Although I found this series on DVD by chance a couple of years ago, I’ve only just got round to re-watching most of it and I thought that I’d write a review of it. Although I haven’t seen the first series yet, “Bugs” is one of those TV shows which can be pretty much watched in any order.
Even though I think that I only saw one episode of “Bugs” when I was younger (the only part I can remember is something to do with a sonic weapon that could punch through walls), it still fills me with wonderful 1990s nostalgia every time I watch an episode of it.
“Bugs” is a near-future sci-fi detective series from the mid-late 90s which follows a semi-official team of spies and technology experts ( Ed, Ros and Beckett) in London who are tasked with foiling a variety of nefarious plots by terrorist groups and evil corporations. Series two also contains a sub-plot about an evil genius called Jean-Daniel who seems to be masterminding a range of evil schemes from within his prison cell.
One of the first things I will say about this series, and this show in general, is that you will either love it or hate it. In many ways “Bugs” is one of those shows which is “so bad that it’s good”. If you go into it expecting a “serious” sci-fi series, then you will probably be extremely disappointed.
However, if you watch it for nostalgia value and unintentional comedy, then you will find it to be an extremely rewarding experience. As cheesy as “Bugs” is, there is nothing else quite like it and it’s something which really has to be seen to be believed.
“Bugs” was made in the mid-late 1990s and it shows a lot. Most of the technology looks extremely dated by modern standards (eg: the main characters still use low-resolution CRT monitors for their computers) and many of the “futuristic” spy gadgets which the main characters use look hilariously chunky and contrived.
Likewise, all the villains in this series tend to use a range of outlandish and contrived gadgets too. Personally, I think that this adds to the nostalgic charm and atmosphere of the show – but you might find it to be annoying.
There isn’t a huge amount of characterisation in this series and most of the dialogue either sounds groan-inducingly cheesy (almost every episode ends with a terrible pun of some kind or another) or extremely wooden and formal. Again, you might either find this to be very annoying or you might find yourself laughing at (but not with) the TV screen throughout the entire series. Although, if you are a glutton for pun-ishment, then you will truly enjoy this series.
The episodes in series two of “Bugs” cover a variety of outlandish storylines – from a pesticide company trying to destroy experimental pest-resistent GM crops to a criminal gang releasing a virus which can destroy gold. Although some of these storylines may not seem particularly dramatic in modern terms, they are nothing if not inventive and original.
Still, saying that, there are a few episodes in this series which are surprisingly dramatic and suspenseful. These episodes are: “What Goes Up…”, “…Must Come Down”, “Schrodinger’s Bomb” and “A Cage For Satan”.
Plus, even when the plot is about something as outwardly boring as a conflict between two competing airlines, there is still enough action and suspense to keep the story moving at a reasonable pace.
Even though “Bugs” probably had a fraction of the budget of comparable 1990s TV shows from across the pond (eg: “The X Files” etc…), there are still quite a few explosions and dramatic special effects. Also, unlike American detective shows, the main characters in “Bugs” don’t carry guns – so they often have to rely on their intelligence, technology and wits to get out of dangerous situations rather than just shooting it out with the bad guys. Even so, the body count is still surprisingly high for a 1990s early-evening TV show.
Although there are a couple of two-part episodes in series two, most of the ten episodes in this series are fairly self-contained and can be watched in any order. The DVD boxset is region-free and will play in any part of the world. Although, if you live outside the UK, then you might have to buy an import copy of it since I don’t know if it aired on TV in any other parts of the world.
All in all, series two of “Bugs” is a fun and feel-good piece of 1990s nostalgia which has an absolutely unique style and atmosphere. But, as I said earlier, it is a show which you will either love or hate.
For fun, unintentional comedy and nostalgia value alone, this series gets five out of five. But, on a technical/dramatic level, it would probably only get two out of five.