Just in the nick of time for its revival series, Sex and the City: The Complete Series hits Blu-ray in a six-season, two-film, 18-disc set. Just when HBO was starting to set the standard for original programming, Sex and the City redefined what a comedy-drama show for women could be. Now, this groundbreaking show hits Blu-ray for the first time with impressive results. The A/V presentation for each episode is solid - especially for the later seasons. Now a downside for this set are the two feature films - they have not been remastered and while they were impressive in their day, they would certainly benefit from a little TLC and would make great visual candidates for 4K. For those eager to have the full adventures of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda all in one boxset - the wait is over and it’s worth it. Recommended
If you want to be anything, you can’t live just anywhere, you need to be in New York City. Four friends Carrie (Sara Jessica Parker), Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Charlotte (Kristin Davis) navigate the rough waters of being strong professional women with sexual needs and desires equal to their male counterparts. Carrie runs a popular newspaper column detailing their exploits in love and life. Through ups and downs and all the humorous in-betweens, their proudest and even their most embarrassing moments are examined.
I’ll be straight at the outset here and state simply that Sex and the City wasn’t for me. I was about 17 when this show launched and as a socially awkward high school kid, I was mostly interested in trying to figure out what the heck was going on in the latest X-Files episodes and laughing at how they managed to kill Kenny again on South Park. I wasn’t really exposed to Sex and the City until college by the ladies in my various friend circles. I have to admit, it was pretty damn funny. I never really sought it out, but if it happened to be on, I’d give it a watch.
It wasn’t until the Pandemic hit that my wife decided to go through the whole show again herself and I tagged along for the ride. While not at all directed at me in the target demographic, I got a kick out of how charming and outright funny Sex and the City could be. At least the first seasons. Even though I couldn’t relate to a lot of it, the show was funny and creative, and with the dynamics of our four leading ladies, it was still felt fresh and entertaining.
A show about four women and their personal lives with a dose of high fashion proved to be entertaining on its own. As they found themselves in more committed relationships, those ups and downs were easily relatable. It sucks to be the only single person at the table. It sucks to feel like your job isn’t going anywhere while all of your friends advance. And it especially sucks to have a dry spell in your personal relations. Man, woman, or other - anyone can relate to those issues. The problems for the show - in my view - start around Season Four.
The whole Carrie and Mr. Big (Chris North) recurring storyline was already becoming pretty dry and stale, but by the later seasons, it was tiresome. But then you toss in the Aidan (John Crobit) storyline and it becomes even more frustrating. Samantha’s sexual misadventures were entertaining, but it felt like the writers were straining to come up with new goofy ways for her to get into trouble while also having an important discussion about aging and sexuality. Miranda who was already uptight becomes more so while Charlotte gets more involved with Trey and their own issues. While it felt like the show could be circling the drain at times, the worst sin in my eyes was the obvious and distracting product placement.
Now it’s no secret that television shows rely on product placement to help cover production costs and increase profits - especially for shows where there isn’t built-in advertising. Seinfeld could much down any box of cereal and it’d work fine because someone else on screen was being funny. Sex and the City was about upper-crust high-society folk and so early on the branding reflected that. But as the show became more popular the items they needed to hawk had to be more accessible. Carrie needs a new computer so Aidan gets her a new MacBook. When people are having conversations in cars the camera isn’t tight and intimate, it’s resting in a bizarre middle-shot outside showing off the vehicle’s features. When Carrie needed to find out more about a possible date she “Google-dot-comed” him and “searched on Google-dot-com,” and don’t forget about the “Google search results.” And what do you do about bad breath? Why, Big Red chewing gum of course!
Now that scene would have been actually funny if it was Fruit Stripe and they kept having to chew through fresh sticks to keep the flavor alive - just like their relationship.
