Bugs – Buffy The Vampire Slayer – tape 2486

BBC One first, starting straight off with an episode of Bugs. There’s a jarring cut that looks like a continuity error right at the top of the show. In the first shot Ros (Jaye Griffiths) is lighting a black candle that’s obviously below her eyeline as she’s looking down at it (and the camera).

In the very next shot, right after the cut, she’s just lit a white candle that’s slightly above her eyeline. Real Amateur Hour, Bugs Makers.

She has visitors, who aren’t who she’s expecting. Then, the rest of her team (including Jesse Birdsall as Beckett) arrive to find signs of a struggle, and a photograph of the team with Ros torn out. The team jump into action. Jan Harvey is the woman in charge.

According to iMDb she joined at the start of Season 3, and this is the first episode of Season 4. At first I was a bit confused, thinking it was Sue Johnston in charge, but I think I’m confusing it with Crime Traveller. And Waking the Dead.

There’s a high tension chase, as they think they’ve spotted Ros’s car, but it’s a different model, then Beckett thinks he’s spotted her, but it’s a different person in a similar coat. They’re definitely trying to paint Beckett as a desperate man. If they’ve decided to do a Death in Paradise and kill off Ros in the first episode of the new series, I’ll be very cross.

Talking of dramatic changes, they keep talking to this strange bloke and calling him Ed when it’s clearly not Craig MacLachlan.

No wonder Beckett is feeling adrift, and desperate to find Ros. He probably just wants to see a familiar face.

I wonder why the show decided to recast Ed’s role, rather than write the character out and introduce a new one. MacLachlan, being a Neighbours cast-off, was presumably a big name when they were initially marketing the show, so to suddenly have this major character played by someone unfamiliar seems like a bad move. New boy Steven Houghton doesn’t even keep the Australian accent, although his dialogue is quite noticeably dubbed in the opening scenes, so I wonder if he was trying a different accent early on and they decided against it, and got him to loop those lines.

Looks like the military are still using Windows 3.1 despite this being 1998. Actually that’s probably accurate given how slow those kinds of organisations are at upgrading systems.

Beckett is really sad in this. Here he is sadly fondling a cricket ball while listening to her answering machine message.

The message is bad news. They’ve found Ros’s car in a river. There’s blood and bullet holes but no body. Beckett won’t believe she’s dead.

The bad guys are tooled up. They’ve even got a Palm Pilot. Remember those? They owned the handheld market.

They’re breaking into a genetics lab and then blowing it up. They’re some kind of eco terrorists.

More bad news for the team as the blood in Ros’s car is a match for her DNA. It’s definitely curtains for Ros. They even hold a memorial service. But the more they layer it on, the more I suspect she’s going to pop up, not least because she was still in the opening titles for this episode.

I’m with Beckett. Show me a body. #roslives

Beckett is so convinced she’s still alive that he quits the bureau to search for her himself.

He finds out that the founder of the company Ros used to work for was also, at one time, her fiancee, and that he and Ros originally formed the eco terrorist group that broke into the genetics lab, known as Sunstorm. He talks to the man but doesn’t find anything. But he’s being watched.

By Ros.

Is she there willingly? Or has she returned to her shady past? Sunstorm is trying to expose a secret bioweapon, and they don’t know who they can trust, which is why they have to pretend Ros is dead, and hide from Beckett.

Ros is helping Sunstorm find the evidence that the genetics lab are building a bioweapon, and it ends on a cliffhanger as they grab the proof as it’s being transported (by Ed and new agent Alex, played by Paula Hunt) with Beckett in rogue pursuit, and he sees that Ros is alive.

This is so hyper dramatic it’s starting to be a bit silly. Beckett even drops to his knees and yells “Rooooooooooos!” as she drives away.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th July 1998 – 18:35

After this, there’s trailers for Lakesiders and The Three Tenors – Paris 1998.

Then, the start of National Lottery Big Ticket with Anthea Turner and Patrick Kielty.

After a few minutes, recording switches to Sky One, with the end of a programme which seems to be people talking about their biggest influence. I don’t know if this is an actual programme or just a filler thing.

Then, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is introduced by its stunt coordinator.

This episode is Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered. It’s a couple of episodes after the last ones we saw. Angel is now evil, and hanging out with Spike and Drusilla. It’s Valentine’s Day, so they’re expecting him to do something against Buffy.

Xander is still with Cordelia, but she’s trying to put him off as he’s cramping her style, despite really liking him. So Xander asks Willow’s friend Amy (who we last saw turning into a rat, but in the future) to cast a love spell to make Cordy fall for him again.

It goes a little wrong, because the only person who’s not affected by it is Cordelia. All the other girls at school are now lusting after Xander, and he’s finding it hard to cope.

When Buffy and Amy clash over Xander’s affections, Amy uses her go-to trick and turns Buffy into a rat.

Cordelia is also in trouble with Harmony and her crew, who are angry with the way she used and discarded Xander. Even Willow is acting rather out of character.

I love the way this show takes an ostensibly comedy premise, which could just be light and frothy (and is, indeed, very funny) but still imbues it with genuinely high stakes. Both Xander’s as he’s pursued by a frightening mob of angry women, and Buffy, as a rat, menaced by cats and mousetraps. And it can still raise real laughs often seconds before another genuine scare.

I am in awe of this show.

Plus, even while all the women are after him, Xander understands about consent.

