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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RUNNING TIME: 467 Minutes
• Friends Final Thoughts
• Selected Episode Commentaries
• Multiple Season Gag Reels
• Music Video
• Friends of Friends Video Guestbook
Friends is one of those shows that had "hit" written all over it from Episode 1. Over the course of the series, the writers were able to keep all the storylines simple (if not just a little repetitive), and with a new cliffhanger at the end of every season, the fans kept coming back for more. Personally, I felt that the series hit its peak in Season 8, but it still managed to be interesting enough, even if the last 2 seasons tended to stray a little from the funnier random episodes (which provided a solid foundation to the soap-operatic arc episodes), and focus very heavily on the main storylines, which seemed to simultaneously contradict and repeat themselves in each subsequent seasons. Basically, seasons 8 and 9 were almost exactly the same, but on opposite ends of their respective spectrums. Season 10 would have been the same, but since it was the final year they kinda had to wrap things up. Did they end things properly? Well read on, dear Chewer… read on.
"Dig the rock, bitches!"
When the tenth season of Friends premiered, we had three main storylines to wrap up (provided the writers didn’t spring anything new on us in the preceding episodes). The most important was the Ross-Rachel-Joey triangle, followed by Monica and Chandler’s fertility problems and then Phoebe’s relationship with Mike.
The least indulgent of the arcs was Phoebe’s impending marriage to Mike. The problem with this relationship was that it started in Season 9, ended in Season 9 and started again in Season 9 – this time with a proposal! Phoebe’s engagement to Mike never really felt real because there was no time to flesh out the relationship. Not only that, but the reason they broke up in the first place is because Mike was against marriage. Personally, I wanted her and Joey to get together (I know – I’m the only one), but if it wasn’t Joey it should have been David. In regards to how it affected the episodes, well, it really didn’t. There were a few episodes revolving around the planning (making Monica totally unlikable) and then there was the wedding (which, by the way, was beautiful). The jarring thing was that after Phoebe and Mike get married, Mike disappears for the rest of the season. We see Phoebe in every proceeding episode, but not a trace of Mike. It really doesn’t lend itself to making the viewers embrace the marriage, thereby making it feel a little tacked on. If there was an ancillary member of the cast, she was it, but I think she deserved a little more fanfare in the end.
Chandler finally cracked one stupid joke too many – and Monica totally freakin’ lost it.
Moving on, when Monica wasn’t busy being a "crazy-bitch" wedding planner, she and Chandler were trying to adopt a baby. The adoption angle was set up in Season 9, when fertility tests revealed that Chandler and Monica both were unable to do their parts in conception. To quote Chandler, "my guys won’t get off their barca loungers, and you have a uterus that is prepared to kill the ones that do." Now, throughout the course of the series, the relationship progression between Chandler and Monica was my favorite. Not only is it the only storyline that directly affected each and every other character, it’s the only relationship on the show that started and then continued to blossom throughout the rest of the series. There were no false starts or sudden break-ups and surprise make-ups.
So, when we start the final season, Monica and Chandler have decided to adopt and we watch as that unfolds in some degree through each episode. The only problems here are the "gotchas" they decide to employ in the story. When Monica & Chandler first meet the prospective birth-mother, Erica (a cute-as-a-button Anna Faris), a glitch in the Adoption Agency’s records put Chandler and Monica in a position where Monica feels forced to lie in order to make sure they get the baby. When they confess the lie, Erica gets upset and tells them they can’t have the baby. So you think it’s over and then gotcha – Chandler pulls this incredibly emotional speech out of his ass and convinces Erica to let them adopt after all. It felt a little unnecessary and seemed like just a tool to wring out a little extra drama. The same thing happens when they get the call about their house. Chandler says their offer wasn’t accepted and then later reveals he lied. This is a trick that worked when Rachel was taking her pregnancy test, but the Monica-Chandler story has so much of a solid foundation these little things almost cheapened the story. I would have the same complaint about the gratuitous return of Janice as their would-be neighbor, but the way Chandler puts that fire out is clever enough that it actually helps and subsequently puts a nice little cap on the Chandler-Janice romance. In the end, Chandler and Monica get their house and Erica gives birth to healthy twins (a boy and a girl). It was the perfect end to what was, in my opinion, the most engaging and touching arc of the entire series.
No one knew Joey had a little Playboy hidden inside
So while Chandler & Monica are starting their family, the most important story of the series is getting a little more interesting. The Ross-Rachel-Joey triangle was established in Season 8, in which Joey pined for Rachel throughout the course of the episodes. Season 9 was essentially the same, however this time Joey had given up and it was Rachel who found herself wanting him. It all came together in the Season 9 finale when Joey and Rachel finally kiss. It was an interesting start to the season, with Joey and Rachel trying to start a romance while Ross was starting a thing with Joey’s ex, Charlie (Aisha Tyler). There were some truly funny moments in the beginning with Ross trying to accept Rachel’s new boyfriend and Rachel and Joey’s many failed attempts at consummating the relationship. However, everything came to a screeching halt when all of a sudden the relationships ended. Charlie went back to an old flame and Rachel and Joey decided they weren’t right for each other after all. So they break up, which leaves a perfect avenue for Ross & Rachel to get back together, right? Wrong! They throw in this ridiculous angle where Rachel gets a new job in Paris and Ross starts a Lucy-type scheme to get her to stay. They carry this out until the last 5 minutes of the finale episode, when Rachel gets off the plane, shows up at Ross’ place and they get back together.
