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Warner Home Video presents
Friends: The Complete Third Season (1996)

"You know what's weird? Donald Duck never wore pants. But whenever he's getting out of the shower, he always puts a towel around his waist. I mean, what is that about?"
- Chandler (Matthew Perry)

Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: May 28, 2003

Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Other Stars: David Arquette, Sherilyn Fenn, Jon Favreau, Dina Meyer, Ben Stiller, Peter Bonerz, Billy Crystal, Teri Garr, Isabella Rossellini, Shelley Berman, Tom Selleck
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 09h:47m:00s
Release Date: April 01, 2003
UPC: 085392273928
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BB+B B+

DVD Review

Season Three of Friends is the one where Ross and Rachel take their break, but there are some singularly funny episodes in this set that make it a worthy collection. The season opens with a hilarious teaser to the first episode where the gang walks into the Central Perk coffee shop and there is a group of people that seems to be duplicates of themselves in their places on the couch. They shake their hands and walk back out.

The good thing about this season is they are far enough along that the characters are solid and the writers can exploit the solid base of quirks available for larger stories and smaller set pieces. However, we are not in the darker reaches of the more recent seasons where corners that have been painted into exist and too often the line between quirky and stupid is stumbled over. I often joke that these are the shows when it used to be funny.

The impact of a Friends complete season on disc doesn't have the impact of some series on DVD because the show is still so often on the air in syhdication. One can see Friends up to 5 times a day on Directv between local and superstations. To be able to revisit a show that has not been seen in years is much more interesting than revisiting a show that I can see three times a day and still catch regularly weekly (sometimes twice) on Thursday.

Season Three had notable guest appearances. David Arquette (future husband of Courtney Cox shows up in The One with the Jam. Film star Isabella Rossellini appears in The One with Frank Jr. and puts Ross in his place. Comedian Shelley Berman has a cameo in The One Where Rachel Quits. Tom Selleck reprises his role as opthamologist Richard as he and Monica rekindle their relationship of Season Two, almost. Chandler dates Sherilyn Fenn in The One with Phoebe's Ex-Partner. Ben Stiller shows up as Rachel's date and has a really bad attitude. Billy Crystal has a cameo in The One with the Ultimate Fighting Champion and Teri Garr turns up as Phoebe's Mom in The One at the Beach.

If you like the Friends, this is a pretty good set. The acting is confident and the writing is crisp. For fans of Ross and Rachel, this is the essential set that features almost a dozen episodes describing the break/breakup.

The One With the Princess Leia Fantasy
Airdate: Sep 16, 1996

Guest Stars: Maggie Wheeler (Janice), Christina Pickles (Judy Geller), Elliott Gould (Jack Geller)

Ross reveals a fantasy to Rachel involving Princess Leia in the little gold bikini outfit and word gets around. This leads to a funny attempt by Ross and Chandler to share in the way that usually women do. Chandler, who has gotten back together with Janice, wants Joey to get along with her. Janice episodes have an aspect that is irritating, that being Janice herself, and don't really invite repeated viewings. Hard not to sympathize with Joe in this one. A split decision gives us three monkeys.

The One Where No One's Ready
Airdate: Sep 26, 1996

Guest Stars: Peter Dennis (Sherman Whitfield)

A top entry as we see all the characters interacting in the apartment without stunts. The comic timing is at its best in these types of episodes and this one features the debut of "going commando." When Ross gets so upset that no one is ready, he yells at Rachel. She is so upset that she decides to not go. Ross apologizes and is ready to drink a glass of fat to prove he is sorry. Five monkeys for one of the best written and best acted Friends episodes ever.

The One With the Jam
Airdate: Oct 03, 1996

Guest Stars: David Arquette (Malcolm), Maggie Wheeler (Janice)

This is a very dense episode with three full storylines. Monica has a jam plan to get over her man. She is turning out jars of jam at an astonishing pace, until she decides to go a different route. Chandler has problems with hugging while sleeping and Phoebe dates her sister's stalker. Four monkeys for a flurry of funny threads.

