Warner Home Video presents
The Best of Friends: Vol. 3 (1994)
Ross: I'm sorry your husband cheated on you.
Rachel: And I'm sorry your wife is gay.- David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston
Stars: Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox Arquettte, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer
Director: James Burrows, Michael Lembeck, Kevin S. Bright
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing offensive
Run Time: 02h:30m:15s
Release Date: 2001-11-20
DVD ReviewBeing original in comedy can at times be a tricky business, especially for those involved in the creation of a network sitcom. Though there have been pieces of terrific comedic television (the almighty Seinfeld for example), the ability to maintain a fresh and funny edge over the course of a season is often lost on many shows. For the creators of Friends the ability to maintain the wit and humor of the earlier seasons has at times been a struggle, though something must be working as there is no other sitcom on television still that draws higher ratings.
Over the course of eight seasons Friends has avoided the problems that plague other long running sitcoms. By creating original situations week after week the writers of Friends have been able to craft an entertaining television program by introducing new conflicts and never failing to dare to go directions that many would balk at. Be it the wedding of two cast members to the current Rachel pregnancy, Friends continually offers series rejuvenating conflicts that keep many coming back for more.
It is hard to put a finger on just what makes Friends work as well as it does. The fact that the show includes six highly talented comedic performers is a plus, though it doesn't come cheap as the cast commands a per show salary of over $750,000, translating to nearly $20 million each per season. Not surprisingly the reported salaries of the six grew harsh criticism from many, though the profits off of syndication, soundtracks, books, as well as DVD and video will far outweigh the total salary for everyone involved. But why not? Each of the lead actors on the show will forever be known as their onscreen persona, even a recent cameo appearance on The Simpsons by Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing) poked fun at his alter ego.
Though for all of the money, hairstyle trends and stunted movie careers, the cast of Friends is still a group that millions faithfully tune in to on Thursday nights. And for those who admire the show the third volume of The Best Of Friends has recently been released on DVD, and the results are nothing but positive.
Episode 7: The One With The Blackout
"Who am I going to meet in a blackout? Power company guys? Eligible looters?"
-Monica (Courtney Cox Arquette)
As part of a massive promotion where each of the Thursday night NBC shows would carry a similar plot device (in this case a New York city blackout), this episode from the shows first season is one of the better from the premiere year.
When a blackout hits New York the gang is forced to relocate to Monica's apartment and wait things out. All of them, except for Chandler, who has the good fortune of being stuck in an ATM vestibule with model Jill Goodacre. Back at the apartment Ross is set to make his move on Rachel and declare his love for her, though not before she stumbles upon Paolo while searching for a lost cat. A showcase for Perry's comic timing, this episode is worth watching if just for the exchange between Joey and Chandler over the phone. This episode earns 4 Marcels out of five.
Episode 14: The One With The Candy Hearts
"Go ask her out. Come on the Rachel thing isn't working out, your ex-wife is a lesbian...do we really need a third reason"
-Chandler (Matthew Perry)
It's Valentine's day and the group sets out to make the loveliest day of the year special, though that isn't likely to happen. As Ross gets the nerve to ask his neighbor out for a date he is surprised to find that the restaurant the two have chosen is the same as his ex-wife and her girlfriend are eating at as well. Joey and brings Chandler along so that he can score a date with a woman he desperately wants to get to know better, though his date's friend happens to be Janice, Chandler's horrifyingly annoying ex. Though things with the guys are going horribly, the girls hold a cleansing ritual to rid themselves of all the horrible ex-boyfriends they've had. As will become typical over the next eight seasons, Kudrow, LeBlanc, and Perry shine brightly making The One With The Candy Hearts a worthwhile episode that earns 3.5 Marcels out of five.
Episode 39: The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know
"Now we can finally watch Green Acres the way it was meant to be seen."
-Chandler (Matthew Perry)
Like good bachelors Chandler and Joey spend their days relaxing in front of their new big screen and enjoying the comforts of matching recliners that Joey has purchased with his money from Days Of Our Lives. Between having food delivered and watching Baywatch, the two bear witness to Ross and Rachel having their first date since learning of each other's feelings, and Monica getting a catering job where she meets and falls in love with Richard (Tom Selleck), a man 21 years her senior. Oh, Ross and Rachel... well, you know. A nice episode that features half of the group falling in love is a welcome change from the usual failed relationships that haunt the six. For that matter alone the show earns 4.5 out of 5 Marcels.
