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Series / Bugs

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Pretty wires, and running around with briefcases. The show in a nutshell.

Bugs is a mid-1990s British techno-espionage TV series, intended to be The Avengers (1960s) for a new decade. Wikipedia has the facts. Absolutely laden with Hollywood Science tropes, and quite prone to So Bad, It's Good.

It died out pretty horribly due to awkward soap-opera elements being forced in. The fourth series in particular was half-dead from the start and only made worse by poor scheduling.

Bugs provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The then-new London Docklands, where many of the outdoor scenes were filmed, helped with this.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: In spades, such as the miracle foodstuff that can be grown cheaply in large quantities which just happens to be toxic if exposed to UV, or (in a charity special) a machine capable of controling the lottery draw.
  • Arcade Sounds: In "Assassins, Inc.".
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: "The Bureau of Weapons" and "A Cage for Satan" has a mind-controlling AI named Cyberax starting to take over the world.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Ed's entrance in "Assassins, Inc.".
  • Avenging the Villain: Jean-Daniel
  • Beeping Computers: In the Bugs universe, even the Windows 95 "pipes" screensaver renders with a loud BIP-BIP-BIP-BIP...
  • Crash Course Landing: Ed needs to be talked through using a computer to land a plane in "All Under Control"
  • Die Hard in a Futuristic Power Plant: 2x05, "Blackout". Practically a Whole-Plot Reference. Self-proclaimed ecoterrorists take over a "split isotope fusion plant" - supposedly for ideological reasons, but in actuality to carry out a heist. Complete with air duct crawling and long-haired vaguely Germanic mercenaries.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Ros. When armed with Beckett's Jeep in "Out of the Hive" (S1E1), she decides the most efficient way to reach someone the other side of a roundabout is simply to drive over it.
  • Enhance Button
    • Played entirely straight on too many occasions to count.
    • Averted in "Assassins, Inc."; Ros zooms in on some blinkenlichten on a mainframe to demonstrate recovering the data being displayed, but they remain fuzzy, and she explicitly notes that the camera framerate wasn't anywhere near high to get it all.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: And how! They establish this with a midair explosion in the very first episode. No, it doesn't hit anything. Simply losing road contact makes it blow up.
  • Exact Time to Failure: In almost every single episode. Usually coupled with a Magic Countdown.
  • Facial Dialogue: Necessitated by voice-triggered bombs.
  • Floorboard Failure: Ed is cornered on a weak roof and challenges his pursuer to come and get him.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Averted. The series features lots of silenced pistols, but they generally produce muted bangs instead of "fwip" noises.
  • How Did You Know? I Didn't: Ros defusing a bomb attached to an uncooperative Ed.
    Ed: You took long enough working out what to pull out.
    Ros: Who worked it out? I guessed.
  • Instant Sedation: Of all the tropes this series plays straight, this one is notably averted. In "Gold Rush", two characters, a Red Shirt and Ed, are shot in the neck with tranquiliser darts, but it takes near enough half a minute for the sedative to take effect.
  • Last-Name Basis: Beckett. Oddly, not for the others in the team.
  • Made of Explodium: Pretty much everything, including a mainframe computer that explodes in 30 seconds of the air conditioning being turned off, and yet Ed manages to extract three circuit boards in that time that are surprisingly free of heat damage.
  • Magical Computer: "Assassins, Inc." has a voice-activated mainframe that seems to be lifted straight from Star Trek.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Jean-Daniel in "A Cage for Satan":
    "We've been collecting the brightest human specimens... and Roland."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: "Assassins, Inc." starts with Beckett doing a simple data-wiping job. Hey, where did the evidence to convict this week's villain go?
  • No Full Name Given: Ed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jean-Daniel realizing that removing the timer from Beckett's bomb actually armed it.
    "This is broken. So how were you going to set it off? *beat, camera focus changes to the tripwire* ... Ah."
  • Once is Not Enough: Perpetrated by most of the main characters, who take turns being taken hostage. The gold medal goes to Bureau 2 chief "Jan" for doing this several times during the same episode ("Identity Crisis"), without once stopping to pick up the stunned guard's weapon.
  • Plot Armor: Roland Blatty survives a point-blank shot to the chest from a howitzer with only a computer between him and the muzzle.
  • Power Trio
    • Ros Henderson — Ego; most likely to take the lead.
    • Nick Beckett — Superego; relatively speaking.
    • Ed — Id; carefree.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Musclebound Ed is the only person in the show who is any good with a needle and thread.
  • Science Is Bad: Ros (of all people) comes up with the following Insane Troll Logic while trying to Find the Cure! for Alex's 6th century plague in "Pandora's Box":
    Dr Hemmings: "We have all this technology, and it seems useless."
    Ros: "All this technology... that's it! We've been looking at this completely the wrong way."
    Dr Hemmings: "You mean this is a 6th century plague?
    Ros: "Right. Now maybe, we have to fight it with 6th century methods."
    Ros: "You heat substances by flame, not in a microwave!"
    Dr Hemmings: "You cool them on ice, not by electricity!"
    Ros: "You use natural containers, not plastic!"
  • Space Is Noisy: Mostly averted. In one episode, a leaking and unstable fuel cell is jettisoned from a shuttle and explodes silently, albeit still with a fireball that implies the presence of atmospheric oxygen.
  • Super Serum: Tri-Meserone in "A Sporting Chance".
  • Super Soldiers: of the drug-induced variety in "A Sporting Chance".
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: On every computer used. Complete with cheesy mid-'90s CGI!
  • Wrench Wench: Ros. They all use gadgets, but she's the one most likely to have tinkered them into existence.