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Warner Home Video presents

The Best of Friends: Vol. 4 (1994)

"Married a lesbian, left a man at the altar, married a gay ice dancer, threw a girl's wooden leg in the fire, lives in a box!"- Monica (Courtney Cox)

Stars: Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, COurtney Cox Arquette, David Schwimmer
Director: James Burrows, Michael Lembeck, Kevin S. Bright, Joe Regalbuto

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing offensive
Run Time: 02h:29m:36s
Release Date: 2001-11-20
Genre: television

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-A-B+ B+

 

DVD Review

At its height, the popularity of Friends was inescapable. Since the autumn of 1994 the show has become etched in popular culture with everything from a soundtrack CD to books, and even dinnerware (no I am not kidding) available to help feed the public's appetite. Popularity is not always a good thing though, as the cast has been routinely scrutinized by fans and the media. Even plot lines for the show send gossip hounds running for leads as the unexpected pregnancy of Rachel in the most current season instantly touched off rumors that Jennifer Aniston was in fact pregnant in real life by husband Brad Pitt.

It is easy to see why Friends creates the frenzy that it does when one thinks about it. Take six attractive singles, put them in the most popular time-slot on television, hype each episode as if it were the Second Coming and presto, you have a hit. But unlike other heavily hyped shows, Friends deserves its success for the simple reason that it is often truly funny and always original.

As the seasons changed, so did the hairstyles, but one constant has remained in each of the show's eight seasons: the talent of its cast. All basically unknown at the time of the show's premiere (with the exception of Courtney Cox), the cast became overnight sensations in the first season, though so far trying to move their careers to film has been disastrous (with the exception of Lisa Kudrow).

As Chandler, Matthew Perry is, in my mind, the star of the cast, as his quick wit often saves the show from moments that teeter on boredom. Perry's body language is at times just as expressive as his dialogue, as in the episode The One With All The Resolutions, which is included on this disc. Matt LeBlanc is terrific in the way he plays the aloof Joey and while David Schwimmer can, at times, be irritating as Ross, he has had moments where he has been the bright spot in the cast.

Whereas the male members of the cast range from terrific to irritating, the women are uniformly excellent. Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, and Lisa Kudrow routinely out-do their male counterparts in terms of quality performances. Aniston, who has really shown her acting ability in the most recent season, is great as Rachel, while Kudrow plays space-cadet Phoebe so well that many are amazed to find that the actress is an amazingly intelligent person.

Episode 81: The One with Chandler in a Box
"He hates me. Every time I see him he just walks away mumbling something in Italian, and I know he only knows the bad words." - Chandler

Yet another Thanksgiving is upon the group and this time Chandler has even more reason to hate the holiday. Joey hates him after he kisses Joey's girlfriend and Chandler is forced to spend the entire dinner locked in a box to think about how he hurt his friend. At the same time Monica has gotten ice in her eye and is rushed to medical aide, only to find that the on-call doctor is the attractive son of her ex-boyfriend Richard. While the group thinks it sick to invite him to dinner, Monica does just that and begins to develop a crush. A wonderfully written episode The One With Chandler In A Box is a classic that deserves 5 out of 5 Marcels.





Episode 100: The One Hundredth
" I'm here to help with the LaMazda."- Frank Jr. (Giovani Ribisi)

As the title states, this is the one-hundredth episode of the show and it is certainly going to be eventful. After rushing Phoebe to the hospital when her water breaks, the group each go about waiting for the triplets in a different way. Joey begins to develop what he believes are sympathy pains, in reality they are kidney stones. Rachel is busy playing matchmaker for she and Monica with two nurses, while Phoebe, Ross, and Chandler deal with Phoebe's stand-in doctor who has a strange obsession with the Happy Days character, Fonzie. At the end of the episode, Phoebe has given birth to three children: Frank Jr. Jr., Leslie, and Chandler. Not the greatest episode of the series, but touching in its own right; it earns 4 out of 5 Marcels.





Episode 108: The One with all the Resolutions
"Emily Hornswaggle? What are you dating, a character from 'Fraggle Rock'?" - Chandler

With the new year upon them, the gang decide to make resolutions that they intend to keep. Chandler will not make fun of people; Rachel will not gossip; Ross will try something new; Joey will earn to play the guitar; and Phoebe will pilot a Trans-Continental jetliner. Naturally, events arise that test their resolutions, as Rachel finds out about Monica and Chandler, Joey comes to blows with Phoebe over her unique teaching style and Chandler is about to burst from not making fun of anyone. A classic that earns 4.5 out of 5 Marcels.





Episode 130: The One Where Ross Got High
"Chandler, thank you, you've stood by Ross through the drugs and the divorces." - Judy Gellar (Christina Pickles)

As another Thanksgiving is approaching, things look fine for Chandler and Monica, except that her parents are unaware the two are dating, let alone living together. As it turns out, Monica's parents hate Chandler because Ross blamed a whole mess of things on him when the two were friends in college, including smoking marijuana in Ross' bedroom. During the same time, Phoebe is strangely attracted to Monica's dad and Rachel is attempting to make a dessert, though things aren't going well. The One where Ross Got High earns 4 out of 5 Marcels.





Episodes 145 and 146: The One with the Proposal
"I don't know why the kids need a youth center anyway. I mean they just watch TV like I did, and I turned out fine." - Joey

As Chandler is beginning to propose to Monica her ex-boyfriend Richard arrives and causes him to postpone his plan. As Monica and Richard talk, Richard realizes that he still loves her and tells her when he arrives at her place of work that he is ready for children and marriage. At the same time Rachel, Phoebe, and Joey partake in a charity auction where Joey mistakenly purchases a sailboat for twenty thousand dollars. Where is Ross during all of this you ask? He is at the dorm room of his girlfriend who is twelve years his junior and is in the midst of a water balloon fight that causes him to realize that she may be a bit too immature for him.

Joey decides to keep his boat. Chandler makes Monica think that he doesn't want to get married, so that she will be surprised. After talking with Richard about things, Chandler explains that he loves Monica and Richard gracefully steps back. An episode that has everything one could want, this is an example of Friends at its best and earns 4.5 out of 5 marcels.







Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Friends has always been a show that has featured a bright color palette, thankfully on this new DVD the colors are fantastic. In fact, everything about the full-frame transfers on each of the six episodes is near flawless, with the exception of some slight edge enhancement problems scattered throughout. 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

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishno


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 used fills the room and the laugh track can often be heard in the rear speakers, yet other than those moments this is a dialogue heavy mix. On that note, dialogue is clear and easy to decipher with no apparent harshness. A nice sound experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

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

Extras Review: As a pleasant surprise Warner Bros. 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 forty-five-minute documentary titled The One That Goes Behind The Scenes which goes beyond the gloss and into the production and creation of a single episode. There are the customary interviews, yet never during the hour 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 the additions, if you are a fan of the show it should be easy to note 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 Comments

As the best disc so far, The Best Of Friends: Volume 4 features five very funny and at times, touching episodes. If you were to pick just one Friends disc to own, it should be this one.

Kevin Clemons 2001-12-05