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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #9
by Doug Molitor

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Dr Derange, Skullcap.

Synopsis: James is returning to Warfield from a holiday when he spies Skullcap at the airport, clutching a mysterious brown envelope. Spotting Bond, Skullcap flees onto the runway where he hijacks an aeroplane to escape in - but James makes chase in an airport vehicle, hooking onto the aeroplane's wing with the mobile steps on the vehicle. He manages to climb into the plane and confronts Skullcap, who begins firing a laser at him; but James overpowers him and takes control of the plane. During the confusion Skullcap loses his brown envelope and James catches it, before ejecting and allowing the plane to spiral out of control. James touches down at Warfield just in time for a P.E. lesson!

In Milbanks' office, James receives a severe telling-off from the headmaster for parachuting onto the grounds. Milbanks also happens to mention that a scheduled class trip to Paris has been cancelled, due to a report that terrorists have smuggled a nuclear warhead into France. On his way out, James inadvertently gets Trevor into hot water with Moose, the school meathead. James heads to the gym to take out his frustrations; convinced S.C.U.M. is involved with the rumours about the warhead, he talks to I.Q. and Gordo. The envelope Skullcap lost contained plans for an Achilles Missile; but with the Paris trip cancelled, James can do nothing. Luckily Coach Mitchell 'accidentally' lets slip that the security guard goes for a break at three in the morning.

I.Q.'s digital lock analyser gets him, James, Tracy and Gordo through the gates - followed swiftly by Phoebe, who charms her way into the adventure by buying the tickets to France. Since James is banned from the airport (!), they decide to go by hovercraft. On board, James is introduced to a Parisian art student, Marcie Beaucoup, who has drawn a sketch of him. Marcie seems very taken with James, and offers to be the group's tour guide in Paris. But when she goes out on deck for a minute she contacts somebody via a transmitter hidden in her pencil, telling them that 007's nephew is on board and she's sure he's looking for the warhead. At that moment, a cackling Skullcap appears from the sky in a helicopter, and begins firing lasers at them, taking out much of the hovercraft's casing.

James rushes to the controls of the craft and begins to steer the craft away from a small island that almost wrecks them - while I.Q. grabs a waiter's tray and uses it to reflect Skullcap's laser, bursting a hole in his chopper. The hovercraft reaches the port at Calais but continues across the land as James flees from Skullcap. I.Q. works out the chopper has heat-seeking missiles, so James hands a flare gun to Gordo, telling the gang to push the surplus fuel barrels off the back of the hovercraft and light them with the flare. Sure enough, Skullcap's missiles go awry, crashing into the burning ground instead of the hovercraft. In the confusion, Skullcap's chopper crashes into a farm where he lands in a pig pen, and is berated by the farmer.

Some time later, the gang arrive in Paris, where Tracy and Phoebe are jealous of the attention James is lavishing on Marcie. He invites her on a dinner cruise on the Seine that evening, and she accepts. Meanwhile, the hunt is on for a huge steel gantry that Skullcap's schematics show is needed to launch the Achilles Missile. Climbing the Eiffel Tower to get a bird's eye view, the gang are disappointed to find that they can't see a steel gantry anywhere. Back at the hotel, James prepares for dinner, but Tracy's worried Marcie isn't who she seems - and I.Q. isn't convinced either, so he's prepared a few deadly gadgets! On the riverboat, James finally shows his cards. He's been suspicious of Marcie from the start when she had an ink drawing of him but was only carrying a pencil. He surmises it must have been to identify him with. And she mistook an impressionist painting for an expressionist, suggesting she knows nothing about art.

As he asks Marcie what she's really up to, the pair are attacked by Dr Derange, who has been disguised as a waiter on board the boat along with Skullcap. He runs at them with a flaming service trolley, but James extinguishes him with a burst of champagne, while Marcie takes care of Skullcap. Once both the crooks have been thrown overboard, Marcie reveals her father is a French policeman, whom she's helping to find the missile. They'd had word from Coach Mitchell that James was on his way - that's why she was on the hovercraft. They spy Derange and Skullcap escaping into the sewers, and go down a manhole to track them down. Meanwhile, when James doesn't turn up to rendezvous with Tracy and the others as planned, Gordo manages to get them all locked up by accidentally confessing to stealing watches!

As they move through the sewers, Marcie loses Derange's trail and decides she's not cut out for spy work - instead she'll stick to showing tourists the Eiffel Tower. Then it twigs: James realises the Tower is the intended gantry for the missile! Following the sewer system there, they soon come across Derange in his lair - he's just arming the missile. They overhear Derange talking to himself: his plan is to aim the warhead at Russia, causing diplomatic relations between France and Russia to disintegrate. At that point Skullcap captures them, and the crooks tie them to the missile. It begins to rise to the top of the tower, and James uses the acetylene torch on his watch to set him and Marcie free, before rewiring the missile guidance system so it flies into empty space.

He creates a makeshift zip line from a reel of rope at the top of the tower, and he and Marcie plummet to safety, as the missile blasts out of the earth's atmosphere. Returning to Derange's lab under the tower to apprehend him, James and Marcie find Derange and Skullcap gone, having left a recorded message vowing revenge the next time they meet. Back at the police station, James explains everything and Marcie's father releases Gordo, Phoebe, I.Q. and Tracy from jail. James receives a goodbye kiss from Marcie just before his friends come out to meet him - and they find him 'not shaken, but stirred.' Back at Warfield, the gang get back just in time to join the end of Coach Mitchell's running session. Milbanks appears, telling James that with the nuclear threat over the trip to Paris is back on!

