If Judge Neal Masri has to listen to "I'll Be There For You" by The Rembrandts one more time, he'll freak.
Our reviews of Friends: The Complete First Season (published June 11th, 2002), Friends: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) (published May 7th, 2013), Friends: The Complete Second Season (published September 16th, 2002), Friends: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) (published May 7th, 2013), Friends: The Complete Third Season (published June 18th, 2003), Friends: The Complete Fourth Season (published August 8th, 2003), Friends: The Complete Eighth Season (published February 2nd, 2005), Friends: The Complete Ninth Season (published May 18th, 2005), Friends: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (published November 26th, 2012), Friends: The Complete Series Collection (published January 24th, 2007), Friends: The One With All The Babies (published April 26th, 2006), Friends: The One With All The Birthdays (published May 31st, 2006), and Friends: The One With All The Weddings (published May 10th, 2006) are also available.
Monica: Hello, Miss Buffay.
Friends: The Complete Tenth Season marks the end of the line for this immensely popular show. The final season of NBC's Thursday-night bulwark was aired with much fanfare. This DVD edition gives fans the chance to relive the final 18 shows along with a decent helping of extras, sans hype.
Facts of the Case
This set contains the tenth and final season of Friends. We have a total of 18 episodes and extras on four discs. Show titles are listed below.
• "The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss"
It is a sad fact of life that most sitcoms overstay their welcome. When a sitcom actually steps over the edge from good to bad is the subject of great debate (see the Jump the Shark site for spirited discussion on this topic). That said, Friends was around a whopping ten years. That is a long time in TV land, friends and neighbors.
A few shows do manage to go out on top. Seinfeld may be the best example of this, regardless of its mediocre final episode. The decision to end a top-rated show is almost always that of the creators and/or cast. No network wants to cancel a money machine like a top-ten show, so leaving before you have worn out your welcome is rare and admirable. I do believe that all involved turned down huge chunks of money for a proposed eleventh season. I think that Friends managed go out pretty close to the top in its tenth and final season.
This season was begun knowing full well that it would be the last. Consequently, the storylines are neatly started on their final trajectory early on. Without giving too much away, much time is spent trying to get these beloved characters to a place that will leave fans satisfied at the end of the series' run. If you haven't seen the tenth season, just know that everything is wrapped up neatly and the seemingly eternal Ross and Rachel question is answered once and for all.
It is refreshing to see our cast members acting a little more grown up in the last couple of seasons. They are, after all, pushing forty. Typical adult concerns have worked their way into the plot including births, marriage, and adoption. Still, these people seem to have inordinate amounts of free time, allowing them to hang around endlessly in a coffee shop.
Video is solid as befits a recent release. The image is a good deal sharper than the original broadcasts looked on my analog cable hookup. I would think the image is as good as a videotaped TV show is going to get. The 5.0 track provides a solid sound field for a sitcom. Music kicks in a bit and some of the crowd noise spills into the surrounds. All in all, it's about what I expect for a release of this type.
This set is a little heavier on the extras than sets for the previous seasons. If memory serves, much of the documentary and interview footage is recycled from the final episode extravaganza. This footage is assembled in a half-hour piece called "Friends Final Thoughts." There is some pretty interesting background here on casting, and some fond memories from all involved.
Also included is a gag reel. I must admit I find gag reels unreasonably funny. If, like me, you enjoy them, you'll get a kick out of the multiple seasons' worth of gag reels here. It's kind of fun to see the gags from the final season back to back with gags from the first season. Note to Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston: You've gotten too thin over the years. Eat a cheeseburger or something.
There is a commentary by the producers on three of the episodes, including the finale. Unfortunately, I didn't find the commentaries particularly interesting or enlightening. For example, a good bit of time is spent pointing out their friends and family in the background of the final coffeehouse scene. "Look, there's my lawyer!"—not very scintillating stuff. A cast commentary on the final episode would have been fun. One additional note: The final episode is listed as an extended DVD version. I am not nearly familiar enough with the finale to spot the new material.
There is a feature entitled "Friends of Friends: Video Guestbook" that consists of clips featuring this season's guest stars and some interview bits with them. Friends' producers were certainly never above a bit of stunt casting to boost ratings, though the show doesn't have anywhere near the ridiculous number of guest stars as Will & Grace (I don't thing there's anyone with a SAG card that hasn't been on that show). That said, the featurette doesn't offer much excitement.
Last and certainly least, there is an inexplicable music video entitled "Joey Joey." I assume this was made as some sort of promotion for Matt LeBlanc's spin off series. It is a silly waste of time.
Criticisms aside, this show always made it look easy, while its many imitators on other networks (and NBC, too) over the years invariably failed. The longevity of Friends is due to a unique confluence of writing and acting talent. The casting and characterization were dead on. In the end, we did feel like we lost six friends whom we had come to know and love over the course of a decade.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Ten years is a long time for any sitcom to hang around. The familiarity of the characters and the necessity of keeping the narrative going have led to some formulaic and repetitive storylines. Could there be more weddings and births in this series?
NBC and Warner Brothers have given one of their crown jewel TV properties a sentimental and classy send off. If you're a fan of Friends, you'll be quite satisfied by this swan song for one of the most popular sitcoms ever.
Friends is acquitted. This is a solid DVD treatment of the end of a beloved series.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Commentary by Producers on Three Episodes
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