The Series Project: James Bond (Part 6)

 

Well, my fellow agents, this is it. We've finally rounded the last corner, and are going to be covering the last of the James Bond films in this week's installment of The Series Project. I'm going to kind of miss this. The James Bond films occupy such a large part of the film world's consciousness, and have stretched over such a vast period of film's history, that I'm going to miss the exploration. However, thanks to the franchise mentality, and the proven durability of the character, I think we'll be looking forward to James Bond films for decades in the future. The actors may change, and there may be a few severe tonal changes, but the charming, sexy British spy will live on.

But before we shed our tears and throw our laurels into the ring, we have two more canonical films to discuss, and, just for good measure, two non-canonical films as well.

And, with the two most recent James Bond films (as of this writing, Skyfall has not yet been released), we're going to encounter the first honest-to-goodness restart in the franchise. Each new actor has, of course, brought their own idiosyncratic spin to the character, but we've still gotten the sense that James Bond is an undying and unaging superspy with an enormously long career; it's been the same James Bond throughout. When Daniel Craig enters the picture, however, all that will change. I'm not sure if the change is entirely appropriate for James Bond, whose stock in trade has always been his flip casualness, but let's see what happens when he's made a bit more of a thug.

One of the films is actually quite good. The other, not so much. Time to don our undersea suits one last time, and punch our way into the grizzled exterior of a thuggish James Bond.

 

Casino Royale (dir. Martin Campbell, 2006)

Bond: Daniel Craig

Gadgets: A tracker in a cell phone, a 1964 Aston Martin, a mobile self-applied defibrillator

The Babe: Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green

The Bad Guy: Le Chiffre, played by Mads Mikkelsen

Location(s): Prague, Uruguay, Madagascar, Nassau, Miami, Montenegro, Venice

Theme Song: “You Know My Name,” sung by Chris Cornell

Bond Directly Kills: A guy he drowns in a sink and then shoots. Another high-powered bloke in an office. A guy he shoots in the head in Madagascar. James strangles a Ugandan. Le Chiffre's stooge. A guy stalking Vesper. A guy he electrocutes. Le Chiffre, with a nailgun.

WTF Moments: The title sequence has no women in it, which is a first. There's a parkour sequence. A guy throws an empty gun at James, which he catches and throws back. James Bond actually has to contest with airport security for the first time since the World Trade Center incident. Daniel Craig has an awesome body that the filmmakers flaunt in exploitative beefcake shots. There's a chase through that slightly unsettling Bodyworlds exhibit with the plasticinated corpses. James has his bare testicles repeatedly beaten. This is the second film wherein James Bond actually says, “I love you.”

Even though I've now seen all the films, I still have yet to read any of Ian Fleming's original James Bond novels. This is an oversight I do intend to correct someday. According to the fans of the books, though, James Bond is a decidedly different character. He is not a foppish dandy, who merrily beds women, and smirks his way through stressful situations. No, in the books, James Bond is more of a job-minded thug who is known more for his tendency to “accidentally” kill people than he is to chase skirts. He is more of a hammer than a scalpel. Sure, he gets the job done, and he's capable of turning on the charm, but he doesn't make stupid quips to himself. He doesn't use farfetched gadgets to track bad guys. All of the fun stuff is from the movies. All of the tough stuff is from the books.

So I can see why the filmmakers would want to turns James Bond from his previous 20-film reputation as a dandy into his current incarnation as a brutal bully. Which is what happens in Casino Royale. James Bond, now played by Craig, is a thick-bodied, hard-fisted machine. He still rocks tuxedos, but seems more eager to get to the action and to start a fistfight. And not because he enjoys it, but because, well, he's clearly got some violence issues. It's a good thing he has a license to kill; otherwise he'd be in prison, forming his own gangs, and starting his own mini-mob. I'm not sure if I like this approach. I know it's more faithful to the source, but we've just spent 44 years and 20 films establishing other facets of the character, and turning him into something else. I suppose Timothy Dalton's Bond was also kind of dark (evidently Fleming and Desmond Llewellyn thought Dalton was the best Bond, as he was closest to the books to date), but, well, as someone who has sat through seven Roger Moore films, I expect a little bit of levity from the character.

