Friday, July 21, 2017

007 Blogathon - James Bond Jr.

International super-spy.  Crazy gadgets.  Intrigue and suspense.  Gratuitous sex and romance.  All the ingredients of a massively successful film franchise. For adults.  But how do you make it kid-friendly?  You turn James Bond into a high schooler, cut down on the violence, and turn the gadgetry up to eleven. 

Such is the formula for James Bond Jr., a 90s cartoon centered on younger versions of a number of 007 characters.  The show's main character, the titular hero and James Bond's nephew, fights the evil S.C.U.M. (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem) while going to the prestigious Warfield Academy with the grandchildren of many of Bond's colleagues.  Even though he's considered the new generation of super-spy, he's often pitted against his uncle's villains, including Jaws, Oddjob, Nick Nack, and Goldfinger, all working under the command of Scumlord, a criminal mastermind hidden in shadow throughout the whole show.

The show takes a number of steps to update the movies and bring in a younger audience, to varying degrees of success.  The gadgets, mostly invented by IQ, Q's grandson, are levels above Bond's, including a car that can turn into a plane and a watch with a built-in tracking device, hidden saw blade, and retractable grappling hook, among other things.  The car it turns out, is a gift directly from 007 himself, though it looked a lot different from the flying car in The Man with the Golden Gun, that's for sure.
The recurring villains from the movies have also been updated, though I wouldn't call it an improvement.  Jaws's lower face has been completely replaced with a mechanical mandible, and Oddjob's suit has been traded in for wraparound shades and a garish red and purple tracksuit, fitted with a giant gold necklace (the hat remains, at least).  For others that make appearances, they have their own kids, like Goldie Finger, Goldfinger's daughter.
Missing from the movies, of course, is all the deaths.  The romantic interests have also been toned down significantly, and while the two female leads have crushes on Jr, he doesn't reciprocate at all.  Numerous other females with punny names show up throughout the series as well, filling the role of "Bond Girls," but again, he doesn't show any interest.  It seems attending classes and thwarting SCUM is the only interest he has.
The villainous schemes are your typical cartoon fair - which fit perfectly in with 007's story.  Searching for El Dorado with seismic vibrations and melting giant gold statues with a laser, that kind of thing.  And it's no surprise that the similarities are this big, considering the show was made in collaboration with United Artists and Danjaq, the license holders of the movies.  The only big difference is how big a role the supporting cast has, usually taking part in the whole episode or, at the very least, coming to Jr's rescue.

Overall, it's a passable effort, introducing a new generation into one of the longest-running and most famous film series.  The animation's decent, the designs are ugly but fitting with the times (this is when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was going strong, after all), and the cast does a good job, though Corey Burton's English accent is pretty horrendous. My only real problem with it is the kid's name.  If James Bond is his uncle, how is he James Bond Jr?  We may never know.

This post was made as part of maddylovesherclassicfilms's 007 Blogathon.  Make sure to check out all the thrilling espionage and witty one-liners there.

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