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August 16th, 2010


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04:28 pm - Vexed
I was out all day yesterday, spent about 6 hours driving, and when I got home I thought I would flop out by the telly. But what to watch on Sunday evening? I switched on 'Vexed' which is a new comedy police procedural. God it was shite.

Obviously it's supposed to be transgressive and challenging, but it just comes across like it was written by a smirking ten year old. For the first half hour I sat their semi-somnolent, thinking 'Well, I won't tune in again, but there's nothing better on'. But about thirty minutes in it became so bad that I turned the telly off and went and argued with people on the Internets (some of them were wrong about stuff).

The Telegraph TV critic funnily enough picks out exactly the same moment:

Scene: a cosy flat. On the floor is the corpse of a young woman (communicator adds - crucially she has auburn hair and though clothed is sprawled on her back with her legs slightly apart). A female detective is already on the scene. Her male colleague arrives.

Female detective: “There’s a big ginger cat somewhere. [Male detective giggles.] Did I say something funny?”

Male detective: “Sorry. [He laughs again.] It’s nothing!”

Female detective: “Well, you’re laughing at something! What is it?”

Male detective: “It’s just that when you said ‘big ginger’, I thought you were gonna say ‘pussy’! [Snorts deliriously.] Ginger hair, ginger cat… ginger pussy! [Guffaws at length.]” (communicator adds - his laughter went on through the rest of this scene and into the next)
The Telegraph critic says:

Like many of the other scenes in this putative comedy drama, it left me pondering a deep and troubling question. Namely, am I losing my mind?

I just didn’t get it... I don’t know why the male detective thought his female colleague was going to say “pussy”, when she plainly wasn’t. Nor do I know why the idea made him snort with mirth, particularly given that he was looking at the body of a dead woman, the blood from a wound in whose skull was soaking into the rug. (The body was clothed, incidentally, which rules out a possible, if weak, reason for innuendo to be on the male detective’s mind.)

... At one point, while referring to another murdered woman, he used his hands to do the “boo hoo” sign, the one clowns make to represent tears.
I disagree with him here: I think these two examples actually explain quite a lot. The critic can't understand why this is supposed to be funny because he's a grown-up man.

The detective was looking at a woman's body supine, with her legs slightly apart, therefore the word 'pussy' is funny. He was talking about a woman's death therefore a pretend 'boo hoo' face is funny. Seriously, the 'jokes' (stretching the term) only make sense if you assume the tiresome misogyny of a teenage boy who has never kissed a girl. Possibly we are supposed to find it funny that the policeman is being misogynist, but - really - how much mileage is there in that joke? Misogyny is not exactly transgressive of social norms is it? If there's nothing but a policeman saying misogynist things about dead women, after half an hour you get the impression that someone is enjoying that one joke just a bit too much.

I can't remember the last time I posted on this blog saying something is unfunny, let alone for what you might uncharitably call political reasons. I'm not saying that 'we must resist the urge to find things like this funny', I'm saying I can tell these are supposed to be jokes by the way they are positioned in the story, but they just make me feel weary.

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:ajr
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
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My overriding through watching this show (and to my regret, I sat through the whole thing) was this:

"I could be watching Moonlighting instead."

I only watched it in the first place because Toby Stephens was in it, and I think he's a decent actor. But he was wasted in this.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it was the presence of Toby Stephens that made me think it might be worth watching
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From:andrewducker
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't be opposed to this joke because it's politically bad. I've laughed at some truly reprehensible jokes. I would, however, oppose it on the grounds that it's not funny.
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From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
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Yes, and it's not that politics stops me finding an otherwise-funny joke offensive. Instead I think nobody could actually think it's funny.

Though people apparently laugh at Roy Chubby Brown so what do I know
[User Picture]
From:altariel
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
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I blame Little Britain. (BTW, it's funny when Mrs Slocombe says it.)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
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I was just thinking about Mrs Slocombe's pussy (with warm approval)

Edited at 2010-08-16 03:46 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:andrewducker
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
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It's how it's done. Had the scene been competently put together, and done sharply, I could see the possibility of someone smart finding a funny joke in that scene. It's the fact that she's (a)not naked (b)the joke is told so badly that really kills it for me.
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From:sheenaghpugh
Date:August 16th, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC)
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The whole point about Mrs Slocombe's pussy is that it's a cat and, in her mind, nothing else. Indeed it's highly probable that neither Miss Brahms nor Mr Grainger sees the double-entendre either. And Messrs Lucas, Humphries and Peacock, who do, have to keep the knowledge to themselves because they're gentlemen. The whole joke has to do with innocence and the preservation of same, and I think that's often the case with successful innuendo.

God knows what the intention was in this drama - to suggest that policemen are immature and misogynist, maybe? - but it came across as what Victoria Wood calls negative comedy, which she reckons doesn't work.
[User Picture]
From:felinitykat
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
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Ahh, thank you for this. We made it to about 9.40pm before giving in and switching it off. Sadly seems to be just another example of the 'BBC can't do decent comedy drama' canon.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
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There was probably a surge of power back into the national grid as tellies were put on standby
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From:londonkds
Date:August 16th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I didn't watch this but apparently it's written by one of the creators of Misfits. That had its unpleasantly sexist moments, but it wasn't as annoying as this sounds like because all the characters are meant to be screwed-up, anti-social juvenile delinquents.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
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It's put me off watching Misfits, perhaps unfairly
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From:vilakins
Date:August 16th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
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Not unfairly. I gave it a go, and though there were amusing bits, the ep I saw was so offensive, I turned it off.
From:huskyscotsman
Date:August 16th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
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I... I don't believe it!
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
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When I came back into the room later that evening, my daughter was watching that episode of Father Ted. Best thing Graham Norton ever did.
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From:sugoll
Date:August 16th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
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I read the preview-type blurb for this, and could tell I'd hate it, so didn't even try.

It puts me in mind of The Office (which I see as observational comedy without the comedy), only missing the point even of that.

Mind you, if I'd read the blurb for Black Books, wherein it focused solely on Bernard, I'd possibly have never tried that, either.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 16th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Could not be more different - the Office assumes the viewer is not an idiot
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From:ninebelow
Date:August 17th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
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This is a shame since I thought it might be quite interesting since it is by the bloke who did Misfits.

Although it might just have got off to a bad start. I just read a review of the second episode and he reviewer really liked it despite finding the first episode "one of the most excruciating things he'd ever seen".
[User Picture]
From:ajr
Date:August 17th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
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Damn. Guess that means I'll be watching the second episode, then, to see if he's right.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:August 17th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
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ooh, I'm not sure anything can redeem this mess

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