In anticipation of this week’s show (look for it Friday morning) in which we discuss 1995’s Goldeneye as well as our impressions of the new Bond movie Skyfall, here’s a list of our Top 5 Bond Imitators!
5. James Bond Jr.
The 1991 animated series James Bond Jr. concerned the adventures of a young prep-school kid whose uncle is superspy James Bond… I’m sorry, I meant to put “Uncle” in quotes. Are we really supposed to believe that J.B. Jr. isn’t the offspring of James Bond himself, a man who inserts his penis in nearly everyone he meets? Is it really more plausible that James Bond has a sibling he’s never mentioned before, who inexplicably decided to name their son James Bond Jr.?! Also, in the world of James Bond, there are probably millions of James Bond Jrs, necessitating a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins-esque website to connect all these illegitimate half-siblings.
Anyways, James Bond Jr. may have been fun for kids, but in retrospect most of what makes the James Bond movies fun is too unsavory for a children’s Saturday morning cartoon series. Also, on second thought, based on his appearance, James Bond Jr’s biological father may have actually been Peter Venkman.
4. Ian Fleming (Charles Dance in Goldeneye, Jason Connery in Spymaker)
In a creative loophole, filmmakers in the late ‘80s realized that if they wanted to make a James Bond movie without owning the rights to the material, they should just make a biopic of Bond’s creator Ian Fleming– then pose the actor playing Fleming next to a sexy woman whilst holding a gun for the VHS cover– then reward yourself with copious amounts of cocaine (I assume, it was the ‘80s).
First up was Charles Dance (you might recognize him as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones… nerd) in 1989’s Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming- The Real James Bond. You might notice that the name Goldeneye was eventually reused in the 1995 Pierce Brosnan Bond outing, no doubt leading to a lot of disappointed Blockbuster patrons getting the wrong movie by mistake. This was followed in 1990 by Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (for a “secret” life, a lot of people sure made movies about it). This flick featured the Evil Knievel of stunt casting—Jason Connery, Sean’s son, plays Fleming, thus crushing my long-held belief that Sean Connery’s son is Indiana Jones.
3. James Pond: Underwater Agent
There are no international courts willing to adjudicate upon the quality or cleverness of a pop-culture parodies. Due to this gross legal oversight, as well as Justice Thurgood Marshall’s refusal to define “blatant rip-off” in 1986’s landmark Hasbro v. Go-Bots trial, the early ‘90s were a Golden Age of not-so-thinly veiled counterfeits. Sadly this was one fate 007 would not be able to evade. After an exercise in which several professional video game designers went through all the words ending with ‘ond’, James Pond: Underwater Agent was born.
Not content to steal from only one beloved franchise, a quick look at the game play in James Pond reveals more thievery, witness Exhibit A) . First, around the 1:40 mark, Pond warps from a sewer pipe then not ten seconds later he’s jumping and hitting the air to make coins pop out of invisible boxes. Mario & Bond should file a joint injunction! Pond’s most recent adventure, 2011’s James Pond and the Deathly Shallows (available on iPhone & iPad) is apparently a waste of your time.
2. Dr. Bashir (from “Our Man Bashir” on Deep Space Nine)
Even the wimpiest names benefit from the “Bond, James Bond” treatment; and Deep Space Nine’s prissy, tennis playing doctor Julian Bashir is no exception. Produced to capitalize upon the hype of Goldeneye, this episode paid homage to Bond as well as other spy heroes by having the DS9 crew trapped in a Bond-esque holonovel (as their transporter patterns are accidentally saved to the wrong folder on the station computer). Under control of the program Sisko, Worf, O’Brien et al become bad-ass Bond villains, which is nice for them because there just aren’t as many adventures to be had when you’re stuck on a space station all the time. O’Brien gets to wear an eye-patch (presumably at the cost of an eye) and Worf becomes a cigar smoking baccarat player, which is setting a pretty bad example for Alexander.
MGM for their part wasn’t amused and a cadre of Ferengi lawyers drafted an angry letter, so when the holonovel idea came back around for the fifth season the Bond clichés were watered down, not unlike the drinks at Quark’s Bar.
1. Neil Connery (Operation Kid Brother)
In 1967, the same year the classic Bond film You Only Live Twice was released, Italy produced its own contribution to the Bond legend—a Bond knock-off entitled Operation Kid Brother starring Neil Connery (Sean’s younger brother) as—drum-roll—Dr. Neil Connery! I mean, I know he wasn’t an actor, but could he really not use a different name? Here’s the kicker, the film co-starred Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell who played M and Moneypenny in the actual Bond movies! That’s like if Daniel Radcliffe’s brother made a wizard movie with Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith. Also, according to Wikipedia, Lee and Maxwell claimed they were paid more to appear in Operation Kid Brother than they were for any of the Bond films! It’s a pretty dreadful film (it’s even featured in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode), but the one highlight is a score by legendary composer Ennio Moricone– thus the Spaghetti Spy Farce genre was born.