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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sex and the City - The Complete Fifth Season
Sex and the City - The Complete Fifth Season
HBO // R // December 30, 2003
List Price: $49.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted January 5, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Show

With their Sunday-night line-up of original programs, HBO garnered critical raves, numerous awards, and a plethora of new viewers. These shows, which went beyond the boundaries set by conventional network television, changed the way that many look at episodic TV. And by breaking the rules, HBO changed the rules as well. This is exemplified by the fifth season of Sex and the City, which contains only 8 episodes, something which is unheard of for an established show. This fifth season has recently come to DVD.

(SPOILER WARNING!: In order to describe Sex and the CitySeason 5, I must divulge some of the plot-lines for the shows, as well as discuss events from Season 4. So, if you haven't seen Season 4 and want to be surprised by Season 5, read with caution.) Season Five of Sex and the City is a bit of a departure from the previous episodes. The big difference is the lack of men. As the season opens, none of our four main characters -- newspaper columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), public relations diva Samantha (Kim Cattrall), attorney Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), and socialite Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) -- have significant others. During the finale of Season Four, Carrie broke up with long-time boyfriend Aidan (John Corbett), Samantha caught her power-broker lover, Richard (James Remar) with another woman, Charlotte became separated from her husband, Trey (Kyle MacLachlan), and Miranda became a single-mother after having a baby with on-again, off-again boyfriend Steve (David Eigenberg). So, while the show explores relationships the way that it always has, Season 5 of Sex and the City also looks at what it's like to be a single woman in the new millennium.

Here's an overview of the eight episodes included in Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season:

1. "Anchors Away" -- As the four woman all find themselves currently unattached, they reluctantly decide to meet some sailors at New York's annual "Fleet Week". Carrie attempts to deal with being single by going to the movies alone, while Miranda struggles with caring for her son on her own (with the help of her nanny).

2. "Unoriginal Sin" -- Charlotte is determined to be optimistic and drags Carrie to a "love guru" seminar. Samantha with her trust issues concerning Richard. Steve convinces Miranda to have their son baptized, which leads to a very funny scene with the priest.

3. "Luck Be An Old Lady" -- It's Charlotte's 36th birthday (also she plans to remain 35 for a while) and the girls head to Atlantic City to celebrate. Samantha arrives with Richard and is determined to put her trust issues aside, but they ultimately get the best of her. Miranda finds that she isn't comfortable with her post-partum body. Charlotte fears that she will become an "Old Maid" and attempts to change her image. Carrie decides that if she can't have a boyfriend, that her friends will do.

4. "Cover Girl" -- Carrie is shocked and amazed when a publishing company offers to turn her columns into a book. (Is this how it happened for Candace Bushnell?) Bewildered by what to wear for the cover photo, Carrie seeks help from Samantha. But, when Carrie catches Samantha in a compromising position, she begins to question their compatibility. After the fiasco with the "love guru", Charlotte seeks the right self-help book, and Miranda joins Weight Watchers, which leads to a questionable scene involving Krispy Kreme donuts.

5. "Plus One is the Loneliest Number" -- Carrie has a meeting with her book editors (played by Amy Sedaris and Molly Shannon) and meets Jack Berger (Ron Livingston), a fellow author. They have a stroll and Carrie is really beginning to like Jack...until he mentions his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Samantha prepares for Carrie's book premiere party by having some cosmetic surgery, which gets out of hand. Charlotte realizes that she must fight her soon-to-be ex-husband's mother (Frances Sternhagen) in order to keep her apartment. Miranda attempts to re-kindle and old relationship, without telling the man that she now has a child. Carrie enjoys her party (despite Samantha's appearance) and is delighted when Jack Berger stops in to say hello.