Plus Plus, Cordy tells off Harmony at the end. I love Cordelia.

Back to BBC1, Saturday Night, and Bugs next.

Before it starts, though, there’s the end of an episode of the Dale Winton game show The Other Half. I notice in the credits it was created by Jeremy Lloyd – famous as a writer of (among other things) ‘Allo ‘Allo and one of my favourite things when I was younger, Captain Beaky and his band.

By the way, I wonder whose bright idea it was to have those two blobs bouncing around over the top of the credits, making it hard to read them. Nice work. Probably the same person who invented credit squeezing, and limiting closing credit running times.

Another trailer for Lakesiders follows, and one for The National Lottery On Tour.

We’ve moved into the era of the BBC One hot air balloon idents. I quite liked these, but it’s definitely the start of a very slippery slope that has brought us to the current, quite dire ‘Oneness’ idents they’re inflicting on us.

So now we have the second part of the opener of this series of BugsSacrifice to Science.

Now the team know Ros is alive, and more than that. After the ambush of the van carrying the genetic lab’s experiment, Ed and Alex managed to hang on to the sample, and they now know that, contrary to what the team had been assured by the military, this is definitely not a medical experiment, it’s a weaponised virus that can be targeted at any specific genetic group.

As if on cue, military bigshot General Russell turns up with a large team of soldiers pointing guns everywhere, telling Jan he’s shutting the Bureau down (for an hour?) because Ros was working with the eco terrorists and they’re compromised. General Russell is played by Robert Addie, who looked familiar to me, then I remembered him as Guy of Gisburne in Robin of Sherwood (and he’s also young Mordred in John Boorman’s Excalibur).

He also takes the genetic weapon. I guarantee it’ll be in play before the end of the episode.

Jan goes to her superior, who’s just had a shower, but gets no support.

Ros contacts Beckett and they have an emotional reunion, but he’s being tracked by the other side, who shoot a couple of the Sunstorm members, and blow up their base with the others inside.

Ed and Alex are following a lead to an Eastern European virus expert, Yerevenkian. Meanwhile Jan visits the pub. This is a pub quite close to where I live, only about twenty minutes walk along the canal.

She talks to a psychiatrist who treated General Russell after a breakdown, and who recommended he should retire on health grounds.

Ed and Alex track Yerevenkian, but his suitcase is stolen, and ends up with General Russell. It’s fortunate that the security conscious General chooses to enact all his secret doings in front of his office’s huge public facing window, so Ed can see him.

I’m sorry, but every time any of these characters talk about ‘the bureau’ all I can think of is The Day Today.

General Russell’s thugs are back at Felton Down genetic research lab, leaning on the head scientist to create a specific bioweapon tuned to a specific person’s DNA. When Ros and her friend get there to talk to the head of the lab, they find him dead, and also find Yerevenkian’s hairbrush.

Ed and Alex have found some data on General Russell past, particularly the chemical leak that killed his family, for which he blames Yerevenkian. I love these mocked-up computer screens, as there’s almost always a typo somewhere. ‘ACCCESS’?

The General leaves a device that will spread a modified Ebola virus designed to attack only Yerevenkian in the air conditioning of the hotel where Yerevenkian will be speaking, intending his death to appear in a very public place. But the team learn that the scientist at Felton Down didn’t do the DNA bonding, so the virus would kill everyone there.

There’s a race against time as Ros and Beckett confront Russell on stage which Ed and Alex find the virus device and have to keep it warm, which they do by putting it in a tray of sweetcorn.

There’s a big fight, but crisis is averted, although not before Ros’s friend from Sunstorm, an old boyfriend, is shot by Russell. This leaves her and Beckett’s relationship rather broken.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th July 1998 – 19:00

Before the next episode, the end of another episode of The Other Half.

There’s a trailer for Bob Monkhouse – Over the Limit.

Also, a trailer for the Pauline Quirke detective drama Maisie Raine.

Then more Bugs. In Hell and High Water it looks like some people are burgling a retro computing museum.

As I was scrubbing through the opening titles I saw an unfamiliar name and thought ‘Oh No, Jesse Birdsall has left now.’

The burglars were after a particular component in an old mainframe.

The Bureau team are called in to investigate a platform at sea, which has lost contact with the mainland, and is in control of an orbiting missile defence satellite. There’s a time window in which they have to find the problem before the satellite crashes.

When they get there, the occupants of the platform seem nervous, and we soon learn it’s part of the same group who stole the mainframe, looking for the second part of a component, hidden there in the 70s.

There’s lots of betrayal, double crossing, and Ros and Beckett get locked in a decompression chamber for good measure.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 8th August 1998 – 19:00

Following this, recording continues. There’s a trailer for Top Gun and for Sunday’s programmes.

Then, the start of The National Lottery on Tour. Live from the Bournemouth Opera House. Wow. I thought Summertime Special was long gone. Presented by Bradley Walsh, featuring music from Steps. Gosh, this is quite poor.

There’s also an appearance by a young Dominic Monaghan, fresh off four years as Hetty Wainthrop’s sidekick.

Luckily we’re spared a performance from Simply Red as the recording stops, and underneath is a bit of Casualty. And when that programme finishes, after a few minutes, there’s a trailer for The Broker’s Man.

Then, the tape ends with the start of Little White Lies. The tape ends after ten minutes or so.

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  • trail: Gargantua
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  • trail: Stargate SG-1
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