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Case Number 03173

Buy Friends: The Complete Fourth Season at Amazon

Friends: The Complete Fourth Season

Warner Bros. // 1998 // 555 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Elizabeth Skipper (Retired) // August 8th, 2003

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

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 Eighth Season (published February 2nd, 2005), Friends: The Complete Ninth Season (published May 18th, 2005), Friends: The Complete Tenth Season (published November 28th, 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.

The Charge

Fine, judge all you want to, but…married a lesbian, left a man at the altar, fell in love with a gay ice dancer, threw a girl's wooden leg in the fire, live in a box!

Opening Statement

Remember the show Beat the Geeks on Comedy Central? Remember how it used to have a guest geek (e.g., Simpsons geek, Star Wars geek, comic book geek) each week? Well I could have been the Friends geek, without question. As I write this, I think that they may have had such a geek. Well, no matter, I could have beaten him or her to a bloody pulp with my knowledge of all things Friends.

It's not just trivia knowledge either. Countless phrases and mannerisms have made their way from the show into my speech. And, as it turns out, I was unaware of the origin of many of them until I watched this fourth season and began to notice similarities. So that's where I got that from! Eerie.

Facts of the Case

• "The One With the Jellyfish"
Just so you know it's not that common, it doesn't happen to every guy, and it is a big deal!
In a continuation of Season Three's finale, Phoebe discovers her mom's friend is actually her birth mom (Teri Garr, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mr. Mom). Ross and Rachel reunite briefly after he unknowingly takes responsibility for all their previous problems. Joey and Chandler come to Monica's aid after she's stung by a jellyfish.

• "The One With the Cat"
What'd the insurance company say?
Oh, they said you don't have insurance here, so stop calling us.

Chandler and Joey are robbed when they try to sell the entertainment center. Monica goes out with her high-school crush. Phoebe is visited by her dead mother, a stray cat.

• "The One With the Cuffs"
You guys have any juice?
Just pickle.

Monica comes through in a pinch when she caters a party for her mom. Chandler needs Rachel's help out of a precarious situation with her boss. Joey is approached by an encyclopedia salesman.

• "The One With the Ballroom Dancing"
No, I want a flabby gut and saggy man breasts.
Joey must practice ballroom dancing with the building superintendent to save Monica and Rachel from eviction. Ross tries to help Chandler cancel his gym membership but ends up a member himself. Phoebe is fired when she gives in to her attraction to a massage client.

• "The One With Joey's New Girlfriend"
At least I made 10 bucks in my relationship.
Ross thinks he has a date, but it turns out he's the babysitter. Rachel, in response to Ross's date, starts dating a college student who steals from her. Chandler hits on Kathy, who turns out to be Joey's new girlfriend. Phoebe's cold improves her singing, so she tries to take it back when Monica falls ill.

• "The One With the Dirty Girl"
I can cook, and you can take care of the money.
Okay, it'll be like I have a wife in the '50s!

Ross dates a hot colleague (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, X-Men, Femme Fatale), but her apartment is disgustingly dirty. Chandler's birthday present to Kathy is too thoughtful, so he searches for a better one for Joey to give her. Phoebe loans Monica money for her catering business, and they decide to become partners. Rachel works on finishing a crossword puzzle unaided.

• "The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line"
I would give anything to not be appreciated in my own time.
Ross plays his "sound" on his keyboard for the friends, which makes Phoebe doubt her own talent. Chandler kisses Kathy and then must admit his betrayal to Joey. Rachel begins dining out alone.

• "The One With Chandler in a Box"
It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a little emotional scarring.
Monica's new eye doctor is her ex-boyfriend's son (Michael Vartan, Never Been Kissed, Alias), who is so cute that she breaks taboo and invites him to Thanksgiving dinner. Joey punishes Chandler by making him spend the day in a box, thinking about what he's done. The friends learn their "secret Santa" recipients.

• "The One Where They're Going to Party"
Hello, didn't you read "Lord of the Rings" in high school?
No, I had sex in high school.

Monica's gig as a substitute food critic leads to a job offer, but she doesn't want to disappoint her new business partner, Phoebe. A call from Ross and Chandler's friend, Gandalf the "party wizard," encourages the guys to party all night, but they find they're too old to do so anymore. Rachel's boss promises her a promotion and then is killed before she can file the paperwork.

