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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #31
by Jeffrey Scott

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

Synopsis: On a dark, snowy night in Moscow, Commander Yougetov, the man in charge of the latest Russian rocket launch, is accosted and gassed by two mystery assailants. The masked figures carry the space chief away from his car to where two bigger crooks are waiting; namely, Doctor Derange and the Chameleon. Using his unique face-morphing powers, the Chameleon replicates the space chief's likeness, voicing his intention to use his new appearance to gain access to the space station's top secret laser guidance codes; Derange cackles with approval. Back in England, meanwhile, James, Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe and Coach Mitchell are all packed and ready for their flight to Moscow, with whom Warfield is participating in a student exchange programme.

As they leave, the Russian students arrive, and Gordo warns them to 'steer clear of a jerk named Trevor Noseworthy IV'. Trevor subsequently introduces himself, and the foreigners take Gordo's advice and ignore him, leaving him suspicious of their intentions. Back in Russia, the Chameleon, disguised as the space chief, watches the previous inhabitants of the space station return to Earth. When they arrive, he is very quick to request the laser codes, leading other officials to suspect something is afoot. Believing he may try to sell the codes, two undercover policemen follow the Chameleon and observe as he makes his rendezvous with Derange, who properly introduces their two masked assistants, Max and Jo.

The Chameleon changes his face back to 'normal' to greet them and, as they discuss their plan to use the powerful laser on the space station to cut open the steel walls of the Russian treasury and steal its contents, the two policemen confront them. They are quickly overpowered and gassed by the crooks and left in the snow, as the Chameleon changes his face back to that of the space chief.
At the Russian academy, James and his friends are introduced to their counterparts, including Boris Gregorovich and Nadia Glasov, today's lukewarm love interest, whose father is one of the cosmonauts about to blast into space. As the gang make friends, an electronic umbrella in James's bag begins to bleep and Boris is shocked to see James plug it into a nearby TV set and speak live to the umbrella's inventor, I.Q., who is back at Warfield.

I.Q. is suffering from being the only one left with Trevor, who airs his suspicions about the Russians' intentions. He borrows I.Q.'s video camera to catch them in the act. In Moscow, James, Nadia and the others go to the Space Center to watch the launch and say goodbye to Nadia's father, but Nadia is concerned when Commander Yougetov doesn't respond when she says hello to him. Suspicious, James suggests that they follow him into the launch site. The Chameleon attempts to cover his tracks when he realises who Nadia is but, as the rocket prepares to blast off, the Chameleon reveals his true colours and holds the pair at gunpoint. After a struggle, the Chameleon ties James and Nadia with chains directly underneath the rocket in the hope that they'll be burned to a crisp when the spacecraft launches.

Luckily, he hasn't reckoned on I.Q.'s super-sensitive gloves, which allow him to crack the padlock combination and escape just in time. While Boris, Phoebe and Tracy rush off to tell the authorities that the Chameleon is up to no good, James, Gordo and Nadia head off to stop him in his tracks, remaining in constant contact with I.Q. via the umbrella. Elsewhere, Trevor is busy spying on the Russian exchange students, whom he hears talking about having been lucky to get their cases through customs; he begins to speculate wildly about what they might contain. Having caught them on film he goes off in search of Mr Milbanks to inform him of what he's seen. Milbanks is sceptical, but when Trevor mentions that they could be concealing weapons he decides, against his better judgement, that he ought to investigate.

On the space station, Nadia's father enters the laser guidance code; however, it has been swapped for a different one by Derange and the Chameleon, who promptly use the new codes to seize control of the laser from their mobile radar van, sending the spacecraft spinning back towards the Earth, since, the closer it is to the planet's surface, the more powerful the laser will be. James and friends are in a car searching for the Chameleon, and I.Q. tells them that they can use the umbrella to find the crooks by panning it over the horizon so that I.Q. can detect the strongest signal with his computer back at home. Time is running out; Derange has already eliminated the military presence at the edge of the treasury by destroying their equipment with the laser.

Spotting James, they turn the laser on his car, chasing it up and down so that it almost penetrates the gas tank at the rear. They're forced to abandon the car as it explodes, and the threesome run towards the treasury gate where they bang on the door until the officials inside let them in. There they discover a chest full of diamonds, which appears to be what the crooks are after. James contacts I.Q. via the umbrella and asks him to crack the laser guidance codes and get him control of the laser by linking up to the Russians' computer. Boris, Phoebe, Tracy and the police speed towards the treasury too, and are attacked by the laser, but the crooks then decide to concentrate on breaking through the steel roof. Finally creating a hole, the four S.C.U.M. agents jump down, but are overpowered by James and the others.

