Judge Elizabeth Skipper will always be there for you.
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 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.
That's it? You call that a fight? C'mon…"We were on a break." "No, we weren't!" What happened to you two?
We can thank Phoebe for that concise summary of exactly what went wrong in this eighth season of Friends: Ross and Rachel were not together, which is when they're cute and silly, but they were having a baby together, so neither were they apart, which is when they bicker hilariously. Instead, they were in some in-between place that just left the audience bored. And with Chandler and Monica married and Joey falling in love with Rachel, somewhere along the way the relatable and quirky humor that made Friends so famous got lost.
Facts of the Case
Season Eight of Friends takes place over 23 episodes:
• "The One After I Do"
• "The One with the Red Sweater"
• "The One Where Rachel Tells…"
• "The One with the Videotape"
• "The One with Rachel's Date"
• "The One with the Halloween Party"
• "The One with the Stain"
• "The One with the Stripper"
• "The One with the Rumor"
• "The One with Monica's Boots"
• "The One with the Creepy Holiday Card"
• "The One Where Joey Dates Rachel"
• "The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath"
• "The One with the Secret Closet"
• "The One with the Birthing Video"
• "The One Where Joey Tells Rachel"
• "The One with the Tea Leaves"
• "The One in Massapequa"
• "The One with Joey's Interview"
• "The One with the Baby Shower"
• "The One with the Cooking Class"
• "The One Where Rachel is Late"
• "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby"
Some say it happened years ago when Ross and Rachel first got together or first broke up or got back together or broke up again. Others will tell you it happened when Chandler and Monica started their relationship. But I think it happened when Rachel got pregnant with Ross's baby. Yep, this eighth season is when Friends finally jumped the shark.
Now don't get me wrong, it was still funnier than most sitcoms being aired at the time, but it just wasn't the same. The moments of ridiculousness and hilarity were fewer and farther between and just couldn't compete with the moments of the past seasons. Sure, Ross and Chandler helping Joey rehearse for his audition as a game-show host made us laugh, but it can't even compare to Ross's game to decide if the boys or the girls knew each other best ("Rachel claims this is her favorite movie…Dangerous Liaisons…Correct. Her actual favorite movie is…Weekend at Bernie's"). And Thanksgiving dinner with Brad Pitt? Sure, he's cute, but he can't make up for a lack of "Geller Ball."
Of course, let's not forget that this season began belatedly after the tragedies of 9/11 and that we were all so glad to get back to a little normalcy that our previous standards were thrown out the window. We just wanted the warm fuzzies that Friends gave us. But when I watch the DVD now, far removed from the emotions of the time, I realize it really wasn't that good. At the time, I thought, like so many others said, that Friends was back to its glory days, here to help us heal. Now I realize I would have clung to anything that made me feel a little less stunned, and, while it served its purpose at the time, the season was nothing special.
"Nothing special" pretty well sums up the transfers for this DVD set as well. Though, that may sound a little harsher than I intend it to. What I mean is that the transfers don't stand out in any way, good or bad. They're "nothing special," but they're also perfectly adequate. The full-frame picture is crisp enough; the 5.0 Dolby Digital surround sound is clear enough; it's all good enough to ensure that your viewing experience won't be affected in any way by the audio and video tracks.
Fortunately for us fans, the extras on season eight fare a little better than "nothing special." Since the sixth season, they've taken my advice and included gag reels, which are, of course, quite funny. And the standard three audio commentaries with the producers are, as usual, informative enough that they're worth a listen. But the absolute best of the features included in this set is, surprisingly, "Joey's Game Show Challenge." I'm not sure why this is one is so much more entertaining than past trivia quizzes, but I couldn't stop playing. Maybe I just need to get out more.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
How can you possibly complain about Friends after watching the drivel that passes for a sitcom otherwise? Even at its worst, it's still one of the few consistently entertaining and humorous shows in recent memory, so stop nitpicking!
There's not much here that would convince me to recommend you purchase this set instead of just enjoying the episodes in syndication. There is some additional footage, but nothing that wasn't rightfully cut in the first place. Unless you're collecting all the seasons, don't bother with anything more than a rental.
For serving its country in a time of mourning, season eight of Friends is granted an honorable discharge and is free to go.
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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 Where Rachel Tells...," "The One with the Videotape," and "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby"
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