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    Friends Series 8 - Box Set

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 504 mins . PG . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    The great value Friends Series 7 – Box Set concluded with the marriage of Monica and Chandler, Friends Series 8 – Box Set picks up at the reception of that wedding. The previous release contained six discs with all episodes included twice, the original aired version and the extended version with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. For this release, the doubling up of episodes has been done away with leaving four episodes on each side of three double sided discs. Although not DD 5.1, sound is supplied in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround and for a television series such as this it's just as efficient as the DD 5.1.

    The main focus for this series is the pregnancy of Rachel, but as is the norm with Friends there are many subplots. There are also some notable guest stars, with big names including Brad Pitt, Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn plus many regular stars continuing their roles such as Elliot Gould and Morgan Fairchild. The highlight of this series for me, however, is the humour, the last series was funny but this series seems to go back to its original and sometimes more daring humour to great effect. Being a fan I have always found something amusing throughout the show's extensive history, but this series did create many “spit out your drink” moments.

    Here's a brief rundown of each episode...

    The One After I Do
    Episode one kicks off the series at the reception of Monica and Chandler’s wedding. We discover that Rachel is pregnant and Ross meets Mona (Bonnie Somerville) for the first time. Mrs Bing’s date is a broadway producer and Joey goes a bit too far trying to impress him.

    The One With the Red Sweater
    The whole gang are curious as to who the father of Rachel’s baby is, the only clue being a red sweater. Rachel is determined not to tell anyone until she has told the father, but the gang tend to jump to all sort of conclusions. Meanwhile Monica can’t wait for Chandler to help her unwrap wedding presents, he is off looking for the disposable cameras from the wedding that he has lost.

    The One Where Rachel Tells Ross
    Rachel tells Ross the big news and Chandler and Monica head off on their honeymoon. They are always one step behind another couple also on their honeymoon who seem to get the last of the free newlywed upgrades and they become rather competitive.

    The One With the Videotape
    Ross and Rachel can’t agree who made the first move on the night that caused Rachel’s pregnancy. Luckily Ross happened to have videotaped the whole thing!

    The One With Rachel's Date
    Rachel goes on a date with a soap star making Ross question how he feels about it. A work colleague of Chandler’s thinks Chandler’s name is Toby, causing quite some confusion and Ross starts dating Mona, the woman he met at the wedding.

    The One With the Halloween Party
    Chandler and Monica throw a Halloween party, causing the gang to wear some interesting costumes. Phoebe meets her sister Ursula’s fiancé Eric (Sean Penn) and discovers Ursula has been stretching the truth to her fiancé in many ways.

    The One With the Stain
    Chandler surprises Monica by getting a maid to do all the cleaning. Monica is convinced that the new maid is stealing her clothes though and is even brazen enough to wear them to work.

    The One With the Stripper
    Chandler discovers that Monica had a hen’s night while he was told he couldn’t have a bachelor’s party. Feeling guilty, Monica decides to throw him a party and even organises a stripper, much to Joey’s delight. Rachel is also terrified to tell her father of her pregnancy, which also causes problems with Ross and Mona.

    The One With the Rumour
    It’s Thanksgiving and this year Monica decides there will be no turkey. Joey convinces her to change her mind with the assurance he will eat all that is left. Monica invites her school friend Will (Brad Pitt) who turns out to have been a co-founder of the “I Hate Rachel Green Club”. The club also started a rumour in school about Rachel.

    The One With Monica's Boots
    Monica decides to buy an expensive pair of boots, much to Chandler’s dismay. To prove how practical they are she wears them constantly, even though they are making her feet bleed. Joey’s sister asks Rachel for help and Phoebe tries to wrangle tickets to the Sting concert.

    The One Where Ross Steps Forward
    Mona decides she wants to send out holiday greeting cards to friends with a picture of her and Ross. Ross agrees, but is freaked out. To avoid going to dinner with Chandler’s boss, Chandler tells him that he and Monica have broken up which backfires by way of a strip club.

    The One Where Joey Dates Rachel
    Phoebe’s wedding present for Monica and Chandler arrives, a Ms Pacman video arcade machine. Joey takes Rachel on a date to make her feel special, but realises he is starting to get feelings for her and Ross has to teach a new class across town with only ten minutes to get there.

    The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath
    Monica runs a relaxing, but somewhat feminine, bath for Chandler and he is instantly hooked. The gang discovers Joey's feelings for Rachel, all except Rachel that is. Ross and Rachel discover the sex of the baby and also start to think of names.

    The One With the Secret Closet
    Chandler is curious as to why a closet in their apartment is locked and becomes obsessed with getting it open. Phoebe discovers Monica is using someone else for massage and despite his feelings for Rachel, Joey suggests she move in with Ross instead.

