This is the third television installment in the "Tales of the City" series. Unlike the first in the series, "Further Tales of the City" did not air on PBS. Rather, it aired as a four part miniseries on Showtime, a pay cable channel, allowing them the freedom to push the envelope as much as possible (i.e. some scenes are a little uncomfortable). Despite never seeing an episode of "Queer as Folk" (but knowing the subject matter of it), I assume that this was Showtime's way of testing the waters of how a show dealing with homosexuality would be received.
Gone is 1976 and the carefree days where sex and drugs ruled San Francisco. It is now 1981, and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane have all grown up. Most notably, the once wide-eyed Mary Ann (Laura Linney) and womanizer Brian (Paul Gross) have gotten together, and formed a functional and loving couple. Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) is still the same, often tending to her garden, and serving as a "mother" to all her tenants at her recognizable address. DeDe has young children, and escaped a mass suicide in the Guyanese jungle (a reader has alerted me that this was a true life event). Father Sean 'Paddy' P. Starr (Bruce McCulloch, of "Kids in the Hall" fame) plays a television priest, whom I can't help but to chuckle at.
"Further Tales of the City" works well as a standalone piece, but to really appreciate it, you should check out the previous installments in the story. I like that Showtime didn't break up the feature into four separate pieces. Instead, they put it all together to form one big movie. The acting here is also very good, especially Laura Linney's performance as an aspiring television journalist swimming in a sea of sharks. On a side note, there are lots of explicit scenes in this movie, so viewer beware.
"Further Tales of the City" is presented in Widescreen 1.85:1. Shot in a completely style than the original miniseries, 80s San Francisco is more vivid and colorful. Despite not being an anamorphic transfer, it looks very good (flesh tones do seem a little brighter than they should be). Little no instances of grain as well as artifacting are to be found.
The audio is presented in Dolby 5.1. I was surprised that it got a 5.1 treatment, as a 2.0 audio track would have sufficed (like before, this feature is mostly dialogue driven). Dialogue is crisp and clean, and there are no audio dropouts. Overall, Showtime did a really good job on this set.
Every DVD has the same exact menu. Images from the movie along with an updated version of the "Tales from the City" theme song play in the background allows you to select between the following four options: "Play Program", "Scene Selections", and "Set-Up", and "Special Features." Oddly enough, when you select "Special Features", it tells you to go to Disc 2. Everything is laid out nicely.
The majority of the extras for "Further Tales of the City" are located on the second disc. They include "Interviews" with Armistead Maupin, Director Pierre Gang, Executive Producer Suzanne Girard, Alan Poul, Olympia Dukakis, Barbara Garrick, Paul Hopkins, Jackie Burroughs, Laura Linney, Whip Hubley, Billy Campbell, Mary Kay Place, Bruce McCulloch, Henry Czerny, Dianna LeBlanc, Lea Delaria, and Jackie Richardson.
Next up are "Selected Scenes with Commentary" (which makes no sense, why not just do a full length audio commentary for the main feature?), a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, and "Alternate/Deleted Scenes" (which are just two short scenes, but we are given optional commentaries). Finishing off the Special Features are "Trailers", a "70s vs. 80s" picture comparison, "Flimographies", "Weblink", and "Other Titles of Interest." Overall, this is a packed DVD set.
"Further Tales of the City" is pretty good (I must admit that I liked "Tales of the City" more, especially because it relied more on story, while pushing the envelope considerably). This DVD set is packed with special features, great audio, and a very good visual presentation. Personally, I think the $44.98 price tag is a major stretch for three hours of movie, no matter how good the supplements are. But assuming price wasn't a factor, I'll give this a "Recommended" recommendation.