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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #32
by John Bates

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Baron von Skarin, Spoiler.

Synopsis: An innocuous trip to a science museum with their teacher, Ian Watt, suddenly turns sour for James and his friends, after an elderly kilt-clad Scotsman arrives on the scene and thrusts an envelope into James's hands, telling him to give it to his teacher. The man is soon attacked by S.C.U.M. agents, led by Spoiler, who demands James give him the envelope. When he refuses, Spoiler uses a laser that forms part of an exhibit to wreak havoc, wrecking half the museum. During the struggle a vial drops out of the envelope, containing a chemical compound which combusts on the floor. Spoiler and his accomplices escape, having kidnapped the elderly Scot. Back at Warfield, the gang hears about the kidnap on the news: the man is Professor Angus Maclennan, a former colleague of Mr Watt's - they were working together on a chemical formula they called 'amoplex', a cold fusion fuel useful in green energy, but also very destructive.

Mr Watt explains that he and Maclennan had a falling out after the Professor was convinced someone was trying to steal the formula, and Watt thought he was paranoid. Watt now realises that's not the case - especially when Maclennan calls him from Inverness, saying he's been taken prisoner and brought back to his lab by the crooks. Maclennan warns Watt not to give anyone the formula - half of which he's scrawled in the envelope - but is cut off as Baron von Skarin grabs the phone away from him. The Baron explains that they've used Maclennan's call to trace Watt's location. Watt is already setting off for the first train to Scotland, desperate to help his friend; but Spoiler is patrolling the Warfield area on his motorbike, waiting to ambush him at a train station. James and the gang learn that Tracy and Trevor are accompanying Mr Milbanks to the Highlands that evening to see the Highland Games, and engineer an invitation as a means of getting to Scotland.

I.Q. is modifies some bagpipes he's 'borrowed' from Trevor with a few additional features for James's trip, and he, Gordo, Tracy, Trevor and Milbanks set off for Scotland, on the same train as Watt. There's soon trouble afoot when James searches the train and finds the conductor tied up in the cargo area. Meanwhile, Spoiler's gained access and is posing as the conductor - he knocks on Watt's cabin door and asks to see a ticket, before capturing him and attempting to hurl him out of the train window in a mail sack! But James and Gordo intervene just in time, allowing Watt to escape out of the train window. Spoiler dives out after him but ends up falling out the train. When they reach the Highlands, they're greeted by Bonnie who works at the lodge they're staying at. She mentions that Castle Selkirk, a local fortress, has a new owner, who's a baron...

In the castle, Baron von Skarin attempts to bribe Maclennan into helping him manufacture amoplex, but the professor isn't remotely interested - until von Skarin mentions that he's going after Watt, too. James fires a radio transmitter into the castle and his suspicions are confirmed: he overhears von Skarin threatening Spoiler over the phone, telling him he'd better bring Watt to him. The Baron's dog, Schnitzel, sniffs out the transmitter dart and runs outside to attack, but James neutralises him with a high-pitched blow on the bagpipes. Returning to the lodge, he learns that Watt has taken a bike out to Maclennan's lab to help him. Watt discovers the other half of the amoplex formula there, but is ambushed by Spoiler. James and Gordo arrive just in time, immobilising Spoiler with a chemical cloud. Watt, James and I.Q. escape on Bonnie's moped, and Spoiler follows - but soon drives straight into a ford and gets covered in mud.

Later, the whole party head to the Highland Games to watch the caber-tossing contest - but Spoiler and von Skarin are there too, in full highland dress. James and Gordo soon spot Schnitzel, and the Baron and Spoiler attempt to grab them. But the crooks end up escaping - having captured Mr Watt and bundled him into a helicopter! Back at Warfield, I.Q. has devised a special explosive to help James, and has sent Phoebe to meet the gang in Scotland to give him the formula. When she arrives, she, Gordo and James sneak into the grounds of the castle. James climbs over the wall and creeps down to the basement where the scientists are being held - it transpires that the Baron wants the amoplex formula so that he and S.C.U.M. can sell it to unsavoury clients who will use it for destructive ends. But James drops off a copy of I.Q.'s own formula with Watt and Maclennan, and they set to work creating it.

