Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

Kate - "What did you just say to me this morning?"
Jack - "What?"
Kate - "Don't use your testicle to justify your complete incompetence!"

I recently got my Wii set back up and it's now become my standalone BBC iPlayer. I suppose I could use it for other things, but I can't really figure out what else it would be any use for (having grown tired of the balance board that came with it). Fortunately for me the BBC iPlayer works pretty well on it and as such I've been using it to explore the various BBC programs that are on offer. On Demand viewing is pretty much my preferred viewing method these days, I don't want to be tied to watching the television at a fixed day and time, I want television to suit my lifestyle and my choices. If I want to go out for a cycle or an impromptu gathering I don't want to go through the hassle of having to remember to record any shows I miss.

Sure, I could set up series links and what have you, but again that doesn't suit my temperament. I prefer to look at a list of shows and pick one to watch immediately rather than draw up a list of shows that I want to record in order to watch at some point. I can now dip in and out of shows, taking a chance on things like Cowards, Mongrels (more on this one next week for sure) and returning to shows such as My Family and Armstrong & Miller whenever I feel like it.

This is how I came across the BBC 2 show Vexed; something about its entry in the comedy section of the iPlayer made me decide to click the play button. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the synopsis provided - "Police detectives Jack and Kate have very different approaches to the job and life in general. In fact they disagree on everything" - that just sounds, well bloody awful. And I know it wasn't the cast - I've never heard of Lucy Punch, Toby Stephens, Ronny Jhutti, Roger Griffiths or Rory Kinnear before and looking at their imdb entries it's not really surprising - none of them have performed any monumental roles, though they've all appeared in episodes of shows I have watched.

Vexed is best described as a comedy/drama/police procedural with an irrelevant sense of humour. It's a mild spin on the old cop buddy format with two somewhat disparate partners pushed together - in this case you have the talented and dedicated but somewhat neurotic DI Kate (Lucy Punch) partnered up with a man who seems to be permanently stuck in the 1970s with his misogynistic, womanising, lazy, cut corners attitude - DI Jack (Toby Stephens). It's an old formula and while it's not really a stretch for a show to partner a woman with a misogynistic pig it is one that works. The relationship provides a lot of bounce between the characters (as long as the man isn't too much of a tw*t).

Vexed has just three episodes at this time and with its production company Greenlit Right Productions in administration (or greenlit for termination as The Shield would have it), it's hard to say if there will be any more episodes - especially given the mixed critical reaction. I know that Dan of Dan's Media Digest had a rather adverse reaction when I tweeted about liking Vexed - I believe he threatened to unfollow me! Certainly many critics and reviewers have had negative things to say about the show, in particular about Toby's performance as Jack.

But frankly I disagree, I felt the show had a certain charm from a police based television series that I hadn't seen since Police Squad - Vexed is certainly grounded more in reality than Police Squad was, but DI Jack has a Frank Drebin feel to him - an ironically charged, ham-fisted performance that is over the top - but it's still pretty darn hilarious to watch him in the same way it's hilarious to watch Frank over act in every single scene. He's supposed to be charming and great with the ladies, but instead he tends to come across as ignorant, useless and piggishly chauvinistic and I think we all know those are traits that some women are drawn to like moths to flame. (I said some ladies, I didn't mean you of course!)

Lucy Punch's performance as Kate is the more grounded of the two performances, she's a lot of fun - a mix of a strong woman combined with a neurotic wife desperate to keep her home life together. She's the smarter of the pair by a long margin and tends to use her head in problematic situations - Jack instead seems to rely on a mix of intuition and dumb luck, he's a man who can't remember how to plant a tracking device properly, carries a gun without training (and then loses it) and electronically stalks women to pick them up. An awful piece of work if you met him in real life, but pretty darn hilarious on screen.

It is more than likely that Vexed won't have any more episodes after the third one, the combination of critical panning and the large factor of the production company being in administration seems the right mix to result in it being killed off before it has a chance to develop and that's a shame in my opinion, because there's a lot right about Vexed. It's something different enough to get my interest and it's one of the few new British shows that I found myself enjoying - it's energetic, crude, offensive and born in a timeless fashion that makes it feel like it would be just as much at home in the 1970s or 80s as it is in this day and age.

The three episodes that have been recorded cover a trio of cases - the first involves a serial killer hunting single women, the second a depressed banker under threat of assassination (in a rehabilitation clinic) and the kidnapping of Gemma G - a member of a girl band. Each episode is 60 minutes long and self contained.

In all I'd say you should consider giving Vexed a try, it's an uneven show that is in its infancy but there are times where the dialog and characters shine out with sheer genius and show what it could grow into. Jack/Toby and Kate/Lucy have some solid on screen chemistry that bubbles up in exceptional ways at times, especially when they are dealing with Jack's general incompetence. It's a fun show and something a little different - so spend three hours of your time and give it a go. I'm glad I did.


1 comment so far.

  1. Aaron 8 September 2010 at 14:50
    Toby Stephens as Prince John was the best thing in Robin Hood. FACT.

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