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 herself.
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 slipcover.
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 the ear.
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.