What's more, Casino Royale is an earnest attempt to sort of “reboot” the James Bond franchise, starting the character from scratch in the present day. It's 2006, but James Bond is, in this version of things, only now starting his career at MI-6. He has no history with any of the characters, and, as such, has abandoned a lot of the other clichés the series has become known for. He doesn't visit Q's lab. He doesn't talk about his car, his favorite drink, or his Walther PPK. I kind of (but only kind of) object to reboots like this. It assumes we know nothing of the character (even though, with James Bond, everyone does), or it simply retools familiar elements into a new formula that doesn't feel like the real thing (which also assumes we forgot about the original). A reboot would have worked, had the filmmakers not chosen to cast Judi Dench as M again. It's the same M, who worked with James Bond back when he was Pierce Brosnan. Sadly, it strains credibility to have a previous M dealing with a new Bond.

This is the post-9/11 world, mind you, and, as I pointed out in my coverage of the Pierce Brosnan films, people may no longer be in the mood for strained Cold War spy antics when terrorists are lurking around, and the U.S. has exploded into paranoia. As a result, spy work is dirty, gritty and painful. For the second time in two films, James Bond is tortured. In this one, he is tied naked to a chair and his testicles are repeatedly whipped with a heavy rope. For serious. CBT, yo. Look it up. Well, if you're prepared for what you find.

None of this is to say that Casino Royale is a bad film. Indeed, it's really rather good. It doesn't feel like any of the other Bond films, but it's still really, really well made, and I can say for certain that it is the best-written of all the James Bond movies. In terms of dialogue, structure and story, Casino Royale is amazingly solid. And, even though he's brutish, Daniel Craig is still great to watch, and is most assuredly the sexiest James Bond. The other Bonds were plenty sexy, and were surely charming, but Craig is the first one that, well, you can picture naked and doing the nasty. He has an animal appeal that could seduce just about anyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality. There are not one, but two shots of Craig in tight swim trunks emerging from the ocean.

The pace of Casino Royale is slowed a bit, and indeed, it's the longest of all the James Bond films at 144 minutes, which is 2 minutes longer than On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The slowed pace, though, actually adds to the film's texture, and small pieces of cute, banter-y dialogue. As a result, James, despite his broody adolescent nature, appears to live in a more adult world. There is no Cold War politicking, or petty billionaires trying to kill millions. There is just a thoughtful and mature look at spy work. Indeed, James is no longer the playful grownup trying to wrangle naughty boys with nuclear missiles. James is now the adolescent in a room full of impatient grownups.

The story follows James as he is instated into MI-6 for the first time, and is asked to track down a bad guy named Le Chiffre, who has been paying off Ugandan revolutionaries, running weapons, and paying for all of it with poker winnings. Le Chiffre is a suave and scary Eurotrash type with a scar over his eye, and who occasionally cries tears of blood. Yeep. James is enlisted partly as a test of his new mettle, and partly because he's a really good poker player. After a few opening chases (including a zeitgeist-stabbing parkour sequence), the film settles down into an extended high-stakes poker game. If Bond can beat Le Chiffre, then Le Chiffre will not have the money to pay his Ugandan charges, and he'll be SOL. Along for the ride is a foxy, foxy, foxy agent named Vesper Lynd (played by Eva Green, easily one of the hotter Bond girls), who is posing as his girlfriend, as well as a worldly Italian named Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) who may be up to something.

The chases are well shot, but it's the poker game that really stands out in the film (in the original book, it was baccarat, but whatever). It lasts days, and, in between games, James finds himself fighting Ugandan bad guys, and using his in-car defibrillator to stave off poison. This part of the film is so impeccably structured, you actually know where each of the characters is, what they're up to, and how the other players are playing against them. It's more exciting than any chase. James loses all his money at one point, and has to get additional funds from CIA man Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), James' acerbic American counterpart, whom we haven't seen since Licence to Kill. Felix seems way more on the ball and way more interesting in this film than he has in any of the previous films. He'll be back.

