Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 6/27/01
Sex and the City:
The Complete Second Season
1999 (2001) - HBO Home Video
review by Brian Ford Sullivan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/C+/D+
Specs and Features
540 mins (18 episodes at approx. 30 mins each), NR, full frame (1.33:1), 3
single-sided, dual-layered discs (each disc contains 6 episodes - no layer
switch during program material), weblink, program-themed menu screens, episode
access, languages: English (DD 2.0) and Spanish (DD mono), subtitles: English
and French, Closed Captioned
When 4.4 million people paid to
see the fourth season premiere of Sex and the City
on June 3, HBO had to know once and for all that it had a hit on its hands.
Originally envisioned as the first series to really look inside the kind of "girl
talk" that had previously been glossed over by network television, the
series has evolved (over the course of its first three seasons) into much more.
It's become a character study, rather than simply girls sitting around a table
talking bluntly about sex (although there's still plenty of that). The first
signs of these changes were planted during the show's second season, as the
cardboard cut-out characters (once described by Mr. Big as, "Miranda's the
red head, Charlotte is the brunette and Samantha is trouble") expanded into
deeper personalities, each with their own continuing story arcs.
The show's centerpiece remains Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), a
thirysomething sex columnist with a vice for cigarettes and designer shoes. Each
episode generally consists of her attempts to put together her weekly column,
where she asks a question about relationships. "Is the perfect guy a myth?",
"Are twentysomething guys the new designer drug?" - and so on. The
show then fills in the gaps with Carrie and her three friends dating foibles
that illustrate the answer to said question. It's this simple structure that
provides a fantastic window for all the clever observations the show makes about
dating, love and, of course, sex.
While the first season simply was "observations for observations sake,"
I found that the lack of any sort of character development made the show seem
hollow at a certain point. None of the leads, aside from Carrie, ever seemed to
grow or learn from said foibles. And while it may be neat to enjoy them on that
level, I really wanted to find something to latch onto about these women to
bring me back week after week.
It was much to my surprise, then, that the show hit the ground running in its
second season, as each of the four women began what would become season-long
arcs. For Carrie, it was about whether she could truly move on from her ex, Mr.
Big (Chris Noth). For Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), the designated "bitter one",
it would be overcoming the idea that all men are not to be trusted. For Samantha
(Kim Cattrall), the designated "man-eater", it would be a flirtation
with a committed relationship. And for Charlotte (Kristin Davis), the "old-fashioned
girl", it would be the search to find what she really wants out of her
While all of these story arcs aren't addressed in every episode, it's nice to
have an overall push in character development. I found myself particularly drawn
to Miranda's relationship with bartender Steve (David Eigenberg), as well as
Carrie's quest to rid her heart of old feelings for Mr. Big. On the flip side,
Samantha and Charlotte remain more or less one-note characters - embodiments of
opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to relationships. Still, the show's
overall shift in tone during the second season was quite rejuvenating.
Let's take a look at each episodes in this set. HBO has included all 18
episodes from the show's second season, split across three discs as follows:
#13: Take Me Out to the Ball Game
The season opens with the gals on the cusp of new beginnings, setting the tone
for the rest of the year. Carrie jumps into a relationship with "the new
Yankee", but quickly finds that she might not be over her ex. Samantha has
a difficult time with her boyfriend's "shortcomings". Charlotte begins
a string of relationships with men that have odd quirks (this time it's somebody
who continuously "adjusts" himself in public). And finally, Miranda
complains that all the girls talk about is men.
#14: The Awful Truth
The second episode asks the question: Are there certain things in a
relationship that one should never say? In this case, it's Samantha coming clean
about her boyfriend's previously mentioned "shortcomings". Also,
Charlotte attempts to replace a man with a puppy, Miranda delves into talking
dirty and Carrie's further adventures with her ex, Mr. Big.
#15: The Freak Show
Are all men freaks? It might be that everybody is a freak... after Carrie ruins
a perfect relationship with her new boyfriend, Charlotte finds she dates a man
for his unique talent, Samantha actually finds something she won't do in bed and
Miranda simply gives up on dating altogether.
#16: They Shoot Single People, Don't They?
Is being single such a bad thing? Carrie finds she likes the idea, Charlotte
goes to extraordinary means to keep a man she previously thought undesirable,
Miranda fakes her enthusiasm for a previous boyfriend and Samantha deals with a
club owner who lies about their relationship.
#17: Four Women and a Funeral
Can a relationship bring you back to life? Charlotte wants to know this when
she begins dating a recent widower, Carrie mends fences with Mr. Big, Samantha
is exiled from Manhattan's social scene and Miranda has panic attacks after
buying her own apartment.
#18: The Cheating Curve
Lies and cheating are the words of the day for the women, as Carrie hides her
rekindled relationship with Mr. Big from the group. Also, Charlotte finds
comfort in the "power lesbian" crowd after a man cheats on her,
Miranda competes with her boyfriend's porno videos and Samantha gets (you'll
have to watch to get this one) a "lightning bolt" from Thor, her
#19: The Chicken Dance
When two acquaintances fall in love at first sight, the four friends are
dragged to their wedding... and are none-too-happy for the lucky couple that, in
their minds, has stolen their dream relationship. Complicating matters are an
uncomfortable Mr. Big, who accompanies Carrie, and a seemingly too-perfect man
Charlotte meets there.
