You can't go far wrong with Judi
Dench; as far as I can tell, anything that Dench has a part in ends
up having at least some merit. While Behaving Badly never
really hooked me, it's still an example of Dench offering viewers a
solid performance in whatever role she takes on.
Dench has the starring role as
Bridget, a middle-aged woman who, in the opening scene of the film,
looks back on the moment five years earlier when her husband abruptly
left her (and their dull, respectable middle-class life) for a
younger woman. Since that moment, which Bridget accepted without any
outward show of emotions, she followed the same old routine as
always... but it was a routine that seemed to assume that her life
was effectively over. As Behaving Badly gets underway, Bridget
decides that she's had enough of all that, and it's time to start
taking some risks and really living life again, even if it means that
the rest of her family (her ex-husband, her daughter) and friends
think that she really is "behaving badly."
The four episodes of Behaving
Badly follow one continuous story arc. "The Tale of the
Turbot," the opening episode, sets the stage as far as
background and gets Bridget started on her new life. "Home
Fires" has Bridget shaking up the home situation of her
ex-husband Mark and his new wife Rebecca, much to their dismay but to
the delight of Mark's mother, Frieda, who still considers Bridget to
be her "real" daughter-in-law. In "Seize the Day, "
Bridget's grown daughter is next to have things shaken up, as Bridget
asserts herself there as well... and develops a surprising "December
and May" relationship with a younger man. The series wraps up
with "The Horse May Talk," as the various characters
struggle to figure out their relationships with Bridget, and to come
to terms with the new life that she has decided she wants for
The series moves along at a fairly
brisk pace; having only four parts, there's not a lot of lag time as
Bridget decides to shake things up in her life. I admit, though, that
I never got really hooked by the show. The performances are certainly
natural and believable, and Judi Dench does bring Bridget to life
convincingly as a complex and far from perfect character; still, I
found the show lacking a certain spark. If you're in the mood for a
fairly low-key domestic drama that centers around a character study,
and you're a fan of Dench in particular, Behaving Badly is
probably worth checking out, but it's nothing exceptional.
Behaving Badly is a two-disc
set, with two 51-minute episodes per disc. Each disc has its own
plastic keepcase, and the two cases fit inside a glossy paperboards
Behaving Badly appears in its
original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image quality is acceptable,
although the show does look a little older than its 1989 air date.
The image is soft as a general rule, with some edge enhancement
appearing. Colors look natural.
The soundtrack for this
dialogue-centered series is quite satisfactory, offering a clean
audio experience without any frills. The actors' voices and Judi
Dench's occasional voiceover all sound natural and pleasing to
Some text information is provided on
Disc 1: a biography of Judi Dench, information about writer Catherine
Heath, and cast filmographies.
Behaving Badly is a
reasonably well done British miniseries starring the always
interesting Judi Dench as a woman who decides to rebel against the
rules of conventional behavior. It never really hooked me, but I
suspect it will be of interest as a rental to fans of Dench and
viewers who are particularly fond of low-key British drama. Rent it.