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Bugs: Out Of The Hive

Yes, I've been watching television again. Sorry.

So, back in the nineties, the BBC suddenly surprised us all by rediscovering its sense of fun, and producing a new family adventure series. Bugs was the sort of show that got made all the time in the sixties and seventies - a group of friends/colleagues/whatever, joining forces to solve crimes. The Champions was one, The Protectors was another, The Persuaders... you get the idea. Bugs was the same basic formula. Techie genius Ros, and her daredevil pilot friend Ed, get mixed up one day in the life of spy Beckett, and the threesome wind up forming a sort of high-tech private eye business, that involves fun gadgetry and an improbable amount of explosions. In episode one, "Out Of The Hive", the gang get together for the first time.

Our heroes:

This is Ed. Ed is a nut. He's also a Neighbours refugee, but it's unfair to hold that against him, as so is Peter O'Brien, and Peter O'Brien is cool. So there. Ed's specialities are heights and flying, and making very bad jokes. He also seems to take his shirt off quite a lot.

This is Ros. Ros is also a nut, although less outrageously so. She does at least seem to have some basic sense of self-preservation, although her driving skills would suggest otherwise. Ros's specialities are computers, electronics, miniaturised communications devices and the like. She's a refugee from The Bill, but again it would be unfair to hold that against her, as it was still perfectly watchable when she was in it.

This is Beckett. Beckett is... Beckett. I've never been able to work out if Jesse Birdsall is a bad actor, or just has unfortunate line delivery a lot of the time. Fortunately it doesn't matter, as Beckett is hugely endearing. His specialities mostly involve getting kidnapped a lot, and making very bad jokes. And getting kidnapped a bit more. He's a refugee from Eldorado, but I can think of no excuses for that at all. Sorry, Beckett.

Team moment. There are a lot of these, usually at the end of the episodes, and accompanied by a very bad joke. These jokes were all inserted during the script editing stage by a nice man named Colin Brake, who used to be very friendly and chatty over at Outpost Gallifrey. However they're still very bad jokes.

Endearingly bad jokes though, if that helps.


In episode one, Ed is flying a man named Ballantyne about the English countryside - although it looks at one point as though they've skimmed from Kent right up to the Scottish Highlands and back, which isn't at all bad on one tank of petrol. Or whatever it is that helicopters drink. Ed and Ballantyne are soon being chased by a big, black helicopter, which doesn't seem to faze Ed in the slightest, even though at this stage he's just an ordinary charter pilot. In fact at one point he takes Ballantyne's gun - it doesn't appear to bother him that his passenger is armed - and blasts the other helicopter out of the sky. It explodes, as do its passengers, and Ed doesn't react in the slightest. I'm never quite sure what this is supposed to tell us about him. Anyway, shortly after he and Ballantyne go their separate ways, Ballantyne telephones his friend Beckett, only to get murdered mid-call. Beckett has taped the telephone call... presumably because he's astoundingly paranoid... but when he tries to blow the whistle on the murder, he finds that somebody at Spy HQ is working for the other side.


The helicopters are fighting over this. It's called SACROS, which stands for... something to do with satellites. Check out the awesome high-tech laptop that it's connected to there. :)

The inside of Beckett's desk drawer. He recorded the telephone call on a DAT machine! That's so brilliantly nineties. Bugs prided itself in being a step ahead of technological trends, as it was supposed to be slightly futuristic, but I think they may have got it a little wrong in this case.

Beckett asks civilian techie expert Ros if she can clean up the recording of the phonecall, and prove whether or not it was a gunshot that he heard. His attempts to get her the recording lead to him being framed for theft and treason and things, so he's forced to go on the run. Ros happily shelters him, despite not knowing a thing about him, and him being on the run, and their first meeting involving a high speed car chase; but then who hasn't given sanctuary to a potentially deadly fugitive at some point in their life? When her neighbour Ed drops by, and realises that he's connected to the case as well, everybody decides to join forces and break into Spy HQ to steal the tape of the phonecall. Or what the complete stranger being chased by the authorites has just told them is the tape of the phonecall, anyway. Presumably having read ahead in the script, Ros and Ed have no problem in trusting Beckett completely, and set out to break lots of laws, because it's fun.

The team meet for the first time. Because Ballantyne "seemed like a nice guy", Ed and Ros cheerfully throw in with the wanted man whom neither of them knows from Adam. Well, why not.

