Picks and Pans Review: Being Bobby Brown

UPDATED 07/11/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/11/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

Bravo (Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET)

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"Its a new day," Bobby Brown tells his wife, Whitney Houston, on vacation in the Bahamas. "We got to think about nothing from the past." Actually the couple's volatile history together is all I could think about while wading into this edgy, eight-part cinema-verité portrait. In 2003 Brown, an R&B singer of fading renown, was arrested for allegedly hitting Houston, the Grammy-winning pop diva. The charge was eventually dropped with her support. Houston, meanwhile, has had two stints in drug rehab, the most recent this spring. Being Bobby Brown, shot during a six-month period last year, glosses over the couple's troubles while portraying them as teasing and affectionate with each other. In the first two episodes, though, there's an underlying tension, hints of wounds unhealed. Mindful of his bad-boy image, Bobby seems anxious to recast himself as a lovable rogue—horsing around with his kids (he has four, three from previous relationships), flirting with his masseuse and blustering about his maturity. At 38, "I'm growing up, man," he says. That's debatable. Whitney has to rein him in with blunt reprimands (she threatens to punch him over that masseuse). She also displays some unflatteringly diva-ish behavior, shooing away a fan who dares to interrupt her meal. For all the unwanted attention, she and Brown are drawn to the camera like a pair of preening lions. They are never more on—and more spontaneously themselves—than when slow-dancing in the middle of a hotel lobby before a gaggle of tourists. To watch them revel in their tarnished celebrity is oddly uplifting.

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