So it? the last role of the dice for Ros, Ed, Becket and their chums at Bureau 2 as the last batch of episodes from BUGS, the BBC? moderately-successful 1990s hi-tech action show arrives on a 3-disc DVD boxset. Previously, you may recall, the show escaped the icy fingers of cancellation by cleverly ending its third season on a cliffhangar. Having quite literally saved the world in the last episode, the team? celebrations were rudely interrupted by the disappearance of Ros (Griffiths). Season four picks up from almost the precise moment the previous series ended with a two-part yarn revealing Ros? fate (falling in with a bunch of misguided eco-terrorist chums). The resolution leaves Ros? just-blossoming relationship with big-nosed Beckett (Birdsall) in tatters and they spend the rest of the season at arm? length never quite able to express just what they?e thinking to one another.

Elsewhere it? business as usual. High concept stories, lots of bangs and flashes (although is it me or do some of the FX look a bit less impressive this year?) and the usual menagerie of last-minute countdowns and frustrating baddies-escape-by-car stuff. Yes, it? business as usual apart from just one thingond sadly it? just one thing which scuppers the fourth series of BUGS and shatters its fragile credibility beyond repair. Steven Houghton. With Craig McLachlan jumping ship to find fame and fortune in obscurity (well, have you seen him since?) the structure of the cliffhangar meant it was necessary to recast the part for season four. The original Ed, you?l remember, was a beefy, curly-haired Australian action man. Ed No 2, however, is a wiry, long-faced, lank-haired Northerner. It is, quite frankly, the most incredible piece of miscasting I?e ever come across – a situation exacerbated (?hat does that mean?? by the fact that Mr Houghton (formerly of TV? LONDON? BURNING and a brief pop career) is not one of our most gifted thespians. Houghton really drags BUGS down. His delivery is flat and monotone, he lumbers through action sequences, there? no chemistry between him and his co-stars – painful in later episodes where he is supposed to become jealous of Alex (Hunt) and her relationship with her new boyfriend Adam. Also a problem is that Ros/Beckett storyline. Having spent the previous series building a watchable will-they/won?-they scenario, BUGS season four effectively presses the ?eset?button and sends them back to where they were at the very beginning of the show and we?e expected to watch them dancing around one another, their relationship ended for reasons which aren? really ever adequately explained. The addition of a rival for Beckett? affections, his new neighbour the ditzy Christa, is just tiresome and the whole situation sadly underscores just how little room there was for much more in the way of character development for this bunch.

It? a shame, then, that the casting of Houghton and the mismanaged dramatic dynamic damages BUGS so much because season three saw the show really finding its feet. But there? no doubt that something? missing in this last bunch, almost as if the series?last-minute renewal robbed the production team of the chance to move the show in the direction they might have wanted it to. But despite reservations, there? some tense stuff here, particularly episodes like ?ewel Control?and ?andora? Box? the always-interesting doomsday virus scenario. The two-part series finale tries to pull off the same cliffhangar stunt – this time Ros and Ed are kidnapped at Alex? doomed wedding by an unknown assailant. But by now the show? viewing figures had plummeted again and the last three episodes suffered the ignominy of being screened in a teatime slot a year after the series was pulled after episode seven. But for fans of good action TV, BUGS season four is still worth your time; it? just a shame that some iffy decisions undid so much of the good work done by the third season.

THE DISCS: Three discs again packaged in a handy paper-back size container, the episodes look good if a bit grainy sometimes and there? nowt else but text extras.

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