‘Sex And The City’: The Complete Collection Blu-Ray Review – Iconic Series Gets Magnificent HD Upgrade

Sex and the City. Love it or hate it, it was a cultural phenomenon for the six seasons and it continues to be one of the flagship shows for the HBO brand. It would be reductive to say this is a show for women; this is a show about women that audiences of all genders, orientations, races and other identifying features took time to invest in. And we mean invest deeply in. Were you a Big or Aidan person? Maybe, we shudder to think, a Jack Berger person? Is Samantha better as someone who sleeps around, or do you root for her when she starts to have feelings? If you watched the show, you definitely have strong feelings on these and a myriad of other storylines. This show is far from the ultimate representation of female friendship, but it broke important ground on television by showing that – surprise, surprise – women are three-dimensional beings who get as horned up as much as all of us dumb dudes and they like to talk about it, and anything else that comes to mind, with their friends. The show was never flawless even when it was originally airing, but spending time with the four friends at the center of this narrative conjures up that nostalgic feeling that maybe you were that fifth friend who was never on screen. 

Even those who have never watched an episode probably have a sense of the four women we follow in “modern” New York City from pop culture alone, each representing a different view of femininity. The literal voice of the show is arguably the most polarizing character; Carrie Bradshaw (The Family Stone) writes the titular column for the fictitious New York Star in which she works out the problems in her life through print. Carrie lives a lifestyle amongst the social elite through which she gets to attend many glamorous events where she crosses paths with a number of men. Some of these interactions can last anywhere from a single-episode exercise to a multi-season arc with moments of triumphs and devastating setbacks. The relationship she has within the series that seems fait accompli is the hot-and-cold journey with Mr. Big (Chris Noth, The Good Wife). He is like a drug to Carrie, but the heartache he puts her through makes it hard to root for him to be the victor of her heart. 

In terms of sheer shock value, Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall, Masquerade) delivers the best one-liners you have ever heard. Samantha has never heard a turn of phrase that she could not make an innuendo. Samantha represents a woman full of confidence who sees no shame in her sexuality; she lives her life with all of the privilege of a man, having sex for physical gratification instead of anything emotional. It would be easy to dismiss her as a caricature intended for comic relief, but if you really watch the show you will see that there is some real humanity to Samantha. Yes, she has brief detours into relationships, but more than that it is shown time and time again that Samantha will be there for her friends if they really need it. She is a good person to have on your side due to her reluctance to judge anyone on what makes them feel good. 

Charlotte York (Kristin Davis, Deck The Halls) falls on the opposite end of the spectrum with her prim and proper ideas of a storybook romance. She makes a good foil for Samantha, often shocked by the exhibitionism of her very-open friend compared to her relatively sheltered existence. That is not to say she is not essential to the comedy of the series; a naive perspective can often breed the biggest laughs. She also has her little rays of rebellion that you love to see shine through and give her backstory some relatable texture. Her evolution throughout the series takes some unconventional turns and leads to some of the most raw and painful moments of the entire run. Out of the four ladies, Charlotte is a personal favorite. 

The final piece of the puzzle is Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion), the “cynical” career woman of the group who unfairly has her independent nature mistaken for coldness. Miranda may seem tough, but in reality she is very vulnerable as she longs to find love with someone who can value her for who she is. While all the women are close with one another, Miranda is the friend who seems to be the closest to Carrie and is shown to be an invaluable confidant time and time again. Mr. Big may be the most notorious romantic partner on the show, but the journey Miranda has with Steve (David Eigenberg, Chicago Fire) is just as engaging and more satisfying due to Steve being slightly more caring than Big. 

The sexual escapades and romantic drama are a key part of the show, but in the end Sex and the City is about the friendship between these four women. Men come and go – seriously, so many men – but the friendships are forever. Just like normal friends, they rub each other the wrong way at times and hurt each other’s feelings, but that is not enough to break up the group. That’s not to say there are not some friends outside of this core four who do not make an impression. Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson, White Collar) is, in our opinion, the one true important man in the life of Carrie Bradshaw. Mario Cantone serves a similar role for Charlotte as Anthony, but in a much more exaggerated way than Stanford. The show utilized its ensemble well, even those who would only appear for an episode or two.

