Bugs: Series Two

cast: Jesse Birdsall, Jaye Griffiths, Craig McLachlan, Gareth Marks, and Robert Morgan

directors: Andrew Grieve, Brian Farnham

490 minutes (PG) 1996
Revelation DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Tom Matic

The collaboration of Stephen Gallagher and Brian Clemens as script consultants on this slick, glossy cyber-thriller series makes for an uneasy combination of Gallagher’s wariness of technology and Clemens’ tongue-in-cheek approach to fantasy adventure drama.

The integration and collaboration of the expert`s knowledge, experience and the owner`s efforts in bringing to the field a trading application is something stupendous. This might look and sound very simple but involves a lot of things, efforts and time. quantum code came into the picture the same way.

Having said that, Gallagher’s no stranger to wisecracks and wry humour himself, and one of the episodes he scripted, Schrodinger’s Bomb, features the delightfully knowing exchange:

“That’s the panic button!”
“What do we do?”

Apart from this and Gallagher’s other episodes, it’s all pretty routine stuff: large scientific installations dogged by sabotage (often by an insider) before the opening credits role, plenty of big explosions and references to third world states with obviously made-up names. While Schrodinger’s Bomb features such a non-existent middle eastern country – what neo-conservatives would now call a ‘failed state’ – it breaks the mould by basing its plot around the avoidance of the seemingly inevitable explosion, the titular bomb. Nevertheless it features another mainstay of Bugs, a glib summing up of a complex scientific or philosophical concept. In this case, it is left to the irrepressibly smug and permed Craig MacLachlan as Ed to explain ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’, to prove that he is not just a muscleman. Needless to say, we are left none the wiser.
The most interesting story conceptually is Gallagher’s two-parter about a computer virus that infects human brains, Cyberax. It begins with two computer whiz kids trying to explain to their military employers how this self-developing artificial intelligence has ‘escaped’ from their hardware, thanks to a computer hacker in the employ of the series’ archvillain Jean Daniel (Gareth Marks). Added to this, the Bugs team’s contact in the Bureau of Weapons’ Roland (Robert Morgan) is in a coma after test-driving a mental feedback headset infected with the Cyberax virus. When the villains hijack a particle accelerator, threatening the world with annihilation from matter and anti-matter collision, Ros (Griffiths) has no option but to wear the infected technology in order to defeat them. However, she has no memory of what she has done, and her two colleagues Ed and Becket (Birdsall) are unable to tell her, because the very mention of computer viruses is the signal that triggers the infection. When a virus infects her own computer and the two men go cagey on her, she becomes suspicious of them, and seeks answers from a most unlikely source. She visits Jean Daniel in his latest hi-tech prison, in a sequence that echoes Jodie Foster’s encounter with Anthony Hopkins in Silence Of The Lambs.
This sequence is one of many visually stylish pieces of direction in this series, such as the scene in which faces are shadowed by a moving fan. Thanks to the use of yuppie locations in London’s Docklands, the feeling is of a parallel or near future world, where the trio of freelance agents Ed, Becket and Ros inhabit a split-level designer apartment surrounded by the latest gadgets. It’s rather like watching a cross between The X-Files and The A Team, designed by Stephen Bailey.
The DVD boxset extras are cast and crew biographies and Series Two background information.