I never saw Staircase precisely because of the a few stills I have seen from it disinclined me to watching it. A mincing Rex Harrison is something I only want to see in My Fair Lady. As for Vicious, I have such affection for McKellan and Jacobi that seeing them as a couple has me more excited than some reviews of this show merit.
Ian talks about the show in a recent Advocate available here
It says reviews were mostly positive, and I would say, based on what I have seen, the reviews were truly mixed.
Here are some summations of some reviews:
Keith of Metro wrote a favourable review, calling Vicious "nostalgic fun."
Christopher Stevens of the Daily Mail also wrote a favourable review, calling McKellen and Jacobi "the Steptoe & Son of the gay and Thespian community."
Morgan Jeffery of Digital Spy wrote a mixed review, finding the show an "uncomfortable blend of coarse humour and '70s sitcom-style cosiness". Describing the script as "lazy", he thought that the show couldn't "decide if it wants to be edgy and rude or traditional fun for all the family", but praised the "strong" cast, ultimately awarding the series two out of five stars.
Kevin O'Sullivan of the Sunday Mirror called it a "horrible half-hour of 1970s-style net curtain cosiness" in a negative review of ITV's Monday night comedy offerings. In a 29 April 2013 review in the Telegraph, Benjamin Secher claimed it is "the least funny new comedy in recent memory" giving it 1 out of 5 stars. He also wrote that "the script fell disastrously flat". Writing in the London Evening Standard, Brian Sewell described the series as "a spiteful parody that could not have been nastier had it been devised and written by a malevolent and recriminatory heterosexual."
With my eyes open, I am still eager to see it.
I do plan to watch, but I couldn't help thinking about the dreadful, dismal Staircase when I first read a description of this series.