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James Bond Jr Online


Episode #37
by David Wise

Featuring: James, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe, Trevor, Coach Mitchell, Dr No, Odd Job.

Synopsis: South Dakota, USA - home to Mitchell Petroleum, an oil company owned by Coach Mitchell's brother, Harry, who has invited the Coach and his Warfield pupils to stay on his ranch for a field trip. But there's trouble afoot as Harry is pursued through the desert in his jeep by some nasty-looking assailants whose vehicles are equipped with lasers. When they fail to capture Harry, a helicopter appears - piloted by Odd Job. Fellow crook and turncoat Mr Roper lassoes Harry (his boss) and pulls him aboard. Later, when Coach Mitchell, James and the other pupils arrive at the ranch, it's Roper who greets them. He tells them that Harry has had to go away on urgent business, and that he'll look after them while they're here. Coach Mitchell is instantly suspicious, telling James it's unlike Harry to go away on such short notice. Ropershows the gang to their quarters, where I.Q. demonstrates his latest inventions to James.

Later, James explores the ranch to see if he can find any clues about Harry's whereabouts. He enters Harry's house through an open window, despite being warned off by Roper. In Harry's bedroom, he finds stacks of papers hidden in a cavity under the floorboards. Meanwhile, in an underground lair, Roper reports to Odd Job and Doctor No, telling them he noticed James snooping around. No is furious, and orders Roper to do away with James. Roper's reluctant, saying he's 'just a kid', but No insists. Back at the ranch, James and his friends meet Sage Brushfire, a girl who works as a rigger for the company. The gang each take their turn on the bucking bronco machine - Gordo does well but Trevor is thrown off instantly. Before James takes his turn, Roper arrives and adjusts the bolts on the machine, before sending it into overdrive. Sage warns James just in time and he jumps aside, as the machine flies off its stand and hits the roof. Sage chastises Roper for letting the machine get out of control, but James suspects there's more to the 'accident' than meets the eye.

James has passed the papers he found at Harry's house to Coach Mitchell - they're anonymous letters threatening Harry with dire consequences if he doesn't sell Mitchell Petroleum. While the Coach, James and Sage head off to investigate Harry's disappearance, I.Q., Tracy, Gordo, Phoebe and Trevor head off to visit Mount Rushmore. But their plans are soon cut short when they're accosted by a group of native Americans in full tribal gear. The gang panic and run away, but the tribe catches up with them and tells them they're taking them to their reservation. Meanwhile, Sage tells Mitchell and James that she's convinced there's something odd going on - Harry wasn't called away on business and some of the riggers, especially Roper, have been acting strangely. They follow some of the workers by car out into the desert, where James spots Odd Job from a distance as part of their group. They follow the group to the opening of an abandoned silver mine, which conceals a high-security entrance to No's lair.

At this point Trevor turns up, having split off from the rest of the group during the flight from the natives. He claims the others have been captured - but Sage insists the Dakota tribe wouldn't hurt anyone, and takes them all to the reservation to clear things up. Tracy, I.Q. and the others are there, having a great time with their new hosts. The tribal leader, Charging Buffalo (aka Michael), explains that they were wearing their war paint in protest about the reopening of the silver mine, which passes through one of their ancient burial grounds - they were worried their relics were being stolen. The gang head off to resume their investigation. I.Q. manages to crack the electronic lock on the door to No's lair and James and Sage head down by lift into the mine shaft. Meanwhile Gordo and Phoebe head to Mount Rushmore - but are surprised to see a bright red light moving across George Washington!

After walking through the Dakotas' burial chamber, James and Sage are pursued by a wayward minecar and are forced to jump into it to avoid being crushed. It takes them along a rollercoaster ride that ends in Doctor No's control room, where Odd Job and the treacherous riggers point lasers at them and take them to the mastermind himself. No reveals that he was the one who wanted to buy Harry's business - not for the oil, but for a super-rare crystal called dialantium, of which the mine they're in, on Harry's land, is the only known source. Dialantium is 100 times harder than pure diamond, making it the ideal focusing crystal for his heat wave generator. The generator, he brags, can melt solid rock and crumble entire cities within minutes. They're finally introduced to Harry, who's now No's prisoner and slave - and a section of the control room begins to rise up to the desert surface so No can test his invention - on Mount Rushmore!

