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HBO delivers simplistic DVD set

Molly Griffin | Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Love it or hate it, Sex and the City is an undeniably popular and culturally influential show. Look at any trend in fashion, and you can trace its roots to Sex and the City, and the same is invariably true of trends in all forms of recreation. To put it in no vague terms, the show is a product-placement paradise. The show’s appeal has been somewhat narrowed due to the fact that it is on HBO and not network television, but with its release on DVD, the show will continue to grow in popularity and reach an even broader audience. The newly-released Season Four will be the focus of this article, but Seasons One through Three are also available to be purchased on DVD.Sex and the City follows four single women through the relationship rat race in New York City, each with a very different personality but none immune to bad dates or emotional ups-and-downs. Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), a shoe-obsessed sex columnist, anchors the show’s action, but the show gives equal time to her three best friends – Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha – as well. Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is an art gallery manager who is a misty-eyed romantic at heart; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) is a lawyer who tries to reconcile her need for independence with the dependency called for in relationships; Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is a man-eating sensualist who eschews the idea of marriage and embraces a very liberal view of sex.In the fourth season, the four women encounter imposing and challenging issues, but, as is the show’s trademark, they are handled with the utmost comic grace and emotional sensitivity. Carrie must come to terms with attempting to move in with her boyfriend, Aidan, while still holding onto her independence, while Charlotte must grapple with getting back together with her husband and coming to terms with how much having a baby means to her. Samantha, the steadfast single, falls in love and wrestles with what love can do to a person. Miranda deals with losing her mother, and she must cope with getting unexpectedly pregnant and raising a child as a single parent while maintaining a career.The DVD set is composed of three discs, each with six episodes. The set is very simple and easy to navigate, but simplicity is also one of the weaker points of the set. Aside from three episodes on the third disc with director commentary and a list of episodes and awards, the set has no extras. There is a link to the HBO website, and it has some extras but nothing out of the ordinary, though the trivia game is fun. There is no “play all” feature, so one has to press play to watch each individual episode. A description pops up when “play” is hit, so “play” has to be hit once more, which gets a bit maddening after a few episodes. Another annoyance is the fact that the opening credits cannot be skipped.The discs are played in Dolby 2.0 sound, and the dialogue-heavy episodes benefit from the clear audio quality. The color on all of the discs is bright and clear – a definite benefit for watching the vibrant and extravagant wardrobe of the show’s women.Overall, the DVD adds little to Sex and the City, and it really leaves viewers wanting more. It’s great to be able to watch the show without subscribing to HBO, but it would add to the viewing experience if some extras, such as interviews with writers or cast members, were included. The DVD adds so little to the show that, if you’ve seen the show already, there’s nothing to be gained by actually buying the season on DVD. The show has such a massive following and such a huge impact on popular culture that it really is too bad that nothing is added to this season’s DVD release.