#20: The Man, the Myth, the Viagra
Easily the best episode in the entire set, this one deals with the "myth"
of guys actually coming through in the end. While the episode focuses
predominantly on Carrie trying to get Big to get to know her friends better,
it's the fantastic B-story of Miranda's relationship with a kind-hearted
bartender named Steve (David Eigenberg) that really makes it memorable. The
episode closes with one of the best "wow" moments in the history of
the show, as Miranda's traditional bitterness about men gets pushed to the edge.
#21: Old Dogs, New Dicks
The old becomes the new in this episode, as Carrie deals with Mr. Big's
wandering eye, Charlotte comes to grips with an uncircumcised man, Samantha
encounters a drag queen that she used to date before his change and Miranda
struggles with her and Steve's opposite schedules.
#22: The Caste System
Insurmountable differences haunt Steve and Miranda's relationship as it hits
its limits, and the two find they may not be able to mend all their bridges.
Carrie and Big exchange awkward "I love yous," Charlotte unwillingly
becomes a groupie and Samantha battles her new boyfriend's scheming Thai
Have New Yorkers evolved past relationships? Apparently not - Carrie tries to
leave things at Big's apartment, Charlotte is confused by her boyfriend's sexual
orientation, Samantha's plan to get revenge on an ex misfires and Miranda finds
she has a "lazy" ovary.
#24: La Douleur Exquise!
When it comes to relationships, how do you know when enough is enough? The
question haunts Carrie as Big tells her he's moving to Paris for six months.
Charlotte takes advantage of a shoe salesman's fetish to earn free shoes.
Miranda struggles with a guy who only can do it when there's the chance of them
getting caught. And Samantha tries to indoctrinate the girls to a new S&M-themed
#25: Games People Play
Are games necessary to make a relationship work? That seems the case as Carrie
deals with a fellow (Jon Bon Jovi) she meets at her shrink's waiting room.
Further prooving the point, Charlotte takes up bridge to meet a nice guy,
Samantha finds that her boyfriend only is happy when his sports team is doing
well and Miranda finds herself in a dueling peep show with her neighbor across
#26: The Fuck Buddy
A change of pace is the order of the day for the girls as they take on
relationships they've never tried before. Carrie tries to get to know her "fuck
buddy" (Dean Winters), Charlotte double-books her dates, Miranda gets
involved with a mean, controlling man and Samantha finds herself "making
love" with the couple next door.
Family issues complicate matters for the ladies' latest relationships. Carrie
finds her new boyfriend's family is part of their relationship, Samantha dates
Charlotte's brother and Miranda dates a divorcee whose ties to his family are
still very strong.
#28: Was It Good for You?
How do you know if you're good in bed? The ladies try to answer this question
as Carrie's new beau, a recovering alcoholic, may be using her as a substitute.
Also, Charlotte is concerned when her boyfriend falls asleep during sex and
Samantha is rejected at the last minute by a gay couple that wants to experience
#29: Twenty-Something Girls vs Thirty-Something
It's 20s versus 30s in the show's penultimate episode of the second season.
Carrie is stunned to see Big return to the States with a 26-year-old in tow,
Charlotte finds herself infected by crabs from her younger beau, Miranda sues
her hair stylist for age discrimination and Samantha's competes with her young
assistant, who starts her own PR firm.
#30: Ex and the City
The second season wraps with doors opening and closing for each of the girls.
Carrie learns that Big is engaged, Charlotte reacquaints herself with a
childhood love, Miranda meets Mr. Too Big and Miranda runs into Steve.
So there you have it - nine hours of comic goodness, with a dash of drama and
character development. Along with Fox, HBO has spearheaded the move to deliver
quality TV programming on DVD, with its excellent The
Sopranos and Sex and the City: The
Complete First Season. This new set continues their terrific quality
Each episode is presented in its original full frame presentation, with nice
sharpness and solid detail. The previous season set had some varying quality
issues from episode to episode, however that doesn't seem to be the case here.
While there's still some slight grain and artifacting from time to time, overall
the series has never looked better. As for sound, each episode is presented in a
serviceable Dolby 2.0 mix. Since it's a dialogue driven show, with little action
or effects, the quality is about what you'd expect from television.
One side note - for some reason, each episode has no chapters stops. Hitting
the "advance" button on your remote sends you to the next episode (nor
are chapter stops available on each episode's menu page). As for extras, the set
offers little more than promos for each episode, cast and crew information and a
web link to the show's official site. Essentially, this is the same set as the
first season, except that year two features more episodes - 18 instead of 12.
Probably for that reason, you don't get a "behind-the-scenes"
featurette of the sort that was included in the first season DVDs.
Overall, this is more or less the way all TV series should be released on DVD.
You get all the complete episodes, previews and solid quality. And with 9 hours
worth of material, for under $40 at most online and "brick and mortar"
retailers, there's simply no reason to hold back. If you've been hearing all the
raves about Sex and the City, these DVD
sets are the best way to go back and see what you've been missing.
Brian Ford Sullivan