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.
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!
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"
• "The One With the Cat"
• "The One With the Cuffs"
• "The One With the Ballroom Dancing"
• "The One With Joey's New Girlfriend"
• "The One With the Dirty Girl"
• "The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line"
• "The One With Chandler in a Box"
• "The One Where They're Going to Party"
• "The One With the Girl from Poughkeepsie"
• "The One With Phoebe's Uterus"
• "The One With the Embryos"
• "The One With Rachel's Crush"
• "The One With Joey's Dirty Day"
• "The One With All the Rugby"
• "The One With the Fake Party"
• "The One With the Free Porn"
• "The One With Rachel's New Dress"
• "The One With All the Haste"
• "The One With All the Wedding Dresses"
• "The One With the Invitation"
• "The One With the Worst Best Man Ever"
• "The One With Ross's Wedding"
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.
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.
Friends is found not guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime and is free to continue feeding my addiction.
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• 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"
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