I am huge fan of the 1980s MTV show “The Young Ones�?. So imagine my joy when the main people at Movieweb gave me Season 1 of the popular UK series Men Behaving Badly. Everyone I know fawns all over the show “The Office�". They watch it and suddenly it becomes an institution to them like “South Park�?. Personally, I have screened a few episodes of “The Office�" and I thought it was good, but it a lot of it is what I like to call “people watching humor�?. By this mean, events happen on the screen, there are long pauses between lines that are delivered and then the show moves on. It is during these dreadfully long pauses that we are supposed to see the humor. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don’t so basically a show like “The Office�? only works for me some of the time.
Now, Men Behaving Badly is an entirely different animal all together. In this show you have two roommates Gary (Martin Clunes) and Dermot (Harry Enfield) and the plot is quite simple. These guys enjoy booze, women and lounging about. Gary is trying to ditch his girlfriend Dorthy(Caroline Quentin) and Dermot is doing everything he can to have shag with the new neighbor, Deborah(Leslie Ash). The comedy ensues throughout the episodes as both of these guys compete for Deborah’s affections, Dorothy eagerly accepts the idea of her and Gary having an open relationship, and this isn’t even taking into account the things that happen at work.
I really enjoyed screening this DVD. I love the way it was shot. It is almost retro in the “video feel�" that it has. The show looks dated(it is from the early 1990s) but this isn’t a bad thing. Rather, it actually makes me long for the shows of yesteryear. TV nowadays just doesn’t do it for me. Every show seems to have an ulterior motive, whether it is being topical or trying to increase revenue/advertising dollars. Now, I know in the the digital video format this isn’t going to be that big a problem but the point I am trying to get across is that I really like how this show is done. The writing is top notch and while it isn’t all entirely “slice of life�? there is enough of that in there to make the 6 episodes that make up the first season quite engaging.
What really works for me here is the relationship between all the characters. Gary and Dermot seem like they were buddies forever and then this show “happened�? around their daily lives. I really believe that they are roommates and furthermore, I buy into all the problems that they inadvertently create for themselves. I mean, just seeing Gary try to wrangle out of his relationship with Dorthy is worth the price of admission alone. And then seeing Dermot, who at times only seems a little but more redeemable then Gary, go about his daily life also makes for some great comedy. As usual, when the guys are painted as “pigs�" and the women come off as being much more intelligent. This is also funny because Gary and Dermot think they know how these women are going to take them, and when the women act in ways that completely deviate from the expectations, you end up with a gold mine of good laughs.
All in all, I am really glad to have finally discovered this DVD. I also like how simple and effortless this show seems. Right from the start, when the show first begins, showing you the montage of the different characters(with great theme music layed over it) you know that no matter what happens you are going to end up with a laugh. It is a lot of site gags, yes, but there is nothing about the humor hear that feels forced. Not to slag “The Office�" but this isn’t humor that is separate from the viewer. What I mean is, Men Behaving Badly makes you an active participant, it brings you into the scope of the different stories. “The Office�", while funny, seems to be sort of some big inside joke and if you get it, you get it, if you don’t well then you’re out of luck.
Personally, I’ll take a show like Men Behaving Badly any day, because within the show there are stories and humor that seem be a bit stronger, then the comedy in “The Office�" which is more of a game of detective in which you’re trying to figure out why something is funny.
I love the idea of there being outtakes on a televised show in front of a LIVE audience. I say this because there is a degree of candor there that actors really have to be comfortable with. Nobody want’s to flub a line, blow a scene or just look stupid...and to then include that on a DVD really shows the comfort level, that I think, the shows creators have with their players. Outtakes take you out of the “suspension of disbelief�?. We see that these people who are on the screen, really are just playing roles. This is dangerous because when you rewatch the show, you not only see where the mistake was(so you know that what’s happening in the episode didn’t exactly happen like that, it was staged) but you also see that Gary is Martin Clunes and not the other way around.
These outtakes were also quite funny because being in front of a live audience, the humor when these characters mess up is magnified just that much more. So what ends up happening is that the jokes become all inclusive. Not that we need to know where the laugh is, but we see that Men Behaving Badly is like a stand up comedy act, with the audience waiting, engaged and hanging on every word and action these actors are doing.
This show is presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio, but people familiar with TV are not going to mind that it’s not in widescreen. I mean, I don’t know that anybody watching TV on DVD ever thinks that some show they put on is going to be in that aspect ratio. The shows have also held up great as far as their quality. I mean, this series is about 12-13 years old from when it was made and it looks great. I think this probably has something to do with the rate that it was compressed. Whatever the case, it’s nice to know that gems like this are preserved so that people like myself can discover them long after they have lived on TV.
The sound here is stereo. This is all that the box offers and truthfully, it’s not like you need some amazing sound coming from a sitcom. Not to denigrate the format but why in the world would you want to have a home theater experience while watching this show? You wouldn’t. All I can say is that everything sounded appropriate coming out of my 1 speaker, VHS/DVD player combo TV. I was also pleased that I was able to really follow the shows story and humor. I say this because when I first started watching “The Young Ones�" it took me some time to get used to how these people were speaking. On this show, that problem was never an issue.
The cover shows the guys and the girls, pizza, beer, a TV remote and what I have to assume are some unpaid bills. The packaging is simple. I like that they put an entire season on one disk. Granted, for the shows I collect, I want all the bells and whistles but for a 6 episode show why do you need to give it the major treatment? I could see if this was going to be a boxset, then that would make more sense, but this blue cover, clearly defining the characters by their dress and facial expressions does the job just fine. In fact, I think the fact that the people who made this DVD didn’t make it so daunting in it’s packaging, will probably end up selling more units. This is just a thought, though.
I feel confident recommending this to everyone. Just buy it. It’s one disk so chances are it won’t be that expensive. I don’t know what it is selling for but I am sure that the price will be right. I found the characters all fun and enjoyable and the episodes continued to keep my interest all throughout my screening. I found myself waiting to see what kind of trouble Gary and Dermot would get into and I also liked the fact that they didn’t always get out of it. A lot of this show is just a study in relationships between men and women, roommates, office mates and in that regard there is something for everyone. Great work!
Lastly, to all those people that feel scandalized by my “Office�" comments, fear not, I also “don’t get�" Monty Python so I guess this is just par for the course.
Men Behaving Badly was released .