I am always excited when TV shows feature insects. For some reason, I don’t much care whether they get things completely right. Considering how much I grumble about news stories and websites getting their bug facts wrong, I feel like this should bother me more. Of course, I also tend to watch a lot of shows that aren’t based in reality. When people are travelling to alternate universes to battle bad guys, it’s hard to expect them to get their entomological facts straight!
Today I’m going to highlight 5 of my favorite insect-themed TV episodes that have been aired within the last few years. Crime dramas have latched onto forensic entomology like dung beetles on cow pies, but I’m going to ignore them in favor of some of the more ridiculous insect episodes I’ve seen. In no particular order, my 5 favorites are:
Immortality, Fringe, Season 3
I don’t know why I like Fringe as much as I do. The plots are COMPLETELY unrealistic and the situations the characters find themselves in are sometimes laughable, but I can’t stop watching. The show is a sort of X-Files style experience dealing with strange paranormal events that are investigated by a brilliant, but insane scientist, his estranged son, and a female FBI agent. Immortality takes place in the alternate universe that has become a major part of the show. You learn during the episode that an entomologist was just about to make a major health related breakthrough using “skelter beetles,” but the beetles’ sheep host went extinct before the research was completed. The entomologist alters the beetles to accept human hosts to continue his work and murders several people with the bugs, hence the Fringe Division is after him. The episode definitely has problems – the “beetles” are really roaches and no insect could reproduce as quickly as the beetles in the episode do – but it’s still a lot of fun!
SHow ME the Mummy, Eureka, Season 3
Eureka is a lot more “cute” than Fringe, but they’re very similar in many ways – lots of crazy, unrealistic science that just couldn’t happen. If you aren’t familiar with it, the show features a town full of scientists who work at a military R&D lab (Global Dynamics) developing some mind-boggling (i.e., impossible) inventions and scientific techniques. Show Me the Mummy is the show’s main insect offering. The episode begins with the usual snotty scientist with a massive ego arguing with a similar scientist over a mummy. Long story short, the sarcophagus is housing insects that have been in diapause (a sort of hibernation) for a couple thousand years, are reanimated, and require water to reproduce. The scientists at Global Dynamics happen to be full of water, so the bugs kill a few people and wreak havoc on the town of Eureka. Eventually, the town’s sheriff (of all people) suggests that they try killing them with cold. You can guess what happens from here – or just watch it yourself.
Sight Unseen, Stargate SG-1, Season 6
I finally got around to watching Stargate SG-1 recently and I really enjoyed it because I’m a massive geek. In it, the four member military team SG-1 travels to other planets via a transportation device called the Stargate. They battle aliens and whatnot and Richard Dean Anderson’s character makes a lot of jokes. Cheesy sci-fi goodness at its best! In Sight Unseen, the SG-1 team returns to Earth and start seeing giant bugs everywhere, bugs that phase in and out of sight. Then people in Colorado Springs start seeing them too and they know they’ve got a problem on their hands. You later discover that the giant bugs are in a different dimension (of course!) and that a radiation that is somehow transmitted from person to person by physical contact (yeah…) allows people to see through into the other dimension. The bugs aren’t really there after all! It’s a ludicrous plot, but I loved the giant bugs so this is one of my favorite episodes anyway.
All Mine, Reaper, Season 1
Ah, Reaper. This has an even worse overall plot than the other things I’ve mentioned so far and I’m kinda embarrassed I actually watched it. The general idea is that a young man learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was a child – and the devil has come to collect! The guy then has to track down various baddies who have escaped from Hell and send them back using various objects the devil provides for collection. Seriously – cheesy, awful plot! In All Mine, the plot is even worse than usual. An escapee, this time a seductive woman, is killing people with bees. In turns out that her entire body is made up of bees! And then the main character and his inept friends send her back to Hell with a toaster… Yeah. Not a good episode, but it made me laugh anyway, so here we are. :)
Bzzzzzzz!, Pushing Daisies, Season 2
Pushing Daisies is one of my favorite shows of all time. It was bizarrely humorous and quirky, so I thought it was brilliant! The overall plot involves a guy who learned as a kid that he has a gift – he can bring dead things back to life with a touch. However, if he leaves them alive for longer than a minute, an equivalent organism must die in its place with some disastrous consequences. A private investigator stumbles onto his secret and they team up to solve murders by asking the murdered person who killed him/her. The main character brings his first and only love back to life in the first episode (but he can’t ever touch her or she’ll die for good) and she joins the team too. In Bzzzzzz!, the undead girlfriend goes undercover at the bee-based cosmetics company Betty’s Bees (think Burt’s Bees) to figure out who’s been murdering people there. Could it be the vindictive former owner, Betty, bitter over the loss of her company in a hostile takeover? Woolsey, the creepy new owner? The episode is creative, well written, and stunningly gorgeous. I can’t find it online, but if you ever have a chance to see it, it’s really great and I highly recommend it!
Any other recent bug episodes I’ve missed? I’d love to find some other great episodes to watch, so leave suggestions in the comments!
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