Have gun, will travel: Daniel Craig

Question: Why is everybody saying this new guy can't be James Bond because he's blond? Roger Moore was blond!


Answer: Thank you, Sharron! Yes, Roger Moore was indeed dark blond, as is Daniel Craig. And while fans are entitled to be as skeptical as they want, facts are facts: The Bond series has been going on for more than 40 years, and in order for it to continue, the actor playing Bond has to be replaced periodically. There have already been five James Bonds: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Six if you count Barry Nelson, who played Bond in TV's 1954 Climax Theater production of Casino Royale. Protest all you want, but technically Nelson was the first Bond, and that version of Casino Royale (which featured a pretty cool performance by Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre) was the first Bond adaptation. In any event, for my money, Moore was the weakest of the bunch — loved him as international bon vivant and man of mystery Simon Templar in TV's The Saint, never believed him for a moment as a man with a license to kill and the cojones to use it. But never in a million years could I have summoned up the outrage to have put together a moorenotbond.com, assuming there had been a Web to put it on back in the olden days. And yet there's Craignotbond.com (subtitled "Home of the Casino Royale Boycott"), taking up space that might have been used to collate links to smut sites or allow people to post really, really cute pictures of poor sleeping cats piled high with Cheez Doodle bags.

Leaving aside my feeling that the world would be a better place if we all let go and let Bond be, I don't know that I'm wild about shaking up the formula by treating Casino Royale as an origin story — that's what comic-book writers do when no one can think of one more blessed thing to do with a classic character, and the results aren't always good. On the other hand, there are no more Bond novels, and he's been done just about to death since Dr. No (1963), so what the hey? This might be a way of reinvigorating the franchise and paving the way for some tougher and more vigorous films, something the Bond team was clearly trying to do with the last couple of Brosnans. Director Martin Campbell has said the film will include Bond's first less-than-perfect assignments, which could be interesting, and that it will be less dependent on gadgets, which is just fine by me. Eliminate all the extraneous endings and I'll be one happy camper. The danger is that the whole back-to-the-beginning thing might just be an excuse to start remaking all the early Bonds, and a clearer sign of imaginative bankruptcy would be hard to imagine. An updated rehash of Octopussy (1983) — now there's the ticket!