The One With the Metaphorical Tunnel
Airdate: Oct 10, 1996

Guest Stars: Jane Sibbett (Carol), Jessica Hecht (Susan), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), Charlie Allen (Ben), Jack Allen (Ben), Edo Azran (Young Ross), Sierra Dawn Hill (Young Monica)

Phoebe pretends to be Joey's agent and has some success in getting him jobs but can't deal with the rejection that comes with acting, and quits. Ross spends time trying to get Ben to give up his Barbie in favor of G.I. Joe. In a Friends classic moment, as payback for Ross' sexism, Monica tells them that he used to dress in his mother's clothes, call himself "Bea" and play tea party. Chandler realizes that he has a fear of commitment and goes to the girls for advice, but a committed Chandler is more than needs to be seen by Janice. Scattered episode with some hilarious moments gets three and a half monekys.

The One With Frank Jr.
Airdate: Oct 17, 1996

Guest Stars: Isabella Rossellini (Herself), Giovanni Ribisi (Frank Jr.), Cynthia Mann (Jasmine)

Phoebe's half-brother, Frank Jr., visits and is one weird dude. When Phoebe offers to buy him a massage, he misunderstands. Joey puts on his carpenter pants to attempt building an entertainment center. Ross creates his list of the five celebrities he'd like to sleep with most and then meets one he left off. Gets a half star for the stunt guest star and the scene where Frank Jr. is lighting stuff on fire. It's funny, but this episode never jells and gets a lowly two and a half monkeys.

The One With the Flashback
Airdate: Oct 31, 1996

Guest Stars: Larry Hankin (Mr. Heckles), John Lehr (Eric), Michele Maika (Kiki), Marissa Ribisi (Betsy), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), Christy L Medrano (Waitress)

Very funny episode in its jump back in time to show a different take on the relationships between the group. Chandler's girlfriend, Janice, is curious if anyone in the group has ever almost had sex and this leads to a very amusing, bizarro trip back to the past. Five monkeys for just letting the Friends be the friends.

The One With the Race Car Bed
Airdate: Nov 07, 1996

Guest Stars: Ron Leibman (Leonard Green), Khalil Kain (Cal), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), Mark Cohen (The Mattress King)

When Monica buys a bed on sale from Janice's ex-husband, "The Mattress King," the wrong one is delivered, much to Chandler's enjoyment. In one of Ross' best scenes since they started dating, Rachel attempts to have her father and Ross bond over dinner. Ross is just a wethead to Dr. Green until he and Ross agree in their criticism of someone else. Joey's teaching a soap opera acting class is classic Friends stuff. The parts add up to more than the totality of the episode. Always a problem when some part has to move some darn plot line along. Three monkeys.

The One With the Giant Poking Device
Airdate: Nov 14, 1996

Guest Stars: James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Maggie Wheeler (Janice), Charlie Allen (Ben), Jack Allen (Ben)

The friends tie together a bunch of chopsticks into a giant poking device that they use to prod Ugly Naked Guy. Meanwhile, Joey tells Chandler that he saw Janice kissing her ex-husband and when Chandler confronts her, she admits that she is confused about what she should do. After much soul-searching and some advice from Joey, Chandler realizes he has to let her go back and try to make things work with her husband. While Rachel is babysitting Ben, Monica accidentally bumps his head into a post. Ross takes an opportunity to torture the two girls about taking care of a kid. A few good bits, but still a victim of Janicitis, so this episode gets two and a half monkeys and a goodbye Janice.

The One With the Football
Airdate: Nov 21, 1996

Guest Stars: Susanna Voltaire (Margha)

In a Thanksgiving episode, the show bounces back with one that stars the friends doing what they do best. Joey has a football and it is decided to go across the street and play, despite the fact that Monica and Ross have competition issues. Starting as a fun game of touch football, the game quickly devolves into a back-biting, brutal game of full contact for the coveted "Geller Cup," or as Chandler calls it, "the troll thing nailed to a two-by-four." One of the best in which the friends are not getting along, it's consistently hilarious. This episode gets five monkeys.

The One Where Rachel Quits
Airdate: Dec 12, 1996

Guest Stars: Mae Whitman (Sarah Tuttle), Shelley Berman (Mr. Kaplan Jr.), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Kyla Pratt (Carla Nichols), Romy Rosemont (Troop Leader), Gene Crane (Christmas Tree Customer)

Rachel is delighted as she finds out that even though she has been "working" at the coffee shop for a long time, she really doesn't know what she is doing, so she makes a rash decision and quits. Phoebe tries to help Joey when he gets a job selling Christmas trees. Ross accidentally breaks a girl's leg and tries to make it up to her. Another jigsaw puzzle episode that is all over the place. One part is funny, another is charming and the third is dumb. Two and a half monkeys.

