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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #5
by Perry Martin

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Coach Mitchell, Captain Plank, Jaws.

Synopsis: Off the tranquil coast of Greece, calm waters suddenly become choppy as a huge metallic claw rises ominously from the seabed, and grabs a passing ship! The captain of the vessel is Tracy's uncle, Captain William Milbanks, who orders his crew to evacuate in a lifeboat. As he leaves to escape himself, the cabin door gets jammed, and he's pulled into the depths along with it. Meanwhile, James and the Warfield gang have arrived in Athens with Coach Mitchell for a field trip. Their first stop is the Parthenon, but Gordo's too busy playing his portable video game, Ship Ahoy!, to pay much attention to the scenery.

Soon Coach Mitchell informs them of the disappearance of Tracy's uncle, putting a downer on the day. The police aren't able to shed any light on the affair, and neither are the other sailors in the area - so to distract Tracy from her worries James suggests the gang go scuba diving. While Phoebe stays behind with Coach Mitchell, I.Q. and Gordo agree to come along; but Gordo only does so on the condition that he can bring his video game. Trevor is also staying behind, having been challenged to a contest on Ship Ahoy! by Gordo; he pretends to be ill so he can get in some practice. The gang heads down to the dock to rent a boat, but soon spot Jaws in the vicinity, driving a minisub.

The gang follow Jaws out to sea in a boat and watch as he dives from the sub, before jumping in after him. On the way down, they see the 'sea monster' rising from the depths - it's a giant mechanical apparatus extending from the seabed. They observe as it steals a ship from the surface, and pulls it down to a huge undersea fortress encased in a glass dome. They swim back to the surface to inform the police, but are soon pursued by a great white shark - which swallows all four of them whole! Luckily, they find themselves not in a shark's stomach, but in the air lock of a submarine disguised as a shark. Unluckily, Jaws is the one piloting it, and he soon arrives to take them prisoner.

Back at the hotel, Coach Mitchell and Phoebe start to worry where James and the others are, and realise that they can use I.Q.'s homing remote to track them - so they head out to the docks. Under the sea, the shark-sub takes the gang to the giant dome, where Jaws leads them out into a marine dock where all the stolen ships are moored. They're taken towards the brig, but Gordo appears unconcerned, still concentrating on his video game. Tracy has an idea, and sets off the fire alarm. Jaws loses them in the confusion, and is forced to report to his boss, Captain Walker D. Plank, that they've escaped.

The gang come across Tracy's uncle safe and well in the brig, but Jaws catches up with them and marches them onward to Plank's control room, where he locks them inside a glass tube before explaining his scheme. The stolen ships are being fitted with state-of-the-art weaponry, and control devices so that Plank can control them remotely from his lair. Then he'll send the ships back to the surface to 'conquer the world'. As he prepares to activate the fleet, a video control screen appears on the wall showing the position of each of the vessels. Just then, Gordo completes his video game, giving I.Q. an idea - he rewires Ship Ahoy! so that rather than controlling virtual ships, the console controls Plank's real fleet!

To modify the console, I.Q. uses his homing transmittor, so that Phoebe and Mitchell, who have rented a boat, are worried when they can no longer track him. I.Q. gives Gordo the console back and tells him to play, allowing him to turn the ships against one another, firing their weapons and causing chaos and destruction. One of the ships crashes through the side of the dome, causing the complex to begin flooding. Plank and Jaws head for the escape pods, leaving James and the others trapped in the tube as the water rises - but James uses his laser ring to cut through the glass. They rescue Tracy's uncle from the brig before heading to the exit themselves, where they see Plank and his pirate goons escaping in a sub.

It appears Jaws has stayed behind to finish James off, however - and a showdown commences between Jaws and James. Jaws quickly bites through an oar James uses as a weapon, as well as a fishing net he gets caught in. But then James has a bright idea; he ties his watch to a chain on one of the boats and turns on the electromagnet feature, which causes Jaws to fly teeth first into the chain! James then winches the chain overboard, with Jaws stuck to it! On the surface, Phoebe and Coach Mitchell are shocked when the stolen ships start appearing from the water - followed by a great white shark! But it's just the submarine, which has returned James and the gang to the surface. Back at Warfield, Trevor demands his video game contest with Gordo - but Gordo tells him that after the video game he's just played, beating Trevor would be an anticlimax!

Review: It's the first appearance in the series for walking piratical cliché Captain Walker D. Plank, who would become one of the show's most popular lead villains - as well as one of the most frequently featured, second only to Dr Derange. Although Plank is a delightful stereotype to behold, his contribution is actually fairly limited here, with the role of antagonist being fulfilled by Jaws for most of the episode, whose character takes a more menacing turn here since his last appearance in The Beginning. There's plenty to enjoy besides, including the inspired great white shark submarine, the obligatory control room confrontation and, unusually, Trevor, whose wicked cackle as he promises to trounce Gordo at Ship Ahoy! more than lives up to S.C.U.M.'s own villainous laughing fits. Notable by its absence is any sign of a girl to be rescued; Captain Milbanks takes on that particular role in this episode, although despite Tracy's concern for him we're never particularly engaged by his plight, not least because he seems to speak exclusively in nautical clichés. Perhaps most impressive is the artwork, particularly that depicting the undersea fortress, which definitely ranks as one of the series' top villainous hideouts. All that said, the plot isn't particularly well-conceived; it's far from clear how Plank could possibly succeed in conquering the world via remote control, and the plot is foiled far too soon after it's explained. Nonetheless, this is still a strong episode, and a tantalising debut for one of the show's most enduring characters.

Highs: The episode is worth watching for Plank's sea-dog accent and laugh alone which, as with all other aspects of the character, genuinely puts all other bad pirate impersonations to shame.

Lows: He may be a merciless cut-throat, but Captain Plank is so conscious of health and safety legislation that he's installed fire alarms and sprinklers in an undersea base surrounded by water.

Lines to Forget: Plank's creepy parrot, as the crooks escape by submarine: 'Yo-ho-ho and a sub full of S.C.U.M.!'

Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. invents a waterproof homing device that attaches to a wetsuit belt, and a hi-tech remote to track it; there's a waterproof radio system in their scuba helmets, too. He also provides a laser ring that can cut through solid steel. In addition, James's watch now produces a powerful electromagnetic charge, activated by pressing the time set button. Finally, I.Q. rewires Gordo's video game so he can play real-life Ship Ahoy! with Plank's terror fleet.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: There are no uniformed S.C.U.M. agents patrolling Plank's base - just a couple of pirates. But there is a name-check: see 'Lines to Forget' above. 

Loco Parenthesis: At least Coach Mitchell makes a half-concerted effort to find James and pals when he discovers they're missing in this episode, which is a considerable improvement on some of his other field trips.

VHS Vault: The episode also appeared on the UK VHS release entitled 'James Bond Jr vs Jaws the Metallic Munch', alongside Ship of Terror and Invaders from S.C.U.M. 

Comic Capers: This was adapted for the fourth installment of the Marvel Comics series, with no significant alterations.

Notes: This is Plank's first appearance in the show, but James instantly recognises him. Plank comments to James that they are about to 'cross swords again', suggesting they've had at least one previous run-in.

The use of a fake sea monster to terrorise boats is a plot device that also crops up in the later Walker D. Plank episode, No Such Loch.

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