As season 6 of Friends headed towards the half-way point, the by-now-familiar pattern that the show has followed since its outset started to emerge – having dealt with the leftover storylines from the previous season but not yet ready to ramp up towards the inevitable cliffhanger for this one, the writers increasingly threw in episodes that had less to do with the attempt to create a “story arc” and more to do with comedy derived from simple situations, however silly. As a result, the episodes on this second season six disc (numbers 9 through 16 from the season) are much more easily digested by those who aren’t regular viewers of the show – though to the unfamiliar the two “alternate reality” episodes at the end of this disc may prove a little confusing. The relative freedom from a continuing story also seems to have unleashed the writers’ more anarchic humour in many of these episodes, which can only be a good thing.
The episodes contained on this disc are, in order:
The One Where Ross Got High: Monica’s parents come over for Thanksgiving dinner, not realising she’s now living with Chandler – who her parents have hated for years, under the impression that he’s a drug user. That misapprehension is soon corrected, while Rachel makes what is possibly the world’s most inedible trifle.
The One With The Routine: Joey’s new flatmate Janine (Elle Macpherson, obviously having a great time with her role) is asked to be a dancer on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve TV special, and invites Joey along with life-long Dick Clark fans Ross and Monica to come along. Silliness, of course, follows.
The One With The Apothecary Table: Rachel has bought a replica apothecary table from the generic chain store Pottery Barn – a place that is against new flatmate Phoebe’s very fabric of existence. Meanwhile Joey’s impromptu kiss with Janine has led to bigger things – but Janine, as it turns out, violently dislikes Joey’s friends.
The One With The Joke: Ross has a joke published in Playboy. Or was it Chandler’s joke? Much arguing ensues, though no-one bothers to find out if the joke is actually, well, funny.
The One With Rachel’s Sister: Rachel’s shopaholic sister Jill (played with glee by Reese Witherspoon) comes to stay, but can’t stop shopping – or, for that matter, keep away from Ross. Across the hall, Monica is sick with the flu – but still wants to seduce a rather revolted Chandler.
The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry: While the gang discover that Phoebe may have been leading a double life as a porn star, Chandler admits that he hasn’t been able to cry for most of his life – which, of course, leads to many attempts to make exactly that happen.
The One That Could Have Been, Parts One And Two: This high-concept double episode revolves around the gang’s speculation on what things would be like now if they’d made different decisions earlier in their lives. Courteney Cox takes the biggest comedic chance here, with prosthetics and body padding turning her into the often-talked-about Fat Monica, to great effect.
After the abysmal video quality of the first season 6 DVD, this one initially seems just as bad, with the same low-rent telecine work (and resultant lack of clarity and definition, along with a “gauze” over the image) that plagued that disc. But as the episodes progress, things do improve marginally (though we’re not sure if that’s just a case of the eyes becoming used to the visual distractions and compensating for them); certainly it seems as though some decisions were made about the show’s telecine process somewhere during the production of these episodes. The improvement is especially noticeable on the last three episodes on side B.
The episodes are again presented full-frame on a double-sided disc, four episodes per side. MPEG compression is generally good, especially considering the source material that had to be dealt with here.
Sound once again is fine; in straight stereo and perfectly clear (if slightly compressed) the audio here is of superior quality to that of the broadcasts of these episodes. A French-language track is provided for both those who speak French and those who find it funny to see the Friends cast doing so.
Once again there are no extras, except for the PC Friendly software and an associated web site on DVD-ROM; once again, experience tells us that you should be wary of installing this software on your system, particularly if you already have a hardware or software MPEG-2 decoder installed.