Sunday, 7 October 2012

James Bond Jr: 007 On The Small Screen!

At the end of the 1980s, Timothy Dalton was James Bond. After playing 007 in two adventures- The Living Daylights (1987) and License To Kill (1989)- the Bond films came to yet another hiatus due to legal battles (something that has cursed the franchise throughout its 50 year history). This hiatus would last for seven years with it ending with Pierce Brosnan's first appearance as Bond in Goldeneye (1995). During this time, when the cinema had no 007 adventure, the small screen tried to give the younger fans something new!

James Bond Jr. arrived on television in 1991 and vanished just as quick as it arrived; this animated series only lasted for one season with sixty-five episodes before it faded quickly away! The storyline sees James Bond Jr., the nephew of the famous international spy, who is determined to follow in the footsteps of his famous uncle and so enrols in Warfield, a prep school based on the grounds of an old counter intelligence training base in the UK. Along with his schoolmates IQ (grandson of Q) and Gordo Leiter (son of CIA agent Felix), James Jr. fights against SCUM (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem), an international cartel of terrorists and mad scientists. 

The series revolved around the nephew of James Bond. In the books, James Bond was an only child and no other surviving relatives are mentioned in Fleming’s novels, even though he unknowingly conceives a child with former Japanese movie star Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice. This son makes an appearance in a later short story by Raymond Benson titled ‘Blast From The Past’. The name ‘James Bond Junior’ was first used in 1967 for an unsuccessful spinoff novel entitled The Adventures Of James Bond Junior 003½ written by R. D. Mascott. Although not considered part of the continuity of the James Bond novels and films, nonetheless some characters from both franchises appeared on this series, such as Dr. No and Jaws. The animated series having only lasted for one season still managed to spawn six episode novelisations by John Peel, writing as John Vincent, a 12-issue comic book series by Marvel Comics, a toy range and a video game for the SNES! 

As with the Bond films, the characters can be split into separate groups. The heroes featured were James Bond Jr. (007’s nephew), Horace ‘I.Q.’ Boothroyd III (scientific genius, gadgets-man and grandson of Q), Tracy Milbanks (the headmaster’s daughter; bossy and quick-tempered but also in love with James), Gordon ‘Gordo’ Leiter (the ‘strong fist’, tanned, blonde athletic and son of Felix Leiter) and Phoebe Farragut (Tracy’s best friend and with a crush on James, very much the Moneypenny of the group).

There were numerous villains in the series, most working for SCUM, who made recurring appearances throughout the episodes. Many characters-although named after characters in the movies- looked nothing like them; for example, Dr. No looks more like Ming The Merciless from Flash Gordon with green skin and long hair. Other Bond villains seen in the show are Nick Nack, Auric Goldfinger (who appeared with his daughter Goldie), Oddjob and Jaws who was turned into a dim-witted villain who could talk, complete with ridiculous clothing. The main villain, however, was known as Scumlord- often relaying commands to other SCUM villains via telescreen. He was never seen outside the shadows and had a pet dog named Scuzzball.

Even though Bond Jr. is a teenager, there’s still a lot of Bond girls in the episodes, all with suitably punning names such as Lotta Dinaro (an archaeologist’s daughter who was kidnapped by Goldfinger), Shelley Kaysing (a US army lieutenant under threat of assassination), Marcie Beaucoup (a French spy who encounters Bond on a hovercraft), Terri Firma (the daughter of a seismologist), Hayley Comet (a Warfield student whose father is kidnapped by SCUM agents dressed as aliens from outer space) and Wendy Day (a weather forecaster).

If all this info has made you cringe, no fear, the show flopped and you can’t get the show on DVD as of yet!  But if it has made you want to see it, you don’t need to visit various car boot sales looking for it on VHS – the show is on YouTube, for example here's a link to the first episode.

Happy viewing


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