The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister
Airdate: Jan 09, 1997

Guest Stars: Steven Eckholdt (Mark), Shelley Berman (Mr. Kaplan Jr.), Mimi Lieber (Mary Therese), Alex Meneses (Cookie), Penny Santon (Nonna)

Part one of "Ross the jealous freak" has him suspicious about Rachel's possible job offer from a good-looking stranger. Chandler has a few too many jello shots and fools around with one of Joey's sisters, but can't remember which one. Great visit to the Tribiani home as Chandler comes up against Nonna who was "one of the first to spit on Mussolini." Too much of jealous Ross brings this down to three monkeys.

The One With All the Jealousy
Airdate: Jan 16, 1997

Guest Stars: Steven Eckholdt (Mark), Obba Babatunde (The Director), Carlos Gomez (Julio), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Wendy Schaal (Jeanine), Hillary Matthews (Nancy)

Ross continues in jealous mode as he thinks he catches Rachel's new co-worker whispering sweet nothings in her ear. After lying on his resume, Joey is forced to teach a very hard dance to an entire Broadway cast and this results in one of the funniest bits of the season. Monica confronts the "empty vessel" in the poetry of a busboy at her terrible waitressing job. Although this one has a lot going on and suffers from Ross jealousy bringing it down, it also has two of the quintessentially funny Friends moments and gets four and a half monkeys.

The One Where Monica and Richard Are Just Friends
Airdate: Jan 30, 1997

Guest Stars: Tom Selleck (Dr. Richard Burke), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Markus Flanagan (Robert), Gina Hecht (Richard's Date), Steven Harad (Clerk)

Richard returns to the scene when he meets Monica at the video store. He and Monica decide to become friends that have sex. Joey reads Little Women and Rachel reads The Shining as they exchange favorite books and ruin each other's experience of them. Phoebe dates an athlete who has trouble keeping his "mouse in the house." Never really had much use for Richard, and Phoebe's guy that can't keep it in is boring. This episode is only redeemed by the book exchange. Joey: "Are these little women... like... scary little?" Three monkeys.

The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner
Airdate: Feb 06, 1997

Guest Stars: Sherilyn Fenn (Ginger), Steven Eckholdt (Mark), Elizabeth Daily (Leslie), James Michael Tyler (Gunther)

Phoebe's former singing partner who sold out to commercial interests wants to get them back together as a team. Chandler dates a woman with a prosthetic leg who had a terrible run-in with a less than considerate Joey. Rachel's new job continues to put a strain on Ross' ability to maintain a thought in his head other than jealousy. Perhaps it is not so much the Ross and Rachel break/breakup that is such a downer this season, but rather the one-note rampaging of jealous Ross, over and over. Another stunt casting with a bizarre twist and an episode that doesn't quite hang together. This candidate for the worst of Friends gets two monkeys.

The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break
Airdate: Feb 13, 1997

Guest Stars: Steven Eckholdt (Mark), Stephen Kearney (Mischa), Jim Pirri (Sergei), Angela Featherstone (Chloe), Laura Dean (Sophie), Maury Ginsberg (Isaac)

Finally some relief as Ross and Rachel have a bitter fight and agree to break/breakup. Phoebe and Monica have a difficult double date with a diplomat and his interpreter. In one of those classic Friends conversations, Chandler and Joey ponder a "three-way" with a woman who seems hot for both of them. A mixed bag that is funny between the Ross and Rachel scenes, which are just obnoxious. Three monkeys.

The One the Morning After
Airdate: Feb 20, 1997

Guest Stars: Angela Featherstone (Chloe), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Maury Ginsberg (Isaac), Cynthia Mann (Jasmine)

On the other side of the jealousy train, Ross desperately tries to prevent Rachel from learning that he slept with Chloe, the copy store employee. Despite his very funny efforts to trace all the people between he and Rachel that might tell her, Rachel finds out anyway and they have a long fight, with the other four friends hidden in Rachel's bedroom listening—and surviving on wax hair removal product. This episode starts off good, but the argument is for R&R fans only... Three monkeys.

