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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #26
by Alan Templeton and Mary Crawford

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Baron von Skarin, Tiara Hotstones.

Synopsis: It's evening somewhere in Kent, and trouble's afoot at a secure facility, where jewel thief Tiara Hotstones steals a collection of gems from a safe deposit box. The guards attempt to stop her but she outwits them, escaping on a motorbike just as James and I.Q. pass by in the sports car, on their way back to Warfield. Noticing sirens wailing at the facility and the speed of the biker, James gives chase, but Tiara escapes. They head back to Warfield in time to see a performance by a flamenco dancing troupe. The star is Dulce Nada, whom I.Q. immediately falls in love with. Meanwhile, at a disused pottery in Pamplona, Baron von Skarin is busy blackmailing a British general via telescreen - he wants one billion pounds in gold bullion, or else he'll set his Siegfried supercomputer to blow up the nuclear facility at Sandhill, which will cut electrical power to half of England.

Von Skarin's assistant, Hilda, reminds him that they can't carry out the threat until they have the memory gems needed to override Sandhill's computers - but he explains that Tiara Hotstones has stolen them and will deliver them to Pamplona for them. At that moment, Tiara is headed into the theatre in Warfield where Dulce was performing. It's the after-show party, and Phoebe rescues Dulce from an awkward conversion with Trevor to introduce her to James and a lovestruck I.Q., but I.Q. messes up by inadvertently pouring a whole bowlful of punch over Dulce and then wrecking the buffet. Trevor has a good cackle, but I.Q. runs out in embarrassment. Milbanks apologises to Dulce, but she's unconcerned and goes to change. We learn that the head of the dancing troupe, Miss Lahoya, is actually Tiara Hotstones in disguise - and she's woven the gems she's stolen into Dulce's dress!

Back at Warfield, I.Q. is distraught over the humiliation of having drenched Dulce in punch, but James manages to cheer him up by encouraging him to showcase his latest gizmos. Dulce wants to call in to see him before they leave, but 'Miss Lahoya' - aka Tiara - tells her they have no time. Later, James hears on the news about the gems that were stolen: they are memory gems, which can store unprecedented amounts of data. The gang's concerned about I.Q, who's still suffering over Dulce. Aware that the troupe is heading to Pamplona to dance at the Festival of the Bulls, the Warfield crew decide to follow in the name of true love! To get out of Warfield, I.Q. lies to Milbanks, claiming he's going to his grandfather's latest book launch - an untruth that's reinforced when James uses a voice synthesiser to feign Major Boothroyd's tones over the telephone.

The gang borrow the Warfield van for their journey and travel via hovercraft to Spain, where they soon catch up with Tiara's van. But Baron von Skarin and his henchwoman Hilda are also chasing the van in a chopper: he wants to double-cross Tiara and use a huge magnet to pick up her van and tale the memory gems without paying her for them. But James leaps onto the magnet himself, destabilising the chopper, before attaching it to a passing truck and sending the helicopter hurtling into the distance. The Warfielders move on to Pamplona, where the bulls are being prepared for the annual festival. They head to the cafe where Dulce is performing, and immediately spot the Baron and Tiara in heavy negotiations. Tiara wants double the price for the gems after von Skarin's stunt on the road - but he's unwilling to play ball and decides to take the gems by force, incarcerating Tiara behind a rotating wall and kidnapping Dulce.

James gives chase, following the Baron's car over the rooftops - he manages to jump onto the top of the car and hangs on, despite the Baron's men shooting lasers through the roof. Though they try to shake him off with some reckless driving, James manages to slip a hand through the window and attach I.Q.'s homing device to Dulce's dress. The Baron escapes but James returns to the cafe, where he explains to I.Q. and Tiara that they can track von Skarin. For some reason, the pair release Tiara, before using the tracking device in I.Q.'s fishing case to pick up the signal. At the Baron's pottery base, Hilda and the other scientists fit the memory gems into von Skarin's Siegfried supercomputer: this allows them to remotely sieze control of the nuclear plant at Sandhill. Contacting the army general, the Baron demands double his earlier price within an hour - or England will suffer a massive blackout.

Warfield Academy is evacuated on news of the takeover, with Trevor pushing straight to the front of the bus queue. Back in Pamplona, James and I.Q. trace the Baron to his hideout, with Tiara following stealthily behind. I.Q. storms in, determined to rescue Dulce, and is captured - but James escapes on a moped, chased by the Baron's men. He's soon chased by a herd of bulls as well, as he inadvertently becomes embroiled in the running of the bulls - which Phoebe, Gordo and Tracy are watching. He runs out of petrol, but runs by foot, luring one of the bulls into the pottery where it causes havoc, destroying all of the ceramics and scaring away the Baron and his servants.

