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HBO presents
Sex and the City: Season Six, Part Two (2004)

"Carrie, you're the one."
- Mr. Big (Chris Noth)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: January 05, 2005

Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis
Other Stars: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Chris Noth, Blair Underwood, David Eigenberg, Ann Meara, Evan Handler, Julia Sweeney, Jonathan Hadary, Dana Ivey, Candace Bergen, Wallace Shawn, Kristen Johnson
Director: Michael Patrick King, Wendy Stanzler, Michael Engler, Julian Farino, Tim Van Patten

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 04h:16m:42s
Release Date: December 28, 2004
UPC: 026359232923
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-BB+ B

DVD Review

Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company. It's the last go-round for the four women at the heart of Sex and the City, and the final eight episodes of the series appear on this handsomely packaged set. The girls don't all live happily ever after, and it sounds like a dead letter now, due to the proverbial creative and financial differences, but there was talk of a feature film; and why this is Season Six, Part Two, and not Season Seven, I am not entirely sure. These last episodes can occasionally get maudlin—more on this below—but the creative team wisely decided to leave too early rather than stay too long, and the influence of the show can be felt on just about every evening of the primetime schedule.

A couple of warnings: these episodes may make very little sense to you if you haven't see the previous seasons; catch up before you check these out. And the discussion below includes many, many spoilers, so stop reading and come back later if you want to get the info from the episodes themselves instead of from me.

Things kick off with Let There Be Light, a chance to catch up with each of the quartet: Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is struggling with how to spend her time, given that she's been unable to get pregnant; Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has ditched Robert (Blair Underwood), who lives in her building, and is back together with Steve (David Eigenberg), the father of her child; Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is still with Smith, many years her junior; and our Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) renews her acquaintance here with Aleksandr Petrosky (Mikhail Baryshnikov), world-famous artist, notorious ladies' man. Let me confess that this relationship always kind of made me queasy, not because Baryshnikov is considerably older than Parker, but because he always seemed like nothing but an operator, and unconsciously or not seemed to be setting out to turn little Carrie into a whore. (As you can see, we take this stuff very seriously in my house. What The Sopranos is to me and Blue's Clues is to our son, Sex and the City is to my wife.) Carrie and Aleksandr renew their acquaintance, and romance blooms; Samantha is tempted by the devil, in the form of her ex, Richard, but wisely decides to stick with Smith. This episode is almost as much a refresher course as anything else; it ably sets the table for what's to come. Next up, the women try to find romance while steering clear of The Ick Factor; Petrosky is laying it on a little thick, composing songs for Carrie, and reading her poetry. But the event of the episode is Miranda popping the question: she asks Steve to marry her, he says yes, and Charlotte wants to pick out china patterns. Ann Meara is a riot as Steve's liquored-up mother; but the damper on the episode comes when Samantha, after consulting with a plastic surgeon about implants, discovers that she's got breast cancer. This show never shied away from the rough stuff, and I certainly don't mean to make light of cancer; but this is the first warning flare that, in its twilight, the show is headed toward producing some Very Special Episodes.

Episode 3, Catch-38, occurs, as does most of the series, in bizarro New York, a Manhattan in which there are never pedestrians or traffic or even parked cars; these trappings strain credulity a whole lot more than do the lives of the characters. Anyway, our friend Carrie's biological clock, at 38, is ticking; she learns that Petrosky has a child, and isn't interested in having any more. She knows what the big question is, but can articulate it only to her friends, and not her man: "Will you love me enough to make up for the fact that I didn't have a baby?" Miranda and Steve honeymoon, a trip that is an Out of Africa-style romance for him, a visit to Siberia for her; Samantha does her best to hustle her way in to an appointment with New York's top oncologist, offending and befriending a nun (Julia Sweeney) along the way. Also, a note on couture: I know that Carrie is supposed to be a fashion plate and all, but that knit pink cap belongs in the back of the closet of Kid Dyn-O-Mite. Fashion victimhood continues in the next episode, Out of the Frying Pan, as Carrie's petticoat dress makes her look like a cut-rate Scarlett O'Hara going out in public in her undergarments; later, she sports a bad hat that belongs in a Blondie video. Anyway, she and Alex feud about Samantha's cancer, and whether or not they dare talk about death; also, they've got the wrong cappuccino machines. (They each have one made by Francis Francis. I had one; it sucked. I sent it back. If you're spending that much, trust me and go old school with a La Pavoni. You will not be sorry.) Charlotte's fertility woes continue, but she befriends a King Charles spaniel; Miranda contemplates a move across the river to—horrors—Brooklyn. Kim Cattrall deserves particular praise for this episode; as Samantha, she's facing the hard truths that her friends can't or won't.