    The One With the Birthing Video
    Joey is depressed over his feelings for Rachel so Phoebe brings over the happiest dog in the world to cheer him up. It’s Valentines Day and Chandler thinks Monica has got him porn as a present, only to discover it is a birthing video. Mona dumps Ross after finding out Rachel is living with him and Joey tells Ross how he feels about Rachel.

    The One Where Joey Tells Rachel
    Joey takes Rachel out to dinner and reveals his feelings for her. Phoebe meets Monica's soulmate and introduces them, to Chandler's horror. Ross also starts coming to grips with Joey's feelings for Rachel.

    The One With the Tea Leaves
    Phoebe reads the tea leaves of the gang to predict their fortunes. Her own says she will meet the man of her dreams and so she goes on a date with the next guy she meets. When he turns out to be a creep she happens to meet Parker (Alec Baldwin) who seems much saner – at first. Rachel and Joey are feeling awkward around each other so Rachel makes up a story to change the subject and make them close again.

    The One in Massapequa
    Monica and Ross’s parents are having their 35th wedding anniversary and Monica is determined to give the toast and make them cry, seeing as Ross has done so every time previously. Other guests at the function also assume Rachel and Ross are married and Rachel takes great delight in describing their wedding.

    The One With Joey's Interview
    Joey agrees to give an interview to Soap Opera Digest, but is worried he will say something stupid so asks the gang to sit nearby and stop him if need be. Made up mostly of flashbacks to Joey's past highlights, this episode gives a good look at how stupid he has been on occasion.

    The One With the Baby Shower
    Phoebe and Monica organise a baby shower for Rachel, but forget to invite her mother until the day of the event. Mrs Green offers to come live with Rachel and Ross for the first eight weeks after the birth and Ross is not happy. Joey is rehearsing for an audition to host a game show and asks Ross and Chandler to help him out.

    The One With the Cooking Class
    Monica gets a bad review for her cooking and goes to confront the reviewer at a cooking school. Her and Joey end up in a cooking class for beginners where Monica excels and Joey eats. Phoebe helps Chandler prepare for a job interview and Rachel and Ross go shopping for baby furniture, where Ross gets more than he bargained for.

    The One Where Rachel is Late
    The war film Joey made is set for release, but he is only allowed to take one of the gang to the premiere. Rachel's due date arrives and passes without delivery and Phoebe and Monica start betting on when the birth will happen.

    The One Where Rachel Has a Baby Part 1
    Rachel finally goes into labour and Ross rushes her to hospital only to be the last to arrive. Rachel is given a semi-private room and the lengthy labour begins. Other women come and go into the delivery room while Rachel gets more irritable. Phoebe meets a patient that she likes and asks Joey to pose as a doctor to find out more about him.

    The One Where Rachel Has a Baby Part 2
    Rachel’s latest room mate is Janice and her nasal laugh and labour pain noises are unbearable. The baby is finally born and they decide on a name. Monica and Chandler also decide this could be the perfect time to try and conceive a baby for themselves. Being the last episode in the series there is the usual cliffhanger, but don’t worry, I won’t give it away here.

    Each episode has a running time of approximately 21 minutes and the option is included to play the four episodes on each selected side concurrently or individually. As was the case with the last series, it is very addictive. I sat down with the intention of watching one or two episodes at a time and ended up watching five or six per sitting.

      Video
    Contract

    Presented in full frame, this transfer is as good as the originally aired television version. Picture is generally sharp and there are few faults with the overall transfer. Colours are reasonably true and detail is strong, apart from the odd occasion. There are no over-saturation or grain problems and aliasing is minimal. Although not of reference quality, this transfer is more than sufficient and presents the show well.

      Audio
    Contract

    Audio is supplied in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround and is pretty much faultless. Being a television series that is dialogue driven, there is not too much need for surround usage and the rears are used extensively pretty much only for studio audience laughter and music ambience - either of which could quite easily be lived without. Subtitles are supplied in English, French and Dutch, not the numerous languages listed on the cover, but at least the English ones tested were easy to follow and reasonably accurate. Synch is never a problem and levels are strong throughout.

      Extras
    Contract

    Yet again there are no extras supplied with this release.

      Overall  
    Contract

    Overall this is a terrific series, much funnier than the last. It's well packaged in a nice fold-out pack and by using double sided discs the distributors have made it all very slim and practical. The episodes are enjoyable and the other big plus is that this is only the series before the one that is currently being aired. Higly recommended for all Friends fans.


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      And I quote...
    "A terrific series that goes back to the humour that made it what it was in the first place. Highly recommended!"
    - Adrian Turvey
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