“Men Behaving Badly” (1992-2014)
Created by: Simon Nye
Featuring: Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Leslie Ash, Caroline Quentin and
Tony: “Why does Dorothy still live with her parents?”
Gary Strang: “Her Mother keeps threatening to kill herself if she moves out, I think she should risk it.”
Some shows remain popular for years and always seem to make a comeback in one form or another, this is the case with the recently reissued DVD of “Men behaving badly” (1992-2014) that featured some of the UK’s most popular comedic and dramatic actors of the past thirty years in Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Caroline Quentin and in its first series the great Harry Enfield. While the 1980s had produced some of the great alternative comedians as a reaction to Margaret Thatcher, the nineties offered up John Major who was as bland as could be by comparison which meant comedy had to go elsewhere. In reaction to how audiences were feeling the idea seemed to be to go back to the 1970s to actual sit-coms based around one premise, this gave us many similar comedies, youngish people in flats, possibly the most well known is this one, “Men behaving badly”, a show that set men at the centre of the story with their (mostly) point of view being offered to audiences with all that entailed, for good or bad.
The idea was simple, Gary and Tony are two London-based beer-guzzling flatmates revelling in a second childhood, hours of TV, and mindless talks about women, the kind of behaviour that puts their relationships in jeopardy with Dorothy (Gary’s girlfriend) and Deborah (an attractive blonde in the flat above). This was pretty much it in a nutshell, to squeeze forty two episodes out of that with few scenes away from both flats is a testament to strong performances of the central cast who you can tell are far better than the material. Series one was the only series to feature Dermot, played by Harry Enfield, and the only series not to feature Neil Morrissey as Tony.
There is no doubt “Men behaving badly” was a right time, right place comedy that enjoyed a huge amount of success for a particular audience, that is a mostly white, male and I would say middle age. It attempts to say one thing, live how you like with little consequence, that is be hedonistic but have everything that does not go with that, the main element of that is stability. This is a show that feels out of place in 2020, in fact it is no surprise that by the time the final three episodes aired in 2014 the dynamic of the series had altered to a point that it would be far different to the one that was first broadcast way back in 1992. Even though the cast were all in their fifties when the last episodes aired this was when they decided to settle down and at least act grown up which lends to the idea that both Gary and Tony were man children, the ugly side of Peter Pan because no matter what you may think, to becoming a whole person you need to grow up and accept responsibility at some point. I would say that it should be done before your fifth decade of life, it also says nothing about the design of the women in this series.
No matter what you may think this is a show of its time, there is no doubt that it does have very funny moments but comedies have moved on to where they are not all about white men who are misogynistic, wanting the perfect woman who they can dominate in almost every way but will leave when it either gets too tough or the women want more than cooking and having sex.
All in all if you were a fan of the show then this set will see you right, it is good value for money and will be every bit as good as you remember. If you are looking for something fresh then steer clear unless you either want to watch some great comedians or are looking for counter programming to what is around in 2020.
Intruders: Dermot owes rent to Gary, but has spent the money on a new suit. The pair fear who will be moving into the newly vacant flat above them. Such fears are dashed when it turns out to be a slim attractive bottle-blonde woman, Deborah. She has bought it and will be living there alone.
The Bet: Gary has promised to take Dorothy to the opera, but Dermot has made the same promise to Deborah. Unfortunately there are only two tickets, hence the pair play a game of chess to win them. Gary wins; Dermot tells Deborah that his wallet – with the tickets – has been stolen. Gary takes Dorothy, but they cannot get in because the tickets are forgeries.
Alarms and Setbacks: Gary has a new alarm system installed into the house, leading to a power cut. But it is not just the alarm system that has gone haywire, so has Gary and Dorothy’s relationship.
Animals: Gary and Dorothy are about to split up, but instead agree to have an open relationship. Dermot starts a new job in marketing where he meets the sister of an ex-girlfriend.
Sex and Violence: Dermot lures Deborah into having a meal with him at the flat, but the hired organist is a disappointment. Sabotaging the evening further, Deborah’s boyfriend Mike returns from Singapore after having sex with other women there – and headbutts Gary. Dorothy tells Gary that she has split from her boyfriend Graham.
My Brilliant Career: Dermot tells Deborah that he has been sacked for assaulting a child customer at work. He gets a job as a waiter at Deborah’s restaurant. Gary intends to change employers. He dreads about telling George and Anthea that they are going to lose their jobs. During a meal with Anthea, George and Dorothy, celebrating Anthea’s birthday at Deborah’s restaurant, Gary intends to tell them the bad news. However, after Dermot informs Gary that Gary’s prospective employer is not going to recruit him, he no longer needs to tell them. Dermot is dismissed for kissing a customer in front of her boyfriend.
Gary and Tony: Gary receives a postcard from Dermot saying he will not be returning home, after finding love abroad. Gary advertises for a new flatmate. He is very disappointed with the prospective flatmates whom he interviews; he chooses record seller Tony Smart (Neil Morrissey).