Next, Carrie and the Russian are on opposite sides of The Cold War—he's got an upcoming show in Paris, and he hasn't told her about it; he adds insult to injury by blowing off a night out with her friends. Mr. Big briefly resurfaces here, only as a disembodied voice leaving messages on Carrie's answering machine, and in truth, this episode feels a little like the show is treading water; you may start to wonder here if the formula is chafing a little. What seemed innovative in Season One seems a little shopworn years later; heck, even Carrie's trademark PowerBook model is long out of date. (Get the aluminum model, darling, it goes with everything.) We're also chugging into the series' final story arc, in which Carrie more or less contemplates becoming Petrosky's Parisian courtesan, selling out absolutely everything else in her life. A lot of this doesn't feel true to the characters that have been well established with the years, but more like the producers' conscious effort to pour in as much melodrama as they can, while they can. So to that end, the next episode, Splat!, is principally about Carrie's contemplated move to the City of Lights. Petrosky wants her to go; but you can feel that his self-involved fatuousness ("I need to be in Paris now. I'm finished with New York") is principally a dramaturgical foil. And it works—all of Carrie's friends hate him, but only Miranda is brave enough to say so. The episode is also notable for some excellent cameos, from Candace Bergen, Wallace Shawn, and especially Kristen Johnson, as a Grubmanesque self-defenestrating cautionary tale for Carrie.

And then there were two—the final pair of episodes are of a piece, and are so titled: An American Girl in Paris, Parts Une et Deux. The opening credits of the first kind of blow one of the big surprises: when Chris Noth's name pops on, we're ready for the return of Mr. Big, who has finally come to his senses, and back to New York, to declare his love for Carrie. Alas, it may be too little too late—he arrives on her last night in Gotham, preparing for a final evening out with the girls, and then off to Paris. There she meets up again with Petrosky and meets his daughter; Carrie starts chain smoking, and she seems less like a New York woman living the dream, more like a girl on a teen tour. Back where she belongs, Samantha ditches her notecards and gives an inspiring speech at a breast cancer lunch; Big tracks down Carrie's friends, and the scene with him and the three of them in the diner is one of the best in the series. It makes you realize that the writers may have been leaning a little too hard on Carrie over the years to hold things together; their subsidiary characters are finely etched, too, and you can't help wishing that there had been more of this. Things wrap up in the surprisingly emotional final episode, which begins with Carrie meeting the woman who knows, Petrosky's ex-wife. Each character completes her story arc in a satisfying but not overly pat manner; the series wisely wrapped up before anyone could suggest that it had overstayed its welcome (really, that's the way to go out), and this final episode does not rule out the possibility of a reunion show, or just a chance to check in with the girls down the road. 

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: A workmanlike transfer—these don't look markedly better or worse than when they first aired on HBO, and the brightness can be a little harsh sometimes.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Pretty solid work here, too, with nice balance and little hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
10 Deleted Scenes
3 Alternate Endings
3 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael Patrick King
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. season indices
  2. episode previews and summaries
Extras Review: The first thing in the extras package you'll probably want to take a look at are the three alternate endings; in truth, though, there's not much to them. They're variations on the final coffee shop scene with the four women, and it's clear that the series was never going to end in any other manner; these were shot to throw the press off the trail, and they worked. That point and much else is made clear on the best of the extras, a panel discussion (48m:29s) from the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival from March 2004—executive producer Michael Patrick King gets his James Lipton on with a stack of note cards, and spends the first half of the panel with Sarah Jessica Parker. For the second part, they're joined by six members of the writing staff, all women, all of whom have mined their own lives for the show. They talk about how their families reacted to the show, and spend some time parrying criticisms that the series has received over the years.

King also provides commentaries for half the episodes, and they're chatty and fun, as you might expect. King wrote and directed the first episode of the season, Let There Be Light, and reflects on knowing that this was the production team's last go-round with these characters, whom they so clearly love; they all wanted to send the girls out in style, and they did. Nothing is too small to obsess over, according to King; "every detail of the show is overthought," from costumes to locations to every last syllable of dialogue. After the maiden entry, the commentaries are on the last three episodes—for Splat!, King discusses the writers' habit of setting scenes in favorite restaurants and neighborhoods and thereby putting the location scouts through hell; I also really like his comparison of Petrosky and Carrie to Kane and Susan Alexander, though you can sense that he and the rest of the writing team were forcing the issue when it came to this relationship. For the Paris episodes, King discusses wanting to give the show a great sendoff, and he occasionally waxes rhapsodic ("I love this scene. It's magical to me"); he's full of odd little nuggets, such as the fact that John McCain is a big fan of the show. King is obviously emotional during the last episode, which is elegiac for him; it's touching, actually, to hear him say things like "I'm covered in tears."

Each of the first two discs hold four episodes each; on the third, you'll find, apart from the alternate endings and panel discussions, a package (11m:29s) of ten deleted scenes, culled from Seasons Two through Six; no real hidden gems here (the best is certainly a Noth drunk scene), but it's a stroll down memory lane: Aidan! Trey! Also included are two pretty lachrymose HBO Farewell Tributes; the first (26m:22s) featuring cast members and famous fans, including Star Jones, Kathy Griffin and Alanis Morrissette; it also points out who the last moment of the show is a deliberate callback to the pilot, and features fashionistas Vera Wang and Manohlo Blahnik. The second (25m:41s) is more of a valentine to New York, and to the show's crew; it shows Parker receiving a Golden Globe, and features tributes from Ivanka Trump and the show's HBO compatriots from The Sopranos, including Jamie-Lynn DiScala and Steve Schirripa.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

An appropriately stylish sendoff for a much-loved and frequently groundbreaking series. Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda are sure to be with us for years, on DVD and in syndication; the drama in these feels a little ginned up some time, but this final go-round has an appealing, sentimental streak, and this three-disc set is properly accessorized. We would expect nothing less.

 


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