James escapes onto the balcony, leaping off it to what Spoiler and a goon unwisely assume will be his doom - but of course there's a parachute in the bagpipes. Spoiler reports back to von Skarin saying James is no more, while Watt and Maclennan use I.Q.'s explosive formula to humiliate the Baron during the demonstration to his clients, covering the potential customers in slimy residue. They then use the rest of the explosive to blast the bars from their cell window, and jump into a waiting hydrofoil, in which James drives them to safety. They've left the rest of the explosive on the bunsen burner, so that it blows a huge hole in the side of the castle; von Skarin, Spoiler and the dog only just leap to safety in time, and are forced to swim to shore, soaking wet. Back at the Games, Watt tells Milbanks he's leaving Warfield to begin researching with Angus again. To celebrate Watt's new career direction, Milbanks insists Trevor play a tune on his bagpipes - but Trevor is promptly soaked when the bagpipes spurt loch-water all over him.

Review: All in all this is a fairly silly affair, peppered with outdated Scottish stereotypes and even worse Scottish accents; and it's not helped by the fact that von Skarin, normally a (relatively) sinister villain, is reduced to mere caricature, particularly given the fairly weak premise of the plot. The chemical formula aspect is poorly devised and never properly explained: it's not clear what the amoplex formula was supposed to achieve if not to cause things to explode everywhere, which is exactly what I.Q.'s own formula does - so it's a mystery why the Baron and his clients seem so surprised and enraged by the development (maybe they should have stood a little further back.) While most episodes tend to start off relatively quietly and gradually build up the tension, Scottish Mist works the other way round, so that the most exciting scene is the attack at the science museum, and events gradually descend into nonsense from there on in, further hindered by a distinct lack of atmosphere that should have been easy to pull off in this episode. That said, there are a couple of redeeming features to be noted: Spoiler's presence helps bring the (relatively few) action sequences up a notch as ever, and the interplay between the two mildly endearing scientist characters isn't without its charms. So not exactly a series strongpoint, but watchable as ever.

Seeing four of the regulars (namely Milbanks, Trevor, von Skarin and Spoiler) dressed in full traditional Scots attire - kilts, hats and all - is a highlight, although it would have been more so if James and Gordo hadn't deemed it beneath themselves to join them. Meanwhile, Milbanks is in an exceptionally good mood throughout the episode, unusually, and is actually jovial at points - evidently the Highland Games bring out his better side.

Lows: There's a very slapstick, cartoonish feel to this episode (more so than usual); in particular the villains are drawn less carefully and seriously than in other episodes, and there's one particularly Tom & Jerry moment when von Skarin's pet hound Schnitzel reaches his paw up to pull a dungeon door shut.

Lines to Remember: Milbanks as the castle explodes behind him: 'What a marvellous fireworks display! And it wasn't even on the programme!'

Lines to Forget: I.Q. explains the rationale behind his latest gizmo: 'I borrowed Trevor's bagpipes because they wouldn't look out of place in Scotland!'

Gadgets & Gizmos: It almost goes without saying that I.Q.'s modified set of bagpipes can do everything from shooting darts and radio transmitters to launching parachutes and frightening animals. He's also taken to manufacturing explosives in his dorm room, which could get him a lengthy jail sentence if he's not careful.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: 
Uniformed S.C.U.M. agents are highly visible in this episode, and Spoiler's motorcycle is emblazoned with the organisation's logo - while a S.C.U.M.-marque helicopter is also in use.

Notes: Cold fusion technology has now been largely debunked as a credible possibility by the scientific establishment, but it also features in the later episode, Danger Train.

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