The third act of the film is essentially a sappy romance, wherein James reveals that he's fallen for Vesper Lynd, and, for the second time in the series, actually says the phrase “I love you.” Odd that this new extra-though version of Bond should also be the most emotionally forthcoming. Vesper also falls in love with James, and they intend to use whatever poker winnings they can keep to stay on permanent vacation. Of course, the idyll cannot last, and Vesper ends handing off the poker winnings to Le Chiffre for an unseen boyfriend who was, evidently, being held hostage this whole time. Vesper ends up dying in Venice, Italy, in a building that sinks into a canal. The film spent so much time establishing James and Vesper's Lubitsch-like compatibility that this is actually kind of tragic.

Martin Campbell directed this film, and he also made GoldenEye, which, you may remember from last week, I declared one of the best of the Bonds. This film is also impeccably made, and declares that maybe Campbell should do more of them. His next film was to be the little-seen Mel Gibson vehicle Edge of Darkness. Then he made the sloppy Green Lantern. Come back to Bond, Martin. We miss you.

Oh yeah. And before you get mad at me for giving away the ending of Casino Royale, know that it plays directly into the events of the following film. That's right. For the first time in Bond history, we're going to have a direct sequel…


 

Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster, 2008)

Bond: Daniel Craig

Gadgets: Some really nifty MI-6 computers. A cell phone that can ID faces.

The Babe: Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko

The Bad Guy: Dominic Green, played by Mathieu Amalric

Location(s): Siena Italy, Port au Prince Haiti, Bolivia, Russia

Theme Song: “Another Way to Die,” sung by Jack White and Alicia Keys

Bond Directly Kills: A guy in a car. A guy on some scaffolding. A random guy in Haiti. Two dirty Bolivian cops. Two Bolivian army guys. Three or four guards.

WTF Moments: It's a sequel, and the action picks up in medias res. James Bond flat out steals a motorcycle. And a car. The locations are all marked by subtitles in, curiously, different fonts. A hot redhead is drowned in oil. The famous gun barrel sequence doesn't appear until the end of the film. This is the second film to use the word “sh*t.” For no reason, there's a rape near the end of the film. But don't worry. We didn't know her.

You know how I just went on and one about how impressively structured and paced Casino Royale was? Yeah, just the opposite here. The story is kind of dumb, the stakes are low, the pace is sloppy and haphazard, and the adult world banter is gone. Indeed, Quantum of Solace is the shortest of all the James Bond films, at only 106 minutes. As a result, it feels rushed, and even kind of compulsory. It has some of the usual chases and escapes and yet another Eurotrash villain eager to cause mischief, but it all feels flat. The entire film is so blah. This is one of the worse James Bond films. Not that it's wholly incompetent, but it is just sort of dull.

What's more, so much of the plot hinges on events from Casino Royale that it doesn't even necessarily stand on its own as an action film. This is the first time in the franchise that we've had any sort of direct inter-film continuity, and it's poorly done. The entire film feels like Casino Royale spending an extra hour-and-a-half petering out. Let's hope that this November's Skyfall bothers to start a new story. Also that it brings back Q. I miss that guy. Oh wait, a look at the CraveOnline Film Channel reveals that Ben Whishaw will be playing Q. That's pretty cool.

So, yeah, James is chasing down a mysterious fellow named Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) who was involved in Vesper's death. Mr. White gives MI-6 the slip, and James follows his connections to an equally mysterious fellow named Dominic Greene (Amalric), who has been doing business with a deposed Bolivian despot. His plan is to reinstate the despot in exchange for a worthless piece of Bolivian land. Of course, he intends to buy it, and then dam up all the subterranean water under his own land, giving him a monopoly on the country's water rights, which he can get rich off of.

