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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #34
by Marc Scott Zicree

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Mr Milbanks, Coach Mitchell, Ms Fortune, Snuffer.

Synopsis: During a Warfield trip to Rome, Mr Milbanks takes James and Tracy to see the Colosseum - but the three are witness to an attempted mugging of a lady, Alison, by a masked assailant. The crook steals her purse before running into the Colosseum. James follows, but the crook attacks him first with a bulldozer, then with a sword. James manages to retrieve the purse before exposing the villain as none other than Snuffer. But at that point the ceiling caves in and James is buried in a pile of old skulls. Snuffer escapes, but leaves behind a book of matches from the 'La Rotunda' restaurant. James returns the purse to Alison but she seems more interested in Milbanks, whom she thanks with a kiss on the lips and takes away for a 'full check-up'. Tracy and James meanwhile wonder why Snuffer is resorting to stealing purses.

Later, Coach Mitchell is presiding over a painting class at a museum. Trevor is attempting an abstract, postmodern take on the Mona Lisa, but the others are less than impressed with his efforts. Soon the museum's curator, Violet Hughes, arrives - she's an ex-pupil of Warfield Academy turned art historian, who has recently discovered a lost mural by the famous artist Benito da Cinzi, which is due to be transferred to a security vault. Milbanks is taking the class to see it before it goes, but he soon turns up and tells her he's busy with another matter he can't talk about. Since he's acting very oddly, James and Tracy follow him outside to a phone booth, where they overhear him on the phone arranging to meet someone in secret that evening - at 'La Rotunda'. Concerned he may have got entangled with Snuffer and S.C.U.M., they decide to follow.

When they get to the restaurant they're soon rolling around with laughter as they discover Milbanks is only meeting Alison, the lady whose purse was stolen, for dinner. He appears to be besotted with her, and has bought her flowers and chocolates as a token of his affections. She's thanks him for a wonderful evening, and bids him goodnight. But the moment he departs she reveals her true identity - it's Ms Fortune! Snuffer arrives, and we learn that the purse-snatching attempt was simply a bid to get Milbanks' attention so he'd lead her to the da Cinzi painting. But as a horrified James and Tracy retrieve I.Q.'s bug device with the remote control, Ms Fortune discovers it - and they hop in a taxi to escape. The driver introduces herself as Bella Spumone, and they drive off.

Desperate to prevent them from returning to Milbanks to alert him, Ms Fortune hijacks and pursues in an ice-cream truck - which is handily equipped with a hose allowing them to squirt ice-cream all over the road, causing the taxi to skid out of control. They end up driving through a hole a wall James makes with his rocket watch and into the hand of a huge Roman statue - where they're squirted with ice-cream and captured by Ms Fortune and Snuffer. They're taken to a factory where Snuffer ties them up and prepares to boil them alive at the end of a steam pipe. He starts the machine and leaves with Ms Fortune to rendezvous with Mr Milbanks, where Snuffer disguises himself as an accordion player. Dressed as Alison, Ms Fortune emotionally blackmails Milbanks into telling her about da Cinzi's secret mural, and he agrees to let her come along and see it.

Meanwhile, at the museum, I.Q. modifies a contemporary art piece to transmit a call to a corresponding device on James's belt - but he's too tied up to answer. I.Q. tries tracing James's location but the signal fails as they're joined by Milbanks and 'Alison'; they're ready to go and see the mural. 'Alison' persuades them not to wait for James and Tracy, and the gang heads off to da Cinzi's workshop. I.Q. stays behind to find a way to help James, and gives Phoebe an inflatable doll of himself to carry around, pretending it's him, so Milbanks doesn't notice his absence. At the factory, James cuts the ropes using the saw on his watch, but can't blast his way out of the room - and the generator's about to explode. He ties some material to the end of the pipe, causing it to blow up, balloon-fashion, then uses I.Q.'s bola pen wired into the generator to pull a roof vent out of place. Grabbing onto the gas-filled 'balloon', he, Tracy and Bella manage to escape by flying out of the roof with it.

They bring the makeshift balloon down at the museum, where I.Q. informs them Milbanks and the others are heading to see the da Cinzi mural. I.Q. realises that the reason his directional antenna failed was because Ms Fortune came in the room, and they deduce she must have been wearing a homing device so Snuffer could follow her. They resolve to try and trace her device with the antenna, and grab a taxi - it's driven by Bella's twin sister, Bellissima! On the bus, Trevor notices that Phoebe and 'I.Q.' are 'awfully close', and suspects they've struck up a romance - much to Phoebe's annoyance. When they arrive at da Cinzi's workshop they're greeted by Violet Hughes; she explains that the mural has been packed up early to be transported to the vault, as a nearby volcano seems set to erupt and they need to protect the painting. Although they can't see the mural, they can look at the inventions in the workshop.

