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Bugs: Down Among The Dead Men

I love this episode. It has everything that you could possibly want from a Bugs episode. Techno-crime, stuff blowing up, fabulously hissable villains, and did I mention stuff blowing up? Really good direction, too. Beckett on the other hand doesn't seem to enjoy it. I suspect this is because he elects to spend the entire episode handcuffed to a submarine, but then that's his own silly fault.

We start out at a naval yard. Equipment has been stolen from some old, rusting hulks, and the dockyard chief is not best pleased. He sends out a squadron of young midshipmen to look for clues, leading to much creeping about in the dark, with artistic flashing of torches. Suddenly a wet-suited intruder lurches up out of the water, and it's curtains for one promising young midshipman. The only one with a name, too, which just goes to show that it can be dangerous to try to rise above the ranks of ordinary film extras. Anyway, the stolen equipment is now in the possession of an ex-Navy diver, who has aroused the suspicions of a banker. Not sure why, but he has. Can the Bugs team find out just how dodgy the child-murdering sneak thief is? Why certainly. What this calls for is subtlety and finesse. I know! Let's send in Beckett. In a cunning disguise (a pair of glasses), Beckett pretends to be an insurance agent, only to get rumbled immediately and shot at again. Actually, properly shot at this time, by somebody who knows what he's doing, and does actually manage to hit his target. Fortunately for Beckett, his secret microphone has a massive battery pack, that for some reason he's got taped over his heart. Anyway... Ed was checking out Dodgy Child-Murdering Sneak Thief's house while Beckett was playing dress-up, but since the odd insurance scam thingy didn't work, there's now trouble heading his way. Quick as a not very quick thing, he jumps into a nearby water tank to hide, only to find the stolen Naval equipment floating about in there with him. As he waits for the coast to be clear again, who should turn up but this week's evil villains, in search of the very bag of goodies that Ed is currently using as a flotation device. Technically they're this week's additional evil villains, since their henchman has already proven to be rather unfriendly, but these are the brains of the operation. He's been after them for more money, apparently, so they shoot him - without finding out where he's hidden the stolen equipment first, which is bad planning on their part, but good news for Ed. They then chuck a now ex-midshipman murderer into the water tank, and run cackling off into the grey English drizzle. At which point Beckett and Ros turn up to warn Ed that there might be trouble coming. Nice thought guys, but it might have been easier just to call. Also, if Beckett hadn't stopped to inexplicably change his clothes before you left, you might actually have arrived in time.

The Evil Twins, although actually they're husband and wife. Spectacularly hissable, these two.

The midshipman-murdering Beckett-shooter. Just prior to getting shot himself.

Soggy Ed in a water tank.

Soggy Ed in a water tank is having a Very Bad Day.

Now in possession of the stolen Naval equipment, the Bugs team decide that a good plan would be to phone up the bad guys and tell them about it. Yes, they say, we're top Naval engineers. Honest we are. Jolly good, say the bad guys. Come and meet us and we'll go on a grand nautical adventure, with a little evil thrown in on the side. Hurrah! say the Bugs team, not able to see how any of this could possibly go wrong. Hang on, and we'll be right with you. With Ros acting as land-based liaison, the boys therefore set off on their Great Outing, joining the bad guys for a quick sail out into the predictably grey and chilly sea. "Now you can admire my timing," said Lady Evil Twin, at which moment up pops a submarine, although pretty much directly underneath them, which practically causes them to capsize. So yes, we can admire her timing, but not necessarily her parking. Down into the depths go the boys, the stolen Naval equipment, and Gentleman Evil Twin, neatly cutting off the satellite signal from the boys' trackers. Ros now has no idea where they are, no idea what they're doing, and no idea what it is that she's supposed to be trying to foil. Which is good. Lady Evil Twin then heads back to shore, and Ros goes off to follow her. Meanwhile, Beckett and Ed get to play in the submarine, which is a really nice set. All claustrophic and stuffed with mechanical gubbins, and not at all like the big, shiny ones that they usually use on TV. They may have gone a tad overboard with the dramatic red lighting, though. Then Ed gives the game away when he tries to sneak a radio call to Ros when they stop to refuel, and Gentleman Evil Twin obligingly blows up the entire Dutch coastline in an effort to off him. There is much that goes boom. And then there is much that goes boom again, but from a slightly different angle, because the director is nice that way.

Yes, this might be a good time to use one of those hands-free kits that you're wearing in every other episode, Ros.

It's a very red submarine. Goodness knows what they do when they go to red alert. Even redder alert?