And really, what else could have happened? If the series had ended without Ross & Rachel being together, the fan backlash would have been epic. The writers knew it and the logical fans knew it. This was the only irrefutable truth of the series; Ross & Rachel would end up together. You knew that in the pilot when Ross "grabbed a spoon." It’s this knowledge, paired with the spinoff announcement that made the way they handled the addition of Joey to the Ross-Rachel mix almost insulting. Why would they spend two years building up to Rachel & Joey’s relationship, only to end it 3 episodes after it starts? They should have dropped the whole job thing and kept Rachel and Joey’s relationship going throughout the season, ending it on the finale when Ross finally confesses his love or something like that. What aggravates me is the writers knew that we knew how it would ultimately end so they tried as hard as they could to make us wonder. It wasn’t handled well.
Even though Ross smelt it, there was no doubt as to who dealt it.
However, all that said and all problems accounted for, when the credits rolled on that final episode, I don’t think anyone felt cheated. All-in-all this season was a great return on a 10-year investment.
8.0 out of 10
All of the episodes are presented in their original fullscreen format. Transfer-wise there’s nothing spectacular as all the episodes look just as good as they did when they premiered on Thursday nights. Which, in essence, was pretty good. I’m not entirely sure how you could improve upon them, but I know it would be very easy to fuck em up, which they didn’t, so there ya go.
8.0 out of 10
I would almost be able to say the same thing about the audio, but look – a Dolby 5.0 track! 5.0 makes sense – I mean how much bass are you gonna get from 6 people in a purple apartment? Now, seeing as this was made for tv, there isn’t a tremendous amount of sound design here, so the surround track serves more to envelop the viewer, of which it does a very nice job.
9.0 out of 10
This set boasts pretty much the same features of every set before it.
Again, we have a Friends of Friends Video Guestbook, where certain guest stars recount their experiences on the show. This time we get Aisha Tyler, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear and Paul Rudd. None of the four of them were very engaging and Paul Rudd came across as a jackass. That dry humor doesn’t work for everybody, ya know. I understand why Aisha, Christina and Paul were in it, but Greg Kinnear only had a one episode spot. Why they chose him over, say, Danny DeVito or Jennifer Coolidge (who also only had one-episode spots but were much funnier) is beyond me. Hell – why not Anna Faris? She was probably the most important guest star of the season. Bah.
Absolutely gorgeous. Sorry Angelina fans, but Brad Pitt is not a smart man.
Also, again, there’s a dumbass music video. "Joey, Joey," which sounds like it was written, performed and recorded by two high school girls. I really can’t explain how horrible this was. And not like "so bad it’s good," like "so bad I can’t fucking stand it." *shudder*
Since this is the final season, the replaced the "Gunther Spills the Beans" fluff and included a Friends Final Thoughts documentary, featuring retrospective stuff by the cast and creators. It was shot during the last few days of production and had a lot of nice behind the scenes stuff. It’s part informative, part warm and fuzzy and part fluff, but fans will enjoy watching it.
There are Creator commentaries on three selected episodes but they don’t really serve any purpose. Kinda boring actually.
Finally, there’s the gag reel. Now, the cover boasts a 45-minute gag reel, but really, it’s just the reels from all 10 seasons back-to-back. This alone could be worth the price of purchase, especially the season 10 reel. They were all magnificent.
There are also some DVD-ROM extras, but I’ll confess – if they weren’t important enough for the case or the Special Features menu to list what they are, I’m not gonna install the crappy InterActual Player to find out.
Pound for pound – great extras.
9.0 out of 10
After walking out of the Cash for Cream building, David was comforted knowing he had something to fall back on after Friends was cancelled.
The exact same design they’ve used for the previous 9 seasons. Individual cast photos on top of a colored NYC Skyline – this time, burgundy. I’ve always appreciated the designs of these sets. The artwork and case structure has been consistent (looking at you, Homer Head), and even though the photo layout has been the same, they used the promo pics from each set’s respective seasons, so you can see the evolution of the actors throughout the series. I can dig it.
Now I do have to add – if you’ve got Seasons 1 through 9 and you really want that snazzy box but don’t want to re-buy the entire series, go buy Season 10 and there’s an insert that will let you order just the box for $10 without having to buy all the seasons again.
So for their consistency and their generosity with that kick-ass display box…
10 out of 10
No funny caption here – just a little reflection on one of my most favorite shows of all time
Overall: 8.8 out of 10