The Chameleon gets a fire extinguisher squirted in his face by James and is captured - much to Derange's joy, who then attempts to steal the gems all for himself. However, at the last moment, I.Q. regains control of the laser and instructs the cosmonauts to send one last burst to the treasury roof, thus sealing over the hole and trapping the S.C.U.M. agents inside. There are celebrations all round back at the Moscow academy, but at Warfield, Milbanks and Trevor burst into the exchange students' quarters with security guards. The large cases are soon revealed to contain not weapons, but musical instruments, and Milbanks furiously chastises Trevor as he's forced to dance with one of the Russians! Needless to say, James and friends watch the whole sorry affair with much amusement via umbrella link.

Review: Of Doctor Derange's many outings in James Bond Jr., Red Star One has to be one of our all-time favourites. And, in addition, we are treated to the second of three appearances of the Chameleon, a much-underused villain in the Bond Jr saga. The two complement each other perfectly; the Chameleon is menacing enough and Derange is barmy enough for their ambitious plan to very nearly succeed to the extent that we almost wish they had. (I.Q.'s gadgets are far too effective in the episode; the umbrella seems to be capable of doing just about anything, allowing I.Q. to control a satellite in space and track laser guidance signals from the other side of the world. With that sort of power the villains have no chance.) The Russian exhange students story was an interesting development considering the emphasis on the Cold War in many of the Bond films; although the students are completely benign, viewers are tricked into mistrusting them thanks to Trevor's adventures in the B-plot. It highlights the tension and mistrust that still plagued east/west relations to an extent even at the time James Bond Jr first aired - personified here not only by Trevor but by Milbanks who, in a position of authority and supposed enlightenment, still veers towards a deep mistrust of his Russian counterparts. Come to think of it, why does the Russian government need a satellite with a deadly laser attachment anyway? Is there something we should be told? Perhaps they're not portrayed as innocuously as it at first seems. Nevertheless, they must have been doing something right because, in quite a rare moment for the show, both principal villains were caught and (presumably) jailed at the end of the episode, rather than the usual cop-out about them having inexplicably escaped. Not that it prevents either character from returning later on in the series, but at least it leaves a more satisfying aftertaste than usual, and, more importantly, provides Derange with the opportunity to shriek 'Noooooo!' in his appalling faux French accent. This episode was a shining example of Derange, and James Bond Jr, at their very best.

The opening in particular is very atmospheric and works well as a scene-setter, particularly thanks to the sinister Chameleon. And it almost goes without saying that Doctor Derange is fantastic as usual.

Derange's pair of bunglers Max and Jo, while notable for being women, are otherwise two of the least interesting henchpeople in the entire series - although it is highly amusing when one of them trips, lands on her head and is bashed on the behind by Nadia with I.Q.'s umbrella. Yet another use for it...

Lines to Remember:
Derange celebrates as he notices that he, and the diamonds, are on the same side of the cage as the hole in the roof: 'Looks like for once, I'm on the right side of the bars!'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
As we have seen, I.Q.'s electronic umbrella can be used to achieve pretty much anything short of world domination - while his super-sensitive gloves have 'vibrational amplifiers' in the fingertips and are perfect for cracking safe and padlock combinations.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: 
James notes that 'the Chameleon and S.C.U.M. are up to their old tricks', although arguably this presents some ambiguity as to whether or not the Chameleon is a member. (Indeed, in his next appearance, The Art of Evil, his plan centres around becoming one.)

Loco Parenthesis: 'Take good care of them, Mr Mitchell,' says Milbanks as he bids farewell to the coach and his pupils. But Coach Mitchell is entirely absent from the rest of the episode, leaving the gang to battle international terrorists on their own. Indeed, he's not even present for the introductions at Moscow Academy, so it's far from clear he even travelled to Russia! 

Blunders & Bloopers: When Trevor films the Russians talking on the camcorder, it is a male student who is speaking. But when we see the footage he recorded later on, the same voice is overlaid on images of a female student talking!

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

Even if I.Q. is a genius, surely it would take longer than that to crack what ought to be such a heavily-encrypted set of codes? Especially when he doesn't know Russian...

This episode is notable for the fact that (albeit unseen) people apparently die - while James's friends escape the laser beam in their police vehicle, one of the other police cars is blown to smithereens before anyone has the chance to evacuate it. No mention of this is made in dialogue, however.

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