Warner Bros./Warner Home Video .
R4 . COLOR . 530 mins .
PG . PAL
The highly entertaining series Friends has become a stalwart of American sitcom over its ten-plus years on air. The characters are loved by millions and the actors have become household names that regularly adorn magazines. Each have also ventured into cinema with limited success, but while making over a million dollars an episode, why push yourself too hard? The show is sadly coming to an end with its final series currently being aired in the US, so maybe the main actors will be seen more regularly on the big screen from now on?
Friends Series 8 primarily focussed on the pregnancy of Rachel and ended with the birth of her first child along with the surprise proposal of marriage from Joey. Friends Series 9 picks up at the hospital where the previous series ended. The confusion as to who has actually proposed to Rachel is a great way to start off this highly amusing series.
How's my make up?
As usual, there are many subplots throughout the series, but the main ones are Rachel and Ross’s new baby Emma, Chandler and Monica attempting to get pregnant, Phoebe’s relationship with new boyfriend Mike and Joey’s stupidity. The series is full of highlights, with some real belly laughs. Joey seems to get stupider every year, Phoebe gets more out there, Monica becomes more obsessive, Chandler more under Monica’s thumb and Ross more geeky.
"You don't own a TV? What's all your furniture pointed at?"
There are 23 episodes contained on this release, the final episode being a double one with twice the normal running time. Each episode runs for approximately 22 minutes each.
The One Where No One Proposes
The One Where Emma Cries
The One With the Pediatrician
The One With the Sharks
The One With Phoebe's Birthday Dinner
The One With the Male Nanny
The One With Ross's Inappropriate Song
The One With Rachel's Other Sister
The One With Rachel's Phone Number
The One With Christmas in Tulsa
The One Where Rachel Goes Back to Work
The One With Phoebe's Rats
The One Where Monica Sings
The One With the Blind Dates
The One With the Mugging
The One With the Boob Job
The One With the Memorial Service
The One With the Lottery
The One With Rachel's Dream
The One With the Soap Opera Party
The One With the Fertility Test
The One With the Donor
The One in Barbados (Double episode)
There are again many guest appearances from recognisable actors, this series includes Freddy Prinze Jr, Jeff Goldblum, Hank Azaria, Christina Applegate and Melissa George to name a few. There are also notable new characters introduced such as Phoebe’s boyfriend Mike and the beautiful palaeontologist Charlie, both making regular contributions to the series and becoming crucial characters.
Let me just put that name tag on for you.
The only criticism with all the series' of Friends releases on DVD is consistency. Releases so far range from single discs with four episodes to complete series' with both aired episodes and extended episodes to complete sets with a few extras. It would have been a much better proposition for buyers if these had all been released in series order in the same format, the inconsistency only a cause of unnecessary frustration. This set is different again to the last box sets released, those being series one, two and three. This time we have the similar format of all episodes on three double sided discs, but completely devoid of extras. Not too far from the last releases, granted, but still a variation when it seemed that the format had been decided upon and the remaining series' would follow that. All in all this is a great series and well worth adding to the collection for fans. Ultimately the issue of inconsistency shouldn’t annoy fans too much as we still get the episodes.
Bad hair day!
Presented in full frame and therefore not 16:9 enhanced, this transfer is of the same high quality offered on its predecessors. Picture is sharp at all times with very few problems. Grain is minimal and colours are strong and natural. Shadow detail is also strong, suffering only from the usual problems associated with studio lighting. Aliasing is not an issue either and blacks are deep. Subtitles are supplied in English and English for the Hearing Impaired, both are true to what is occurring on screen.
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 little need for surround usage and the rears are used for studio audience laughter and music ambience. All sound is loud and clear throughout and there are no problems with hiss, distortion or dropout. Synch is never a problem and levels are strong throughout.
Commentaries, cast and crew biographies, featurettes... None of them can be found with this box set. Sorry.
Overall this is a great series and one that fans will quickly add to their existing pile of box sets. If you are yet to purchase a set of Friends then this is not the best place to start. Firstly it is towards the end of the show's lifespan, but more importantly this is a bare bones release containing the episodes and nothing more. Video and audio are both of the usual high standards, but with no extras at all there is little to entice other than die hards to purchase. As far as the series itself goes, it's more of the same really with plenty of laughs.