Love/Hate series 4 episode one

Vexed review BBC2

Published by jamdog on 17th August, 2010.

Vexed review

BBC2

 

As this week’s murderer attempts to immolate herself, her cheating borefriend and Vexed male lead Detective Inspector Jack Armstrong (Toby Stephens) by pouring petrol over them and lighting it, Jack tells her that diesel won’t ignite upon contact with a naked flame and that she can’t rewrite the laws of chemistry.  He’s right of course and there’s a certain blank irony given that the inert chemistry between Jack and his equal and opposite partner DI Kate Bishop (Lucy Punch) is one of the reasons why Vexed will not be a successful show.  It’s not the biggest one though.  That would be the jarringly inept performance from Stephens who turds his way through this like he’s deliberately set out to ruin his career.  Whoever cast him and let him get past the first reading really needs chin checking.  Your boy’s fucking horrible here.

“There’s a jarringly inept performance from Stephens who turds his way through this like he’s deliberately set out to ruin his career. Whoever cast him and let him get past the first reading really needs chin checking. Your boy’s fucking horrible here.”

The territory of the show is familiar. Sexual chemistry builds between two different but competent in their own ways police detectives. They’re Dempsey and Makepeace (hereafter known as Dumpsey and Ringpiece) and the show is Moonlighting (hereafter known as Moonshiteing).

The show begins with Dumpsey and Ringpiece being shown round an apartment by an estate agent.  It’s all going well and Dumpsey encourages Ringpiece to buy.  “Don’t you think that’s a bit sick?” she says. We then see a body lying beneath them with a head wound spilling claret onto the carpet.  It’s a murder scene!  These guys!

“They’re Dempsey and Makepeace (hereafter known as Dumpsey and Ringpiece) and the show is Moonlighting (hereafter known as Moonshiteing).”

OK, I thought that was pretty funny but it set an uneven tone that persisted throughout. What does the show want to be? The magic realist Green Wing? The anything-goes taboo skewering Nighty Night? The brilliant and shamefully cancelled Unusuals?  I guess it’s closest to Love Soup, David Renwick’s bleak but funny rom-com.  There are promising signs in Vexed’s script but Toby Stephens seems to be acting in a totally different show to everyone else.  One minute he’s in a Fry and Laurie Professionals sketch, the next he’s a wacky cop who gets results. But he’s a twat 100% of the time.

And there really is nothing likeable about Dumpsey. He’s neither a lovable rogue with a vulnerable side nor a maverick genius with a fatal flaw – he’s just a thundering nause.  It’s really unpleasant to watch. Lucy Punch, beautiful in that gawky Ronnie Ancona way, does bring a certain charm to Ringpiece but in a show that relies on us wanting the two leads to get together we’d rather she dies alone than gets into it with him.

“Not to single anyone out but Toby Stephens fucking ruins this and there is no way that this can be a good show with him in it putting in this Belsen of a performance each week.”

The opening murder mystery involved young singleton women being targeted by their shopping choices on a supermarket loyalty card database (He’s Just Not That into You, Men Are from Mars, Two Girls, One Cup etc). Fascinated by the murderer’s M.O., Dumpsey pulls a supermarket piece of ass by illegally reading her data and Ringpiece illegally kneecaps her husband with a rolling pin after mistakenly inferring infidelity after illegally reading his data.  These guys!  Again!

When Moonshiteing is rocking the his-and-hers-detectives-who-don’t-get-along shit it’s a lot like Life, NBC’s quirky police drama about Charlie Crews and his berserkly hot partner Dani Reese.  But that was a show that knew what it wanted to be and had two principals you gave a tinker’s cuss about.  Not to single anyone out but Toby Stephens fucking ruins this and there is no way that this can be a good show with him in it putting in this Belsen of a performance each week.  It may be fucked anyway but Howard Overman (Misfits) is a really good writer and the script does show promising flashes here and there. I think it’s going to be very hard to unring this particular mourning bell.

And I don’t believe for a second that these two want to fuck each other.

The verdict on Vexed: Next!

Marks out of 10: 5

Imagined: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

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Tags: Categories: British comedy British drama

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