CAST OF THOUSANDS Olympia Dukakis, Donald Moffat, Marcus D'Amico, Chloe Webb, Thomas Gibson, Barbara Garrick, Paul Gross, Billy Campbell
BREAKOUT STAR Laura Linney (pictured, with Gross), as innocent Mary Ann Singleton
MINI-SUMMARY The boardinghouse run by Anna Madrigal (Dukakis) is the point of entry for Midwestern émigrée Mary Ann into the pansexual, pre-AIDS carnival of San Francisco in the 1970s.
HIGHLIGHTS Mary Ann's pal Mouse (D'Amico) enters an underwear-dancing contest; Anna reveals her secret to dying beau Edgar (Moffat).
IMPACT Based on Armistead Maupin's newspaper column and novel, the series is a time capsule that treats its characters with humor, respect, and a sexual frankness (there's some brief nudity) that was uncommon for PBS in 1993 and would be politically impossible there today. No wonder that the two sequels had to air on Showtime.
FOLLOW-UP More Tales of the City (1998), Further Tales of the City (2001)
EW GRADE B+