Vexed - In The Press

Despite being a terrible show on so many levels, ABC are looking to remake BBC2's comedy-drama cop show Vexed-the story of a mismatched male and female detective.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 1st December 2012

This most "Marmite" of current sitcoms ends its second run tonight with the love/hate gulf still intact as bumbling detectives Jack (Toby Stephens) and Georgina (Miranda Raison) lock horns once again. This time a violent heist at a family-run jewellers introduces them to an unfamiliar world of avarice and glamour, and while Georgina is seduced by the prospect of romance, Jack is distracted by an unexpected request from his soon-to-be-wed brother.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 4th September 2012

Sometimes all a viewer wants is to switch off the brain and watch telly, something the increasingly lunkheaded Vexed aggressively demands, with plots largely dependent on everyone involved acting like an idiot. Tonight a very middle-class murder - a stabbing with knitting needles no less - comes to the mismatched cop duo's attention. As a procedural it's a washout: the killer is obvious from the start. A show for people who hate surprises.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 28th August 2012

DIs Armstrong and Dixon, from the Met's light comedy/drama squad, investigate the murder of one of the contestants on a TV cookery show - the themed crime scene comes complete with a message daubed on the wall in tomato sauce. Dixon is forced to go undercover as a contestant doing battle with Gordon Ramsay-like host Robert Randall, as well the other hopefuls, ultra-competitive oddballs who would kill to get a labour-intensive job where they are shouted at all day.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 21st August 2012

The silliness steps up a gear into high-camp mode as murder detectives Jack Armstrong (Toby Stephens) and Georgina Dixon (Miranda Raison) are temporarily transferred to the missing persons unit. There, the disappearance of a Lycra-wearing husband, and suspicions that his wife was having an affair, convinces them to go undercover at the local gym. But with Jack putting more work into his pecs than the investigation, and Georgina flirting with the male members, they soon run into trouble.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 15th August 2012

You'd be forgiven if this gem from 2010 passed you by in the schedules as there was little-to-no promotional activity for the series.

Written by Cameron K McEwan. Cult Box, 13th August 2012

The main problem with Vexed is that all of the main suspects are reduced down to stereotypes and in this particular instance all academics are given a bad name with the professors either being snobby or sleazy while the students either being pompous or fairly simple.

Written by Matt D. Primetime Unreality, 9th August 2012

Vexed is a strange affair, a comedy-drama about an odd-couple pair of police detectives that doesn't seem to have entirely resolved how comic or dramatic it wants to be. The essential dynamic has a self-regarding Eighties male throwback teamed up with an ambitious young female officer, a contrast heightened yesterday because the case involved a university gender studies course. Unfortunately, there's something genuinely ugly about Jack's dinosaur misogyny and the drama itself seems no less old fashioned in its attitude to women. At one moment, Jack's partner, Georgina, is excoriating him for his chauvinism, at the next she's simpering gratefully because he's praised her breasts. A bitter man-hating lesbian straight out of stock cupboard didn't help much either, or the decidedly foxed satire on academic life. It doesn't make sense and because of that it doesn't make you laugh.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 9th August 2012

This latest episode shows off Vexed to its very best; an out of place, out of date yet hilarious oaf of a man alongside a confidently insecure and playfully smart woman (doesn't hurt that they're both easy on the easy too) have fun, whilst "solving" a crime along the way.

Written by Cameron K McEwan. Cult Box, 8th August 2012

BBC Two's spoof crime drama, recently returned for a second series, includes a character who seems a close relation to Philip Glenister's Gene Hunt from Life on Mars and its sequel Ashes to Ashes.

But rather than spitting his sexist lines out with a Hunt-like swagger, Toby Stephens's DI Jack Armstrong just assumes that all lesbians are simply waiting for his obvious charms. Miranda Raison, as his wearied detective partner Georgina Dixon, was left to remind her boss that not all pretty girls, straight or gay, pine for a middle-aged copper.