Rent Boy: Gary is disappointed at evidence suggesting that Tony is gay. He visits Tony at his workplace, where he finds out that he is less successful than he claimed and runs a second-hand record store. Dorothy asks Tony, who says that he is not. Tony pretends he speaks German in order to translate a letter for Deborah from a customer at her restaurant. Tony gives an unfavourable fake translation, after which Dorothy – who studied A level German – translates it properly.
How to Dump Your Girlfriend: Tony is unhappy in his current relationship, and Gary turns on his domestic persona and creates a new cleaning rota for the home.
Troublesome Twelve Inch: When Gary discovers that one of Dorothy’s records is rare, he sells it to Tony at his record store. However, when Dorothy begins to question her record’s whereabouts, Gary quickly creates a web of lies to cover up the truth. Meanwhile, Tony takes Deborah on a date.
Going Nowhere: Dorothy, Gary, Tony and Deborah go out shopping. Dorothy contemplates splitting up with Gary, who is trapped in a lift with the career-troubled Deborah. Tony’s newly found happiness (a rusty old van), is also going nowhere.
People Behaving Irritatingly: Tony’s annoying brother and girlfriend are commandeering Gary’s flat, whose tolerance is wearing thin. However the foursome’s attitude soon changes when they discover a free holiday is on offer, courtesy of the irritating couple.
Lovers: Gary feels sexually inferior to Tony, when stumbling onto the subject of how many women the pair have each had sex with. Gary has only had sex with three women, but claims that he has had sex with 50 – and sets out to fake proof of his supposedly many ex-lovers to an unconvinced Dorothy and Tony.
Bed: The broken fence is blowing in a strong wind, preventing the foursome from getting any sleep – and a stomach ache is paining Dorothy. In the depth of night, Deborah tells Tony to fix the fence; he tries repeatedly, until giving up. Gary goes to an all-night chemist to get some indigestion medicine for Dorothy.
Casualties: Gary has got into the habit of persistently lying; hence when George is injured in the office and Gary is to blame, he attempts to cover the fact up so that Dorothy doesn’t find out the truth behind the accident. Meanwhile, Deborah has decided to sell her flat.
Weekend: Gary and Dorothy go on a romantic weekend together; while Tony is left to fend for himself at the flat. Simultaneously, he’s lost in thought over Deborah, who now has a new boyfriend – arrogant estate agent Ray.
Cleaning Lady: Gary becomes obsessed with the newly hired and attractive young Portuguese cleaning lady who has been hired to conquer the squalor of the men’s flat. Tony has found a modelling job and intends to use the cleaning lady to make Deborah jealous, by pretending that she is his girlfriend.
Marriage: A drunk Gary proposes to Dorothy, which he regrets the next morning. Tony is jealous of Deborah’s new relationship, and sets up a bugging system to listen in on the couple.
Babies: Gary had a nightmare about marrying Dorothy and both of them being pregnant. Dorothy considers having a baby with Gary, but his lack of maturity gives her doubts. Deborah asks Tony to look after her flat whilst she is away. He accidentally spills orange juice into her underwear drawer, after reading her diaries, which angers her.
Infidelity: Deborah is engrossed in a drama programme on TV which Tony finds boring. After he fails to divert her attention onto himself, she loses patience and says that although she finds him attractive, his selfishness and immaturity will always prevent them being a couple. Tony fails in his attempt to entertain residents at the local old people’s home, having done so in an attempt to show Deborah that he cares about other people. Gary suspects that Dorothy is having an affair. He asks Dorothy outright upon her arrival at the flat, which she does not gve his a proper answer to. He decides to play detective in order to find out Dorothy’s whereabouts and uses a disguise (a Mexican hat) and a red Nissan Micra which he sits in outside Dorothy’s parents’ house to keep watch on visitors. She later tells him that she is enjoying an affair with a radiographer colleague, Jamie.
Pornography: Tony’s girlfriend is disgusted by his collection of pornographic magazines and leaves him. Gary is bitter about not being invited to Deborah’s dinner party, which Dorothy and her new boyfriend Jamie attend. Gary decides to hold his own dinner party, with Les preparing the food; it goes badly.
Three Girlfriends: Tony is finding juggling three different girlfriends a difficulty, and tries to work out which of them to dump. Gary unsuccessfully encourage one of them to have sex with him – and later tells another of them that Gary has three current girlfriends. Gary’s embarrassing father comes to stay, and Dorothy and Gary’s relationship is pieced back together.
Drunk: In an attempt to rebuild Dorothy and Gary’s crumbling relationship, Dorothy prepares a romantic meal. Unfortunately, her hopes for a night of romance are dashed when Gary and Tony indulge in heavy drinking at “The Crown”.