Is it me, or is this the dumbest plan we've seen from these movies yet? Sure, it's unethical, but… water rights? No revenge. No evil. No death by the millions. Just water rights. And reinstating a despot in a country that neither England nor the U.S. has any direct political interest in. That's it. This is such small potatoes. Okay, it's a little evil: Some people may die of thirst. Yes. That sucks. But James has murdered more people than the bad guy will make die of thirst. It's like violently tackling someone to the ground to make sure they don't jaywalk.

There's a woman involved, played by Olga Kurylenko, who wants to kill the Bolivian despot for a past slight on her family. She's an olive-skinned beauty, Camille, but seems kind of waifish and is not necessarily a very good actress (which is, to be fair, in keeping with the tradition of Bond girls). Much more interesting than Camille is a spunky MI6 agent named Fields (Gemma Arterton) who meets James in Bolivia, and ends up sleeping with him. Fields seems to banter well, and has more character, and is even prettier than the main Bond girl. She does die in the film, sadly (her death is a homage to the famous death in Goldfinger), but until then, seems like a worthy mate for James. She doesn't say it in the film, but the credits list her name as being Strawberry Fields. Even though the Craig films are trying to strike a gritty tone, I suspect the writers are trying to creep inexorably back to the Bond we know.

What else? Oh yeah. There's constant mention of a super-secret organization that Greene belongs to, which is made up of discontented billionaires, who would do the world harm. They do finally, near the end of the film, give us the name of this organization as Quantum, but, well, it was clearly intended to be SPECTRE. Again: Writers trying to creep back to the Bond we know.

I have so little to say about Quantum of Solace (and what does that title even mean?). It's such a nondescript action film. I'd put it right down at the bottom of the Bond canon. The only thing I can think of when I hear the title is a pair of very funny proposed theme songs by British songwriting comedians Adam & Joe. Adam Buxton wrote this song:


Joe Cornish wrote this one:


 

And that brings us to the present. 22 James Bond movies in all. They will never die. They will live on in our hearts, and actors will continue to rotate through the role ad infinitum. Maybe someday we'll have a black James Bond. Or an Asian. Or a woman. Yeah, she'll be named James. Why not? The franchise is, as of this year, 50 years old. Here's to another 50. But we're not quite done, for, as a bonus, I have watched to two non-canonical James Bond films as well. Turn the page to see why the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale introduces one of the most vital elements of any of the James Bond films.


 

Casino Royale (dirs. Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, Richard Talmadge, 1967)

Bond: David Niven

Gadgets: A radio in a fishing reel. A radio in a bagpipe. A gun in a bagpipe. X-ray glasses. Exploding duck planes.

The Babe: Vesper Lynd, Ursula Andress

The Bad Guy: SMERSH. Le Chiffre, played by Orson Welles.

Location(s): Scotland, Berlin, France.

Theme Song: Performed by Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass

Bond Directly Kills: No one.

WTF Moments: (N.B.This is an absurdist comedy, so there's a lot that's weird, but here are some standouts from within the wackiness.) A lion rides on top of a car. Bond's mansion is blown up. Bond chops a cannonball in half with his bare hands. Peter Sellers dresses as Hitler. Woody Allen plays James Bond. Frankenstein's monster appears somewhat randomly in the film. There's a surrealist scene in a black-and-white building made after the sets in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. There's an offensive gay stereotype. There's a really, really weird sequence wherein Orson Welles uses a computer to make Peter Sellers hallucinate, and it feels like the last episode of The Prisoner. And could someone explain this joke to me: Someone opens a manhole cover to escape a bad guy. From the sewer, we hear a chorus of women singing “What's New, Pussycat?” The manhole cover is replaced, and the heroes run away. Was that a reference to something?

