THREE GUYS AND… 007
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“JAMES BOND JR. EPISODE #1 – THE BEGINNING”
written by Dominick Cappello
Can James Bond 007 work as an animated character? Tone down the violence, remove the sex, emphasize the gadgets and colorful villains and you’ve done so successfully. The chase is on as the pilot episode opens. An Aston Martin DB5 avoids laser blasts and rockets while the titular James Bond Jr. makes quips, so it’s familiar territory. Everything you would expect from the James Bond film series, especially the late Sean Connery / early Roger Moore era when gadgets did most of the heavy work. Also, the title song was pretty catchy. But, I’m sure that Dr. Frisbee will find it annoying.
James Bond Jr. attends Warfield Academy, which doesn’t appear to be a spy school per se, but several students are related to people close to James Bond. Horace Boothroyd III (IQ) is the grandson of Major Boothroyd (Q). He too has a knack for building weapon laden wristwatches. Gordon Leiter is the son of Felix Leiter, James Bond’s usually CIA liaison. When did he have a son? Before or after he was mangled in “Licence to Kill” (1989)? Is this supposed to take place years after James Bond’s cinematic adventures? Since it’s a kid friendly cartoon, I probably shouldn’t nitpick too much, just sit back and enjoy. James Bond Jr.’s love interest is the daughter of the headmaster of the academy. Her name is Tracy. Yikes, I hope that doesn’t mean she’ll end up like Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969).
The antagonists are SCUM (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem), the Saturday morning version of SPECTRE. Is the main villain codenamed Scumlord really Ernst Stavro Blofeld? We may never know. He has a pet pit-bull instead of fluffy white kitty cat, so it’s up for debate. Guess who else he has by his side? It’s Jaws! Richard Kiel’s character from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) and “Moonraker” (1979). The Aston Martin malfunctions during the climax. James Bond Jr. being betrayed by his own technology. It’s nice not knowing how the hero will win the day despite of Dr. Frisbee’s inevitable objections. Bond and Tracy jump from a crashing airplane having to share the same parachute. Only one parachute just like “Quantum of Solace” (2008) minus all that darn shaky cam. Jaws falls without a parachute, but he is inexplicably uninjured just like the pre-title sequence from “Moonraker” (1979).
The Aston Martin is destroyed in the plane crash, but James Bond Jr. receives a gift, a new set of wheels from his Uncle James. I’m no automotive expert, but I’ll guess that it’s an Aston Martin V8 convertible. A new car for a new hero and new series of adventures. The names Bond, James Bond Jr.
– Dr. Jelly
James Bond 007 is an alcoholic, womanizing, cold-blooded killer. So, sure, turn him into a Saturday Morning Cartoon. That’s totally not inappropriate. Am I laying on the sarcasm thick enough? I certainly hope so. Okay, this series isn’t really about James Bond, it’s about his nephew. So, why is he James Bond Jr. if it’s his nephew? Even more disconcerting is that this might be Jimmy Bond, Woody Allen’s character from “Casino Royale” (1967). And why does he dress like Jack Slater from “Last Action Hero” (1993)? Everything about this irks me. I am irked. Oh, and Dr. Jelly is right. I don’t enjoy the title song. It’s cheap.
Speaking of cheap, the main villainous organization is called SCUM. SCUM? Really? Shouldn’t that be the name of Captain Planet’s villains? Most of James Bond Jr. sidekicks are related to his uncle’s sidekicks. Isn’t that cute? Referencing films that the target audience for this cartoon would be too young to have ever seen? Jaws pops up in this episode. The character was mute in the films save for one line. In this show, he’s a talkative yet typical simple-minded cartoon henchman. Actually, other than being verbose, he’s not that different than the character in the movies. James Bond Jr. is confined to the school grounds, then he makes inquiries about the security system, so he must be planning to sneak out for an adventure because he our rebellious cocksure protagonist? Nope. He just leaves. He’s seen at the post office. So, why reference the security system if it’s not a major plot point?
Jaws steals the Aston Martin DB5, proving that James Bond Jr., just like his uncle, is useless sans his gadgets, but some little twerp called IQ has a remote control that will bail him out of trouble. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if our hero needed be resourceful and find a way to resolve the situation without the use of any gadgets? Jaws hotwires the Aston Martin. What the hell!? This vehicle was souped-up by MI6, but it can easily be hotwired? Worst spies ever.
A hallmark of early 1990s animation is continuity gaffs. James Bond Jr. is tied up, but after he escapes from the trunk of his car, the ropes magically vanish from one frame to the next. Oh, it is finally explained how Mini-James Bond snuck out of his dorm. He used a ladder. Wow. Isn’t that clever? Hell, the new 007 isn’t even as shrewd as Ferris Bueller. I’ve heard that Auric Goldfinger appears in a later episode. Blasphemy. How dare you sully the good name of Goldfinger?
– Dr. Frisbee
Why does Dr. Frisbee always have to throw shade? I have fond memories of this series because it was my introduction to the character of James Bond 007. I was a bit too young for “Licence to Kill” (1989) and there was a long gap before “GoldenEye” (1995), so this was all my generation had to enjoy vis-à-vis the super suave secret agent. James Bond Jr. rarely scowls, so I don’t think much inspiration was taken from Timothy Dalton, who as still the James Bond of record in 1991 even though he wouldn’t play the character again, being officially replaced by Pierce Brosnan in 1994.
If you thought the Lotus Esprit S1 from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) which turned aquatic was far-fetched, then you’ll never believe the Aston Martin DB5 in this episode which becomes airborne. But, now that I think about it, Christopher Lee had a car that sprouted wings in “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974). In a nice bit of continuity, the Aston Martin has the same bullet proof shield from “Goldfinger” (1964) and “Thunderball” (1965). Jaws appears in this episode. Richard Kiel’s popular character from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) and “Moonraker” (1979). I recall that he and James Bond buried the hatchet, but evidently, the steel-toothed big man couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow and returned to a life of crime. Sad.
The mysterious villain Scumlord, who I’ll just pretend is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, plans to set off an EMP in England, wiping out financial records and destroying the economy. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was Sean Bean’s evil scheme in “GoldenEye” (1995). And this was four years earlier. That’s crazy. I couldn’t believe my ears. There is also a remote control for the Aston Martin. In “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997), Pierce Brosnan drove his Aston Martin with a remote control cellular telephone. Wow. The Pierce Brosnan era films borrowed a lot from this series. I’m sure there are some James Bond fanatics who feel this cartoon, its action figures, and spinoff comic books neutered author Ian Fleming’s creation, but I don’t mind. James Bond 007 as a character can be a bit and fun for all ages.
– Dr. Rochester