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Warner Bros. Home Video presents
The Best of Friends: Vol. 2 (1994)

"I think it's great for him. She might be able to do better."
- Phoebe (about Monica and Chandler)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: January 03, 2001

Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Mett Leblanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Other Stars: Elliot Gould, Christina Pickles, Sarah Ferguson (cameo)
Director: Various

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for everyone but young children)
Run Time: 02h:26m:33s
Release Date: December 19, 2000
UPC: 085391895626
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B+BB+ C

DVD Review

Friends began in 1994 as a way for NBC to fill up its Thursday night schedule around Seinfeld and Frazier. As the show progressed, the audience for this series continued to grow to enormous heights. After Seinfeld ended its lengthy television run, Friends took over as the early-night mainstay of NBC's "Must See TV" lineup.

I'm amazed how this show continues to evolve and explore new avenues for its characters. While they're obviously not doing serious drama, we do get to see some surprising changes in the characters. A major development was the budding romance between Chandler and Monica after their unexpected rendezvous in London. With the Ross and Rachel relationship growing old and dull, it was great to see two other characters get together and find love. It helped to re-invigorate a show that was beginning to falter after the high point in London.

This impressive DVD release contains five of the more recent Friends episodes and provides numerous moments of hilarity in each one. Once again, there are no poor episodes in this collection, and several are the best in the series. Maybe sometime in the future Warner Bros. will release full-season collections to please the ardent fans of this show. For now, they'll have to enjoy these episodes and continue to view the classic moments in syndication.

The One Where No One's Ready
September 26, 1996 (Season 3)
Director: Gail Mancuso

Chandler: The cushions are the essence of the chair!
Joey: That's right! I'm taking the essence!

Ross must give a speech at a formal gathering at the museum, and no one is interested in getting ready. Chandler is busy throwing a fit because Joey took his chair, and Joey refuses to budge. Meanwhile, Monica receives a phone message from Richard (Tom Selleck), and she doesn't know whether it's old or not. Ross continues to grow angrier as the time to leave grows closer and closer. A tone of mental insanity exists here that is similar to a Seinfeld episode from its early seasons. While each individual character remains involved in a particular problem, Ross only wants to leave on time. Monica's efforts to change Richard's answering machine produce predictably sour results, and the execution is wonderful. While this episode doesn't contain any extremely memorable moments, it shows six talented comic actors at the top of their form. They use a small space and a few minor problems and create effective comedy.

This episode rates three and a half Marcels out of 5.





The One With the Embryos
January 15, 1998 (Season 4)
Director: Kevin S. Bright

Ross: According to Chandler, what phenomenon scares the bejesus out of him?
Monica: Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance!
Ross: That is correct.

Chandler and Joey are certain they know Monica and Rachel better than the girls know them. Monica's competitive obsession refuses to let her believe this is true, so they agree to play a game for a small bet. As the game progresses, the wager increases, and eventually the girls bet their apartment against the guys' rooster. Meanwhile, Phoebe waits for the results of her embryo implantation to see if she's pregnant. She's trying to carry a baby for her brother Frank (Giovanni Ribisi) and Alice. The roommates' challenge is one of my favorite scenes in any episode of the series. Ross designs the questions in several silly categories, including "Fears and Pet Peeves," "Ancient History," and "It's All Relative." He also uses a goofy gameshow host voice that drives everyone crazy. The final and deciding question hinges on the girls' knowledge of what Chandler does for a living. Rachel's ridiculous response provides one of the largest laughs during this silly episode.

Four and a half Marcels for this episode.





The One With Ross' Wedding
May 7, 1998 (Season Four)
Director: Kevin S. Bright

"Man, you're Westminster crabby." - Joey (to Chandler)

London baby! This two-part episode brings all of the characters except a very-pregnant Phoebe to London and really spices up the show. Much of the humor exists at the expense of the British, but all of the main characters take some shots as well. The outdoor scenes add extra life to the usual set-bound series, and the story ends with a surprising cliffhanger. Ross has asked Emily (Helen Baxendale) to marry him, and the stage is set for a beautiful wedding in London. Unfortunately, Rachel decides that she has to tell Ross her true feelings, and Phoebe hilariously tries to stop her over the phone. The numerous supporting British characters provide much of the humor, especially Emily's parents, Steven and Andrea (Tom Conti and Jennifer Saunders). Steven's confrontation with Elliot Gould's Jack Gellar is one of the best moments in an episode filled with laughs. There are also noteworthy performances from Hugh Laurie as an annoyed gentleman on the plane with Rachel and June Whitfield as a snooty housekeeper.