While I'll argue that Sex and the City overstayed its welcome with six seasons before moving onto feature films, but then - I wasn’t the target audience. I knew plenty of people who loved this show the whole way through. Now with the new seniors in the city revival series And Just Like That… set to arrive in time for Christmas, Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte get another chance to prove their characters relevant for a modern era. Even without Kim Cattrall's Samantha (which is very odd), I’m actually curious to see how well this event series turns out. Anything has to be better than Sex and the City 2.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Sex and the City: The Complete Series finally comes to Blu-ray thanks to Warner Bros. All 94 episodes and two feature films are spread out over 18 discs, 16 for the series, two for the films. The 16 region free series discs are housed in an Epik Pak case while the two feature films are housed in a standard DVD-sized two-disc Eco-Box case. Both hard plastic cases are housed in a magnetic snapper cardboard box for a fancy shelf display. Note: the overall packaging is the size of your average DVD boxset so it won’t fit alongside your other Blu-rays neatly. The two feature film discs are the exact same one as previously issued. No digital copy slip is included with the set.
Considering the show’s focus of the fancy side of Manhattan living with high fashion and ultra-lux utilities, it should be no surprise that Sex and the City makes for fine viewing reframed to 1.78:1 instead of the original 1.33:1. Normally that kind of reframing would bug the hell out of me, but the show already had a cinematic “widescreen” appeal that the reframing and matting of the episodes works well. You don’t have any focus issues that you see from older shows that have been adjusted to fit our modern television screens.
As the show was shot on 16mm film it maintains a welcome film-like presentation. The first season is the roughest of the set, grain is a little harsh in places, details a bit softer, but overall pretty good. Once you get to Season Two and beyond, details are often striking - especially high fashion moments or scenes shot on location throughout New York or the many other cities the show traveled to. As each season progresses the overall image quality improves nicely showcasing a little more sophistication in the cinematography.
Colors are bright and bold with some impressive primary pop. Big’s red apartment is especially striking. Blues and yellows - depending on the outfit or shoe - are also given equal time. Skin tones are nice and healthy. Occasionally black levels could look a little soft, moreso in the first season than the other five, but image depth is well rendered. Free of any problems like speckling or other anomalies, this really is an impressive presentation.
Each episode of Sex and the City picks up a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix upgrade with some nice results. While there isn’t much call for a full surround presence, the soundscape handles big crowds, busy city life, and bustling restaurants with a nice full-scale audio field. I was impressed with the consistent Side/Rear activity. When the show is on the quieter side of things it’s a much more Front/Center presence with only a little side surround activity to set the mood. Sarah Jessica Parker’s narration is spot on and dialog is crisp and clear at all times. Music cues come in nicely without sounding like it’s there to just add noise to the mix. All around the show sounds great.
While the artwork for the set boasts “Over 3 Hours of Bonus Features” - none of them are new and are simply repackaged from the old DVD sets. That said, if you’ve never gone through them, they’re not half bad. The featurettes are a little tame, but the audio commentaries are pretty good and worth giving a listen to.
Season 1: Disc 2:
Season 2: Disc 3:
Season 3: Disc 2:
Season 4: Disc 3:
Season 6: Part 1 Disc 1:
Season 6: Part 1 Disc 2:
Season 6: Part 2 Disc 1:
Season 6: Part 2 Disc 2:
While I may not have been the person the creators of Sex and the City had in mind when they made it - I can certainly appreciate its place in television history. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Catrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kirstin Davis enjoyed six seasons of hilarious and entertaining life adventures in the Big Apple. While the show had its ups and downs, overall this ground-breaking piece of television is an enjoyable one.
Die-hard fans will be keen to see that each episode of the series enjoys a welcome and noteworthy upgrade to Blu-ray. Each episode enjoys a new 1.78:1 1080p transfer coupled with dedicated and devoted DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio tracks. The only real disappointment of the set is the two feature films and their lack of upgrade. They were pretty great when Blu-ray was in its infancy but by today's standards, even if they don’t get a 4K upgrade, they could use some TLC of their own. As a whole Sex and the City: The Complete Series is a winner for fans. If you haven’t watched the show yet, give it a whirl. You have plenty of time to binge through it before the new revival series arrives next month! Recommended.