Plot: What’s it about?
Don’t ask why, but I can vividly remember opening my mailbox and seeing the complete first season of “Sex and the City”. I’d never watched the show and it was one of the first television shows on the format (it came out in 2000). I thought, “Ok, I’ll watch this and see what all the fuss is about”. As it turns out, I was instantly hooked and I have to say that I’m probably one of the few straight men to have seen every episode of this show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! “Sex and the City” got away with things that most other shows don’t – it aired on HBO show they were allowed to show nudity, curse and show scenes that weren’t appropriate for network television (ironically, reruns are now airing on TBS though they have been edited). Couple this with good writing and, violaé, you’ve got a hit show on your hands. That was then, though and this is now. The show only lasted six seasons (and season five was only 8 episodes long to accomodate Sarah Jessica Parker’s real-life pregnancy) and now it’s over. In an effort to milk every last cent out of us, HBO has divided the last season into two parts. The first part has already been released and this second installment now concludes the series. I went back and watched a few episodes from the first season just to compare the characters and, well, a lot has changed. Charlotte’s been married…twice, Samantha is facing Cancer, Miranda has a child and Carrie is still playing the field after numerous encounters with Mr. Big. Suffice it to say that the show decided to go out while on top and let’s face it, if you have the rest are you really going to stop now? I didn’t think so. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the episodes and see what was in store for the ladies.
“Let There Be Light” – After much consideration, Carrie decides that she will begin sleeping with Petrovsky, but rejects Charlotte’s suggestion that an actual relationship between the two could develop. The pair spend a wonderful night together, but the next morning, Carrie is shocked to find that Petrovsky’s apartment is also a hub for his business, with a living room full of his employees. And Steve moves into Miranda’s apartment, but the newly-recoupled couple finds that they have to deal with unfortunate run-ins with Dr. Robert Leeds (Blair Underwood).
“The Ick Factor” – The relationship between Carrie and Petrovsky continues to develop, but one thing continues to nag at Carrie. Petrovsky is given to grand gestures of affection (including poetry reading and the composition of original love songs), and that’s a bit too much for this slightly cynical New York girl. Not to be left behind in the romance department, Harry takes Charlotte to an upscale French restauarant. The meal is wonderful, but later that night, the newlyweds both come down with acute food poisoning.
“Catch-38” – Samantha’s cancer treatments hit a rough spot when her male physician offends her by mentioning that some studies show that childless women have an increased risk for breast cancer. Samantha vows to receive treatment from a female doctor. Miranda and Steve take their honeymoon, but Miranda finds it somewhat difficult to totally relax in the wilderness setting chosen by her husband. The lack of television, radio and other distractions (along with Steve’s raging libido) drives Miranda crazy.
“Out of the Frying Pan” – In a change from their usual excursions around Manhattan, Petrovsky convinces Carrie to have dinner at her place. The meal goes well, but ends abruptly when a mouse (smashed by Petrovsky) runs across her countertop. Samantha’s cancer treatments are going well, and she reacts positively to the chemo. Unfortunately, the procedure causes her hair to begin falling out. Samantha freaks out at this development, especially since she has Smith’s big premiere coming up. Charlotte and Harry’s quest to conceive continues in vain as Charlotte’s latest round of IVF proves unsuccessful. She tries to run away from her problems (literally) by taking frequent jogs in the park.
“The Cold War” – Samantha (along with her fabulous collection of wigs) is non-plussed to hear growing rumors that Smith is actually gay. However, after a carefully cropped image of Smith, Stanford and Marcus sees print, the talk intensifies, and Sam is stuck with the label of “fag hag.” Charlotte decides to take Elizabeth Taylor back into competition, entering the King Charles Spaniel in a dog show. The event doesn’t go smoothly, as Elizabeth goes into heat right before the judging. Carrie and Petrovsky’s relationship continues to sizzle. The pair cuddle up in the Russian’s apartment for several days, causing Carrie to somewhat isolate herself from her friends.
“Splat!” – Carrie finally manages to bring her new and old friends together as Petrovsky hosts a dinner party for Ms. Bradshaw’s inner circle. The evening is pleasant enough, but it’s clear that there’s some tension in the air. A decision about Paris will have to wait as Carrie and Petrovsky attend a party thrown by Enid Frick, Carrie’s editor from Vogue. Enid asks Carrie to set her up with one of Petrovsky’s friends, but when she produces food critic Martin Grable at the party, Enid’s reaction is tepid. Instead, Enid tries to put the moves on Petrovsky, a tack that is quickly headed off by Carrie.
“An American Girl in Paris (Part Une)” – Before leaving for Paris, Carrie runs into Big outside of her apartment, but she makes it clear to him that she wants him totally out of her life. Ms. Bradshaw then has one last dinner with Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, and it’s clear that the four women know that Carrie’s absence will have a major impact on all of their lives. Meanwhile, back in New York, Samantha is chosen to speak at a benefit for breast cancer research. Her speech starts out stiffly, but she soon loosens up, and wins over the audience with her usual blunt manner.
“An American Girl in Paris (Part Deux)” – Do you really think we’re going to tell you how it ends?
Video: How does it look?
As with the previous two seasons of Sex and the City, these are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. For a series this new, I really think that these could look a bit better. When I see movies and other television shows (like “Friends”) that look better, it really boggles my mind. Still, there is some artifacting in some dimly lit shots and for the most part the colors are strong. The flesh tones are accurate, though we see the women in so many different settings it’s hard to tell what they “really” look like! Still, a strong presentation throughout makes for a good viewing. Essentially, expect the same as from the last three seasons.
Audio: How does it sound?
While we have become so used to things being “re-mastered” in Dolby Digital 5.1, we tend to overlook the things that don’t really need that “power” to excel. Sex and the City, as with the two previous seasons, is presented in a basic Dolby Surround track. There are no major flaws here, just the audio as you most likely heard it either on the DVD or when it aired on HBO. Still, it’s not a bad thing as split surrounds or discrete effects couldn’t do a whole lot for our four heroines. The dialogue is witty and presented without a single flaw, and the more “umph” of the tracks takes place during the opening credits, but if it’s a “Saving Private Ryan” track you’re looking for you won’t find it here, just some women looking for some love and we can hear every minute of it in good ‘ol Dolby Surround.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Sex and the City” DVD’s have never been too terribly loaded down with supplements and this is certainly no exception – though it does contain the most of any season out there. We start off with four audio commentaries with the season opener, “Splat!” and the finales “An American Girl in Paris (Parts Une and Deux). They’re all essentially the same in format, though there’s a bit of sentiment in the latter ones. I found all to be informative and along the same lines as the other audio commentaries throughout the series. There is a third disc that is dedicated to supplements, starting out with two farewells. These are divided into two parts and are the same that aired when the show concluded last February. Next up are some deleted scenes, but these are from the entire series – not just the last year. Season One isn’t included, but plenty are shown from Seasons Two through Six. There’s a little disclaimer about the sound, lighting and makeup not being right for broadcast (which is another way of saying they look poor in comparison to the final product), but they look good nonetheless. Three alternate endings are shown for the series finale and I found it odd that the real one only showed a glimpse of what the other three had in common. Still, I liked the way the show ended and these show why they’re “alternates”. A series recap is also included which is essentially trailers to all of the episodes for this disc. All in all, this is a great way to end a great series. Highly recommended.