"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?
Facts of the Case
"The One With the East German Laundry Detergent"
"The One Where Underdog Gets Away"
"The One With the Stoned Guy"
"The One With the Birth"
"The One Where Rachel Finds Out"
"The One With Ross' New Girlfriend"
"The One Where Heckles Dies"
"The One With Phoebe's Husband"
"The One With the List"
"The One After the Superbowl"
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.
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