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The third season was the charm for one of HBO's gold standard series, which earned its first Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series to go along with its Golden Globes for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress (Sarah Jessica Parker). The writing is as sharp as ever, with more trendy product placement than a Bret Easton Ellis novel and ribald banter that's a cross between the Algonquin Round Table and the Friars Club. One of this season's two principal story arcs concerned hapless-in-love Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and her pursuit of a husband; enter (if only...) Kyle McLachlan as the unfortunately impotent Trey. Meanwhile, sex columnist Carrie has a brief but memorable fling with a politician who’s golden, but not in the way she anticipated. She then sabotages her too-good-to-be-true relationship with furniture designer Aidan (John Corbett) by having an affair with Mr. Big (Chris Noth), who himself has gotten married. "Do we need drama to make a relationship work?" Carrie muses at one point. Sex and the City needs drama to make it work, and Parker and Cynthia Nixon (as career woman Miranda), this ensemble's better half, give the show its pulsating heart as they wrestle with commitment and, in the episode "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," sadder-but-wiser breakups. On the lighter side, the sexual dalliances of "rude and politically incorrect" Samantha (Kim Cattrall) provide great fodder for comedy. Like I Love Lucy, the series benefited from a brief change of scenery with a three-episode jaunt to Los Angeles, where Carrie and company encountered, among others, Matthew McConaughey, Vince Vaughn, Hugh Hefner, and Sarah Michelle Gellar. At its best, to quote one character, Sex and the City is "sharp, edgy, brutal at times, always a little juicy." It may be "very New York," but the sex and relationship issues it tackles are universal. For its devoted fans, the release of this 18-episode, three-disc set is, to quote Gellar's clueless Hollywood junior development exec, "chick flick big." --Donald Liebenson