• "The One With the Girl from Poughkeepsie"
Really? I didn't think girls ever just wanted a fling.
Well, believe me. It's been a long time since I've been flung.

Ross breaks up with a woman because she lives too far away. Chandler sets Rachel up on a blind date. Monica hires Joey in order to fire him and intimidate her employees. Phoebe writes a holiday song for the friends.

• "The One With Phoebe's Uterus"
I'm going to be giving them the greatest gift you can possibly give.
You're going to carry their baby and give them a Sony PlayStation?

Phoebe's brother (Giovanni Ribisi, The Other Sister, Boiler Room) and his new wife (Debra Jo Rupp, That '70s Show) ask her to be their surrogate mother, so Phoebe turns to her birth mom for advice. Joey works as a tour guide at Ross's museum. Chandler's first time with Kathy is less than stellar, so Monica and Rachel provide a few pointers.

• "The One With the Embryos"
According to Chandler, what phenomenon scares the bejeezus out of him?
Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance.
That is correct.
The Irish jig guy?
His legs flail about as if independent from his body.

Monica and Rachel bet their apartment that they know Chandler and Joey better, so Ross devises a game to settle the question. Phoebe has Frank and Alice's embryos implanted in her uterus.

• "The One With Rachel's Crush"
Honey, this is not your fault. Just because you guys had a fight does not justify her sleeping with someone.
Well, if she thought they were on a break…

Rachel considers quitting her job as a personal shopper until she meets her new customer, Joshua. Chandler's jealousy of Kathy's costar contributes to their breakup. Monica, who misses being the hostess, fixes up the new apartment.

• "The One With Joey's Dirty Day"
C'mon man, just take off the sweats, okay? Just take them off and we'll have some fun.
Chandler achieves "Phase 2" of his breakup, so the girls take him to a strip club. Joey returns from a fishing trip as "that thing you smell" but doesn't have time to shower before his first day shooting with Charlton Heston. Rachel, not wanting to break her first date with Joshua, convinces Ross to take out her boss's niece, Emily.

• "The One With All the Rugby"
I'm watching this rugby thing on ESPN. I don't know what the big deal is; I'm man enough to play this sport.
Dude, you're not even man enough to order the channel that carries the sport.

Chandler runs into ex-girlfriend Janice and then convinces her he's moving to Yemen so she'll leave him alone. Monica obsesses over a seemingly defunct light switch. Ross meets Emily's friends and soon finds himself agreeing to join their rugby game.

• "The One With the Fake Party"
Could someone give me a hand with this zipper?

Rachel throws a last-minute bon voyage party for Emily just so she can invite Joshua. Phoebe decides to eat meat for the baby. Ross realizes his feelings for Emily are deeper than he thought.

• "The One With the Free Porn"
Okay, okay, but if she doesn't call, it is definitely over. No wait, wait, unless eventually I call her, just to see what's going on, and she says she'll call me back but then she doesn't. Then, it's over.
Way to be strong, man.

Free porn magically appears on Joey and Chandler's TV. Phoebe finds out she's carrying triplets. Ross tells Emily he loves her.

• "The One With Rachel's New Dress"
You wore your nightie to dinner?
Oh yeah. The best part, though, was when the waiter spilled water down my back, I jumped up and my boob popped out.
Oh no!
It's all right, I got nice boobs.

Frank and Alice ask Phoebe to name one of the babies. Rachel's special night with Joshua is interrupted by his parents. Emily shows Susan the sights when she visits London, leaving Ross and Carol jealously paranoid.

• "The One With All the Haste"
Come on, man. You know I'd do it for you, because you're my best friend.
All right, but you can't use that again for a whole year.

Monica and Rachel do whatever it takes to get their apartment back. Ross and Emily decide to get married.

• "The One With All the Wedding Dresses"
I think he broke up with me.
Apparently he scares easy.

Monica picks up Emily's wedding dress and grows attached to it. Joey's snoring awakens Chandler. Rachel doesn't handle Ross's news well and moves too fast with Joshua in response.

• "The One With the Invitation"
See? He's her lobster.
As Ross decides whether to invite Rachel and Rachel decides whether to attend the wedding, each reminisces about their history together.

• "The One With the Worst Best Man Ever"
Which one of you guys is Gunther Centralperk?
Ross questions his decision to make Joey his best man when Joey loses the wedding ring. Rachel and Monica throw a baby shower for Phoebe, but her hormones won't let her enjoy it.

