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.
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.