Vexed on BBC – Dork Review

Vexed - featuring Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch

Admittedly, the BBC’s Vexed doesn’t contain any aliens, super-powers or other geek talking points. It’s a cop show, about a pair of mismatched partners and their attempts to solve crime, swinging towards the blacker comic end of the comedy-drama scale.

If I had to compare it to any existing geek fare, it would be Life On Mars, albeit with all the implied time travel extracted. I’m bringing it to your attention because Vexed is written by Howard Overman, who also scribed the award-winning Misfits. So, is his take on the police as good as the acclaimed super-swearing show?

Is it really about police work?

Let’s be clear, I enjoyed this a lot. It didn’t make me think or cry, but did leave me grinning from ear to ear. In a world where people often die in agony, that’s more than enough. It attempts to blend comedy, satire and even police mystery-solving in a way that isn’t seamless, but does create something unique.

Comparisons have been drawn with Green Wing, the surrealist hospital sitcom, but I don’t think the police work in Vexed is quite as irrelevant as the medicine there. In fact, the mysteries have more than enough twists to carry an hour, before they even lay on the comedy.

What’s the opposite of a critical darling?

So I liked Vexed, Twitter reception seemed broadly positive, but many disagree. In fact, googling the show after watching the first episode, I was alarmed to find that only The Guardian gave it a positive write-up. Other journalists thought it was clunky, silly and full of childish humour.

But the lines they cited as being clichéd and rubbish, I found amusing. (“They had so much in common… he loved cats…” “What, the musical?”) Yes, the performances by the leads, Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch, occasionally veer into panto, but it works because the rest of it is silly enough, and they manage to rein it in for the serious bits.

Alone with The Guardian, I conclude

Anyway, it may not be following Misfits into the BAFTA winners’ enclosure, but I thought Vexed was a great, fun series with a healthily large sense of its own ridiculousness. And, much like Sherlock, we’re only getting three episodes, so enjoy them while they last.

You can catch the first two episodes of  Vexed on the BBC iplayer, with the third to follow this weekend.

Watch them, love them, comment below and let the world know whether you agree with me or, um, the majority of critics.

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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  1. Singing Detective says

    A spot on review of a cutting edge, ground-breaking and funny classic in the making. They thought The Rite of Spring was rubbish, and the Great British Critics will have plenty of time to blush when those reviews get quoted back at them in a few years. Vexed takes on PC, not because it’s against it, but because it confronts our inability to deal with basic, everyday dilemmas. It also exposes our myths, for example male super-potency and female helplessness, and does it in a brilliantly funny way. Can’t wait to see more – and, warning, iplayer will only keep it on for another week!
    Tell your friends – Vexed must be recommissioned!

  2. kathryn says

    I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope it comes back for a new series. Very funny partly because the lead male DI says things that you secretly think are funny but would never dream of saying it! Have watched all episodes today and a bit gutted that I can’t watch anymore eposides!

  3. says

    I think everyone has missed the point of Vexed, it should be a simple of case of did you enjoy it and would you want to see more. It is not necessary to analyse it to death. I really enjoyed it, the humour was spot on, it didn't give me a migraine trying to follow the plot and it didn't give me nightmares. All in all a very funny series and I for one sincerely hope that the powers that be can sort out the legal and get it back on our screens again.

    • says

      Well, as the author of all these 400 word reviews, obviously I'm not averse to analysing TV to death, but yeah, I don't think it should stand in the way of actual enjoyment. And I thought the last episode of Vexed was just as good as the first two, so yeah, no idea what the ratings were like but hopefully there will be more.

  4. American Girl03 says

    Well, the name alone caught my attention and I've been hooked ever since. What do you mean “Only 3 episodes”???!!!!! This show rocks! It's funny, light and carefree. I love the dynamic between the partners. The idea of the office being in a bar – reminiscent of “Cheers.” This American gives Vexed 2 Thumbs and a Big Fat Toe UP!!!!

  5. Photo says

    An utterly brilliant and hillariously funny series. The best comedy to come out of the BBC in a couple of decades. I love the fact its politically incorrect (something many of us are simply sick to death of and which simply doesnt work).

    Please BBC begin filming a series of another 12 episodes immediately. How could they only make 3 FGS!!!


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