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Being a Sex and the City fan can be a bit complicated at times. You grow to really love these characters throughout these 94 episodes, but that does not mean you love everything they do. There are some decisions made that will have you screaming at the characters – Carrie, we are looking at you – but always out of love and concern. You may feel like you are watching a slow-motion car crash at times, but there is a reason you cannot look away. On a less positive note, the show does feature some dated concepts and language that strike the ears quite harshly. Let’s just say the trans representation outside of Samantha’s window during some key episodes does not leave room for nuance. There is also a lack of diversity that may cause some to view this as “rich white people problems.” These concerns are valid, but that does not completely invalidate all that the show does right. 

Sex and the City remains one of the finest shows that HBO has ever produced. Few shows have been able to get us as invested in the lives of their characters as a whole nation was in that of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. Rarely did an episode pass that did not have you crying from laughing or your heart breaking for one of your friends. The journey was one that only got sweeter as you got to know these characters more intimately and the gained greater nuance on both a writing and performance level. The two movies included in the set serve as something of a victory lap for the series with the first entry being a nice companion piece to the show and the second feature film being a bit of a misstep. Nevertheless the entire Sex and the City experience is one that you watch again and again and still feel warmly towards. There is more depth to this incredible series than uninformed detractors might expect. It’s a classic. 

Video Quality

Sex And The City: The Complete Collection makes a long-awaited debut on Blu-Ray with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer in its remastered and expanded 1.78:1 open-matte aspect ratio compared to its old 4×3 full-frame ratio. Those who own the ancient DVDs will be astonished to see the new life that the remaster brings to this material. Once you see these Blu-Ray discs, you will say good riddance to those old sets. A few odd shots in the first season seem like they may have been sourced from a different pickup source than the main material, but typically these moments are very brief. Overall clarity and detail is stunning, and skin tones are natural and consistent with subtle facial features easily noticeable in closeup. The makeup and hairstyling are especially textured in a way that shines through in this transfer. Although the series visually gets incrementally better as it goes along, it remains remarkably consistent throughout. 

This transfer maintains the natural film grain that helps with showcasing subtle details in the production design and city landscapes. Colors are well saturated in a pleasing way that provides a visual pop off the screen. Minor specks of debris pop up very rarely, but they are still worth noting. Black levels hold up well with crush not serving as an overwhelming issue. When compared to the new streaming version on HBO Max, these discs offer a bit more stability and less chunkiness from compression artifacts. This new presentation from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is very impressive and should be considered the essential way to view the series. 

Audio Quality

We mentioned that the Blu-Rays received remastered video in this new set, but just as importantly all of the seasons have now been given lossless audio. These Blu-Rays come with an active DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track that creates a fully fleshed-out world from episode one. One of the standout aspects of this show is the music and score that adds a lot of character to the story. The opening theme song works perfectly to set the tone for the story, and it creates a nicely enveloping soundscape that draws you further into the show. Dialogue always comes through crisp and clear without being stepped on by the score or any sound effects. More kinetic moments such as visits to night clubs are given the appropriate power in the mix with a forceful showing in the low end. Ambient sounds are also precisely placed in the rear channels. The track handles panning effects around the room really well so that everything sounds natural to the world. The audio presentation here is fantastic on all levels.

Special Features

Season One

  • Inside Sex And The City: A four-minute vintage promo which details the basic premise and characters featured in the show with some brief interviews from the stars and creatives. 

 

Season Two

  • Meet The Cast Of Sex And The City: An eight-minute vintage featurette which promotes the “new” sophomore season through cheesy narration, brief interviews with the cast and crew and clips from the show. It is fun to see these performers discuss the show even if it is more manufactured. 
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Season Three

  • Audio Commentaries
    • Easy Come, Easy Go: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • All Or Nothing: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King
    • Running With Scissors: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King
  • The Writers Of Sex And The City: A four-minute vintage featurette which takes a look at the writers on the show and where they gained inspiration for some of the storylines.
  • The Fashion Of Sex And The City: A three-minute vintage featurette which takes a closer at the role fashion plays on the show with some brief interviews from the costume designer. 
  • Sex And The City – Real New Yorkers: A nearly three-minute vintage featurette in which some “real” New Yorkers give their take on what makes the show authentic. 