So this Casino Royale came out in 1967, the same year as You Only Live Twice. James Bond, evidently, had already become so notorious, that a high-profile spoof was necessary. The crux of this spoof (which feels less like James Bond and more like The Pink Panther, including the presence of Peter Sellers), is that James, known for his womanizing, is actually kind of a buttoned-up chaste British gentleman. He's played by the classy David Niven, who, with his impeccable suits and neatly trimmed mustache, resembles a more capable version of Bertie Wooster from P.G. Wodehouse's novels. This is a funny enough approach, but, at 131 minutes, the gag can seem to run thin.

The humor, though, doesn't depend on that one joke. Indeed, this film is like a clown sneezing on you. Big sloppy gobs of humor fly at you all at once, and only some bits stick to you, even though you wish they didn't. I'm sorry, was that analogy too gross? There are so many elements in play, it almost feels like several different shorter films edited together into a barely cohesive whole.

So here's what we got. David Niven is a retired James Bond. The Sean Connery Bond we know was actually Niven's successor. I once idly posited that the name “James Bond” was actually a further part of Agent 007's secret identity, and that his real name is never revealed. As actors switch out of the films, we're actually seeing new MI-6 agents taking the “James Bond” role within the company, including all the previous Bonds' backstory. Like The Phantom: same hero, but different people taking up the mantle. Casino Royale cements this suspicion of mine, and, even though it's not canon, it easily could be canon thanks to the introduction of this conceit. Indeed, over the course of the film, Niven will begin to declare that all trustworthy MI-6 agents will now be named “James Bond,” including Peter Sellers, William Holden, Woody Allen, and even Ursula Andress and Joanna Pettit.

Some other stuff: Sellers is enlisted by MI-6 to play baccarat with Le Chiffre who works for a mysterious organization called SMERSH. Le Chiffre is played by Orson Welles, already large and drunk, and who spends the bulk of his screen time doing magic tricks. I got the feeling Welles improvised the magic tricks, and the filmmakers just let him go hog wild. Yes, Le Chiffre forces Sellers to hallucinate with a mental torture machine. The hallucination sequence makes Yellow Submarine look tame. William Holden appears as the only real capable spy in MI-6, also rechristened James Bond, and is specially trained to resist the charms of women. Most MI-6 spies, you see, are killed by sexy women.

There's a long opening sequence in Scotland, wherein a cadre of sexy women try to kill David Niven using explosive ducks. Niven, with his upright demeanor and cutesy stutter, resists them all. The stutter, by the way, was abandoned. Indeed, Niven, probably in an improvised line, declares he won't have it anymore.

James Bond has a daughter (Pettit) whom he fathered with Mata Hari years ago. Mata Bond, as she is named, is kind of ditzy. John Huston shows up as M. His accent slips a lot.

There is a lot more, but it would be exhausting to list it all. I'll skip to the end: It turns out that SMERSH was secretly being run by Jimmy Bond, Niven's nephew, played by Woody Allen. Allen's evil scheme was to use robots to replace world leaders, and also to unleash a virus that would mutate all the women into sexy babes, and kill all men over 5'4”. He also has a plan to feed pills to people that would turn them into nuclear bombs. Yes, he swallows it by accident.

There's a big fight at the end, and the filmmakers went well out of their way to make it as madcap as possible. It rivals It's a Mad, Mad Mad, Mad World in its craziness. American Indians all swing in. There are seals. A flying roulette wheel dispenses laughing gas. Jean-Paul Belmondo appears briefly as a French agent. Eventually Woody Allen explodes, killing, well, everyone. The final shot of the film is all the main characters in Heaven, dressed as angels. Except for Allen, who sinks into Hell. Then there's a Tijuana Brass crescendo, and a Richard Williams title sequence.

The film will melt your brain. It's '60s loopiness at its best, which may not be for everyone. If you're a big Benny Hill fan, or have seen a good number of Peter Sellers movies, or are really into The Prisoner, you may dig Casino Royale. As a James Bond film spoof, I'm not sure how much it properly skewers; it's far too unfocused to serve as a proper satire. Try it when you're high. It'll work for sure then.

