Well, since I watched series two of “Bugs” before I watched series one, I thought that I knew what to expect. However, for the first half of this series at least, it’s almost a completely different show. This isn’t a bad thing.
In case anyone hasn’t heard of this amazing show before, “Bugs” is a 1990s thriller/sci-fi/detective shows which follows the adventures of a London-based group of technology experts and semi-official private detectives called Ros, Beckett and Ed. They have a lot of vaguely futuristic spy gadgets and they are usually up against villains who know a thing or two about technology too.
One of the first things I will say about series one is that it has a fairly different tone to series two. Even though the last few episodes (“A Sporting Chance” and “Manna From Heaven” spring to mind for starters…) have fairly outlandish storylines and a slightly more fantastical atmosphere, the first half of this series at least is more like a serious and vaguely realistic high-tech thriller series than a 1990s near-future sci-fi show.
This caught me completely by surprise, especially since the very first episode begins with a ludicrously over-the-top helicopter chase (where someone fires about seven or eight shots from a revolver [without reloading] and other ludicrously unrealistic things). But, this aside, the first episode is absolutely outstanding and it actually contains more characterisation for the three main characters than the entire second series does. Not only that, but the plot of the first episode is surprisingly compelling and it actually feels like something close to a realistic spy thriller show.
Although the episodes have a vaguely similar structure, there is a fairly innovative variety of storylines in the ten episodes which make up this series. Like with the second series, series one of “Bugs” also contains a fair amount of humour too – most of this consists of groan-inducing puns, but there are a few genuinely funny moments in this series (especially in the first episode).
Another interesting thing about series one of “Bugs” is that there is a lot less unintentional humour than there is in the second series. In other words, the show takes itself very slightly more seriously and includes some real drama. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is up to you. But there are a couple of fairly scenes in this series, such as when Ros is trapped on a commercial airliner which is being remotely operated by the villain of the episode which are just a lot more dramatic and suspenseful than anything in the second series.
The settings in this series are fairly good too. The show was filmed around the London dockyards and, although the outdoor settings still look very 1990s, they still also look plausibly modern too. Not only that, in this series, the main characters’ base of operations is in Ros’s flat rather than the slightly futuristic office they move to in the second series. This, again, gives this series of “Bugs” a slightly more realistic atmosphere too.
In addition to this, series one of “Bugs” has some fairly good special effects too. Yes, most of the effects involve explosions, basic 1990s computer graphics and lasers. But, for a BBC show from the 1990s, the effects are superb.
All in all, series one of “Bugs” is fun and thrilling, with a few genuinely dramatic episodes. In many ways, this series is actually slightly better than the second series of “Bugs” was, although it has less of the unintentional comedy and outlandish storylines which made the second series “so bad that it’s good”. But, if you are looking for something entertaining and you miss the geekier side of the 1990s, then series one of “Bugs” is essential viewing.
If I had to give series one of “Bugs” a rating out of five, then it would get four and a half overall (five for nostalgia and fun, four for drama and storytelling).