Vexed Episode Two: The University setting makes for a slight improvement but this series is still more offensive than entertaining.

by Matt D

Looking at last week’s ratings it seems that Vexed was one of BBC2’s lowest performing shows of the week while I concede it was up against The Olympics the channel’s other shows about Midwives and The Amish did reasonable numbers while Vexed underperformed massively. Even though I wasn’t a big fan of episode one I thought there would at least be enough support for this series seeing as it had fans from its first run however the lure of the games proved too much competition. Personally I don’t think you’d miss anything if you turned into this week’s episode, other than the first meeting between Jack Armstrong and Georgina Dixon but you pick up on the basics of their relationship pretty quickly, plus there seems to be more of a spark in his week’s instalment including more of an interest into the central mystery which this week involves the death of student Laura Edwards.

Edwards’ body is found at the bottom storey of the library having been pushed from the top floor with Armstrong and Dixon eager to find out they question her professors. Her English professor Simon Westlake is a smooth talking charmer who gives Jack a run for his money while her Gender Studies professor Donna Hunt is more of an academic making a career of publishing books about her alternate lifestyle the titles of which make Jack laugh out loud. Though both don’t give them much to go on they do allude to Laura joining a clique but as they feel they won’t get much from the students as police officers they decide to go undercover he as a mature student and her as a Gender Studies professor.

While we don’t see one instance of Dixon undercover we do see Armstrong get closer to the truth when he meets a group of women calling themselves post-genderists who’ve adopted new gender neutral names such as Rainbow and Leaf however Jack fails to get his head around though the former does tell him that she’s glad Laura is dead. As he reads more into the gender studies mantra he finds out that soon men will be obsolete which gives him a sort of identity crisis which lasts all of about ten minutes however, just like last week, it seems the murder is motivated by revenge as the victim is sleeping with someone that they shouldn’t be.

One of the things that I liked about this episode is that Miranda Raison and Toby Stephens seemed to have more chemistry this week as they bounced off each other her giving as good as she gets from him. Their story this week involved each of them finding love firstly he meets up with Danielle a woman who enjoys masculine pursuits such as football and hunting so Georgina teases Jack that she must be a man something that he takes great offence to but which is one of the running gags here that sort of works. Georgina meanwhile bemoans the fact that she’ll never find the perfect man, mainly because she’s far too picky, however she does end up accidentally head-butting Liam who runs his own environmentally sound company something that it seems is a big turn on for women as she ends up in bed with him shortly after. Though he is charming she finds him too intrusive as he cooks big breakfasts for her and tidies her house while she’s out on a case which apparently is too much too soon and she resolves that she’d rather have a man that ignored her. As I previously mentioned Jack also shows a bit more humility this week though his sexism is still rife throughout the episode the realisation that women don’t need him at all any more makes him a least a little bit of a sympathetic character and I hate to admit that I did warm to him slightly here even finding some of his jokes pretty amusing.

Having said that Vexed still has plenty wrong with it and though Jack’s character is ardently sexist I still think it goes a bit too far when he says things like there are only too girls inexperienced ones or slappers. 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. I did enjoy the fact that this time the central mystery was our detectives top priority the revelation that everybody was having affairs with everybody else was too similar to last week’s episode that I let out an audible sigh when we found out who the killer was. The undercover element isn’t really given enough time to evolve either while Jack does get to demonstrate his mature student role we never see anything of Georgina undercover before the pair are rumbled. Raison and Stephens have grown as an on-screen couple with their banter being a highlight though again the storylines given to them fall a bit short with the Jack may be dating a man story feeling a little too light. I also don’t like the fact that the two other supporting characters, Roger Griffiths’ cafe owner Tony and Ronny Jhutti’s crime scene investigator Naz, are given very little to do other than show up occasionally before doing their bit and exiting. Overall there is a gradual improvement to Vexed however it is still too offensive and slightly samey so I would recommend that non-Olympics watchers do give it a try but just don’t expect too much.

Are you in the minority who actually watches Vexed? If so what do you think of it? Leave Your Comments Below.