6. "Critical Condition" -- As Carrie braces herself for reviews of her book, she finds that her life is being reviewed when she runs into Nina Katz (Nadia Dajani) a woman who dated Aidan after Carrie dumped him. Based on Nina's reaction, Carrie is convinced that people around town are talking about her. Meanwhile, Miranda gets advice from a neighbor on how to soothe her crying baby, and a very kind favor from Samantha, who is very disappointed in the quality of Sharper Image's "back massagers". Charlotte hires a bull-dog lawyer, Harry Goldenblatt (Evan Handler) to go after her mother-in-law and settle her divorce.

7. "The Big Journey" -- Carrie is invited to San Francisco for a book reading and is very excited, for this is a chance to see Mr. Big (Chris Noth). She invites Samantha along, and they decide to take a cross-country train, which leads to a long, boring trip. Charlotte finds herself suddenly attracted to Harry, a man who is definitely not her type. Once in San Francisco, Carrie's reunion with Mr. Big is nothing like she planned, because he's read her book. The scene in which Carrie meets Mr. Winkle is a classic.

8. "I Love a Charade" -- The girls are shocked when they learn that Carrie's long-time friend, Bobby Fine (Nathan Lane), is getting married. The news is shocking because they were all convinced that Bobby was gay. So, the girls head to The Hamptons for the wedding, but not before Miranda can have a rendezvous with Steve, which confuses her feelings towards him. Samantha borrows Richard's Hampton's house for a party, where Carrie runs into Jack Berger, and learns that he now single. As the episode comes to a close, Carrie make a connection with Berger, Charlotte begins to fall for Harry, and Miranda wonders how she feels about Steve.

Despite its brevity, or perhaps because of it, Season Five of Sex and the City is very good. The plotline are interesting and the dialogue is dead-on funny, as usual. The lack of male characters helps to streamline the episodes, as they deal only with the girls, but that does detract from the show somewhat. Characters such as Aidan and, at times, Mr. Big, added something to the show, and that male presence is missed in some ways. However, my one problem with Sex and the City was always the fact that the women chased off perfectly good men (but, without that the show would have no drama), so the lack of dominant male character may, in fact, help. Still, what's here is well above-average for a TV program and there are some lines that you will find yourself quoting for days. Sex and the City fans will definitely love this season. As for the uninitiated, Season Five is no place to start, as there is too much back-story. Also, many are put off by the show itself, as it takes place in a reality where the characters have no financial or health problems -- the only things that they have to worry about are relationships. And, as usual, the language is very raw. So, if you've never seen Sex and the City before, go back to the beginning, and tread lightly.

Video

Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season struts onto DVD courtesy of HBO Home Video. The show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. The image is very clear, but there is a subtle amount of grain visible in every daytime scene, but no enough to be distracting. The show puts a great emphasis on color, and the colors here look fantastic, especially the pastels, and there is no oversaturation of the hues. There are occasional moments of artifacting and some very mild video noise, but these certainly aren't constant.

Audio

The shows sport a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue with no indication of hissing or distortion. Other than that, the audio is very lackluster. There is some occasional street or crowd noise that results in surround sound effects, but otherwise, the mix may as well be 2-channel stereo. And there is no overt bass response to speak of.

Extras

This two-disc DVD set sports a few extra features. Executive producer/writer/director Michael Patrick King provides audio commentary for the episodes, "Anchors Away", "Plus One is the Loneliest Number", and "I Love a Charade". As the show doesn't offer that much variety, one would think that King wouldn't have much to say, but his commentaries are very good, as he touches on every aspect of the show from the story to locations to the costuming. His talks are so detailed that one wishes that he had chatted over every episode. "Behind the Scenes with Costume Designer Patricia Field" is a 21-minute featurette in which we get a glimpse into how the women of Sex and the City are dressed and where the clothes come from. The best part is a breakdown of each of the four main characters and how Field approaches their signature look. There is also a 10-question trivia game which is quite lame. Finally, there is a promo spot for each episode.


For fans of the show, a purchase of Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season is a no-brainer, especially since it contains some classic episodes. My only real complaint is the $49.99 price tag for a two-disc set which features on 8 episodes totaling just under 240 minutes. Considering the lack of extras on the discs, that price is a bit steep.
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