts to tie in proceedings with the film series were given up on altogether.

It's not entirely clear that James's wanton destruction of an ancient archaeological site is justified as a means of scuppering the villains' plan - but it's far from the last time he pushes the 'destroy everything' button in order to resolve the plot in an expedient manner.

Lines to Remember: Goldfinger, after James introduces himself: 'I see the family resemblance. Not only physically, but in your talent for making trouble!'

James: 'Goldfinger, wait!' Goldfinger: 'Not this time.'

Gadgets & Gizmos: The studs around James's watch casing are now pitons on the end of super-strong cords, that will hold firm when fired into a cliff face. I.Q. also invents a homing device with suction cup attachment. And there's a camcorder which can detect gold anywhere in a 25-mile radius. The camera's batteries are miniature grenades in disguise - which begs three (naturally unanswered) questions of (a) how the camera's actually powered; (b) how James got it through airport security; and (c) whether I.Q. is actually licensed to create explosives.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface:
Actually, no. Perhaps surprisingly for the second episode, the organisation isn't mentioned at all - and Goldfinger's henchmen are dressed in gold-coloured military gear, not S.C.U.M. uniforms.

Blunders & Bloopers:
In one brief shot close to the end of the episode where the characters in Peru are pictured at a distance, Tracy's figure is replaced with that of Trevor - odd, since he's thousands of miles away back at Warfield!

Loco Parenthesis:
Coach Mitchell comes across as very unconcerned about the fact that a Warfield student has been kidnapped, while Mr Milbanks and the police don't even believe the story. Why don't they at least look into it? Isn't the point of Warfield Academy to afford pupils extra protection given their high-profile relatives?

O Mother, Where Art Thou:
The perils faced by Lotta and her father are pretty much an archetype for a huge number of subsequent 'guest girls' featured in the show. With almost comic frequency will they have a father in grave danger because of his occupation, and absolutely never will they have a mother appear on-screen, raising the question of where all these absent mums have gotten to - and why none of them have dangerous occupations.

Comic Capers:
Issue 3 of the comic book series is an adaptation of Earthcracker. Key differences include the absence of Mr Milbanks and Trevor, and the suggestion that Tracy and Lotta are best friends, which rather leaves poor absent Phoebe out of the loop. Some of the supporting characters look different (Lotta and her father) although this would become par for the course in the comics. There's some stunning artwork, including a considerable upwards extension of the lost city from the portion seen in the show, despite retaining the same basic appearance.

Phoebe's phone call to Milbanks occurs off-screen and we don't actually see her in this episode. Gordo also does not appear.

I.Q.'s statement at the end of the episode - 'I get the credit, you get the girl' - is actually rather optimistic. In almost all future episodes, James bags both the credit and the girl, despite I.Q.'s increasingly noble gadgetary contributions.

James and I.Q. make the assumption that since Odd Job was in the tank, Goldfinger must be responsible - although several later episodes show that Odd Job works for other S.C.U.M. villains, too. Nevertheless, while James recognises Odd Job, the script clearly marks this out as his first meeting with Goldfinger - so it may well be the first time he's met Odd Job, too, and only recognises him from his uncle's accounts.

This episode is interesting in that it marks a referenced 'first contact' between James and one of the villains - most other crooks' first appearances are simply treated as if James has already foiled their plans many times before.

As in the film Goldfinger, Odd Job doesn't speak in this episode. This characteristic is soon deemed problematic, though; and by his next appearance in Cruise to Oblivion, Odd Job's unexplainedly a lot more talkative.

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