The One Without the Ski Trip
Airdate: Mar 06, 1997

Guest Stars: Jane Sibbett (Carol)

Now in post-break up, much of the Ross and Rachel humor revolves around the awkwardness of their re-integration as separate people instead of as a couple. The tension works well in the show as they compete to spend time with their other friends. Chandler starts smoking again in a decently integrated subplot that has some pretty funny bits. Good irony gets three monkeys.

The One With the Hypnosis Tape
Airdate: Mar 13, 1997

Guest Stars: Jon Favreau (Pete), Giovanni Ribisi (Frank Jr.), Debra Jo Rupp (Alice), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Jeffrey David Brooks (Trent)

Chandler uses a hypnosis tape to quit smoking, with surprising results. Monica receives an extra-large tip from a customer named Pete who is looking to date her. Phoebe's half-brother, Frank Jr., returns and announces his impending married to an older woman. Frank Jr. is a weird character and Pete is too. These weirdos bring this episode down to two monkeys.

The One With the Tiny T-Shirt
Airdate: Mar 27, 1997

Guest Stars: Steven Eckholdt (Mark), Jon Favreau (Pete), Dina Meyer (Kate), Reg Rogers (The Director), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Ethel Ayler (Hospital Administrator)

Rachel goes on a date with Mark, who was the source of much of Ross' outrageous jealousy. They give back to each other some of the items they had exchanged during their relationship, including a Frankie Goes to Hollywood t-shirt. Joey begins to develop a crush on his co-star in his new play. Monica dates Pete, but she still feels that she is not attracted to him. This transitional episode is one that won't stand on its own; two monkeys are mainly for Ross putting on the t-shirt and "relaxing."

The One With the Dollhouse
Airdate: Apr 10, 1997

Guest Stars: Alison La Placa (Joanna), Dina Meyer (Kate), Reg Rogers (The Director), Jennifer Milmore (Lauren), Laura Dean (Sophie)

Monica's aunt dies and leaves her a treasured antique dollhouse. Even though she invites Phoebe to play with it, Monica soon is disturbed by Phoebe's wild imagination. Phoebe is forced to create her own dollhouse. Chandler is very weird in this episode, especially when he begins calling himself the "Chan-Chan Man." Rachel soon regrets setting him up with her boss, Joanna. Joey's up-and-down relationship with Kate seems to take an upturn after they sleep together. Some funny bits in this scattered episode net it three monkeys.

The One With a Chick and a Duck
Airdate: Apr 17, 1997

Guest Stars: Jon Favreau (Pete), James Michael Tyler (Gunther)

A different slant on the Ross and Rachel breakup as Ross misses a panel for the Discovery Channel to help Rachel, who may have a broken rib. He is very sweet in not letting her know what his help to her is costing. Monica's rich boyfriend buys a restaurant and tells her that he has someone new in his life so that she will consider her dream job as a chef. Phoebe, however, fears there is more to the deal. Joey is upset and sees a story about people wrongly adopting chicks at Easter and immediately does just that. Chandler takes the chick back, but comes home with it and a duck as well. The Pete doldrums bring this episode down and a halfway watchable Ross and Rachel bring it back up to an even three monkeys.

The One With the Screamer
Airdate: Apr 24, 1997

Guest Stars: Jon Favreau (Pete), Dina Meyer (Kate), Reg Rogers (The Director), June Gable (Estelle Leonard), Jennifer Milmore (Lauren), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Ben Stiller (Tommy), Laura Cayouette (Caitlin), Jeffrey David Brooks (Stage Manager)

Stunt-casted Ben Stiller portrays a date for Rachel that Ross sees scream at an elderly couple, but Ross can't convince the rest of the gang that the guy has a problem. Joey and Kate connect, but she gets a big job in Los Angeles with General Hospital and takes it. We see his goodbye as he and understudy Loren perform the climactic scene of the play he has been working on, "Boxing Day." Phoebe spends days on the phone with a company she needs to talk to—before her phone warranty expires—that luckily has a free 800 number. Fast moving episode with some funny little bits nets three monkeys.