Season Four

  • Audio Commentaries
    • The Good Fight: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • Change Of A Dress: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King
    • I Heart NY: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King

 

Season Five

  • Audio Commentaries
    • Anchors Away: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • Plus One Is The Loneliest Number: Executive Producer/Director Michael Patrick King
    • I Love A Charade: Executive Producer/Co-Writer Michael Patrick King
  • Behind The Scenes with Patricia Field: A nearly 22-minute piece in which Costume Designer Patricia Field takes you the process of developing and finding costumes for the show along with analyzing the individual styles of each of the four main characters. 

Season Six

  • Audio Commentaries
    • To Market, To Market: Executive Producer/Writer/Director Michael Patrick King
    • Great Sexpectations: Executive Producer/Director Michael Patrick King
    • Boy, Interrupted: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King
    • One: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • Let There Be Light: Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • Splat!: Executive Producer Michael Patrick King
    • An American Girl In Paris (Part Une): Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
    • An American Girl In Paris (Part Deux): Executive Producer/Writer Michael Patrick King
  • Museum Of TV & Radio Seminar Series – Sex and the City: A 33-minute panel from 2003 featuring Michael Patrick King, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis. These participants discuss the innovative nature of the show, the fine line between comedy and drama, the audition process, the giggle fits on set and more. 
  • Farewell Tribute 1: A 27-minute special in which the cast and crew, along with famous guests, discuss the journey of making the show, what it has meant to them, favorite moments, character traits, the costumes in the show and much more. 
  • Farewell Tribute 2: Another 26 minutes of content featuring the same type of general information that bids farewell to this iconic show. 
  • USCAF Writers’ Panel Discussion: A 49-minute panel hosted by Michael Patrick King who is joined by Sarah Jessica Parker, Executive Producers Jenny Bicks and Cindy Chupack, and writers Amy B. Harris, Julie Rottenberg, Elisa Zuritsky and Liz Tuccillo. 
  • Alternate Series Finale Endings
    • Alt Ending 1 (0:48)
    • Alt Ending 2 (1:10)
    • Alt Ending 3 (1:22)
  • Deleted Scenes: Nearly twelve minutes of unused material is provided here. 

Sex and the City: The Movie

  • Audio Commentary: Director Michael Patrick King
  • A Conversation with Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael Patrick King: A lovely 24-minute conversation in which the two discuss returning to this world and everything that went into the production of this film. 
  • The Fabulous Fashion of Sex And The City: An 18-minute featurette that takes a look at the fashion featured in the film. 
  • Fergie In The Studio: A two-minute look at Fergie recording a song for the film with some insights from her. 
  • Additional Scenes: Four minutes of unused material is provided here with optional audio commentary from Michael Patrick King. 
  • The City: An interactive map which shows you various spots around New York City. 
  • Dish It!: An option to view the film with pop-up trivia. 

 

Sex and the City 2

  • Revisiting The ‘80s: A four-minute featurette which takes a look at the film’s opening flashback sequence. 
  • Sex and the City 2 Soundtrack – Behind The Scenes with Alicia Keys: A three-minute glimpse at Alicia Keys in the studio along with some insights from her. 

 

Final Thoughts

Sex and the City is a phenomenal series which continues to entertain with its blend of unrestrained humor and deeply emotional depictions of friendship. While occasionally extremely frustrating, all four of the main characters are people we cheer on to their hopeful happy ending. Certain language and situations are dated, but the series is one that is to be admired for its trailblazing honesty. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has released a new Blu-Ray set featuring the entire six-season run and the two theatrical movies with a fantastic A/V presentation and a pleasing assortment of special features. If you are a fan of the show, you will want to upgrade your ancient, ugly DVDs to this stunning new presentation. Essential 

Sex And The City: The Complete Collection is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

 

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