I think the whole concept of marriage is unnatural. I mean, look at pigs. Let's take a second here and look at pigs. Okay, pigs don't mate for life. I mean, a pig can have like a hundred sexual partners in a lifetime, and that's just an ordinary pig, not even a pig that's good at sports!
Ten or fifteen years from now, we'll all be watching re-runs of Friends on Nick at Nite along with The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island. While that doesn't indicate that it's an important cultural milestone, it at least shows it's place in the American zeitgeist. While the gang of six Friends will never have the kitschy appeal of the Bradys or Donna Reed, it likewise has the timeless appeal brought by genuine humor.
This is Warner Brothers' second foray into releasing Friends on DVD. Each time they have released two volumes containing six episodes apiece. Like many of their other shows, they have chosen to release "best of" discs rather than season-by-season sets. This particular disc contains episodes from relatively recent seasons—one from the fourth, two from the fifth, and three from the sixth.
Facts of the Case
• "The One with Chandler in a Box!"
• "The One Hundredth"
• "The One with All the Resolutions"
• "The One Where Ross Got High"
• "The One with the Proposal"
In my opinion, owning Friends on any home video format seems unnecessary considering its ubiquity in syndication. Where I live, you can catch it five nights a week if you don't have cable, and twice every night if you do. However, the nice thing about the DVDs—and I probably wouldn't say this about any other show—is that Warner didn't opt for the season-based sets and only gives you the best episodes. So, if you're jonesin' for a Friends fix and don't want to wait for it on the tube, hey, you have a few great episodes to watch.
The Friends volumes are available as single volumes or bundled in two-volume sets. In my review of Volume 3, I noted that it wasn't a strong enough collection to warrant a purchase. Not so with Volume 4. Every episode here is a winner. "The One with Chandler in a Box!" has a few too many plot threads, but each one is funny on its own and adds up to a fun, if lightweight, episode. "The One Hundredth" also has a lot going on, but two things set it apart. One is the gynecologist obsessed with Fonzie from Happy Days. It's such a non sequitur that even after the joke has been milked for all its worth, you still can't help but laugh. Two is the presence of Giovanni Ribisi, who is such an eclectic, charismatic actor. "The One with All the Resolutions" is worth watching just for the scene where Ross is locked in a bathroom trying to find a cure for the intolerable discomfort of his leather pants—pure physical, slapstick humor. I've already told you how funny I found "The One Where Ross Got High." Keep tissues on hand. I don't remember much of "The One with the Proposal"; it's fun, but I prefer the pure humor episodes to the ones that advance the soap opera-ish relationship issues on the show.
I wish I could say that the DVD presentation was a marked improvement on watching these on television. Unfortunately, other than the lack of commercials and poor reception I didn't notice any difference in the video quality. Audio has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.0. Audio quality varies wildly from episode to episode, but overall it is tied to the front, even for things like audience reactions. At times it sounded rather hollow.
The only extra is a behind-the-scenes documentary entitled "The One That Goes Behind the Scenes." It is a thorough 42-minute look at the making of an average episode. You get to see production every step of the way, from story sessions to pre-production to filming to the post-production. It spends quite a bit of time on the writing process, something that is quite important to the producers, and the attention to it is evident in the series. The problem? The same documentary is on both Volume 3 and Volume 4, so if you purchased the two-disc set you don't see any different features on either disc.
Friends fans, add this to your collection immediately! Now! This instant!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• "The One That Goes Behind the Scenes" Documentary
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