In Bed with Dorothy: Dorothy has just had an operation, but Gary’s attempts at taking care of her seem to be having the opposite effect. Tony is embarrassed with the glasses he has to wear, and is determined the others will not find out that he has to wear them.
Playing Away: Tony resorts to extremes when attempting to remove his tooth without having to see a dentist. Gary and Deborah are away on a creative writing course. Tony and Dorothy get drunk and have sex, and are discovered in bed together by Gary on his return.
Hair: Tony returns from his trip around Europe, and is not pleased to find out that Dorothy has moved into the flat. Deborah is unhappy and Tony tries to impress her with his beard.
The Good Pub Guide: Gary and Tony are both shocked when their affectionately loved pub (The Crown) is being revamped as landlord Les has been fired and introducing a new landlord Ken. Dorothy too, has concerns of her own; she confronts Gary about doing all the housework and Tony pretends to share Deborah’s interest in astrology to impress her.
Cowardice: Dorothy and Tony are avoiding Gary after cowardly stepping out of an aggressive driving dispute. Hence Gary hires a “large man” to prove his manhood. But as always, things do not go to plan. Tony and Gary speculate whether Debs is in a lesbian relationship with a friend staying with her. Tony gets a job in The Crown.
Your Mate v Your Bird: There’s no room in Gary’s flat for a third-person, and he begins having nightmares about telling Dorothy or Tony that one of them must leave. After telling Tony to leave, Dorothy announces she’s leaving the flat to move in with Deborah; Tony hence returns.
Cardigan: Gary seems to be slipping into middle-age mode and finds he is wearing the same clothes as George. To avoid descending into the crisis of age further, Gary organises a night out to a rave. Deborah is now a mature student and Tony feels rejected, while simultaneously jealous of her newly-found student friends.
Rich and Fat: Tony reads Gary’s bank statement, discovering that he has £33,000 – which those around him develop an appetite for. Tony has gained a rather large appetite of his own, and a fat belly to go with it.
Home-Made Sauna: Tony makes a sauna out of the shed. Deborah and Dorothy depart from the men to go on a sailing weekend. Tony and Gary are then left to entertain their attractive female neighbours with a barbecue – a wooden one made by Tony.
Stag Night: In yet another attempt to impress Deborah, Tony is helping pregnant women to give birth in water. Dorothy has agreed to marry Gary, but the events of their wild stag and hen nights make the couple think otherwise.
Wedding: The group prepare for Dorothy and Gary’s wedding reception, with Tony the nervous Best Man. The day does not go according to plan when the registrar collapses, and in the end the event is called off. However, the couple still venture off into the sunset for their honeymoon. After five long years and an array of desperate efforts, Tony finally gets to have sex with Deborah.
Jealousy: Lost in happiness and rapt in love, Deborah and Tony are now a couple. In contrast, Dorothy and Gary seem to despise each other. Nevertheless the foursome head off for a weekend away in a caravan, where Tony gets jealous of their camping neighbours and Gary attempts to prove to the group that he can instantly stop smoking, leading to hair-tearing chaos.
Watching TV: The group settle down for a night in front of the TV, while deciding to play a chain of tricks on Tony, because they think that he is too happy. In between their pranks, they reminisce about old TV shows including The Good Life.
Ten: Dorothy’s ten-year-old nephew comes to stay, while Gary and Dorothy attempt to save their deteriorating relationship by visiting a counsellor. Meanwhile, Tony meets Deborah’s mother, and despite his best efforts, things go from bad to worse.
Sofa: Gary loves his worn-out, dirty sofa. However, Dorothy pressures him to dispose of it because of its poor condition. He reminisces about the girls who have sat in it. Tony wakes up after a drunken night out, horrified that he has brought home a live snake which he bought from a man in the pub. Dorothy and Deborah sit on the new sofa. Gary and Tony put the old sofa and the snake on the Cerne Abbas Giant.
Jingle Balls!: Christmas time, a time of love, food and fun. However at Gary’s home Christmas time is a time of hate, burnt turkeys and deep fat fried phones! Gary is determined to do the cooking, and Deborah wants to split up with Tony, who’s thrilled with his new drum set.
Performance: Gary and Dorothy are determined to try for a baby; however Gary has a slight impotence problem so collects a heavy collection of pornography to solve the problem. Meanwhile, Tony decides to move in with Deborah.
Gary in Love: Gary attends a conference in Worthing, and Dorothy, Deborah and Tony tag along for the trip; Tony and Gary make the local headlines by stealing a large ornamental fish, and Gary falls in love – and not with Dorothy.
Delivery: In the final episode, Tony takes up his new job as a postman; however Deborah believes he’s become boring as a result. Meanwhile Gary gets heavily drunk to break the news to George and Anthea the office is closing down; and Dorothy goes into labour, but with a drunken Gary and Tony (who’s now back to his old ways) and an unconscious midwife.