Perplexed by Vexed (2010)
Vexed, a recent DVD release from Acorn Media is an entry in what must be a sub-genre of police comedies, “crime farce.” Long a fan of British crime drama, I also enjoy crime comedies (Hot Fuzz, Police Academy, Police Squad) but could not be won over by this series centered on the free-wheeling adventures of two unorthodox homicide detectives. The first season DVD comprises three episodes.
Detective Inspectors Jack Armstrong (Toby Stephens) and Kate Bishop (Lucy Punch) disregard procedures and law, and show a complete lack of respect for victims at crime scenes (in the opener, DI Bishop steps over the victim’s body while inspecting the apartment/murder scene as a potential new home).
The mismatched partners—“he’s lazy, disorganized, charming, and more interested in having a good time…,” and “she’s dedicated, efficient, determined to succeed…worried that her marriage might be falling apart”—never spend any time at the nick, preferring to meet in a pub across the street. While the atmosphere is more congenial (thanks largely to the friendly and seemingly-omniscient landlord), it leaves the audience wondering how they use essential resources (such as files and investigative tools), who assigns their cases, and why their superiors tolerate their unconventional work habits and allow various police personnel (including forensics investigators) to meet with them and discuss cases in a pub. Perhaps Vexed is more fantasy than farce.
British crime dramas—particularly those available from Acorn Media—are distinguished by fine performances and high production values; Vexed is no exception. Its focus on the personal lives of its two protagonists and unusual approach to murder and investigations won’t appeal to those who take crime drama seriously, but those who enjoy a comedic touch will enjoy the eccentricities and antics of the two idiosyncratic detectives.