Sex and the City

The decline of "Sex and the City" from involving characters into caricature continues with the first two episodes of the sixth and final season of what was one of television's most sharply written, observational comedies. The quartet at the character-driven show's core have turned one-dimensional and single-minded.

With:
Carrie Bradshaw - Sarah Jessica Parker Samantha Jones - Kim Cattrall Charlotte York - Kristin Davis Miranda Hobbes - Cynthia Nixon Steve Brady - David Eigenberg Harry Greenblatt - Evan Handler Jack Berger - Ron Livingston Jerry Jerrod - Jason Lewis

The decline of “Sex and the City” from involving characters into caricature continues with the first two episodes of the sixth and final season of what was one of television’s most sharply written, observational comedies. The quartet at the character-driven show’s core have turned one-dimensional and single-minded, their observations related solely to their own milieus that, for anyone who has followed the series, have become obvious. What once provided universal insights into urban single living is now a dull rehash of a casual sex maniac searching for prey, an annoying frustrated single mother and a perky divorcee trying to understand Judaism. It portends a less-than-stellar end to a series that, even when it was flatlining, had its pithy notes and gave characters room for expansion.

Then there’s the de facto star, Sarah Jessica Parker, as columnist Carrie Bradshaw, now smitten with an author she once butted heads with. She’s forging what looks like another reasonable relationship — it will be her third since the series began — and it doesn’t look all that different from the rest. So, we might type, how does she manage to keep coming up with those questions that lead her columns in the New York Star?

Opening episode begins with Carrie ringing the opening bell on the NYSE floor, the Star going public that day. (A privately held daily newspaper in Gotham? Since when?) Carrie and her new flame, writer Jack Berger (Ron Livingston), find everything will click except the sex, which might well give her fodder for her column, but it gives “Sex and the City” an air of “Groundhog Day.”

Same goes for Samantha (Kim Cattrall), who quite sadly returns to one-note horniness, her lines oozing double entendres and come-ons. Perky Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is in a quandary as her Jewish paramour, Harry (Evan Handler), puts their future in doubt due to his religious convictions. It’s Mr. Right vs. Mr. Right Now — a dilemma that these two have confronted with more intrigue in earlier seasons.

It leaves the generally unlikable Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) as the one character we may see some sort of logical change in. An uptight and frustrated single mom, Miranda struggles through one frustration after another, whether it be simple (a messed-up TiVo) or complicated (unrequited love). Nixon has always had the show’s biggest challenge — be the off-putting one among the sexy quartet — and she evokes rare feelings of empathy in the viewing audience, something she doesn’t necessarily elicit from her friends.

While show has maintained its easygoing flow on the technical end, it boils down to too much sex and not enough city.

Sex and the City

Series; HBO, Sun. June 22, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in New York City by HBO. Executive producers, Michael Patrick King, John Melfi, Cindy Chupack, Sarah Jessica Parker; co-executive producer, Jenny Bicks; director, King; writers, King (premiere), Chupack.

Crew: Production designer, Jeremy Conway; casting, Jennifer McNamara; original casting, Ellie Kanner. 30 MIN.

Cast: Carrie Bradshaw - Sarah Jessica Parker Samantha Jones - Kim Cattrall Charlotte York - Kristin Davis Miranda Hobbes - Cynthia Nixon Steve Brady - David Eigenberg Harry Greenblatt - Evan Handler Jack Berger - Ron Livingston Jerry Jerrod - Jason Lewis

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