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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #33
by Jeffrey Scott

Featuring: James, I.Q., Phoebe, Trevor, Coach Mitchell, the Chameleon, Dr Derange, Dr No, Jaws, Odd Job

Synopsis: James, I.Q., Phoebe and Trevor are on a class trip to Paris, touring the art galleries and museums of the city with Coach Mitchell. But at one venue they're introduced to Rodin's bronze masterpiece The Thinker, which looks oddly familiar. A strange man arrives who expresses his interest in the statue, before it suddenly springs to life before their eyes! The newcomer hands the statue figure a laser, and he begins to destroy the building with it, knocking over priceless exhibits in the process. The 'statue' seemingly brings down an archway, almost crushing James, then disappears during the confusion, along with his strange accomplice. The 'collapsed' archway now appears intact. James and the others are interviewed by police and Mimi Chaussé, an agent for the museum's insurance firm, but can offer no rational explanation for what's happened other than possible 'mass hypnosis'.

In a nearby warehouse, the strange man - criminal conjurer Lex Illusion - and the 'statue' - the Chameleon in disguise, complete with a new 'illusion suit' woven by Lex to allow him to change his clothes as well as his face - discuss their plan to rob Paris of all its famous works of art using a series of illusions. They've already managed to steal The Thinker by having the Chameleon disguise himself as the statue while Lex's henchmen, Hocus and Pocus, stole the real article. The Chameleon's ultimate aim is to impress Scumlord, whom he hopes will make him a full member of S.C.U.M. Later, at another gallery, the gang are shocked as flames burst from the pictures. But they notice that the sprinklers aren't turning on, and James realises the flames aren't real - rather, they're another illusion, designed to allow Hocus and Pocus to steal a load of paintings! Soon the Chameleon arrives with Lex Illusion. James deflects the Chameleon's laser blasts, causing the sprinklers to turn on and making the Chameleon's face warp.

As revenge for his intervention, the Chameleon takes James's form, steals a painting in view of the police, and bundles the real James out to the crooks' truck where the henchmen are loading up the stolen artwork. A fight ensues during which it's difficult to tell which James is the real one. As they leave, the Chameleon returns to his normal form, pushing the real James out of the truck and into the custody of the police, who are now convinced he is one of the thieves! James is promptly arrested and put in a police cell; he tries to tell the inspector about the Chameleon, but his story is dismissed as too outlandish. But the insurance investigator, Mimi, suspects James may be telling the truth, and agrees to help when I.Q. comes up with a plan to break him free - while Trevor is gleeful at the prospect of telephoning Mr Milbanks to tell him James has been arrested.

Meanwhile, James has accurately predicted the Chameleon's next move - he and his associates soon turn up at the Louvre in hope of stealing Paris's most famous work of art, the Mona Lisa. The Chameleon takes the appearance of one of the security guards in order to gain access for their truck, locking the real guard in the back of the lorry. Back at the station, I.Q. hands Mimi a cake to deliver to James in his cell - but the icing is an explosive! He uses it to blast the bars from his cell window and escape - Coach Mitchell, Phoebe and I.Q. are waiting in the sports car outside the window. The police give chase, and Trevor determines to help them catch James! At the Louvre, the museum visitors are horrified when what appear to be waterfalls begin to burst from all the paintings. It's simply another trick by Lex Illusion, however; and in the confusion he and the Chameleon head for the room where the Mona Lisa is kept.

The Chameleon smashes the painting's case and grabs the Mona Lisa, just as James arrives to stop him - but James is overwhelmed when another painting appears to spring alive. It's Lex Illusion, who thrusts another work of art into James's hands just as the crooks escape and the police run in, but James thrusts the painting into their hands and heads off to chase the crooks. Mimi's with them and is now convinced James was behind the previous thefts after all. The police inspector and Mimi move into another room just as the Chameleon comes to a dead end with the Mona Lisa. He takes the painting out of its frame and then alters his appearance to look like the woman from the painting - before sitting in a corner and poking his head through the frame! Needless to say the police fall for it, and move on to continue their search.

However, Mimi spots James running into the room just as they're leaving, and runs back in, holding him at gunpoint. He tries to convince her of his innocence but she doesn't believe him - until the 'Mona Lisa' comes alive and grabs the gun from her hand! The Chameleon regroups with Lex and his goons, and the four of them take James and Mimi prisoner. They take the lift down to the lowest floor before disabling it, and tying James and Mimi up. The Chameleon throws a bomb down which he hopes will finish off James and blow a hole in the floor, so the crooks can escape on an underground train. Luckily, James manages to push a nearby sculpture over, blocking the explosion and saving them, but there's a huge hole in the floor - and the two almost fall in the path of an oncoming train.