Using I.Q.'s fishing rod invention, James winches himself, Dulce and I.Q. to the ceiling at the last moment, causing the bull to run straight into the Siegfried computer and destroy it - 0:07 seconds before it destroys Sandhill. I.Q. then leads the bull outside, and gets a cuddle from Dulce, while Tiara tries to retrieve the memory gems - but James takes them instead, reminding her they're the property of the British government. She leaves unimpeded. Back at Warfield, the gang is chastised by Coach Mitchell. Major Boothroyd, it seems, has turned up for a visit and is waiting in I.Q.'s room for an explanation as to why he lied about the book launch. James quips that with grace for good behaviour they could be out in ten years.

Review: While there's no end of poor dialogue and even poorer European accents in this episode, the really dubious element is the plot. The whole premise of the episode, indeed, is flawed: why does Tiara Hotstones go to the effort of setting up an entire dancing troupe simply in order to get the memory gems to von Skarin? If they can get through border security on Dulce's dress, why not on Tiara's? Or is dance instruction just an incidental hobby? Nevertheless the episode is a relatively enjoyable, with a good number of chase sequences and some interesting character development thanks to I.Q. (see 'Highs') and also the debut of Tiara, a jewel thief whose character is treated as morally ambiguous. Clearly she's indirectly culpable for the nuclear meltdown but patently despises the Baron (whom she denounces as a 'double-crossing, lowlife backstabber'), and also seems to have found favour with James (see 'S.C.U.M. on the Surface'), whom she's apparently encountered before. While the Spanish setting is perhaps not used as well as it might have been - the 'bull in a china shop' motif is crowbarred into proceedings in a manner that's crude and downright predictable - the Flamenco device does add a further layer of intrigue. All in all more of a character piece than an action-based episode, which will be welcome for some, and disappointing for others.

I.Q.'s infatuation with Dulce is a new and interesting departure, leading to an unusually poignant example of the obligatory gadget explanation scene, during which James attempts to cheer him up. James's impersonation of Desmond Llewelyn's Q from the Bond films is also an amusing moment.

The accent and dialect of Baron von Skarin, his henchwoman Hilda and his ridiculous talking computer are excruciatingly caricatured throughout in a manner that borders on offensive. 

Lines to Forget: Baron von Skarin to his assistant: 'There's nothing to fret about Hilda, my little strudel.'

Von Skarin, to a stooge, in the midst of his takeover of Sandhill: 'Fix some popcorn, would you? I always like to munch when I'm watching a good show.'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
A fishing rod with a high-speed power winch and a line made of high-tensile mono-filament is I.Q.'s gadget of the day - you could haul in a submarine with it if you had to. It comes with an array of false bait; one is magnetised, one harbours a microphone and - needless to say - one is a homing device.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface:
The only mention of S.C.U.M. here is in relation to Tiara, when it's far from clear she's actually a member at all. Von Skarin refers to her as 'S.C.U.M. agent Tiara Hotstones', but this episode and others appear to treat her more as a freelance. If she were really a member of S.C.U.M., why would I.Q. free her from the cafe, and why would James later allow her to leave unchallenged from the crime scene?

Transatlantic Translation: The English accent of the newscaster reporting the theft of the memory gems is shown up to be an impersonation when he pronounces 'data' like an American, rather than to rhyme with 'waiter' as a real English person would say it.

VHS Vault: Dance of the Toreadors featured on a three-episode VHS release for the UK, alongside A Worm in the Apple and No Such Loch. The episode also received a standalone release in the US.

Comic Capers:
The fifth edition of the Marvel Comics series was adapted more or less line-for-line from this episode, albeit in a slightly abridged form. In the comic though, Milbanks is absent, the memory gems become 'memory crystals', and Dulce looks completely different. Tiara also ups the ante in her friendship with James, shouting a warning to him as the Baron's men approach and bidding him an even friendlier goodbye than in the TV episode. This is perhaps to set her up for an even more sympathetic role in the original comic Sure as Eggs is Eggs.

Tiara Hotstones makes her first of three appearances in the show here.

We learn in this episode that Mr Milbanks' first name is Bradford.

This is not the only occasion on which Baron von Skarin attempts to cause an electrical blackout: see also Sherlock I.Q. and Northern Lights.

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