Across the thirty episodes of Joe 90, W.I.N.’s Most Special Agent faced all manner of foes; some were bent on world domination, others on bringing down the World Intelligence Network itself, and a few were in it just for the money! Taken from across five episodes of the series, here’s our pick for nine of the greatest Joe 90 villains!
5 The WIN Gang – Lone-Handed 90
Perhaps it’s a cheat placing the antagonists of the episode Lone-Handed 90 on this list, since they don’t technically exist outside of Joe’s dream of being the sheriff of the old west town of Joesville – and are inspired by his father and two W.I.N. ‘bosses’ to start with! Yet it’s precisely the latter fact that makes their presence in the story seem justified, as Joe’s feelings of being taken for granted and always being told what to do manifest themselves in his dream in the form of said trio taking on the roles of greedy incompetent outlaws.
What makes the W.I.N. gang work so well is the fun new spin given on these familiar characters, and the audible relish with which Rupert Davies, Keith Alexander and David Healy take on the roles of outlaws. Transformed (at least in Joe’s mind) from good men using technology in the cause of world peace to a squabbling band of renegades, it’s surprising just how naturally they fall into their new roles. Lone-Handed 90 has always been a fan favourite episode of Joe 90, and a huge part of its appeal is in the reimagining of these familiar heroic characters into villains.
4 Dr Darota and Kurson – Project 90
A clinic in the Swiss alps may seem an unlikely place for espionage, but it’s from here that Doctor Darota launches Project 90; his attempt to discover the contents of W.I.N.’s File 90. His associate Kurson then carries out much of the actual work surrounding the mission; surveillance of Shane Weston’s office and the McClaine cottage – and then the audacious kidnapping of Professor McClaine himself!
The strength of the partnership of Darota and Kurson comes with the differences in their respective approaches; Kurson favours violence, guns and torture, while Darota is far more verbose and intelligent, giving the appearance of a man who doesn’t wish to get his own hands dirty. The character also offers several memorable one-liners that poke a little fun at the premise of the show and its characters. However, when the situation calls for it Darota is more than willing to employ more brutal methods of persuasion – as Mac finds out when his face is nearly reduced to mush by an industrial drill!
3 Real and Mornay – Breakout
As discussed previously, Breakout is one of the most violent Supermarionation episodes ever made, and most of that violence comes at the hands of escaped convicts Real and Mornay. Real in particular is a villain more akin to Captain Black, murdering without hesitation anyone who gets in his way, while his associate Mornay initially shows a sliver of decency before the prospect of freedom and fortune sees him join in with Real’s rampage. It’s an understated element of tragedy to the episode; six months away from the parole board that could potentially see him a free man, Mornay is tricked into throwing it all away when he is caught up in Real’s devious plan – and yet once the wheels start turning, he’s fully along for the ride.
Real and Mornay represent the more extreme elements of the dark world of espionage that Joe now finds himself in; ruthless dangerous men who wouldn’t think twice about anyone except themselves – even if, as Joe finds out, that means shooting a nine year-old boy! Thankfully our hero escapes with his life, but even so the sight of his arm in a sling at the end of the story reinforces the notion that the villains of Joe 90 are a long way from the more comedic antagonists of previous shows.
2 Ralph Clayton – See You Down There
The unscrupulous head of the Clayton Enterprises business conglomerate, Ralph Clayton is notable for being one of the few Supermarionation antagonists to be on the receiving end of any kind of redemption arc. His bad business ethics having crushed more than one small company over the years, Clayton is thoroughly unrepentant towards the lives of the ‘little people’ he has had to step on while on the ladder to success – making him a refreshing change of pace from the various enemy agents of unnamed foreign countries that make up most of Joe’s adversaries!
An unusual villain requires an unusual punishment, and after the efforts of the W.I.N. team bring him to isolation, desperation and the point of madness Clayton vows to make amends for his past behaviour. Judging by the genuine enthusiasm with which he throws himself into that work at the end of the story, it seems that this is one villain who has well and truly mended his ways! See You Down There is a delight of an episode from start to finish, and one of the main reasons for its success is the unusual nature of its ‘villain’, the bizarre attempts to teach him the error of his ways – and the fact that he learns from those mistakes instead of having to be killed by Joe!
Unlike the #1 slot…
1 Mario Coletti – Hi-jacked
The master criminal and gunrunner seen in “Joe’s first real assignment”, we’re left in no doubt that Mario Coletti is a particularly unscrupulous character long before we even meet him. Indeed, despite hearing about his long list of weapons-related crimes (and presumably an even longer list of people who have fallen to those weapons) we don’t get a proper introduction to the character until the second half of the story. For the first half he is only seen from behind in one scene, increasing the tension surrounding his eventual reveal.
Once Joe comes face to face with Coletti the gunrunner’s initial amusement at the boy’s presence is soon replaced with orders to his subordinates to have Joe killed – but when Joe manages to elude them and return for his glasses, he is rewarded by a vicious blow across the hand for his troubles. What follows is a battle between Joe and Coletti in which the sight of a grown man picking up a machine gun and hunting down a small boy reinforces just how strange the darkness of Joe 90 can get at times. It is perhaps grimly appropriate then that Coletti is disposed of by Joe in one of the most brutal acts of violence ever seen on any Anderson series; murder by hand grenade.
That’s more than enough villainy for any nine year-old boy to face – but did your favourite Joe 90 baddy make the list? If not, let us know in the comments below!