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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #12
by Jeffrey Scott

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, the Worm.

At an Italian military installation, agents of The Worm use explosives to blow through a door, stealing high-powered boring drill-machines from within. At another military base, a fleet of army tanks is stolen, despite soldiers' best efforts to stop the crooks, and The Worm cackles inside his trademark limousine as he is informed that Phase 2 has been accomplished; but just what is he up to? Coincidentally, at Warfield Academy, Trevor Noseworthy makes a last-ditch attempt to buy some friendships by inviting James, Gordo, Phoebe, I.Q. and Tracy to stay at his family's summer home on the Italian coast. He expects to travel in the family limousine, but their butler, Hornsby, informs him that the limo is exclusively for the use of Fifi, his mother's poodle, whom he will be 'babysitting' for the duration of the holiday!

While the others take the family van, James decides to ride to Italy in his sports car along with I.Q..The others all enjoy the sun, sea and sand, while Trevor is left minding the troublesome mutt, who does not appear to be fond of him!
Meanwhile, deep underground, The Worm's henchmen install the giant drills on the front of the tanks, to create powerful boring machines. We are also introduced to his new henchmen, Slug and Cricket, who are soon informed of the details of his latest scheme: to drill tunnels into the buried treasury of the ancient city of Pompeii, and steal the priceless gold and gems within. He warns them, however, that there are lava veins everywhere in the area and that if they hit one, the tunnel will fill with 'deadly molten rock'. Later, after I.Q. has tinkered with his car a little too much for his liking, James decides to go for a drive to a café down the coast, and takes I.Q. along with him.

On the way, James spots a pretty girl in a car up ahead, and speeds on to get a closer look. As he does so, a huge crack opens up in the road - one of the boring tanks, driven by Slug and Cricket, has gotten too close to the surface and is causing massive ruptures. Just as James pulls up alongside the girl's car, the highway completely collapses and, while James swerves, the girl drives straight into the pit. Terrified of what The Worm will say when he finds out, Slug and Cricket sneak away, and James and I.Q. rescue the girl, who introduces herself as Louisa, and is furious about the loss of her new car which now looks pretty crumpled. The three of them examine the boring tank and James decides they should investigate further; Louisa, a tour guide, insists on coming too in order to wreak revenge on whoever destroyed her car.Using I.Q.'s new sure-grip tyres, James drives his sports car down the hole and they begin to explore the network of tunnels.

Meanwhile, Trevor and Tracy walk round the town to give Fifi some exercise, but, due to vibrations from another boring tank, she ungratefully escapes, chased by a frantic Trevor. Underground, Slug and Cricket hijack another of The Worm's tanks, telling the drivers that they're taking over and pretending The Worm has ordered it. They then lie over the radio, claiming there is no sign of the ancient city in two quadrants when they're only exploring one. As they break into another tunnel, they come across James and his friends driving the other way, and, coming upon a dead end, James uses the tyres again to escape - along the tunnel's ceiling! As they're driving, Louisa falls out of the car and to the ground, where The Worm picks her up in his limousine.

He tells Bond not to interfere any further or he'll hurt her, then drives off, using a smoke-bomb to prevent James seeing which tunnel he escaped down. On the surface, Trevor finds Fifi but is then confronted by a vicious-looking bulldog, who is chased away by Fifi, leaving Trevor thinking she'll get eaten by the other dog.
Underground, James chases Slug and Cricket's tank, blocking the exhaust with a stone so that the machine comes to a halt. When the occupants step out to check out the problem, James and I.Q. jump in and drive away. Meanwhile, The Worm informs Louisa that, once he's done with her, he'll leave her buried under Pompeii, and she notices his dislike of bright lights when a tank commander switches one on. They've found the ancient temple treasury and prepare to rake up the treasures, but James arrives and attempts to stop him.