This is probably Joey's best episode in the series. His enthusiasm for London, including his silly map, gaudy hat, and constant videotaping of Chandler, provides for nearly constant hilarity. Matt Leblanc has lots of fun during this episode, especially during Joey's chance encounter with Fergie. Chandler and Monica also begin their relationship during this story, which eventually leads to their engagement two years later. I liked the cliffhanger ending to the season, but unfortunately the subsequent season premiere falls apart. Emily is a delightful character, and the way she exits the series is unfair and sad. Still, this episode is one of the high points of the series, with plenty of enjoyable moments throughout the lengthy running time.

Highest rating for this one: 5 of 5 Marcels.





The One With All the Thanksgivings
November 19,1998 (Season 5)
Director: Kevin S. Bright

"Sorry doesn't bring back the little pinky that cried all the way home." - Chandler

While the characters rest after a big Thanksgiving meal, they look back at past Thanksgiving holidays they would like to forget. This episode provides a brief glimpse into the past of all the friends, especially looking at Monica and Chandler's relationship. We learn why Monica decided to lose weight, and see Ross falling on his face in front of Rachel again. The highlight of this episode is the flashback where Joey gets the turkey stuck on his head after donning it to scare Chandler. It's also fun to see the characters acting silly in their younger days. I loved seeing Ross and Chandler in their Miami Vice garb. Also, Chandler learns why Monica accidentally cut off his pinky toe. Overall, this episode isn't one of the best, but it does contain some silly moments. In the end, Chandler inadvertantly tells Monica he loves her while she sports the turkey on her head.

This one gets 3-1/2 Marcels.





The One Where Everybody Finds Out
February 11, 1999 (Season 5)
Director: Michael Lembeck

"They don't know that we know they know we know." - Phoebe

Ross desperately wants to rent the apartment formally held by "Ugly Naked Guy." While the girls are visiting, Phoebe sees Monica and Chandler getting together through the window. This sets off another competition about no one letting the other one know they know. This is a hilarious episode that showcases the talents of Lisa Kudrow once again. While she makes a fake seduction of Chandler, both her and Matthew Perry have a lot of fun with the roles. Joey, meanwhile, becomes irritated because he's sick of holding the secret. He just wants to blurt it out—perhaps like a barbershop quartet. The final battle of wills between Chandler and Phoebe once again inspires Monica to win at all costs. Who will cave first? Afterwards, Chandler gives everyone (except Ross) a surprising revelation. This is a great episode that showcases the talents of all six characters.

Four and a half Marcels for this episode.







Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: In terms of television standards, this is a wonderful visual transfer that improves in every aspect from its source. The colors are brighter and contain more definition, and the overall image includes more clarity than before. The changes aren't as noticeable because a majority of the show takes place within indoor sets. However, if you compare the dvd transfer to watching Friends on television, the differences are impressive. Warner Brothers deserves credit for spending the time to improve this transfer and give fans a solid release.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Friends is not the type of show you would expect to require a 5.0-channel Dolby Digital audio transfer. The dialogue often dominates the story, and there are very few sound effects in the background. However, the soundtrack does work wonders for the quick musical interludes and the theme song. Also, the dialogue comes out very clear and works well for all sides of the sound field.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. I'll Be There For You music video by the Rembrandts
  2. Additional scenes included with each episode
Extras Review: This volume contains two brief featurettes that give a bit of background into the shooting of The One With Ross' Wedding. The features are mostly promotional and light, and they don't add touch much about the show itself. Friends Goes to London is a six-minute featurette that provides the basic plot summary of the episode and includes several big scenes from the show. It also contains interviews with the producers and actors. The only interesting item I discovered was their filming of the episode in front of British audiences. The rest of the material isn't that insightful if you've seen the episode. Friends on Location in London provides even less information, and lasts for only two minutes.

This disc also features a section detailing the background and film highlights of the cast and crew of the show. The information contained provides a fairly in-depth look at this group of characters who were virtually unknown before Friends became popular.

Finally, you can also watch the music video for the Rembrandts' song I'll Be There For You. Upon the first few listens, this tune has a nice pop hook and is mildly catchy. Sadly, after watching a few episodes, I was ready to fast forward through the credits sequence. During this video, the cast members taking over for the band and playing their instruments. It was recorded during the early days of the series.

I would have liked to discover more in-depth information about the series on this disc. Unfortunately, it lacks any compelling additional features such as a cast commentary or lengthy interviews. I also could have used the option of turning off the typical laugh track.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Friends continues to roll through its seventh season this year, and with their hefty contracts, the characters may want to keep going for a few more seasons. Even though it may falter at times, the high points of this sitcom rival the best shows on television. This volume is an enjoyable collection of some of the funniest moments in the series, and it will please fans of the series and possibly draw in some new ones.

 


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