Warner Bros. // 1995 // 263 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // December 4th, 2003
"The creators of the most popular TV comedy series ever present their choices for the best episodes..."
I don't really understand why these discs have been released. Friends was first released in "The Best of Friends" volumes, which took from a pool of episodes that included all the seasons thus far. While not ideal, it was one of the first shows to be released on DVD in any form and the discs were therefore released before the market for complete seasons was fully realized. So Warner double dipped, releasing Friends in complete seasons, much to the annoyance of those loyal fans who had already bought the "best-of" volumes.
But now they've decided to release "best-of" discs by season. I suppose this is targeted at the less-than-rabid fans who aren't willing to invest in the complete seasons, but here's the rub: none of the episodes that have already been released on the original "best-of" discs are now being released on these new iterations. Sure, Warner's trying to avoid the triple dip, but are we really to believe that an episode deemed one of the best of the entirety of Friends is then conveniently left off the list of the best episodes chosen by the creators?
Read the list of included episodes below and tell me: are these really the best episodes or just the best of what didn't make the first cut?
"The One With the East German Laundry Detergent"
Okay, you caught me -- I'm a laundry virgin.
Well, don't worry. I'll use the gentle cycle.
Ross joins Rachel on her first trip to the laundromat, Phoebe helps Chandler break up with Janice, and Joey tricks Monica into double dating with his ex.
"The One Where Underdog Gets Away"
We just refer to you as Bobo the sperm guy.
In this first installment of the much-loved Thanksgiving episodes, Monica's dinner is ruined when the friends get locked out of the apartment, Chandler boycotts the holiday, Joey can't go home after modeling for a venereal disease poster, and Ross tries to one-up Susan by singing to his unborn baby.
"The One With the Stoned Guy"
I was the James Michener of dirty talk.
The offer of a promotion causes Chandler to reconsider his career goals, Monica's interview for a head-chef position goes to pot when the owner (Jon Lovitz) shows up high, and Joey helps Ross practice talking dirty after he freezes at a date's request.
"The One With the Birth"
I can't believe one of us actually has one of these.
I know, I still am one of these.
The friends congregate at the hospital when Carol goes into labor: Joey befriends a woman (Leah Remini, The King of Queens) during her delivery, Rachel flirts with Carol's doctor, and Ross and Susan solve some of their differences when Phoebe accidentally locks them in a utility closet.
"The One Where Rachel Finds Out"
Monica, if you want the rest of my date, I'm not going to finish it.
Ross leaves for China for a week, Chandler lets it slip that Ross is in love with Rachel, and Joey must focus on his girlfriend's needs while fulfilling the terms of the fertility experiment he's participating in.
"The One With Ross' New Girlfriend"
You have to stop the Q-tip when there's resistance.
Ross returns home from China with a girlfriend and Rachel must hide her feelings, Phoebe gives Monica a bad haircut, and Joey's tailor fondles Chandler.
"The One Where Heckles Dies"
You name one woman that you broke up with for an actual, real reason.
'Cause she doesn't hate Yanni is not a real reason.
Monica and Rachel's downstairs neighbor dies, Ross tries to convince Phoebe to believe in evolution, Chandler fears he'll be alone forever, and Rachel realizes she still feels like a guest in Monica's apartment.
"The One With Phoebe's Husband"
I think it's nice to look nice for your gay husband.
Secrets are revealed as we find out that Phoebe has a gay, ice-dancing husband, Chandler has a third nipple, and Joey was in a porn movie; Ross asks Rachel for advice about sleeping with Julie.
"The One With the List"
Oh no, two women love me. They're both gorgeous and sexy. My wallet's too small for my fifties, and my diamond shoes are too tight!
Chandler revels in his new laptop computer, Ross tries to decide between Rachel and Julie, and Monica creates recipes for a chocolate substitute.
"The One After the Superbowl"
There'll be times when you get older
When you'll want to sleep with people
Just to make them like you
In this star-studded episode, Joey has his first stalker (Brooke Shields), Ross learns the truth about the fate of his monkey from a zoo employee (Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons), Phoebe's asked by a library employee (Chris Isaak) to write songs for children, Monica and Rachel fight over who gets to date Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chandler dates a woman (Julia Roberts) he went to elementary school with.
There's not much I can say about Friends that hasn't already been said in previous reviews. You know the show, you've seen it, and you either like it or you don't, and nothing I say will convince you otherwise.
So instead I'll focus on these particular discs, which aren't much to write home about. Yes, they include some memorable and hilarious episodes, but if you're going to spend money on Friends on DVD, why wouldn't you save up a little more and shell out for the complete seasons? If you do, not only will you get to watch the complete story arc from the beginning and learn how the series' myriad inside jokes got started, but you'll also get a few bonus features, which are sorely and noticeably lacking from these "best-of" discs. With no commentaries, no featurettes, no nothing, why would you bother?
The transfers look and sound to be the same as are found on the complete season discs. They're adequate enough not to interfere with your enjoyment of the show, but they don't add anything either.
The Rebuttal Witness
"Now With Footage You've Never Seen"
Does that mean these "best" episodes now include even more additional footage, more than the already additional footage included in the complete sets for seasons one and two? Does that mean Warner was holding back when it released the complete sets, that there was even more footage it still wasn't showing us?
Or, more likely, does that simply mean these discs include footage that never aired on TV but that has already been released on DVD?
Whichever the case, you're being screwed, either because you'll need to double dip in order to have the most complete episodes or because you risk being misled by confusing advertising into buying the same episode twice.
Despite my complaints about double dipping and misleading claims, these discs are still Friends at its best. But, frankly, you can catch Friends at its best on syndicated TV any day of the week. If you're going to go the extra mile to buy it on DVD, don't settle for this mediocrity -- buy the complete seasons.
Warner Home Video is hereby found guilty of trickery and inciting confusion, behavior we'd expect from anyone but our Friends. Warner is sentenced to stop releasing Friends in any form but the complete seasons and to use the extra resources to make those sets even more palatable.
Review content copyright © 2003 Elizabeth Skipper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 263 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Footage
* Cast and Crew List