• "The One With Ross's Wedding"
I, Ross, take thee, Rachel…
The friends minus Phoebe and Rachel travel to London for Ross's wedding. Monica and Chandler find a shocking way to cheer each other up. Rachel heads for London when she realizes she's in love with Ross, who has an unexpected reaction to her presence.

The Evidence

I admit it, I love Friends. I love the characters, the actors, the writing, all of it. But what I love most of all is the inside jokes, the references to past occurrences and revelations, and the fact that the writers assume we're all in the know. And I, as a loyal viewer since the first season and a syndication addict, am definitely in the know. From "we were on a break" to Monica's obsession with cleanliness to Chandler's gay father to Joey's "how you doing," I always get the joke, and, though I feel sorry for those who don't, I'm thrilled that the writers don't cater to them.

This fourth season was the first time the writers felt secure enough in their fan base to begin including these inside jokes regularly, and it coheres much more than any previous season. Thus, I consider season four the best of the first four years. That may just be personal preference, though, as it introduces two of my all-time favorite storylines: Monica and Rachel's loss of the apartment to Chandler and Joey (including Ross's trivia game) and Monica and Chandler's relationship. The season also includes Ross and Rachel's argument after he reveals he didn't finish reading her letter—some of the funniest, and most quotable, minutes of television: "By the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means you are, Y-O-U-R means your!"

The extras for this set are, as they were for the three previous seasons, adequate but nowhere near extensive enough. The most important bonus feature is the inclusion of additional footage. But, although it's fun to try to pick out the bonus bits, many syndicated episodes have cut out footage from the original episodes, so it's often difficult to determine what's truly new; therefore, I would have appreciated some sort of indication of the bonus footage.

Also important are the commentary tracks for three episodes. But, again, they're nowhere near extensive enough: three episodes out of 23 in the season is too few. What commentary we do get is informative and interesting, but stilted because it's been pieced together. If you pay attention, you'll realize that the three commentators—executive producer and co-creator Marta Kaufmann, executive producer and co-creator David Crane, and executive producer Kevin Bright—did not record their commentaries together. They don't interrupt or feed off each other, and they repeat each other's stories. It's obvious their commentaries were recorded separately and the best lines were edited together to seem concurrent. While this method isn't hugely distracting, I think we would have ended up with better and more detailed information if the three had been together.

The rest of the extras are completely disposable. I don't know why they even bothered with the cast and crew list; "Friends Around the World" is trite and pointless; "Friends of Friends" and "What's Up With Your Friends?" are nothing more than series of clips; and "Ross's Ultimate Challenge," while mildly entertaining, could have been so much better.

Where are the outtakes? These are funny people saying funny things in situations just begging for bloopers to happen. I know they exist—they teased us with a few during the credits of the season finale—so why can't we have them? There is no excuse for not including outtakes with a sitcom that aired so recently. Also, while we're at it, where are the interviews and behind-the-scenes footage? Unacceptable.

Like the extras, the transfers for this DVD are adequate, but not good. Then again, the transfers for most TV shows, especially those more than a couple years old, are adequate, but not good, so I shouldn't expect too much. The video is not as sharp as I would have liked; the audio is hollower than I would have liked. But neither will interfere with your enjoyment of the show, so discussing it any further would be much ado about, well, nothing.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Four seasons in, and still nary a minority in sight? In one of the most diverse cities in the world? C'mon people, we can do better than this.

Closing Statement

If you don't like Friends, nothing I say will convince you otherwise. But if you do like the show, you should do it justice and watch it in its entirety, with original and bonus footage included. In other words, you should buy the DVDs.

The Verdict

Friends is found not guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime and is free to continue feeding my addiction.

Case adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 70
Acting: 95
Story: 95
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (English)
• English
• Chinese
• French
• Korean
• Spanish
Running Time: 555 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary with Executive Producer and Co-Creator Marta Kauffman, Executive Producer and Co-Creator David Crane, and Executive Producer Kevin Bright for "The One With Chandler in a Box," "The One With the Embryos," and "The One With Ross's Wedding"
• Additional Footage
• Cast and Crew List
• "Friends Around the World"
• "Friends of Friends"
• "What's Up with Your Friends?"
• "Who Knows Whom Best? Ross's Ultimate Challenge"


• IMDb
• Official NBC Site

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