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Vexed: Series 1

Release Year:         2010
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC; Widescreen
Rated:         Not Rated; Contains coarse language and sexual content
# of Discs/Episodes:         1/ 3
Running Time:         Approx. 175 min.
DVD Release Date:         October 2, 2012
Creators:         Howard Overman
Actors:         Toby Stephens, Lucy Punch
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         7/10

Acorn Media Write-up:    
He’s lazy, disorganized, charming, and more interested in having a good time than solving crimes. She’s dedicated, efficient, determined to succeed at her new job, and worried that her marriage might be falling apart. Thrown together as partners on the London police force, the two mismatched detectives solve crimes with more luck than skill, bickering and bantering along the way.

Toby Stephens (“Jane Eyre”, “Die Another Day”) is DI Jack Armstrong, and Lucy Punch (“Hot Fuzz”, “Doc Martin”) plays DI Kate Bishop in a fresh approach to the cop drama. As they hunt for a serial killer who targets lonely women, investigate the attempted murder of a cranky banker, and cope with a high-profile kidnapping, Jack and Kate learn about each other, disagree on almost everything, and discover they’re not such an odd couple after all. Featuring a sexy, attractive cast, and sprinkled with jokes and repartee, VEXED is “more comedy than drama…[and] lots of fun” (The Times, U.K.)

Promotional trailers (5 min.) and photo gallery

Jon Ted Wynne Review:  
While it is refreshing to see any attempt at a new take on the police procedural drama, VEXED is, at best, a curious mixture of comedy, drama and something that the makers of this show have yet to define. It is most certainly a variation on the good cop/bad cop genre, making much of the hard-working cop/lazy cop pairing, but what else is it? It tries to be funny but doesn’t want to completely forgo the drama of a police procedural. Maybe it’s a classic case of “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”

The critics in the U.K. are divided on this one, so it is interesting to watch and decide for oneself what works and what doesn’t.  What is particularly good is the work of leads Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch. Stephens is the son of the late great Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith, and is an outstanding actor. Ms Punch will be remembered as one of Doc Martin’s wonderfully ditzy secretaries on “Doc Martin”. They have pretty good chemistry together and although hampered by mediocre scripts, they acquit themselves as well as can be expected.

The problem with the show is the writing and the lack of focus. The show simply can’t decide what it is. If it is supposed to be a comedy, then what kind of comedy is it? A farce? At times it seems to be reaching in this direction. As the show’s reception warranted a second season (of six episodes, three more than the three presented here), one would hope that this uncertainty of style is adequately resolved.

On the other hand, if the show is a satire of police procedural dramas, then it has already taken a few steps in the right direction. For example Stephens and Punch don’t seem to have a superior to whom they answer. We never see them in the office. Further, we see them behaving inappropriately at crime scenes in every episode. While this provides some of the humour, it brings with it a load of frustration. “OK,” one might think, “this is not to be taken seriously.” But then we see a lot of blood on a murder victim or one or both of the stars in serious peril. How are we supposed to wait for the laughs when there are deliberate moments of “in your face” reality?

Perhaps, along with a firm decision as to what kind of comedy the show is aiming for, there needs to be some consistency.

There are some laughs in all three episodes (the second is best) but they are too few and far between. Had a “Naked Gun” approach been taken then the mugging and corniness of some of the humour might have worked better. At least it would have been more consistent.

I’m willing to wait for Series 2 before making my mind up about VEXED, but it had better be much improved. Given the pedigree of the two stars and the obvious chemistry they have together, I look forward with optimism to a witty comedy that matures through its growing pains. On the other hand, it appears that Lucy Punch left the show after the first series and Stephens has a new bickering partner. Perhaps that will help things? We shall see.

Fingers crossed!