As Louisa snatches The Worm's sunglasses in order to escape, Slug and Cricket attack James and I.Q. in a third tank, and the ensuing collision causes a nearby pillar to collapse, almost flattening Louisa. James puts his tank in the way of the pillar, taking the blow instead of Louisa, but the tank is crushed and he and I.Q. are forced to crawl out.
The Worm and his stooges head for the temple, but realise that the treasury itself is buried underneath the lava flow. Slug warns that drilling to it would cause massive lava eruptions in the city above. The Worm doesn't care, and tells them to go ahead with it anyway - he then loads up his tank and escapes with the booty, leaving the walls collapsing so that James and his friends can't escape. They are soon surrounded by lava, and can see no way out, but James uses I.Q.'s remote to bring his car around just in time to save them.

They head back to the surface, surprising Trevor and Tracy by emerging from the ground along the way, and drive to the crushed tank that originally destroyed Louisa's car, force entry, and use it to drill a hole into the ocean so that the network of tunnels fills with seawater. The lava flow is counteracted, saving modern Pompeii from ruin again and stopping The Worm dead in his tracks. The tank is forced to surface; after they try to drill James's tank, Slug, Cricket and the other stooges are arrested, but The Worm manages to wriggle away again. Trevor is thrilled, however, when, thinking Fifi has been eaten, James, Tracy and I.Q. bring her back alive and well. It seems Fifi isn't so pleased to see Trevor, however - the only thing getting eaten today is his T-shirt!

Review: The second (and last) Worm-centric episode in the series is, despite its various faults, somehow easier to swallow than the first; intentionally burying a city in molten rock is far closer to fantasy than bringing down a New York skyscraper, although this wasn't necessarily evident in 1991. However, this episode is an improvement on A Worm in the Apple in other ways, too. The Worm himself, whose high-pitched voice is amazingly even whinier than before, comes across as far more sinister and villainous than in his previous outing - his willingness to kill is more clearly on display here - while his new idiot-henchmen Slug and Cricket add their own brand of bungling comedy to the proceedings. Even Louisa, the token foreign girl, is a great deal feistier than her counterparts in most other episodes; amusingly, her concern throughout appears not to be for Pompeii but for the fact that the crooks wrecked her new sports car. The episode's locations are well utilised, and The Worm feels truly at home in the vast network of underground tunnels in a way that he somehow didn't in New York, while the boring tank idea is quite original and works for rather than against the episode, despite being pretty unfeasible. Aside from James and I.Q., the regular cast in general are very underused here: Gordo and Phoebe get next to nothing to do while Tracy is relegated to the position of co-dog walker along with Trevor Noseworthy, who is painted perhaps as less obnoxious than usual, showing his desperation to be liked by inviting the gang to Italy. For once, his quarrel is not with James and his friends but with the dog, which removes the repetitive insult-trading between him and the others. While the Fifi subplot is hardly spectacular, it is at least original and somewhat less contrived than past Trevor mini-adventures. The scene in which James attempts to catch up with Louisa's car at the beginning is also a breath of fresh air, allowing for some development of the James and I.Q. characters (excessive confidence versus excessive cautiousness) rather than plunging us too soon into the plot as is so often the case. All in all, Pompeii is a good, enjoyable episode which, while not among the series' very best, is certainly well above average.

The extent of The Worm's writhing unpleasantness is so great that watching him is almost cringeworthy - an impressive achievement for a cartoon villain.

The Worm's unnamed senior henchman (in a mining helmet and moustache) is voiced either by Arnie or a very practised impersonator.

Lines to Forget:
Gordo, witnessing James's tank coming out of the ocean: 'Woah! I've seen big sand-craft, but that one takes the cake!'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q. installs some new features for the sports car, including 'sure-grip' tyres with a thousand retractable steel hooks (so 'sure', in fact, that I.Q. offers a five year, 50,000 mile warranty), and a homing device in the dashboard, allowing the car to be driven from a distance by remote control.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface:
Once again, The Worm's relationship with S.C.U.M., if existent, is not mentioned and he appears to work independently.

O Mother, Where Art Thou: Not for the first time, Trevor's mother gets a mention - as we learn that she summoned Trevor to the family holiday home in order to babysit Fifi the dog. Predictably she remains entirely offscreen, however.

Loco Parenthesis: The usual charges of negligence are averted, since the action takes place while the gang are on holiday.

James Bond Jr would next return to Italy in The Heartbreak Caper
, another episode in which lava features prominently.


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