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SAMANTHA: "You have to have sex like a man."
CHARLOTTE: "With a dildo?"
SAMANTHA: "No. With no feelings."

Sex and the City - DVD shoebox

Sex And The City:
complete series one to six
cast: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristen Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Chris Noth

creator: Darren Star

2387 minutes (18) 1999 - 2004
widescreen ratio 16:9 HBO / Paramount
NTSC DVD Region 2 rental / retail

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Emily Webb
Love it or hate it, Sex And The City is one of the most influential television series of all time. It's the show that has everything - sex, fashion, relationships, shoes and... New York City.

Running for 94 episodes over six series, Sex And The City (or 'Sluts in the City', as it's referred to by its detractors) started spectacularly in 1998 on HBO; more creative freedom was afforded to it on this cable channel and it went further than any other show previously had in discussing sexuality and relationships. The first episode established the central theme of the series: What are the rules in the game of dating, sex, love and relationships.

Lead character and narrator, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) poses endless rhetorical questions about love, sex and relationships as she types her fictional 'Sex and the City' column for the New York Star: "Is this the end of love in Manhattan?" - "Are there still certain things in the relationship that we shouldn't say?" - "How the hell did we get into this mess?" - "Are all men freaks?" ("Does my incessant need to talk in rhetorical questions get on people's nerves?") And so on...

The structure of Sex And The City is consistent over the six seasons, with the exception of the direct-to-viewer dialogue that was used in the pilot and seasons one and two. This was effective early on as the show established its feel and look but as the seasons progressed and the show became familiar to viewers, there was no need for it.

Already slick and fresh when it started, Sex And The City gets better with each season. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha's lives develop so that there are essentially four subplots within the overall theme of finding love in The Big Apple - Will Carrie and Mr Big ever end up together? Will Charlotte ever have a baby? Will motherhood soften Miranda? Will Samantha ever have a serious, intimate relationship with a man, not just sex?

The supporting cast, namely 'the men', add to the appeal of the series; Chris Noth (Law And Order) as Mr Big, John Corbett (Northern Exposure) as Aidan, Carrie's other significant relationship in the show, Jason Lewis as Samantha's toy boy hunk Smith, Kyle McLachlan as Trey, Charlotte's impotent husband and David Eigenberg, Miranda's on/ off partner Steve with the one testicle (if you aren't familiar with the show, this little fact is significant in the later seasons).

Some film and television directors of note have been at the helm including Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan), Allison Anders (Gross Point), Martha Coolidge (Valley Girl) and Michael Patrick King (Dawson's Creek).

The show built its popularity on vicarious thrills - the outfits, the bars, restaurants and openings, the hairstyles and of course, revolving door of gorgeous men. By series four, five and six, the avenues to explore became less (lesbianism, bondage, vibrators, blowjobs and cross dressing have all been covered) and the show relies more on developing tying up the loose ends of the girls' lives and working towards the 'happily ever after'.

In series three and four, I started to get frustrated by Carrie's neurotic dissection of her relationship with Aidan. Cute Aidan is sappy, especially with his bandana collared dog Pete and his earthy, furniture-maker ways but I felt she had to either accept that he was not as exciting as Mr Big and just marry him and shut up or, dump him and shut up. (Of course, viewers just know that they are not going to end up together and that Big is the only man for Carrie.) This irritation aside, I can't fault the characters.

Season six; especially the final episodes An American Girl In Paris (Parts une and deux) are my favourites. Mikhail Baryshnikov is fascinating as Carrie's Russian lover and the man she follows to Paris. Despite her excitement at being in the 'city of love', Carrie in Paris is like a fish out of water: she belongs in New York with Big and her girlfriends. I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen this series but I will say it's happy endings all around.

Watching Sex And The City makes me want to move to New York, dress better, get my own column and date lots of men (maybe that's why my husband hates the show). It would be a guilty pleasure if it weren't so well done.

DVD features include season indexes for every episode, making-of featurettes, interviews with the cast and the various season teasers and trailers.

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