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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #18
by Jeffrey Scott and Mark Jones

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Cortex, Leftbrain & Rightbrain.

Synopsis: It's evening on the Noseworthy estate, and two unwelcome visitors hoist themselves over the railings. It's Leftbrain and Rightbrain, and, despite their squabbling, they seem to have come with a particular purpose in mind. As they dash past the guard dogs and enter the house, they soon spot what they're looking for, right under Trevor's chair - a Persian rug. Grabbing it, and flooring Trevor in the process, they make their escape to a nearby van where Cortex is waiting for them. The next day, at Warfield, Trevor tells Milbanks about the theft, and then James and the gang. He gives them a tape recorded by the security cameras, and I.Q. views it - he quickly recognises the crooks, but James shuts him up and sends Tracy and Gordo with Trevor to check out local rug shops.

When they're alone, I.Q. runs a search on the rug and it turns out that it's one of only four like it in the world, two of which have been stolen recently. Pulling up the address of the fourth rug's owner as a manor house in Sussex, James, I.Q. and Phoebe head there in anticipation of the crooks' arrival. When they get there, James goes to look around while Phoebe and I.Q. keep a lookout. Soon, Leftbrain and Rightbrain turn up and quickly steal the rug through the front entrance. In an attempt to stop them, I.Q. ties a hosepipe to their van and part of the railing, but the rails end up coming loose and dragging I.Q. along behind the van. James comes to his rescue, and reveals he put some of I.Q.'s luminous cologne on Cortex's van, so it's leaving a trail for them to follow.

At Cortex's mansion, the crook watches as his henchmen pin all four rugs onto the wall, side by side - together, he explains, taking a picture, they form a map of the location where, in the Middle East, Aladdin's lamp is said to be hidden. He says the lamp will make him the most powerful man alive, and orders Leftbrain and Rightbrain to prepare the jet to fly there. Overhearing, Phoebe tells James and I.Q. that her father's aircraft design plant is nearby - so they take one of the planes and, with Phoebe as pilot, follow Cortex to the Middle East in it.
As the two planes fly over the desert, Rightbrain activates the radar and Cortex realises he's being followed.

He fires a missile at Phoebe's jet, causing the tail to fall off and the plane to spiral down towards the sand. Ejecting from the plane, the gang use parachutes to float to safety. Back in England, Trevor, Gordo and Tracy browse rug shops in the hope that they'll find one so similar to the stolen rug, Trevor's parents won't notice and berate him for not turning the burglar alarm on. They don't seem to be having much success, however. In the desert, Cortex and his men are in a jeep, following the map the rugs made. They soon come across an ancient temple, and find the secret switch that opens the door. Meanwhile, some way away, as the heat increases and the water runs out, I.Q. begins to hallucinate and starts seeing mirages. James tells him to snap out of it - but his final vision isn't imaginary.

A woman on a camel approaches, introducing herself as Lytra, and explains she's following the tracks from Cortex's jeep. She agrees to give them all a lift, and they follow the crooks' trail into the temple. Inside, Rightbrain ends up dangling by his feet when he sets off a trap, and has to be helped down; then crosses a lightbeam and gets buried by sand. James and friends come across another trap: a giant stone floor that causes heavy objects to fall when stepped on. Luckily James anticipates the trap and throws a stone to trigger it before they cross. Soon though, Cortex spots James and the gang from a vantage point higher up in the temple, and orders his goons to roll a giant, spherical rock down a slope to crush them. They press themselves up against a wall to avoid it, and as the boulder flies through a hole in the side of a cliff-face, the wall spins round to reveal a treasure room full of gold and jewels.

The glyphs on the wall identify the room as the home of Aladdin's lamp - and soon, I.Q. hits his foot on a metal object which turns out to be the lamp. As James pulls it out of the ground the floor around them crumbles away, leaving them on a pillar of dirt surrounded by lava. Cortex appears from a chamber higher up in the temple, using a grappling hook to steal the lamp from James's hand and explaining that the map said no-one could live through the final challenge. As the pillar continues to crumble, Cortex and his minions make their escape. Back in England, Gordo's desperate for lunch but Trevor insists they keep looking for a rug. They find one that's passably similar, and Trevor decides to buy it, hoping his parents won't notice.