Oh yeah. Remember Sean Connery? Well, someone does…


 

Never Say Never Again (dir. Irvin Kershner, 1983)

Bond: Sean Connery

Gadgets: An explosive projectile pen. A rocket motorcycle. A laser beam watch.

The Babe: Domino Petachi, played by Kim Basinger

The Bad Guy: Maximilian Largo, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer. Blofeld, played by Max Von Sydow

Location(s): The Bahamas, Nice, “North Africa”

Theme Song: Sung by Lani Hall

Bond Directly Kills: Fatima. One African guard.

WTF Moments: There's no title sequence. We learn that Q's name is Algernon. The first 20 minutes of the film is devoted to Bond receiving lectures on proper nutrition and chiropractics. Bond carries around a briefcase full of caviar. Bond stuns a thug with his own urine. A nurse uses S&M on a patient, and later flings a snake through his car window. A bad guy slinks into a small room on his personal yacht, pulls back a panel, and watches Kim Basinger doing jazzercise through a one-way mirror. There are some sharks that are controlled with radio signals. James wears overalls. Bond plays a holographic TRON-like video game. The villainess insists that Bond, at gunpoint, put in writing that she was the best lover he ever had. She also seems to wear nothing but clothing made of plastic. Bond rides a horse off a cliff into the ocean. Don't worry. The horse survives. James and Felix use missiles to fly from a submarine to the shore. The missiles look like Tom Servo. Sean Connery shows off his thighs a lot.

So even though Bond is played by Sean Connery, and this film most certainly resembles a James Bond film way more than Casino Royale, it's still not considered canon. Why not? Well, for one, it wasn't the same studio putting it out. It was put out by Orion Pictures (all the others were made by MGM, and some by MGM and Columbia). The story was taken from Ian Fleming, too, although Fleming himself, I don't think, signed off on it. Nor did the Broccoli brothers. I think there was a temporary lapse in the rights to the James Bond name, and Orion swooped in and made this film when they had the chance. I'm sure the copyright laws have been cinched up a little more to prevent this sort of behavior in the future.

It may have been clever to cast Connery as Bond again. 1983 was the same year Octopussy came out, Roger Moore was donning a clown suit, and nostalgia for the old-timey Bond films must have been running high. “You may like the other Bond films,” the producers seemed to be declaring, “but why don't we get back to the Bond we all know and love?” So Connery, who was 53, decided to return after a 12-year absence. Heck, in 1983, Moore turned 56. Why not get some younger blood back in there?

So why is it that Connery seems so old in the film? Moore was older, and he seemed more lithe and youthful. So much of this film is about Connery trying to regain his health and stamina by eating well and going to the doctor, that his age is only accentuated. What's more, you notice his hairline a lot. By The Untouchables in 1987, Connery was totally bald. I suspect he was wearing a hairpiece in this film. Or maybe he just had thin hair. It's hard to tell. The point is, Never Say Never Again unduly pressures Connery's age, to the point that you only see an old man, and not a vital action-capable actor in his 50s. Connery was hardly crotchety in 1983, but this film makes you think he is.

The film's story is almost identical to Thunderball, right down to the names of some of the characters. The bad guy is now named Maximilian Largo (previously Emilio Largo). His girlfriend is still named Domino. The story involves Largo secretly killing Domino's brother in order to get some nuclear warheads hidden underwater. James is then called in to investigate and to stop him. Both films have a lot of undersea photography. The vital differences: Emilio Largo was a mean guy, and Maximilian is just a maniac who likes to spy on his girlfriend working out, and who is the master of a holographic video game he designed, wherein you use lasers to blow up countries, and wherein you get electrically shocked if you fail. The brother was once a loyal counter-agent, but in this film, he's kept in line with S&M sex from a foxy villainess named Fatima Blush, played by Nicaraguan model Barbara Carrera.