Episode 57: The One With the Football
"So now it is seven to almost seven."
-Chandler (Matthew Perry) on Rachel almost catching the football
As the group prepares for Thanksgiving dinner, the real event of the day is the "Gellar Bowl," Ross and Monica's childhood tradition touch football game suspended after Monica broke Ross' nose. The two square off with the remaining four members for a harmless game to settle the odds. While four of group vies for winning the game, Chandler and Joey fight over the affections of a beautiful Dutch woman who sits by and watches the melee that is "The Gellar Bowl". Though ultimately a rather dull episode, The One With The Football works well due to the sibling rivalry between Ross and Monica and the hormonal sides of Joey and Chandler. This episode earns 3 out of 5 Marcels.
Episodes 136 and 137: The One That Could Have Been: Parts 1 and 2
"How you doin?"
-Joey (Matt LeBlanc)
When Rachel walks into the Central Perk coffee shop and announces that her ex-fiancé Barry is getting divorced from the woman with whom he cheated on Rachel the group starts to wonder what would have happened if things had worked out differently for all of them. As Rachel contemplates life with Barry the other five ponder their chances had fate not stepped in. Chandler wonders what would have become of a writing career, while Phoebe contemplates if a job with Merril Lynch would have worked out well for her. Joey ponders the possibility of his soap opera career, as Monica wonders what would have happened had she not lost weight. Ross thinks about the possibility of keeping together his first marriage. As can be expected we see the group acting out their potential lives as Monica and Chandler sleep together and start a relationship, Phoebe gets fired from her job as a stock broker, and Ross' marriage falls to pieces after his wife leaves him for another woman. The first half of this episode works well, though the second piece fails to deliver anything more than cheap laughs. The first half garners 4 Marcels while the second gets 3, averaging out to 3.5 out of 5 Marcels.
If there is a fault with this collection it is that Warner Bros. has failed to satisfy true fans of Friends by not providing the episodes in chronological order. As several episodes on this disc show, it is hard to get involved in the series if you have no prior knowledge of previous seasons. For first time viewers of Friends things may be confusing.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Friends has always been a show that has featured a bright color palette, and they are well represented on this new DVD. In fact, everything about the full-frame transfers on each of the 6 episodes is near flawless, with the exception of some slight edge enhancement problems scattered throughout the episodes. There are several moments where the crispness of the image shows off the fact that the episodes are filmed on a soundstage. Though not a big problem it is still distracting.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.0 each of the six episodes is far from being reference quality but for the most part each mix satisfies. Throughout the episodes the music fills the room and the laugh track can often be heard in the rear speakers. Other than those moments this is a dialogue heavy mix. On that note, dialogue is clear and easy to decipher with no apparent harshness. For a peak at just how nice and full this mix is check out Wicked Game by Chris Isaak in The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know for an enveloping sound experience.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English and French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Extras Review: As a pleasant surprise Warner Brothers has passed on releasing bare bones editions of their most popular television show and included some honest to goodness extra features on The Best Of Friends. First up is a 45-minute documentary titled The One That Goes Behind The Scenes, which goes beyond the gloss that is Friends and into the production and creation of a single episode. There are the customary interviews, yet never during the hour-long running time does this feel promotional. For fans of the show this is a great look at the making of a television show, and a testament to the hard work that is involved week after week.
The other notable supplements are several never-before-seen scenes edited into the existing episodes. Though I had a hard time spotting new scenes from old ones, if you are a fan of the show it should be easy to see the included footage.
Cast and Crew filmographies round out the extras, and sadly no chapter stops are included for any of the episodes.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsAside from the large problem of failing to release the seasons in order Volume 3 of The Best Of Friends is worth the low retail price. The documentary is insightful and the ability to have these episodes at just an arms reach is certainly a good thing. Recommended.
Kevin Clemons 2001-12-04