‘Vexed’: Series 1 DVD review

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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 (a disappointing trait that continues with the second series, currently airing on BBC Two). A shame, as Vexed deserves at least the chance to shine on a bigger stage.

Created and written by Misfits maestro Howard Overman, this is yet another detective show but, thankfully, it’s got spirited and amusing scripts and a phenomenally charismatic not to mention extraordinarily unusual leading pair.

In the blokes’ corner, it’s straight-talking, relic from another time, man’s man, DI Jack Armstrong, played so wonderfully by Die Another Day actor Toby Stephens. In the ladies’ corner, it’s the physically odd (but beautiful), easily shocked and married to a bore, DI Kate Bishop; so hilariously portrayed by Lucy Punch (St. Trinian’s).

Right from the off, these two have an insanely pleasing off-beat relationship. At times comfortable and intimate, whilst highly-charged and disagreeable at others, it’s a double-act unlike any that has been seen on the small screen for some time.

This first series only has three episodes but what Vexed lacks in quantity, it most assuredly makes up for tenfold in quality.

Although each story is essentially a whodunnit, the plot hardly seems important as the audience get caught up in the dubious personal lives of the two leads. Jack, for the most part, has women on his mind and then the possibility of testicular cancer (or being a “one ball” as he so sensitively calls it) whilst his partner Kate is going through a possible divorce (along with trying to deal with a new partner, new job and new city).

But the stories do throw up a number of interesting and modern concerns, such as: identity theft (information from women’s credit cards being used for nefarious activities); the economic slump (a banker becoming the target of a hitman); and celeb culture (in an episode that is not unlike Scorsese’s brilliant The King of Comedy).

Not many series start off so confident, so well performed and so bizarre. Vexed was a real gem (and continues to be so) and, apart from the excruciatingly poor opening title sequence, is pure televisual heaven. It might not be to everyone’s tastes (and it clearly isn’t) but for those who like their telly with a bit of edge, a slash of humour and oodles of character, you cannot go wrong with this set.

Extras: With only two features barely warranting the plural of “extra”, this is a poor, poor show from the DVD makers. You get a Promotional Trailer and a Picture Gallery, and that’s it.

Released on DVD on Monday 20th August 2012 by Acorn Media.

> Buy Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

Watch a clip from Series 1…

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