Site hosted by Build your free website today!

James Bond Jr Online


Episode #21
by Jeffrey Scott

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

Synopsis: One evening somewhere in the French countryside, world-renowned British racing driver Miles Prower gets some practice in before the imminent 24-hour Le Mans race. But when his teammates are bound and gagged by two unsavoury villains called Torque and Lug, Prower is lured straight into a trap. The crooks steal the team's lorry and drive it in front of Prower's car, causing him to drive into the back of it - before locking him inside and hurtling away. Coincidentally, it's a Warfield Academy tradition to attend the Le Mans race, but only five pupils in the whole school can go. Trevor engineers his own place by writing his name on the label of Milbanks' bowler hat before offering to draw the lots himself. The other lucky pupils are James, I.Q., Gordo and Phoebe - Tracy begs to be allowed to go too, but to no avail.

Together with Coach Mitchell, the gang travels to France in the Warfield van - and Trevor sets about collecting autographs of all the famous racing car drivers, but isn't having much success. But trouble's afoot when James quickly spots a young lady sobbing in the pit stop area. It's Miles Prower's daughter, Heather, who's upset that her father hasn't shown up, and is afraid something awful has happened to him. At the next garage along, James notices two grease monkeys arguing - it's Torque and Lug, the men who kidnapped Prower. Soon, Doctor Derange appears, demanding to know whether his car's ready - it's Prower's vehicle! Derange plans to enter the race in it, but they can't figure out why. So James decides he'll pretend to be Prower and enter the race himself in the team's spare car. Coach Mitchell reluctantly agrees.

The race begins and Derange spots James in the line-up. He goes over his plan over the radio with his henchmen: Derange aims to steal liquid plutonium from a nuclear reactor site near the race track. He'll then convene with Torque and Lug at a disused vineyard, where they'll bottle the plutonium and smuggle it out of France so that Derange can create his own nuclear reactor. As James pursues him, Derange tries to force him off the road with an oil slick, tyre-shredders and a smokescreen - which finally sends James's car plunging off a cliff. Luckily I.Q. has installed retractable rings in James's car - but they snap off mid-fall, and he's forced to land on some telephone cables, followed by the back of a passing cart.

Meanwhile, Derange makes his way to the nuclear plant while James returns to the pit stop for repairs. They notice Torque and Lug leaving for the rendezvous point in the lorry, and James and Heather decide to follow them. Derange arrives at the plant, pretending to crash and feigning unconsciouness in order to use sleeping gas on the guards. Blasting through the door, he then gasses everyone inside too, before pumping the liquid plutonium directly into his fuel tank! James and Heather tail the goons to an old winery, meanwhile. They find Heather's father tied and gagged in the basement, and release him. Prower explains about the nuclear plant where Derange is headed, but they're interrupted by Torque and Lug who hold them at gunpoint.

The three are put into a wine press by the crooks and left to be pulverised. But James bursts them out using the inflatable airbag I.Q. has sewn into his racing suit, then floats outside to where the crooks are and throws grapes at them. They shoot him down, deflating the suit, but drop the gun and Heather grabs it. They imprison the goons in the back of the truck and head to the nuclear facility to confront Derange. But when they get there Derange makes a break for it, and the doors seal behind him. The plutonium is reaching a critical state, meaning the tubes it's housed in are about to blow. Unable to turn the reactor off, James calls I.Q., who instructs him to retract the control rods - which averts the crisis. But they're not out of the woods yet: before leaving, Derange has filled the tank of their lorry with the plutonium - if it reaches a certain temperature, it will explode.

The gang set off in the truck, rejoining the race. Prower is convinced the truck won't go over 80 miles per hour, but the liquid plutonium in the fuel tank means they're soon doing over 200! They catch up with Derange, and he tries to fire missiles at them but misses, and they trap him, driving directly over his racing car. Convinced the truck is about to blow, Derange shrieks - but the finish line approaches as James wins the race in the truck. Derange somehow escapes from under the truck, but leaves the car and the rest of the liquid plutonium so he can't complete his scheme. Trevor approaches Miles Prower, whom he presumes to be the winner, and asks for his autograph. But when he's told James has won the race, he's forced to endure an autograph from his arch-enemy instead!

Review: The tortuous chain of logic which leads from Dr Derange's (barely explained) requirement for liquid plutonium to his subsequent theft of a racing car and entry into the Le Mans competition appears to have become hopelessly severed somewhere between the initial glint in the scriptwriter's eye and the final cut - there appears to be no remotely credible reasoning for his actions (unless we are to assume that the nuclear facility is only accessible from the racetrack, which would in itself make no sense whatsoever). On the contrary, there appear to be at least two very good reasons for him not to enter the race: firstly, the fact that Prower's car has miraculously reappeared following his kidnap would almost certainly put everybody on alert; secondly, the presumably extensive video coverage of the race would identify the perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt. Evidently these fairly glaring plotholes were not deemed large enough to address, although it must be said that they don't prohibitively distract from an otherwise very enjoyable episode which is successful largely because of the sustained action sequences. While characterisation is scant throughout as a result, Dr Derange is the exception: he plays a blinder, and more than meets his usual standards of insanity.

Highs: The extent of Dr Derange's bare-faced cheek in this episode is highlighted by the fact that he enters the race under the team name of 'Derange Racing'. Very inconspicuous.

Lows: Derange's rather offputting habit of summarising the progress of his crimes for (understandably confused) viewers by talking to himself goes a bit too far in this story, as he helpfully provides something tantamount to a complete director's commentary - and we're still none the wiser as a result.

Lines to Remember: 
Derange, to his grease monkeys, after seeing James: 'We've got an unexpected entry in the race! Did you load my car with the optional extras?' Lug: 'Sure did, boss. Infrared missiles, tyre shredders, AM/FM stereo...'

Derange to James: 'If you're not willing to quit the road race, I'll have to eliminate you from the human race!'

Lines to Forget: James, as the wine press descends on him, Heather and Prower: 'I believe we've got a very pressing engagement.'

Gadgets & Gizmos: I.Q. modifies the spare racing car to include an auxiliary jet for enhanced speed, and retractable wings; but Derange's car takes the cake, with an oil slick function, missiles and tyre-shredders. There's also an airbag sewn into James's racing suit.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: There's no specific mention of the organisation in this episode. 

Loco Parenthesis: 'You're definitely going to be voted Most Likely to Succeed, James,' quips Coach Mitchell, glibly, 'if you live to graduate.' Well, if he does live to graduate, it will be no thanks to Mitchell, that's for sure. 

VHS Vault: A Race Against Disaster featured on a three-episode VHS release for the UK, alongside The Beginning and Red Star One - as well as on a standalone release in the US. 

Sticker Story: Retitled 'A Crushing Victory', this episode was among those adapted for use in the Merlin sticker album.

This is only Derange's second appearance in the show, and his first without Skullcap as accomplice. Both villains would appear in the following episode, however.

All text content © James Bond Jr Online 2009. If you would like to use any of the text from this site please ask permission first. This is an unofficial fan website and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the owners, creators or distributors of James Bond Jr.