You know, if the attempt was to make Bond a bit more classy and serious again, Never Say Never Again failed entirely. This film is just as goofy – if not goofier – than Octopussy. There are just as many weird-ass moments, and just as much awkward seduction as in its canonical counterpart. Indeed, Connery was 53, and Kim Basinger was only 29. Basinger, by the way, looks amazing in this film. The filmmakers were very careful to dress her in some rather alluring outfits.

Felix Leiter is in the film, played by Bernie Casey, making him the first black man in the role. I love Casey. He's such a powerful presence. Oh yeah: Blofeld. SPECTRE is back, and Blofeld is in the film, this time played, rather gleefully, by Max Von Sydow. Blofeld has little to do, of course, letting Largo handle all the real maniac work. It was bold to include Blofeld after For Your Eyes Only so carefully killed him off. Q appears, but is played by Alec McCowen, and is referred to as “Algy.” Too casual. An actress named Pamela Salem is Miss Moneypenny. Oh yeah. What happened to her in the Craig films? There was no Moneypenny. I hope she shows up in Skyfall. I liked her.

It was hard to take this film seriously, even though it's a good 131 minutes, and has some nice special effects, and was skillfully directed by the guy who did The Empire Strikes Back. It just feels so nutty. Like the actors and filmmakers are taking a defiant and deliberate vacation from the James Bond we had been following for 20 years. The result is something to be snickered at rather than taken seriously. Again, if they wanted to strike down a new path, and offer a Bond alternative, they failed, and only gave us a dismissable (yet watchable) aside.

If the conceit from the 1967 film is to be taken seriously, though, then perhaps both Connery and Moore are James Bond concurrently. And all the other characters are given similar code names and they all take care of similar crises. Well, maybe that's a little farfetched.


 

James Bond Jr.

James Bond, Jr. was a 1991 animated series that ran for one season. It followed the adventures of James Bond's nephew, also, curiously, named James. I guess James Bond also had a brother named James Bond. James Bond Jr., Q's son IQ, and several others, still mere teenagers, and not officially employed by MI-6, did low-stakes battles with a mysterious SPECTRE-like cadre called SCUM (Saboteurs and Criminals United in Mayhem).

I was not able, sadly, to track down any episodes for review. Well, there were a few episodes on YouTube, but I ran out of patience. I apologize if I have not done my professional duty in this regard. I do recall, from my own misspent youth in front of the TV, that the show was typical early-'90s cheese, and contained none of the suavneness or action of the films. Indeed, James Bond Jr. couldn’t have sex on the show. That would be inappropriate. James Bond Jr. wore big white sneakers, and colorful jackets, like a youth in a Sunny Delight commercial. He did, at least, have a British accent.

You can watch the theme sequence here: 

 

SERIES OVERVIEW:
 

The Best James Bond:

Pierce Brosnan.


The Best Gadgets: 

Any of James' cars. Especially the underwater one in The Spy Who Loved Me.


The Best Babes: 

Michelle Yeoh was pretty badass in Tomorrow Never Dies. Diana Rigg from On Her Majesty's Secret Service is still gorgeous. Xenia Onatopp from GoldenEye still makes me grin. And, of course, Pussy Galore from Goldfinger.
 

The Best Bad Guys: 

Auric Goldfinger. Even though the film was goofy, Drax from Moonraker was good. And I liked the circus wackiness of Mr. Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun.
 

The Best Kill: 

Definitely Kananga's death at the end of Live and Let Die. James shoves an air tube into his mouth, and he inflates like a balloon. He then floats to the ceiling where he pops. We're spared the moment where James and Jane Seymour are coated in Yaphet Kotto pieces.
 

The Weirdest Moments:

See Die Another Day.
 

The Worst James Bond Movies: 

Die Another Day, Moonraker, Quantum of Solace, and both the Dalton films (sorry Tim).


The Best James Bond Movies: 

Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, and GoldenEye.

 


My friends, thank you for joining me. For now he rests, but in November, James Bond will return in Skyfall.