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Warner Home Video presents

The Best of Friends: Season One (1994)

“Dear God, this parachute is a knapsack.”- Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry)

Stars: Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox
Other Stars: Jon Lovitz, Max Wright, Leah Remini, Jonathan Silverman
Director: James Burrows, Pamela Fryman, Alan Myerson, Kevin S. Bright

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing offensive
Run Time: 02h:02m:11s
Release Date: 2003-04-01
Genre: television

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

 

DVD Review

Hard as it may seem to believe, there was likely a time where the six cast members of the enormously popular television Friends could walk down a Hollywood sidewalk in relative obscurity. Back in 1994 names such as Matt LeBlanc, Jennifer Aniston, and Matthew Perry held little meaning in the pop culture arena; now they are indispensable ingredients. When Friends premiered in September of 1994, it quickly built a groundswell of support and its six cast members were international stars nearly overnight.

For those who wish to relive the best moments from the season that we first knew who our friends were, you are in luck as the recently released The Best of Friends: Season One is now available on DVD. Featuring five episodes culled from the favorite picks of the show's creators, these episodes each run a tad longer than in the original broadcast airing.

Fresh from leaving her husband to be at the altar, a harried Rachel (Aniston) runs to seek comfort in her former high school friend Monica Gellar (Cox). In doing so, she quickly falls into being Monica's roommate and is thrust into her circle of friends. These friends include overly cynical Chandler (Perry), the odd Phoebe (Kudrow), heartthrob but slow witted Joey (LeBlanc), and hounddog Ross (Schwimmer), who has harbored a secret crush for Rachel since high school.

I will leave you before talk of a popular theme song, merchandise, or even, dare I say, hairstyles become a subject of conversation. Without further adieu, here are the top five episodes as voted on by the show's creators:

The One with the East German Laundry Detergent

When Joey dupes Monica into posing as his date to get back together with a former girlfriend he passed by, the results are actually a little disturbing. On the other side of the village, Ross and Rachel are doing laundry with special significance, as it is the first time Rachel has ever done laundry on her own. Meanwhile, Chandler will stop at nothing to break up with the ever-diligent and annoying Janice. A strong episode that shows the brilliant comic timing that the group had already solidified, this episode rates four and a half Marcels.





The One Where Underdog Gets Away

One of the show's legendary Thanksgiving episodes finds the gang together on turkey day for the first time. Like the others that will follow, this one ends in a hilarious disaster. As the title suggests, the massive Underdog balloon in the Macy's parade gets away from its handlers and draws the attention of the entire group as they run to the rooftop to get a better look. In doing so, Thanksgiving dinner burns to a crisp as Monica gets locked out of her apartment, thanks to Rachel. Also, Joey gets a modeling job for an STD campaign, leaving nearly every woman he comes in contact with to believe he in fact has VD. One of the better Thanksgiving episodes in the series, this one gets a full five Marcels.





The One with the Stoned Guy

It is funny how some moments stick out as being memorable even after you have forgotten about nearly every other minute of information surrounding it. Such is the case with this classic episode that features a duet of sexy talking between Joey and Ross that is so hysterical I found myself backing the episode up just to watch it again. Other subplots involve Jon Lovitz as a pothead restaurant owner who is interviewing Monica for a job, as well as Chandler having a bit of a career crisis. Yup, you guessed it. This episode rates a full five Marcels.





The One with the Birth

So it is time for Ross' son to be brought into the world and what would a birth episode of Friends be without some crazy hijinks? With Monica's biological clock ticking faster by the moment, what a perfect time for Carol to go into labor. While Monica frets over not being a mother, Rachel falls for Carol's doctor, Ross and Susan (Jessica Hecht) get locked in a storage room together and begin to work out their differences. While a bit too sweet given the overall cynicism of the season, this episode still rates four out of five Marcels.





The One where Rachel Finds Out

A lot is happening in the first season finale, the biggest of which is Rachel's birthday and Ross leaving for China because of his job. Normally these two things would be no big deal, but Chandler conveniently lets loose the secret crush that Ross holds for Rachel. Also happening in this episode is Joey's participation in a fertility study that leaves him unable to well, you know, much to the chagrin of his new girlfriend. A classic in the series, this episode rates a full five Marcels.



Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Presented in a full-frame aspect ratio that is the same as the episodes were seen in their original broadcasts. Each episode benefits from the digital makeovers, offering improved sharpness and detail. Colors look great with terrific vibrancy and no bleeding evident. No edge enhancement is noticeable throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: A-
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.0
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Best of Friends: Season One is presented in Dolby Digital 5.0 and while each episode sounds better than it would on broadcast television, obviously, this is still far from being a reference quality mix. What is heard is adequate though, as dialogue is firmly anchored to the center channel speaker and sounds fairly great. The surround speakers do a nice job of reinforcing the laugh track used for the episodes, but at times it becomes intrusive when compared to the levels of the other speakers.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
5 TV Spots/Teasers
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extra features are provided, aside from an unadvertised option to view a preview of each episode by clicking on the coffee mug as you move your remote to a given episode.

Extras Grade: C-
 

Final Comments

Even though Warner Bros is releasing Friends sets by the season, at this point these "best of" collections are still pretty great in their own right. For those who are unwilling to plunk down the extra cash for an entire season, here is an affordable way to have some truly great episodes in your collection.

Kevin Clemons 2003-04-28