Breaking into Spy HQ is fun. Strapping a giant fan onto his back, Ed paraglides onto the roof, then sneaks down into the offices to liberate the tape. But oh no! He triggers an alarm, and lights begin to flash. Immediately the security team is on the case, with their amazing sub-machine guns that have a range of less than a foot. Ed thinks that this is all great fun, as what could be better than throwing yourself off a roof whilst being shot at? Away he sails on his parachute-thing, and delivers the tape to Ros. She's able to enhance the sound of the gunshot, thereby proving that poor Ballantyne is now dead.

Ed goes paragliding.

Why this involves a peculiar head band, I have no idea.

Oh no! Blue alert! Blue alert!

In a car nearby, Ros and Beckett are aghast at the blue alert. Or maybe they're not.

Ed runs away. This is pretty much the same as Ed arriving, except that he's being shot at, so his smile is bigger.

No idea, but it involves nice switches and unnecessary flashing lights, so it gets included.

Having established that Ballantyne has been killed, the gang now have to figure out why. Fortunately they're given a short cut in this, by virtue of Beckett's amazing ability to get himself kidnapped - always a handy way of getting some of the plot explained to you. SACROS, which allows control of satellite broadcasts, is a great way of getting up to naughty things, and consequently is wanted by the bad guys. Said bad guys kidnap Beckett and Ros for somewhat nonsensical reasons; but it leads to fun and games, so who's complaining. Well, Ros, but that's her lookout. Ed comes to the rescue in the nick of time, and the bad guys conveniently explode. The end.

Beckett's first kidnap. Aw. Get used to it, Beckett. It's going to be happening a lot.

Also Ros's first kidnap. She seems to enjoy it less, but then I guess it's not for everyone. Also she's in a car-crushing machine, and that generally isn't much fun unless you're Benton Fraser or Frank Hardy.

Ed speeds to the rescue. Or tries to. Ros has actually freed herself by the time he gets to her, but even if he wasn't much use, he looked cool in the process. Giant grabby claw!

Beckett's first bondage scene. Aw. Get used to it... etc. It's a bizarrely inconvenient way to tie somebody up, both for the bondager and the bondagee. Wouldn't it have been simpler to have used a chair? Note the evil Eastern European lady, this week's master criminal.

Evil Eastern European Lady decides that Beckett is no use anymore (still not entirely sure what use he was supposed to be anyway, but possibly she just fancied having him around her flat as an interesting conversation piece). Happily Ed arrives in the nick of time, and rather than just shoot them both, she runs away. Ed gives chase, because he's bullet-proof. Or a little mad, one or the other.

How many evil crooks have novelty topiary? I feel there should be a study.

Evil Eastern European Crook Lady is quite sure that escape is certain. Beckett and Ros are close behind, and Ed is whooshing about in the sky just above (in a helicopter - he didn't suddenly grow wings), but she and her confederate have SACROS and they have a fast car. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as it turns out. In a fit of over-confidence they drive right off the road, and then explode for absolutely no reason at all. Well, we've all done that occasionally. It's wretchedly inconvenient, but these things will happen.

Wheeeee! I have no idea what the sparks are from, but I suppose they might help to explain what happens next. Big emphasis on the 'might'.


It's pretty, isn't it.

Let's just look at it again.

Then everybody goes back to Ros's place, and agrees to go into business together. Because what could be more fun than being shot at and kidnapped and nearly crushed in a car-crushing machine and stuff? Nothing, that's what. Except swords and pirates and cowboys, obviously. You didn't get many of them in London in the nineties, though. I know. I looked.

I have another nine episodes of this to go in series one alone. I can already tell that you're pleased.


( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Oct. 19th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
Yep, I watched this.

It morphed a little in later seasons and Ed regenerated, but it was still fun. The last season anoyingly ended on a cliffhanger. Ros and Beckett get kidnapped :)
Oct. 19th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
That cliffhanger has annoyed me for years! When I asked Colin Brake (the script editor) about it, thinking that I'd finally get an answer as to who the kidnapper was, he admitted that he didn't know. They hadn't actually bothered to write that - they'd just ended on a mystery in the hope of being recommissioned. When the show was axed, they just left it at that! Meanies.

Poor Ros and Beckett. Eleven years now they've been waiting in that car, wondering who the bloke in the front seat is. I only hope Proper Ed has come back by now to help them out.
( 2 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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