A Gentle British Comedy-Drama about a Woman's Journey of Sel
Tiggah | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 07/24/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Behaving Badly is a 1988 four-part British comedy-drama (with 50-minute episodes) starring Judi Dench (As Time Goes By, A Fine Romance), who puts in a wonderful performance as a dowdy, middle-aged woman named Bridget. Like so many women, Bridget has spent her life sacrificing her own interests and desires in order to please others (in her case, her husband Mark). And what does she have to show for a life as a self-sacrificing door-mat? A husband who, after 20 years of marriage, has divorced her and married a much younger woman. The irony is that Mark's new wife Rebecca (Frances Barber) is a spontaneous, vibrant woman who is full of life and who has no intention of leading her life according to the dictates of others. In short, she is everything that Bridget is not--or to be more accurate, she is everything Bridget, years ago, had chosen not to be.
The series opens five years after their separation, and Bridget has basically been putting in time--taking pottery lessons, attending church, and generally doing the things lonely, middle-aged women seem to be expected to do to fill in their days. Bridget, however, realises she's in a rut and leading a humdrum, unsatisfying life, and she decides, for the first time in her life, to put herself first, to buck the tide of expectation, and to search for a way to move forward out of the bleak, monotonous existence her life has become. That decision results in her making some very dramatic moves which are disruptive both to Mark and Rebecca and to her daughter, Phyllida. It also results in the title of the series, for almost everyone thinks that Bridget is behaving badly by doing what feels right to her regardless of the impact on those around her; what's worse, she simply couldn't care less what others think or say about her.
There is a selfishness in Bridget's actions, but after twenty years of self-sacrifice and unwavering devotion to Mark--only to end up on the scrap heap--one can't help feeling that she's earned the right to think of herself for once. For Bridget it's a journey of self-discovery, and as she comes closer to realising who she is and what she wants, she blossoms and becomes a much more interesting, exciting, and beautiful woman--an individual instead of just one of many nameless, faceless conformists who, sheeplike, accept their lot in life with good grace. Most importantly, she gains respect and admiration where once there was resentment and ridicule.
One other character worth mentioning is Frieda, Bridget's Jewish mother-in-law (Mark's mother). She's a real character, what with her attempts at emotional blackmail--and worse! She'll stop at nothing to get rid of the interloper, Rebecca, and her attempts and complaints provide the bulk of the humour in the show.
All in all, I enjoyed this series which, being about relationships and personal growth, is more of a woman's show. I also found the ending to be very satisfying. This is a show about the difficult journey toward self-empowerment--about a woman who gains control over her life and gains the confidence to make her own often difficult decisions despite life's uncertainties. It is a show which leaves the viewer feeling good--perhaps even a little inspired.
Just So, So.
bunnielover | United States, Wyoming | 10/17/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First off,I love Judi Dench... But I did not like this flick very much. I found that I didn't like most of the characters, and did not care what became of them. The husband is a dog! and my thought was why pine over this sorry example of a man? Judi's character is at the beginning such a mouse,that you can see why no one including her daughter wanted to hang around her. and why no one buddied up with her even after the divorce, and even after she decides she is going to do what she wants, she goes back to the old man, and plagues him and the new wife rather that get on with a worthwile existence. Her mother in law is horrid, and it shows just what a wimp the son is, that he continues to live with her and allows her to insult and try to humiliate the new wife. (who was stupid enough to allow herself to get stuck in such a verbally abusive situation.) The daughter is lame, and her roomies are lame, and the one sniveling girl who has a breakdown is so annoying, that i will never watch this again, because i would have to listen to her sniffling and whining again. The one character i liked, they killed off, and that was the roommates granddad. He was way smarter, and more observant that anyone else in the whole movie. He was also the most sincere protrayal in my mind of what all to often happens with the elderly, getting shunted here and there, because no one wants to care for them. I agree with the one reviewer too about story lines that don't seem to add to the original plot. like the Minister of the Black Church, and the daughter trying to seduce him. What was that in here for? Go figure,I guess just give this a view, and enjoy Judi's great acting talents, and don't try to get to involved. It will make you crazy."
How bad can it be?
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 09/28/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"BEHAVING BADLY is bad enough to qualify for American television.
This British episodic comedy, if that's what it is, begins as Bridget Mayor (Judi Dench), while preparing dinner, is told by her husband Mark (Ronald Pickup) that he's having an affair. Keeping a stiff upper lip, Bridget still manages to get the turbot on the table. The scene shifts forward a couple of years. Mark is now married to Rebecca (Frances Barber), and the two live with Mark's cantankerous, meddling, German-born mother Frieda (Gwen Watford). Frieda regards Rebecca as an interloper, disdainfully calls her the "red-haired Belgian", and plots her destruction through witchcraft. Frieda also stays in constant telephone contact with Bridget, who lives by herself in a lonely flat while still keeping a stiff upper lip. Circling the periphery of events is the twenty-something Mayor daughter, Trudy (Antonia Pemberton), who just wants to stay uninvolved. One day, Bridget decides that silent stoicism is tiresome, and moves in unannounced with Frieda, Mark, and Rebecca, who's pregnant with Mark's child.
The screenwriters could have left it at that and come away with a success. But, no; they reduce it to near rubbish with the inclusion of three completely unnecessary subplots involving characters that were unengaging or downright silly.
ONE: Trudy shares a flat with three other young professionals, one of whom is Giles (Douglas Hodge), whose semi-invalid and incontinent grandfather (Patrick Godfrey) is dumped into his care without warning or permission. Trudy is distraught, because most of the caretaking falls upon her. Her other female roommate, the vapid and witless Serafina (Joely Richardson), is no help as she's suffering a nervous breakdown.
TWO: Trudy schemes to attract the attentions of Daniel (Hugh Quarshie), a hunky, American-born and trained, Black minister who's established a Baptist mission in London for reasons that go unexplained.
THREE: Bridget moves out of Frieda's house and into Trudy's flat. Trudy rebels and moves in with Frieda, Rebecca, and Dad. Bridget falls in love with Giles, who's of an age to be her son, and the two discuss moving to California. (Of all the ill-conceived detours in this 4-part miniseries, this one elicited from me the most puzzled "But, why?" It was almost painful to watch.)
Not being an unqualified Judi Dench fan, the end of episode 4 - thank heavens there weren't more - left me pretty much disgusted that I'd wasted so much time on BEHAVING BADLY. I can do that with American TV without the added expense of a DVD purchase or rental.
Note: While watching BEHAVING BADLY, I thought Bridget's daughter was named "Phyllida", but a cast list on various websites say it's "Trudy". I don't get it, but don't really care except as a point of accuracy. Please excuse me if this poorly executed attempt at entertainment has left me baffled."
Behaving Badly Review
Anthony J. Corrao | 01/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Judi Dench's acting was superb, and the story line kept my wife and I glud to the TV. Great supporting actors."