Climbing on the Mount itself, Gordo and Phoebe realise that the red light is coming from a laser guidance system, which is being aimed at the monument by No's rigger goons from the ridge opposite. Realising an attack is planned, they scramble to safety, as No connects his machine to the laser and prepares to turn Mount Rushmore into molten glass. First, however, he orders Odd Job to through James and Harry into the canyon. James uses the hypno-ray on I.Q.'s hat to temporarily paralyse Odd Job just in time, and steals his flying hat, sending it careering into No's diabolical machine. The generator explodes, and a furious No chases James with a portable version of the device. Coach Mitchell and Harry are reunited, and head to the reservation with the rest of the gang to enlist Charging Buffalo's help. James, meanwhile, leads No and his lackeys towards an ancient ghost town for a final wild west showdown (complete with tumbleweed).
No fires his portable heat generator at James, but James uses I.Q.'s reflective belt buckle to send the ray back at the Doctor, shorting out his cybernetic arm/claw. Fuming, No orders his goons to attack, but Charging Buffalo and his tribe arrive just in time, their battle cry sending No's henchmen running for the hills. The turncoat riggers are captured, but Doctor No escapes by helicopter.

Review: Like most of the Doctor No stories in the series, Far Out West is for the most part very watchable, with a reasonably solid plot that just about comes off. The No/Odd Job partnership is suitably sinister and highly effective (it would be used again in Garden of Evil), even if No's motivations (aside from his being evil epitomised) aren't immediately clear. The South Dakota/Mount Rushmore backdrop is an interesting one, and the involvement of Coach Mitchell's brother ups the stakes somewhat, though the character himself is entirely underused. Unfortunately, we're not given much of an insight into Roper's and the other riggers' motivations for betraying Harry Mitchell - presumably they're in it for the money, or he's simply a git of a boss. Roper himself plays an unusually large part in proceedings for a one-off villain: his hesitance and protestation before agreeing to make an attempt on James's life bring a modicum of depth to a mysterious character whose own aims aren't ever elucidated. Sage is also an intriguing and understated character, bringing both charm and intelligence to the guest girl role that's so often lacking in both. One minor moan is that the episode ends incredibly quickly after the battle with the villains is done; and rather than a Trevor-led epilogue back at base to round things off, attentive viewers can actually see young Noseworthy waving and cheering in the background as the crooks are beaten, in a rare and unrealistic display of support for James. But Trevor's on top form throughout the rest of the episode, successfully displaying pride, prejudice and downright cowardice to his usual high standards.

Highs: The denouement at the ghost town is packed with more Western clichés than James has had one-liners - but somehow it works rather well.

Roper's 'clandestine' assassination attempt on James somewhat lacks deniability - given that he adjusts the machine's bolts in plain view of everyone and then wrestles the levers from the bartender to send the ride bucking out of control. 

Lines to Remember:
James, on I.Q.'s detachable mirror belt buckles: 'In case I have to comb on the range?'

James on the bucking bronco: 'Reminds me of a washing machine I once knew!'

Lines to Forget: James to Sage, with what must be the century's worst chat-up line: 'I had no idea oil workers could be so lovely!'

Gadgets & Gizmos:
I.Q.'s customised cowboy hat has a 'hypno-ray' attachment, which can render anyone senseless for five minutes. He also brings along a special rope - press the button and the electromagnetic fibres woven into it cause the rope to become magnetised. Finally, a pair of belts each have a detachable belt buckle with a reflective backing, so James and I.Q. can communicate from a distance in morse code using light signals.

S.C.U.M. on the Surface: The organisation is not mentioned specifically.

Notes: Coach Mitchell's first name, Buddy, is used here for the first and only time in the TV episodes.

Despite being featured fairly heavily in this episode, Tracy doesn't manage to get a single spoken line. In fact Gordo's cryptic and apparently unprompted comment: 'you wanted Indians, Tracy? You got 'em!' may refer back to earlier lines that were cut, perhaps due to the absence of Tracy's voice artist.

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