I went to university at Berkeley in the 1970s, across the bay from San Francisco at the time during which this story takes place. "Tales of the City" was already popular as a serial in the San Francisco newspaper, and was rather innovative in the way it took inspiration from day-to-day social life in that city at that time - public figures, popular restaurants and clubs, and local fads figured prominently in the story. At the time, I didn't care for the serial. It was a little too precious and self-congratulatory of its self-perceived hipness. I was a poor college student living in a ghetto apartment, and the hedonistic, romantic lifestyle of the characters of Tales of the City didn't match my own experience of San Francisco.
But watching this mini-series has been a wonderful surprise for me. The San Francisco it describes never really existed, but something very, very close to it really did exist, once upon a time, before the Reagan revolution and the AIDS epidemic. It's long gone, but this series was scripted and filmed by people who seem to have understood it. Good writing, and very good acting by almost everyone in the cast, from Thomas Gibson (now of Criminal Minds fame) and Olympia Dukakis to less famous players.
As I own a multi-region player, I ordered this edition from the UK rather than buy the US box set, as I had been warned that when they produced the US version, they flinched at some of the strong language used and overdubbed some of the dialogue to make it less "shocking". Sigh. It was worth a few quid in postage to get the real thing!