‘Vexed’: Series 2 Episode 2 review

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It’s fair to say that Vexed is purely all about sex, rumpy-pumpy and a side-dish of some more sex. And this week’s instalment is no different, though the focus is concentrated on a battle, rather than intercourse, between the genders.

Gender, as fans of the quirky detective series will be well aware, is an issue that lead man DI Jack Armstrong (played with salacious stupidity by Toby Stephens) is not entirely sensitive to. But why has gender reared its disgustingly modern head in the world of the cocky copper?

This week’s murder investigation takes him and his new partner D.I. Georgina Dixon, the wonderful Miranda Raison, to a University where a female Gender Studies student has been found dead. Cue the daring duo’s decision to go undercover…

Immediately, we know what to expect from our “sensitive” hero Jack, who spouts phrases like “clam digger” and “rug muncher” without any irony and immediately pigeonholes female students as either innocents “eager to learn” or “slappers”. He’s predictable, but hilariously so.

And when Jack trundles up to a group of fellow gender students, who all look like men to him, there’s a moment of sheer delight as the dim-witted DI tries to ingratiate himself with his alternative-looking peers. “Are you like this because you think it’s trendy?” he genuinely asks to their collective transgender disgust. Sublime.

Stephens is in his element, playing every moment to the hilt with shocking hilarity – Jack has never been more so delightfully offensive. This, however, is countered by the subplot featuring his new girlfriend who appears to more manly than he is, enjoying all sorts of outdoor pursuits and leaving him pining.

It’s a neat switcheroo which is also posited against Dixon’s laughably impossible image of the perfect man. She pursues her own sexploits which are evidenced on screen, whereas Jack’s are not. It’s a clever move to reverse the standard; Jack, who is referred to as a “walking wankstain” by his partner is emasculated by both women in his life.

Penned by James Wood, the lead writer/co-creator of another superb BBC Two series, Rev, there’s a definite feel of the iconic BBC Two series A Very Peculiar Practise (gender, sex and illicit relationships on campus). Wood has pitched the story perfectly, grasping Vexed‘s ethos with some style.

Detective show fans, if there are any watching, may be slightly disappointed at the resolution of the murder, but that hardly seems important, ironically.

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.

Exquisitely portrayed by Stephens and Raison, the hugely enjoyable twosome lift an already giggle-filled script into the realms of a perfect hour of television heaven.

Airs at 9pm on Wednesday 8th August 2012 on BBC Two.

> Buy Series 1 on DVD on Amazon.

What do you think of Series 2 so far? Let us know below…