James uses the threaded dart attachment in his watch to cause the signal box to short-circuit, stopping the train in its tracks. But there's more trouble to come when a handcar approaches. Riding it are four familiar faces: Doctor No and Doctor Derange, with Odd Job and Jaws operating it. James and Mimi run down the tracks to escape them, but the S.C.U.M. agents turn out to be nothing more than another illusion courtesy of Lex. James and Mimi run down the passage to the nearest metro station, where James sends Mimi to tell the police the truth about what's been happening. He then hitches a ride in another train to pursue the crooks, who have taken control of the first vehicle that James stopped, in order to escape the Louvre. Enlisting the driver's help, James leaps from the roof of one train to the next.

In one of the carriages he comes across Hocus and Pocus with a stash of stolen paintings, but manages to render them both unconscious with a duck and a well-aimed punch. He confronts the Chameleon in the front of the train, and manages to grab his laser gun in the struggle. Lex Illusion turns up, disguised as a vampire to scare James, but James is now wise to his tricks and sees through the ruse. Lex retaliates by throwing James from the carriage - but he clings on for dear life. As the police catch up with the train, James clambers back aboard, using a fire extinguisher to warp the Chameleon's face. The train grinds to a halt and the crook is taken away by the police, just as Trevor turns up on his bicycle. He grabs James to turn him into the police, but is flabbergasted as the inspector simply apologises for the mix-up and thanks James for all his help.

Review: This is a very unusual installment in many respects, most importantly because for a good deal of the episode it's the protagonist, James, who is suspected to be the villain of the piece, as opposed to the real culprit, the Chameleon. It's amazing that the face-shifting crook hasn't attempted to steal Bond's identity in either of his previous appearances in the series. But although seeing James fighting to assert his innocence is a fairly unique occurrence in the series, it isn't done especially well; James may not have been responsible for the thefts, but he thinks nothing of jostling police officers, blowing up jail cells and mounting audacious escapes to prove it, which can hardly be doing wonders for his reputation. That said, vigilantism has always been a necessary element of the show - if James called the police every time he ran into S.C.U.M. and let them deal with it, it wouldn't make for much of a story. James is also portrayed as (relatively) violent in this episode - at one stage he even rolls back his sleeve and punches one of Lex's henchmen square in the face. Speaking of Lex, he's an interesting partner-in-crime for the Chameleon: while his admittedly limited scope prevents him from being reused in future episodes, he makes for quite a menacing one-off adversary. That said, his take on the now fairly tired bungling henchman duo format leaves much to be desired - while most of his so-called illusions seem difficult to explain rationally (not that the script even tries). Finally, it's worth pointing out that the excesses of Trevor's character are taken a tad too far here, as he actively attempts to get James arrested.

The opening to this episode is the televisual equivalent of the start of a good page-turner, clocking up gallons of action and intrigue within the first sixty seconds. The Derange & Co handcar cameo is also a highlight - although it would have been better if it was real.

The Parisian detective questioning James appears to think S.C.U.M. is a product of his imagination. Evidently he wasn't working the day the organisation blew the top off the Eiffel Tower...

Lines to Forget: Lex Illusion, having loaded up a metro carriage full of priceless works of art: 'This is going to be our gravy train!'

Gadgets & Gizmos: The watch's latest addition fires a cord that makes shorting out metro trains a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, I.Q. (rather irresponsibly) creates one with highly explosive icing.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface:
Sort of. The Chameleon, it's explicitly revealed here, is not yet a full fledged member of S.C.U.M. - but he's convinced that Scumlord will make him one
if he pulls off his art heist. (Why Scumlord has thus far refused to allow a villain with such a useful ability into his organisation, while admitting the likes of, say, Skullcap, is anyone's guess - but interestingly, this is only one of two episodes, the other being Dutch Treat, in which Scumlord is namedropped without appearing.) The narrative is contradicted somewhat, though, when elsewhere in the episode, James appears already to think that the Chameleon is part of S.C.U.M. - while Lex Illusion appears to rule out his own membership by taking umbrage at James' suggestion that S.C.U.M. was responsible for the illusions, saying it was actually him. 

Loco Parenthesis: Hay may not directly have condoned James blowing a hole in the side of a police station in order to stop S.C.U.M. looting the Louvre - but why, as his guardian, did Coach Mitchell think it appropriate to be seen driving the getaway car?

This is the second episode to be set in Paris, following the events of The Eiffel Missile. When he was arrested, couldn't James have called up Monsieur Beaucoup for a reference?

Presumably, Lex Illusion and his two cronies are still on board the train and are captured by the police at the end - but they're neither seen nor mentioned in the final scene.

The theme of art also features prominently in the very next episode, The Heartbreak Caper.

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