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TV & Media Non-Trek television, movies, books, music, etc.

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Old March 9 2013, 02:48 PM   #1
TedShatner10
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Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

Does anybody remember Bugs, a sci-fi show from the mid to late 1990s?

Here are the opening credits used for the show.

I'm currently marathon running through a DVD boxset of the entire run in the past week or so and it holds up surprisingly well, even if the 1990s computer/cellphone tech is glaringly dated now and a lot of the badguys are almost laughable 2D cutouts. Starring Jaye Griffiths, Jesse Birdsall, and Craig McLachlan, and made with a relatively high budget, with slick production values that still look good, it could easily be seen as a proto-NuWho from way back before the turn of the millennium, though in essence it felt and looked more like a cross between Primeval and Spooks (with Bugs aimed more at the former show's viewing demograph instead of the latter).

Also a lot of supporting guest stars in Bugs are very familiar faces seen in more recent hit shows (like Togo Igawa, Ian McNeice, Anton Lesser and Hugh Bonneville, among others).

While Bugs was a solid series that was ahead of its time, with near future cyberpunk stories and a show formula that would work today, and well produced, the show's occasionally used visual effects jump out as pretty bad nowadays and looked poor even next to 1990s Star Trek/Babylon 5 visual effects (think early Photoshop and Tron era CGI) and it seems like Bugs was crippled by the departure of scriptwriter Stephen Gallagher (plus a character having the actor playing him change).

But the show had loads of explosions (setting off more bombs in Britain than IRA terrorists, who incidently disrupted the Bugs production crew).
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Old March 9 2013, 04:25 PM   #2
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

I was still a kid in the 90s but this was one of my favourites along with Crime Traveller. Lots of fights with mum trying to wrest control of the television!

I remember very little though, and I've always been wary of the boxset simply because I expected it to destroy the nostalgia.
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Old March 9 2013, 04:33 PM   #3
diankra
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

Bugs holds up OK - aside from the perennial problem of effects dating faster than anything except fashions and haircuts - but keep away from Crime Traveller. However enjoyable it might have been to a kid, any adult SF fan will find their nitpicker gene working overtime.
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Old March 9 2013, 04:37 PM   #4
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

I rewatched Crime Traveller last year and thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Old March 9 2013, 05:05 PM   #5
TedShatner10
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

diankra wrote: View Post
Bugs holds up OK - aside from the perennial problem of effects dating faster than anything except fashions and haircuts -
On hindsight the 1990s as a decade was essentially a toned down 1980s 2.0.

It helps that Bugs's aged digital visual effects when used looked OK when depicting fictional industrial/corporate buildings or depicting stuff on computer screens (they were at their worst in the space shuttle story, though the cargo shuttle bay was a great set for a TV show).

The lack of solid/competent but sometimes not movie quality CGI we've gotten so use to seeing in sci-fi shows made in past decade makes Bugs feel a bit more grounded in some respects (with a lot of effort going into the sets, location shooting and lighting, which haven't really dated awfully).

but keep away from Crime Traveller. However enjoyable it might have been to a kid, any adult SF fan will find their nitpicker gene working overtime.
I checked out the Crime Traveller trailer on Bugs' stripped down DVD extras: tis a silly looking show.
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Old March 9 2013, 10:36 PM   #6
Holdfast
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

I enjoyed bits of both Bugs & Crime Traveller at the time. Not having seen either since original airing, I've no idea whether I'd enjoy them now. What I do remember is feeling that both missed out on being potentially great shows.

Bugs simply never felt big/grand enough. They tried very hard: using the then-new Canary Wharf as a backdrop to give everything a modern feel, using a lot of the new Fiats of the era (Puntos, Bravas, etc) which then looked a bit more curvy/organic/different to most older cars of that era, faster pacing than usual from the BBC of the day, and lots of attempts to give everything a cool edge. But it needed more money to really flesh out the Bugs world and so permit the stories to be told in a bigger, grander way rather than having to shoot around set constraints. Could have been really great. Still fun though.

In some ways, Crime Traveller had an even better concept, and the two leads worked very well together. The will-they/won't-they stuff was hackneyed but it has been thus since the dawn of time, and if done well it can still work, so I've no problem with it. But the scripts needed to have more fun with core concept in an arch/witty way. The two leads are inherently good at comic timing, and the scripts didn't give them enough leeway to deploy those skills, and instead slowed their banter down. I remember that one episode involved a second time machine and that improved things a lot, because there was a more dynamic pace to the story. I think if it had been written more sharply and without the BBC Saturday night feel it had, it could have been great.

(for a BBC cop show with a similar will-they/won't-they angle but with a much sharper/funnier script that knows how to revel in the absurdity of the situations the characters find themselves in - albeit without sci-fi trappings - try Vexed.)
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Old March 10 2013, 12:39 AM   #7
TedShatner10
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

Holdfast wrote: View Post
Bugs simply never felt big/grand enough. They tried very hard: using the then-new Canary Wharf as a backdrop to give everything a modern feel, using a lot of the new Fiats of the era (Puntos, Bravas, etc) which then looked a bit more curvy/organic/different to most older cars of that era, faster pacing than usual from the BBC of the day, and lots of attempts to give everything a cool edge. But it needed more money to really flesh out the Bugs world and so permit the stories to be told in a bigger, grander way rather than having to shoot around set constraints. Could have been really great. Still fun though.
While it hurt itself in places in fleshing out ambitious stories, with a setting that felt a bit untapped (I get the impression that Bugs was set in an alternative reality 2000s, explaining the oddly dated tech alongside sci-fi tech, with a different geopolitical landscape: the Soviet Union folded much earlier or perhaps not existed at all, with the Eastern Alliance in its place that in turn collapsed, China is not a factor and there's a better developed UK economy, etc) at least Bugs generally looked like it was made in the mid to late 1990s: Ros' yellow Toyota (?) wouldn't look out of place today and Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs was a wise choice for location shooting (it looked good in Primeval as well).

I've seen Crime Traveller's trailer and the opening ten minutes of it on YouTube, and it gives the overwhelming impression of being broadcast in 1987 instead of 1997 (the undercover cops using giant walkie talkies, the location shooting around a train station and shopping mall built in the 1970s, the greyish cinematography, Chloe Annett's hair and Michael French's pastel green shirt heavily reinforced that).
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Old March 10 2013, 01:55 PM   #8
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

I watched it when it was on but I don't remember a lot about it. As for Crime Traveller I loved it when I was younger, and rewatched it a few years back and it wasn't great but I still managed to enjoy it for the most part.
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Old March 10 2013, 02:22 PM   #9
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Re: Bugs (1990s UK Sci-fi Series).

Crime Traveller comes across as schlocky fun and was a reasonable ratings hit at the time, but Anthony Horowitz found it hard to write episodes on a consistent basis, the production style seemed a bit drab and the mode of time travel was too convoluted.
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