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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sex and the City Essentials - The Best of Mr. Big
Sex and the City Essentials - The Best of Mr. Big
HBO // Unrated // February 7, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted March 2, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

Sex and the City Essentials: Mr. Big is part of a collection of "best-of" episodes from the HBO series Sex and the City. While established fans have little to no reason to pick up a disc with a mere three episodes on it, given that the show has already been released in season sets, the Essentials discs are an opportunity for viewers like me, who haven't followed the show, to try it out with committing to a whole boxed set. (Commitment issues? Sounds like a perfect Sex and the City topic.)

The Mr. Big collection includes three episodes that, logically enough, all involve Carrie's on-again, off-again flame, whom we only know by her nickname "Big." As such, it's a bit of an odd collection to attract new viewers; it feels more like it's aimed at viewers who would know the parts of the ongoing story that are left out between episodes. But those are exactly the viewers who already own all the discs...

In any case, let's take a look at the three 30-minute episodes included on the DVD:

Sex and the City: Season 1, episode 1. It's the first episode of the entire series, and it's hands-down the best one in this collection. Snappy and fun, "Sex and the City" introduces the characters and their often crazy romantic/sexual lives. Though we know that the guy Carrie meets here, whom she nicknames "Mr. Big," will be an important recurring character in the series, in this first episode he's just part of one thread in a lively episode involving all of the characters.

Ex and the City: Season 2, episode 18. An odd choice for an introductory collection, this episode is the finale for Season 2. In the intervening episodes, Big has moved from being a prospective boyfriend to being an ex-boyfriend, and in this episode Carrie's tentative attempt to just be friends with him is brought to a violent end by the news that he's engaged. The "Big" thread is the least engaging in the episode, as it tends toward the soapy; the other threads, with Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha all dealing with "friend" and/or "sex" challenges, are a lot more fun.

I Heart NY: Season 4, episode 18. Another season finale, this episode is definitely the weakest in the collection. Carrie finds out that Big is leaving New York, and is determined that he say goodbye to the city (and her) in style. This story thread is the central one, and it completely lacks the snap and energy that are what I like about Sex and the City. The other threads are only so-so. Each draws on a lot of backstory, and I think that viewers who are taking this disc as their introduction to the series will find the dramatic changes in the lives of the characters (especially Miranda) to be somewhat of a jarring shock.

The DVD

Video

The image quality here is satisfactory. At times the image is a bit soft, but overall it is clean and perfectly watchable, with good colors and contrast. The episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Audio

The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is more than sufficient for this dialogue-heavy series; the sound is clean and it's always easy to understand the dialogue. A Dolby 2.0 track and a dubbed Spanish 2.0 track are also included, as are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

There are no special features on this disc.

Final thoughts

Taken as a whole, these three episodes are definitely not the most inspiring introduction to Sex and the City. Putting the first episode of the show in an introductory series is a great idea; packaging it with two season finales is a bit of an odd choice. Sex and the City Essentials: Mr. Big feels like it wants to be bought by devoted fans of the show, who will know all of the Mr. Big backstory and not mind the enormous jump in overall story between episodes... but those fans are the ones who'll want (or already have) the season sets. For the casual viewer looking for a taste of Sex and the City, Mr. Big is worth a rental for the first and maybe the second episode here.

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