The One With Ross' Thing
Airdate: May 01, 1997

Guest Stars: Jon Favreau (Pete), Kevin McDonald (Guru Saj), Matt Battaglia (Vince), Robert Gant (Jason), Richard Gant (Dr. Rhodes), Carole Goldman (Woman), Doug Cooper (Fireman)

Features a situation where Ross has found that there is a disturbing "thing" that has appeared on his behind. After consulting Chandler and Joey, Ross embarks on journey to rid himself of it. Hilarity ensues. Actor Richard Gant (Det. Bill Dornan in a long story arc on NYPD Blue) appears as Dr. Rhodes. Phoebe dates both a muscular, sensitive fireman and a sensitive, muscular schoolteacher and can't decide between them. Monica can't decide about Pete when she thinks he is going to propose after the gang finds a check for a "ring designer" in a visit to his house. Lots of funny stuff here and the best kind of humor for Ross get four full monkeys.

The One With the Ultimate Fighting Champion
Airdate: May 08, 1997

Guest Stars: Jon Favreau (Pete), James Hong (Hoshi), Christine Taylor (Bonnie), Sam McMurray (Doug), Steve Park (Phil), Joe O'Connor (Stevens), John McCarthy (Referee), Bruce Buffer (Announcer), Robin Williams (Tomas [uncredited]), Billy Crystal (Tim [uncredited])

This one is rather stupid as Pete attempts to realize his dream of being the Ultimate Fighting Champion and won't stop no matter how he is beaten. Phoebe sets Ross up on a date with a woman who used to be bald and he takes to her immediately in that way he has. Chandler has a problem when his new boss has an attachment to slapping his behind to celebrate success. And in our stunt guest shot(s), the friends hear a conversation between two familiar strangers in Central Perk. A weak two and a half monkeys for this episode that both disposes of Monica's boyfriend and sets up the season finale.

The One at the Beach
Airdate: May 15, 1997

Guest Stars: Christine Taylor (Bonnie), James Michael Tyler (Gunther), Teri Garr (Phoebe Sr.)

One of the better post-"Ross and Rachel" episodes, as Phoebe's search for her mother takes the gang to the beach. Tensions between Ross and Rachel lead to the potential of getting back together, just as the season is ending. The highlight is the strip Happy Days game and Joey waking up buried in sand, shaped like a mermaid with enormous breasts. Four monkeys for a combination of nice bits and nice interatction between the actors.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: A sufficiently good quality transfer is found on these discs. Not as good as the first broadcast but better than endless syndicated versions. For more fun than you get with the extras play Friend's Facial Freeze Frame and try to catch the characters in the most interesting and amusing facial expression.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio for these episodes is processed for Dolby Digital 5.0 and one really has to wonder why. This is people in a box, people. No random scattered ambient effects in the rear speakers are going to make it any different. Just give me good stereo in front and I will be happy for something like Friends.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Producer Commentary on 3 Episodes The One Where No One's Ready, The One with the Morning After, The One with the Football
  2. Tour of Joey and Chandler's Bachelor Pad
  3. Friends of Friends Video Guestbook
  4. Ross and Rachel on a Break Trivia Quiz
Extras Review: Executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane provide commentary for three episodes; "The One Where No One's Ready", "The One with the Football" (where they are joined by art director John Shaffner),and "The One with the Morning After". These talks are interesting and quite informative, as they not only discuss the episode at hand, but also give further background information about the show.

All of the other extras are found on Disc 4 and really aren't too bad considering. I mean, you stop and think about what extras you really want on a Friends disc anyway, vacuous interviews, meaningless trivia, or perhaps the tried-and-true endless self-congratulations. Just give me the episodes in good quality. Although a few bloopers and outtakes wouldn't hurt, would it? "Open House at Joey and Chandler's Bachelor Pad" is a point-and-click adventure in which the viewer can choose from 8 icons to get trivia tidbits and soundbytes from various crew members about the set. "Friends of 'Friends'" is a 10-clip guestbook which feature celebrity guests and you can learn "What's Up with Your 'Friends'?" has an intro by Gunther (James Michael Tyler) and then offers one minute clip montages for the six main characters. "Ross and Rachel: On a Break" trivia quiz for inquiring minds. Fans of the show will enjoy the commentaries and the other extras are just for a momentary bit of amusement.

Subtitles come in English, French and Spanish. the menu's features a preview capability, which seems cool on the surface but I would guess you wouldn't need this if you didn't own the disc or can only watch a limited number of episodes.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Those wacky Friends in a full season in this 4-disc DVD Set. You can get the Friends Accumulation Effect. nicely. What's that you ask? Well, when you watch several episodes of Friends in a row, they get progressively and cumulatively funny. Try it yourself, if you dare (or care).


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