The veteran actors' new small-screen venture Vicious, about bickering same-sex lovers living together in London, debuted in the U.K. on Monday (29Apr13), but failed to impress reviewers.
Benjamin Secher of the Daily Telegraph newspaper gave the pilot episode just one star out of a possible five, and argues the stars' acting talents are "squandered... on perhaps the least funny new comedy in recent memory".
The Guardian's Sam Wollaston concedes the camp characters are "rather fabulous" but adds, "It's just a shame that the vehicle in which they find themselves isn't a better one. It's not just old-fashioned... it's also, frankly, a bit lame."
In the Daily Mirror, Ian Hyland writes, "Vicious was a particular let down... Ian MCKellen and Derek Jacobi may well be legendary actors, but it's going to take a lot to convince me that this isn't just a pair of gay refugees from a Benidorm (U.K. sitcom) script rewrite theatrically b**ching each other off for half an hour."
Meanwhile, Alex Hardy of The Times criticises the use of a laughter track instead of a live audience, but admits the show has some redeeming qualities.
He declares, "Vicious remembers the 'com' of 'sitcom' in a way that many others do not... And yes, it's about a gay couple, but it also punches hard on the themes of ageing and insularity."