Review: It's apparent that this episode was considered a 'flagship' of sorts, and was likely one of the first to be produced given the fact that numerous clips from it appear in the title sequence (only two other episodes, Earthcracker and Live and Let's Dance, share this honour). In addition, a swathe of spin-off material featured adapted versions of this particular story - see below for further details. All this is understandable - The Eiffel Missile is undoubtedly one of the best episodes, and an archetype for the series as a whole. With the exception of Trevor, who barely appears, all the characters are endearing here. With the Parisian backdrop there's naturally love in the air, giving James, Tracy and Phoebe all the chance to display more sensitive sides to their characters in some character sequences that actually border on nuanced - while Marcie comes across as a likeable and interesting female lead who keeps us guessing for the first half of the episode as to her real reason for being involved. Humour is provided by I.Q., whose gadgets are both borderline offensive and deeply irresponsible - and also Gordo, whose attempts at speaking French aren't exactly a ringing success. On top of the action sequences, which are some of the best the series ever offered - explaining in part their prevalence in the opening titles - the villains of the piece are also played perfectly. Dr Derange is at his absolute best, with some great lines and a hilarious disguise to cap it off, and Skullcap bounces off his boss perfectly throughout, while simultaneously retaining a sinister and ruthless side during the hovercraft chase. To conclude, The Eiffel Missile is in virtually all respects a top-rated episode: very difficult to improve on, and emblematic of the spirit of the show as a whole.

Highs: The scene where the gang stand atop the Eiffel Tower looking across the city in search of a structure made from steel girders is nicely played. I.Q.'s French-themed gadgets are sublime. And the hovercraft action sequence is one of the highlights of the series.

Lows: Trevor Noseworthy appears in one small scene here which is entirely redundant - so why not just drop him altogether, as the comic version does?

Lines to Remember: James, having knocked Phoebe over with the punching bag: 'Sorry Phoebe! I'm afraid I didn't see you.' Phoebe: 'I'm afraid you never do.'

Derange to James, after ordering Skullcap to tie him to the missile: 'We will see how amusing Moscow finds you. If they find anything!'

James, on Derange's recorded message: 'Don't you just hate reruns?'

Phoebe, finding James shellshocked following his goodbye kiss with Marcie: 'Oh, the poor dear! Our being arrested must have really shaken him.' I.Q.: 'Offhand I'd say he looks not shaken, but... stirred.'

Lines to Forget: James to Marcie: 'It makes me wish I were an artist, so I could keep looking at you.'

Marcie on expressionist paintings: 'Oui, they are so... how you say... expressive!'

Marcie: 'I not only know the streets of Paris, I also know the sewers!' Why?

Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q.'s the man behind the digital lock analyser that helps them escape from Warfield, as well as the latest watch modifications - a homing transmitter and an acetylene torch. But that's nothing compared to the array of special accessories he provides James with in Paris: notably, a sword disguised as a French baguette, and a beret that's actually a landmine!

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: Yes - James immediately identifies Skullcap as 'an agent of S.C.U.M.' in the opener, and the organisation is name-dropped throughout - although admittedly there are no uniformed agents creeping around.

Loco Parenthesis: Apparently unperturbed by talk of nuclear warheads in Paris, Coach Mitchell irresponsibly encourages James and pals to use a digital lock analyser to escape Warfield during the guard's 3am coffee break. Although in a rare moment of competence, he does tip off the French police as well. 

Blunders & Bloopers: There's one fairly major flaw in the plot: namely that the Eiffel Tower is clearly far too narrow for the missile, and in any case not open-topped. Presumably when the missile reaches the tip of the tower it would simply explode on impact, killing everyone in the area - although conveniently we're only shown the warhead in the few seconds before it reaches this position, followed by a radar screen of it flying into space. But we like this episode far too much to care about trivialities like that.

VHS Vault: This episode was released on a standalone video on both sides of the Atlantic, in PAL and NTSC formats.

Sticker Story: Merlin retitled this The Eiffel Tower Missile in its adaptation for the sticker album.

Comic Capers: Issue 2 of the Marvel Comics series was based on this episode. There aren't many differences between the two, with the exception that Marcie looks very different, the hovercraft chase culminates slightly less explosively in the comic, and the Eiffel Tower is used as a traditional gantry, with the missile moving up its side, not its centre (see Blunders & Bloopers). Also, the beret-landmine and sword-baguette are (perhaps wisely) omitted.

A Novel Approach: John Peel (under the John Vincent pseudonym) reworked and expanded the episode for the Fantail novelisations, with the catchier name of The Eiffel Target.

Notes: This is Dr Derange's first appearance of many in James Bond Jr. Likewise with Skullcap.

This is James's first visit to France; but he would return there, and indeed to Paris, in The Art of Evil. Indeed it's possible that this is the very class trip that was rearranged at the end of in this episode - since Milbanks encourages James to 'learn a bit about art' when they get there.

The Warfield gym has a S.C.U.M.-branded punchbag for what reason, exactly?

The English Channel hovercraft service so heavily featured in this episode ceased to operate in 2005.

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