Meanwhile, outside the temple, Cortex decides to test the lamp - holding the crystal within, anything you think about can be materialised into the physical universe, he explains. He imagines a huge one-eyed monster and, sure enough, it appears, then disappears when he wills it to. Inside the temple, James uses the telescopic belt I.Q. has given him as a rope to get his trainer in a foothold up above and pull them all to safety, just as the mound beneath them crumbles into the lava. They go after Cortex by camel, and he arrives back at the landing site in the jeep. Just as Cortex's plane lifts off, James rams the jeep into its side, crippling it. Wielding the lamp, Cortex turns the jeep into a huge metallic car monster, that chases James. I.Q. grabs Cortex from behind, causing the crystal to fly from his hand and into Leftbrain and Rightbrain's. The jeep monster disappears; and together they imagine a giant clown, which proceeds to chase James instead. The pair then argue over who should make the next wish, and grapple for the crystal, causing it to fly from their hands and split in two.

Cortex grabs one half, while James grabs the other, for a final battle of wits. Cortex conjures up a giant snake, so James imagines a huge rock monster that ties the snake in a knot. Cortex turns the snake into a huge fire-breathing dragon, so James imagines a waterfall which causes the dragon to evaporate. Cortex's crystal then stops working, and James reveals that, rather than outwishing Cortex's monsters, he simply wished for Cortex's crystal not to work. James then wishes for a cage to appear around the crooks and tells Cortex to think about it on his way to prison. Back at Warfield, Trevor's furious that, having spent so long finding a replacement rug, James has brought the real one back. To punish him for his ingratitude, Gordo uses the magic crystal to cause the rug to wrap around Trevor, promptly muffling his complaints.

Review: More outlandish than most editions of the show, Lamp of Darkness completely dispenses with the laws of science in favour of magic and mythology, so that the realism or otherwise of the episode isn't even up for debate. The villainous Maximillion Cortex makes his debut here (although James and his friends appear to have encountered him off-screen before), and his power-mad scheming suits the episode perfectly, with his idiot stooges Leftbrain and Rightbrain providing light relief in an otherwise fairly epic installment. The quest for Aladdin's lamp is, of course, about as epic you can get, and it actually works very well, despite being unexpected in what's usually a spy show and perhaps more suited to an 'Indiana Jones Jr' or suchlike - although, incidentally, there's more mention made here of James and his friends being 'secret agents' than in most episodes of the series. There's no Disneyesque genie or three-wishes malarkey here; the lamp is depicted as an altogether more straightforward artefact that simply brings anything you imagine into the physical world. Although the ending is unsatisfactory in that we realise the Warfield gang still has the lamp (or the crystal from it), and don't appear to have any intention of handing it to the authorities or destroying it for the security of the world, this can be taken with as much of a pinch of salt as the rest of the episode, which is clearly intended as a partial break from the usual format. Phoebe and I.Q. are both nicely fleshed out in this instalment, as in fact is Trevor - although, while using the latter as a launchpad into the story worked well, the writers would have done better to remove some of the tedious sequences in which he looked for a new rug, instead affording more time to the challenges of the temple. Overall, a refreshingly different episode and among the series' highlights.

Highs: There's a real air of mystery about this episode - we're never told the exact setting, but Saudi Arabia or Egypt seem likely. Some better elements of the series' underscore are used to create a real sense of foreboding in the temple.

Lows: As a result of Leftbrain and Rightbrain's combined mental efforts, James is chased at one point by a gigantic clown, who's given the immortal line: 'Welcome, boys and girls, to the circus!'

Lines to Remember:
James, on I.Q.'s extendable belt: 'This could come in handy.' Gordo: 'Yeah, if you unexpectedly gain some weight!'

Rightbrain, terrified of Cortex's monster: 'Aaaagh! That looks just like Leftbrain's mother!'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
The latest products of I.Q.'s genius are a luminous cologne with a dubious fragrance, and a telescopic trouser belt. 

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: As another unusual factor to this episode, S.C.U.M. isn't mentioned - perhaps Cortex is working independently.

Blunders & Bloopers:
When James and the gang are riding the camel towards Cortex's plane, the animal is hugely out of proportion at roughly three times the characters' height.

Maximillion Cortex and his henchmen would reappear in just one more episode, Leonardo da Vinci's Vault.

This is the only occasion on which one of the regulars' homes, aside from Warfield Academy itself, features in the show - here, it's Trevor's family estate.

The flask seen here as James, Phoebe and I.Q. trek through the desert is first seen in Shifting Sands, although on that occasion it was filled with the most powerful acid known to man. Let's hope they rinsed it out thoroughly.

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