At that moment a huge metal claw bursts through the roof, belonging to a crane driven by Snuffer! Revealing her true identity, Ms Fortune leaps on the mural crate as the claw lifts it out of the roof. Mitchell and Gordo try to stop her but are deterred by laser fire, which bursts the inflatable I.Q., much to Trevor's horror! The claw comes down for a second grab, this time snatching a bewildered Mr Milbanks as a hostage! He's still horrified that his lady friend has betrayed him, and is still attempting to reason with her as he's lifted into the air. The taxi pulls up just in time, and James bursts the crane's tyre with his rocket watch. But Ms Fortune has a helicopter on standby, and the crooks pull Milbanks and the mural into it. James takes a pedal-powered ultralight from the workshop - one of da Cinzi's inventions - and takes to the sky in pursuit; Ms Fortune fires lasers at him, but Milbanks grabs her weapon and is rewarded by being pushed out of the chopper! James climbs down in an attempt to rescue him.

Just as the volcano erupts, James uses his watch to blast off one of the chopper's legs, and ties his feet to it with the bola pen, allowing him and Milbanks to fall to the ground and ski across the lava field to safety. Ms Fortune and Snuffer escape with the painting, but when the crooks open the crate they find it's not the da Cinzi - but one of Trevor's abstract attempts! Milbanks soon reveals that when he learned the painting had to be moved early he asked Violet to swap them temporarily so that 'Alison' would get a chance to see it. Then when they were uncrated at the vault, Violet could switch them back without anyone realising they had changed hands. Milbanks thanks James for saving his life, after which, to Tracy's horror, Bella and her twin sister grab James by each arm and take him away, clearly having fallen for his charms!

Review: A highly unusual and enjoyable episode, The Heartbreak Caper differs significantly from the norm in several respects. Firstly, much of the plot centres around the romantic endeavours of Mr Milbanks, a character hitherto portrayed as a mild antagonist figure whose character is only properly expanded upon here for the first time. Secondly, a major S.C.U.M. villain disguises herself as a friendly character; although this also happens in Dance of the Toreadors with Tiara Hotstones, it's far more pronounced here as Ms Fortune actually meets, travels with and even romances the regulars. Indeed, romance is heavily alluded to in other parts of the episode - James's wandering off with the twin taxi drivers at the end is more than a little suggestive, and both Tracy and Phoebe are even more vocally envious/worried for James than usual. Meanwhile, Trevor's comment that Phoebe and I.Q. appear to be getting close (though Phoebe's actually sitting next to the inflatable doll!) hints at a plotline that's only alluded to on one other occasion - in the comic story Friends Like These. Happily there's no love interest for Trevor, but the twist at the end involving his mural is a surprising and amusing one - even if it isn't very well explained. All in all, despite a marked over-egging of Italian stereotypes, this is a gem of an episode that delivers on plot but doesn't take itself too seriously.

Highs: Ms Fortune's valiant struggle to remain as sweet as pie despite all her instincts is hilarious to watch.

Considering that art is one of the primary themes of this instalment, the artwork of the episode itself is especially lax at times; in one scene, the size of James' torso is vastly out of proportion with his head, and see also Blunders & Bloopers below.

Lines to Remember: 'Alison', to a departing Milbanks: 'Adieu, adieu. Parting is such... a relief!'

Bella the taxi driver: 'What's your name?' James: 'The name is Bond. James - ' Tracy: 'It's James Bond Jr, now step on it!'

Phoebe, on a particularly horrid piece of modern art: 'I don't know; it just doesn't speak to me.' I.Q.: 'But if I can adapt it into a directional antenna, it might just speak to James.'

Lines to Forget: 'Alison', again to a departing Milbanks: 'Arrivederci, my wonderful, wonderful... chump!'

Gadgets & Gizmos: See 'Lines to Remember' above. Also, there's the rocket/buzzsaw watch, a remote-controlled listening bug on wheels that looks (tenuously) like an insect, and a receiver built into a belt buckle that allows James to listen to whatever the bug picks up. A bola pen is also provided; and bizarrely, I.Q.'s also created a life-sized, blow-up doll of himself - which Phoebe spends most of the day carting round pretending it's I.Q.!

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: James explicitly mentions S.C.U.M. as Snuffer's employer, which almost certainly puts Ms Fortune in the same bracket. 

Loco Parenthesis: Is taken to new and unusual lows today, as the headmaster starts dating a senior member of S.C.U.M.!

Transatlantic Translation: Despite their both being British characters, 'Alison' - or Ms Fortune - refers to the box of chocolate Milbanks presents to her as 'candy'.

Blunders & Bloopers: In the scene in which Ms Fortune dupes Milbanks into telling her about the mural, James (or an identical twin) can be seen fairly clearly walking across the street in the background - but he's still tied up at the factory. 

In one scene, Trevor begins speaking a good three seconds before his lips start to move.

Notes: To give credit to the continuity department, Milbanks' first name, Bradford, is mentioned in this episode - and thankfully it's the same name attributed to him in Dance of the Toreadors.

The gang would return to Italy two episodes later in Leonardo da Vinci's Vault, and become embroiled in a plot involving the real-life artist on whom Benito da Cinzi is presumably based.

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