Just as in Life on Mars, Vexed offered characters that were in their own ways compelling, plus an absorbing plot. Was the girl found dead in the library murdered by the supposedly lesbian lover of her male tutor? Was it really plausible that a university so riven with Sixties gender politics still existed in the 21st century? And is it a requirement that all professors of English Literature are polo-neck-wearing Lotharios?

There were times during the hour that this viewer wished for an actor of Glenister's vigour to speak Armstrong's lines. But by about 40 minutes in, the characters seemed rather more convincing than the comic clich├ęs of Life on Mars. That doesn't make them half as much fun, but it certainly made it a lot harder to turn off without knowing whodunit in the library.

Matt Warman, The Daily Telegraph, 8th August 2012

A gender politics student is found dead in a campus library. Gender politics, eh? Bet that's a red rag to detective Jack! Bet he starts mouthing off about 'clam-diggers and rug-munchers'! Haha! And that's pretty much this one in a nutshell, as the desperately underwhelming mismatched cop-comedy continues. While Jack bizarrely attempts to go undercover as a student of post-structuralism, DI Georgina is convinced she's met her perfect man; a Brian Cox lookalike who calls her 'snookums'. Sure, it's supposed to be a breezy satire on sexual politics and political correctness - but great comic writing has as much to do with rhythm as timing; here, it's completely off - the embarrassed-looking leads Toby Stephens and Miranda Raison stumbling over the clunking, woefully unfunny dialogue. Fail.

Ali Catterall, Time Out, 8th August 2012

Sparring duo Jack and Georgina investigate a student's murder and uncover a world of gender politics. Which, of course, gives Jack the chance to bumble around and offend anyone who'll listen with the use of words like "lesbetarian". Away from crime-fighting, they edge nearer to getting it on, except there are a couple of obstacles in their way: Jack keeps banging on about his man-like girlfriend and George briefly meets the man of her dreams. Fun.

Hannah Verdier, The Guardian, 7th August 2012

It was a boring idea that was poorly executed in 2010, and this new series hasn't made enough solid improvements to justify its unexpected return.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 5th August 2012

The second series of Vexed, possibly the most irritating cop show ever known, has got under way. It's billed as a "comedy-drama police procedural", a portmanteau phrase that chills the blood. It stars Toby Stephens as DI Jack Armstrong. Jack is cool, laconic, leather-jacketed and drives an old Mercedes sports car. He's a flirtatious ladies' man. He doesn't play by the rules. He has no time for research or paperwork. For some reason he speaks with a mid-Atlantic drawl ("We're working on the assumption that he died from a bloadertha head."). To his horror, his new partner is cool, feisty, know-all feminist DI Georgina Dixon (Miranda Raison) who's a better driver than he, interrupts his poker game to check on progress, and raises a half-indulgent eyebrow at his rampant sexism. Wearing a coat zipped up to the neck, she's basically Emma Peel from The Avengers, and Ms Raison plays her with watchable spirit and aplomb.

God knows what Stephens thinks he is, but his character comes across as an 18-carat arsehole. And God knows what BBC2 is doing giving air space to this queasy, misconceived hybrid of Dempsey and Makepeace and Carry on Copper.

John Walsh, The Independent on Sunday, 5th August 2012

Cop comedy drama Vexed has returned for a second series, complete with a brand new partner for Toby Stephens' lazy, disorganised and self-regarding detective inspector Jack Armstrong. Lucy Punch leaves the cast to be replaced by Miranda Raison as DI Georgina Dixon, and I'm sorry to say there is as little chemistry between the new pairing as there was between the old. Possibly even less.

This is something of a problem when your whole series is predicated on one of those love/hate, chalk/cheese, will they/won't they relationships beloved of television producers.

