The fifth season of “Sex and the City” features our heroines – Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte – single in New York and looking for men. Why the producers of the show opted to go off in this daring new direction I’ll never know, but the results are romance, disappointment, sex and very expensive shoes.
The season begins with none of the characters attached to a boyfriend or husband, and therein lies the rub, or in this case, the lack of rub. The ladies are again at the starting blocks of singlehood and soon they’re off and running. Miranda lags behind the others, since she’s lugging an infant.
The most interesting storyline occurs when Carrie meets Jack Berger, played by Ron Livingston. Berger is described as “sarcastic and intelligent,” and for whatever reason, I immediately connected with this guy. Berger is not wealthy and powerful like Mr. Big, or woodsy and sweet like Aidan, but more the kind of down-to-earth guy Carrie should have been with all along, which is probably why this tandem is ill-fated.
Miranda battles baby fat (hers, not the baby’s), Charlotte looks for every hopeful and spiritual angle to find companionship, and Samantha does what she does, which is to act in a highly suggestive manner, and then follow through on the suggestions.
This two-disk package isn’t loaded with extras, but it’s not a bad deal for a TV show in its fifth season. Three of the episodes feature commentary from executive producer Michael Patrick King, who is eloquent and funny, and he provides genuine insight into what the creative forces were thinking when they approached this season in its entirety. Of special note is the commentary on Episode 5 having to do with the highly personal tone set forth by writer and producer Cindy Chupack. It’s refreshing to see a writer take her own raw emotions and translate them to the show, giving it a resonance it ordinarily wouldn’t have if imagined by some hack who watched too many one-hour dramas.
There are eight episodes on the two disks. There is also a Trivia Game having to do specifically with season five that is a lot of fun, if you’re a fan of the show.
The swan song for “Sex and the City” has sounded, but these two DVDs will keep fans enraptured for a long time.
Check out this special feature: There is a behind-the-scenes look at how the costuming is done on the show by designer Patricia Field and her crew. This interested me about as much as window-shopping for handbags, but to the ladies out there, it’s probably the next best thing to a shopping spree at Saks.
“The League of Extrodinary Gentlemen”
When I heard the notion of dusty old 19th century literary figures coming to life and forming a band of superheroes, I wondered if some of my old English professors had gotten together and passed around the old opium pipe. Then when I saw the movie, my theory gained credence.
This is one of those pictures that sounds fabulous in pitch meetings but languishes on the screen, thanks to ponderous storytelling and absurd characterizations. It was not received well by either critics or audiences, and the most interesting aspect of the entire project was the friction between star Sean Connery and director Stephen Norrington. It made only $65 million domestically, and cost god-only-knows to produce.
Still, it isn’t without merit. There are some exciting action sequences, some rather imaginative villains bent on global domination (go figure), and best of all, absolutely terrific special effects. Normally, I would not recommend a film based solely on special effects, but it won’t kill you to rent or buy the DVD to see just what top-notch CGI wizards can muster these days.
The widescreen DVD includes the feature as well as audio commentaries involving producers, actors, costume designers, makeup people and members of the visual effects team. There is also a fairly entertaining behind-the-scenes featurette that gives a revealing glimpse into the magnitude of this big-budget undertaking, as well as 12 deleted scenes.
In all, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” is about as inane as it gets in terms of storytelling, but it’s watchable if you’re a 12-year-old boy of limited intelligence who just likes to see a lot of make-believe mayhem. Or, if you’re an English professor with a chemically enhanced imagination.
Check out this special feature: Steve Johnson’s company, Edge FX, did the work on the creatures, including the irrepressible Mr. Hyde, and there is a segment of the making-of doc that chronicles the work of the craftsmen who make these celluloid freaks come to life. It’s worth seeing.
Michael Ventre is a Los Angeles-based reporter who writes regularly for MSNBC.com.