Ros demonstrates this week's flashy lights tech as she tracks Lady Evil Twin back on land.

Whilst Gentleman Evil Twin boots up his computers, and begins to initiate Operation: Something Really Devious That Hasn't Been Explained Yet, But That Probably Involves Banks.

He appears to be using DOS, which is a slight slip up for a futuristic show made in the year that Windows 95 came out, and rendered DOS even more anachronistic than it was already.

Ed calls Ros, and tells her that whatever they're doing, it involves a submarine. This is so far the extent of the intel, but hey, it's a submarine, and that's really cool, right? Ros appears unmoved. Ros, it's a submarine. How many crooks have one of those?

Gentleman Evil Twin picks up Ed's radio broadcast, and produces a jolly big gun. Ed chooses to shelter behind some fuel barrels. Actually he doesn't choose to - they just happen to be all that's available. This is probably not good news for Ed, but on the plus side...


Now let's watch that again, from a different angle.

And again. Boom!

Soggy Ed is, once again, soggy.

Meanwhile, Gentleman Evil Twin has a really big phone. He uses this to tell Beckett that he's coming to get him. Beckett is not overjoyed.

He hides in lots of splendidly dark and claustrophobic places, before getting grabbed by somebody who was cheating and using special night-vision gear.

And Beckett winds up spending the rest of the episode handcuffed to a submarine. On the plus side, though, they're pretty groovy vintage handcuffs.

As ever, Beckett's predilection for imprisonment and bondage proves useful to the viewer, because a bad guy will invariably explain the plot to his prisoners. The submarine will go find itself an underwater telephone cable, and snag it. The stolen Naval equipment from earlier will accomplish this, with something mechanical, and presumably something grabby. The submarine crew will then patch Gentleman Evil Twin's computers into the telephone line, and enable him to divert a regular telephone banking exchange. Sadly Beckett is handcuffed to a submarine at the bottom of the North Sea, and in no position to pass on this information. Luckily Ros has pretty much figured it all out anyway, which will no doubt make Beckett happy. It's always good to know that one has been kidnapped, tied up, and generally inconvenienced on the ocean floor, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Ros then dashes off to tackle Lady Evil Twin, who is planning to convert the transferred money to diamonds. Ed joins up with the Dutch Navy, for... no particular reason. I think he just likes the captain. And Gentleman Evil Twin scuttles the sub, and hurries off to join his wife, leaving Beckett and the crew to drown. Happily the Dutch Navy have a wetsuit, which they're perfectly willing to give to the random Australian bloke they just picked up, so he can go hunting for a submarine that may or may not be somewhere nearby. The Dutch Navy is having a slow day, so they say what the hell. Why let Interpol have all the fun?

Why do computers on TV always look like they were designed to be used by primary school children?!

The Dutch Navy, we are told, has sonar. That's not sonar, that's a 1980s computer game. The sound effects are hilarious.

Soggy Bondage Beckett is soggy. And getting soggier by the moment. Meanwhile, Gentleman Evil Twin runs away giggling.

Beckett is strangely unmoved by the grooviness of his vintage handcuffs, and battles to escape.

Ed really does love standing by banks of equipment with a worried look on his face. Here he's watching the 1980s computer game sonar thingy for anything that might conceivably be a submarine. Although quite how they'd tell is anybody's guess.

Either I've inadvertently switched to an episode of seventies Doctor Who, or Ed is going for a swim to look for the submarine. What he plans to do when he finds it is unclear, since at this point he doesn't know that it's been scuttled and left. Is he planning to ask it politely to surrender?

Back in London, Ros has helpfully got herself hostaged. Not sure why. Lady Evil Twin was looking for a car park, but when Ros said she didn't know where it was, Lady Evil Twin decided to grab her as a substitute.

It's not much of an exchange, really, is it?

Gentleman Evil Twin then turns up, just as the security barrier comes crashing down. He's on one side of the barrier, his wife is on the other. He tells her to hand the diamonds over, and he'll get her out. She, apparently forgetting the minor fact that he's evil, does so. He giggles and runs away, apparently forgetting the minor fact that she's evil. And has a gun. Exit one evil twin, and cue a £247 million game of marbles. The police arrive, and the Bugs team is astonished to find that they've actually managed to make it to the end of an adventure with one of the crooks still alive. Only one out of a gang of three, but still, this is a major improvement on every other episode so far.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the North Sea, Beckett waits patiently for rescue.

(He does get rescued. Ed turns up and takes a bolt-cutter to the vintage handcuffs, the great clumsy oaf).

Next time, wedding bells and politics. And, to the great surprise of everybody, something blows up.

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