It is never helpful to apportion blame, but nonetheless the fault lies with Stephens' insistence on trying to play the comedy instead of the character. What he produces is a bizarre and wholly irritating combination of Simon Templar and Swiss Tony, the car salesman from The Fast Show. He attempts loveable oaf, but manages only the second bit.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 2nd August 2012

Offbeat crime drama Vexed returned to our screens, pairing Toby Stephens with new cast member Miranda Raison - but the only real mystery here is how the show got re-commissioned in the first place.

Written by Keith Watson. Metro, 2nd August 2012

The first series of Howard 'Misfits' Overman's cop comedy split the jury. The small-screen policier is a genre ripe for parody, but this new run of Vexed needs a strong start. DI Jack Armstrong's first case is a murder in a car dealership. But let's just say that this is no Fargo. Jack (Toby Stephens) is a lazy, amateurish, slightly dim detective. Tonight, he meets his new partner, Miranda Raison's George who, despite being a woman, is resourceful, intuitive and brave; in short, everything the casually chauvinistic Jack is not. But, amid seething sexual tension on the garage forecourt, can George overcome the handicap of partnering Jack? Vexed falls between two stools. The comedy feels laboured, but there's not enough riding on the case for it to work as a pure procedural. Disappointing.

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 1st August 2012

Second outing for clueless cop comedy on the schedulers' naughty step.

Written by Jasper Rees. The Arts Desk, 1st August 2012

The new series of this cop drama is almost guaranteed to make you watch the Olympics instead.

Written by John Crace. The Guardian, 1st August 2012

You may have missed detective comedy show Vexed when it briefly appeared on BBC Two back in 2010 (for a measly three weeks), but that's okay, because according to its star Toby Stephens the imminent second series is all about "starting again".

Digital Spy, 1st August 2012

Away from the Olympics, I'm chuffed to say Vexed is back for a second series on BBC2 (9pm).

You remember Vexed? Oh, well, never mind, it's really good, trust me - a sort of off-beat comedy detective drama, with Toby Stephens as shambolic DI Jack Armstrong and ex-Spooks star Miranda Raison as his sharpwitted new partner, DI Georgina Dixon.

If you've not seen it before, stick with it for a while because admittedly it does seem pretty daft to begin with. Come to think of it, it seems pretty daft by the end as well. That's the whole point.

Mike Ward, The Daily Star, 1st August 2012

No Lucy Punch in the second series of this comedy detective drama. Instead, we have Miranda Spooks Raison's ambitious Georgina Dixon alongside Toby Stephens as laid-back DI Jack Armstrong. She ruffles his feathers as she tries to beat him solving their first case together. More sparks to come, we think.

Sharon Lougher and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 1st August 2012

There doesn't seem to have been much fanfare from the channel about the show's return which is hugely disappointing. BBC Two have got something incredible on their hands, again, and they should have faith in the viewers to enjoy a programme so full of character, life and humour. A rarity these days.

Written by Cameron K McEwan. Cult Box, 31st July 2012

A new series and a new partner for DI Jack Armstrong as this comedy-drama cop show returns. He's not looking forward to meeting George, expecting a strict, rule-adhering man. What he gets is a strict, rule-adhering woman called Georgina. What are the odds, eh? Still, it's a setup that takes mere seconds to get up and running, leaving more time to devote to this week's case involving the murder of a flashy car salesman. The leads, Toby Stephens and newcomer to the show Miranda Raison, have breezy chemistry - more important here than the convoluted plotting.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 31st July 2012

The biggest mystery to be solved in this police procedural is how it got recommissioned after a widely panned debut two years ago. The format borrows heavily from Moonlighting, purporting to be a comedy drama about a dishevelled detective (Toby Stephens) tackling crimes and sparking off a sassy female sidekick - Spooks' Miranda Raison has stepped in after Lucy Punch jumped ship. Upon examination of the evidence, there's little comedy and hardly any drama to recommend in tonight's opener about a car dealer's murder.

Vicki Power, The Daily Telegraph, 31st July 2012

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