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Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

Friends- The Complete Series Blu-ray

The One Where The Blu-ray Set Is Reviewed.

From the title and the premise, you’d think “Friends” would be the most generic show on television, and yet, it captured the heart of America as viewers invited these characters into their home. It became the sitcom for a generation. It literally became must see TV. The series achieved ratings so massive that modern shows could only dream of reaching now. As if that weren’t enough, the characters became iconic and the cast became superstars (not too mention massively rich). To say the show was a juggernaut was an understatement.

So, how and why did this show become such a hit? Simply put, it played it safe and appealed to both men and women. For 10 seasons and 236 episodes, viewers were glued to their screens to see the misadventures of Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Rachel, Monica and Chandler. “Friends” became the show that, as cheesy as it is to say, was there for you (like “The Rembrandt’s” theme song claims). It was essentially comfort food for TV. It offered up easy laughs and non sophisticated humor. It definitely wasn’t high art, but it was the type of show that you could pop on at anytime. It was also a major ‘watercooler’ series at the time it aired. There wasn’t a week that went by where someone at a school or workplace wasn’t talking about Smelly Cat, Central Perk, Thanksgiving football, Joey wearing Chandler’s clothes, couch moving, the weddings, the ugly naked guy, Ross getting a tan, or Brad Pitt’s guest appearance. Whether you liked the show or not, you had to admit that the series was influential and that it had a huge cultural impact (just like “Seinfeld”). It was quintessentially 90’s.

On the subject of the show’s detractors, there were definitely folks who weren’t as charmed by the show as others. Some viewers found the characters to be obnoxious while others grew tired of the off and on again/will they or won’t they relationship dynamics (especially between Ross and Rachel). Additionally, there were many complaints about the show wearing out its welcome with the abnormally long 10 season run. All of these complaints are quite valid and they definitely pointed out some of the series flaws.

Personally, my opinion of the series lands somewhere in the middle of the fan and non-fan spectrum. The earlier episodes, while a bit rough around the edges at times, were definitely more entertaining than the latter. Most of the series most enjoyable moments happened early on in the series ala the Thanksgiving football, the ugly naked guy stick poking, the epic star filled Superbowl episode, the prom video, Marcel the monkey, etc. That’s not to say the latter episodes don’t have their merits. From a character perspective, the core group of 6 characters certainly develop more with each season. More life changing events also happen to the characters as well which makes things a bit more interesting. Additionally, it has to be said that the emotionally satisfying series finale (“The Last One”) does a fine job of giving fans closure as well.

Of course, the reason the series really works at all is because of the cast’s chemistry. While the Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer have had varying levels of success on their own, they were rarely better than they were together. The cast knows how to play off each other and their friendships looked and feelt believable. The supporting cast was also quite impressive with several of them (I’m looking at you Paul Rudd) going on to bigger and better things. The guest stars, of which there are too many to even name, were always fun to see as well.

Note: This set contains the original broadcast versions of all the episodes and not the extended editions. Some fans are quite upset by this so I felt I should mention this.

Video/Audio:

I’m sure everyone reading this review wants to know about the picture quality to see if it’s worth the hi-def upgrade. For some folks, any new release of “Friends” will be worth purchasing, but for some consumers, this new set may not be worth the price tag. The series, which is presented in 1.78:1 1080p, looks very hit-and-miss on Blu-ray. The early episodes look a bit too fuzzy for my taste which might disappoint some fans. However, each season looks progressively better with the last season (season 10) looking the best naturally. On the plus side, the hi-def clarity is certainly present though as the colors look crisper and certain details are more noticeable. Fans will have a blast noticing more background items and details on the iconic sets.

The fact that a mere Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track has been included is disappointing. Granted, the show doesn’t really warrant a lossless track, but it still seems a bit cheap to not include one for a hi-def release. With that said, the Laugh tack, dialogue, and music still sound solid here. Just don’t expect anything award winning.

Extras:
* A large booklet featuring photos, episode summaries and extra feature listings.
* Commentary by showrunners Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. John Shaffner and Debra McGuire appear on one track each as well. The following episodes contain commentaries: “The Pilot,” “The One Where No One’s Ready,” “The One With The Football,” “The One The Morning After,” “The One With Chandler In A Box,” “The One With The Embryos,” “The One With Ross’s Wedding,” “The One Hundredth,” “The One Where Everybody Finds Out,” “The One Where Ross Got High,” “The One That Could Have Been,” “The One With The Proposal,” “The One With The Holiday Armadillo,” “The One With Joey’s New Brain,” “The One With Monica And Chandler’s Wedding,” “The One Where Rachel Tells Ross,” “The One With The Videotape,” “The One Where Rachel Has A Baby,” “The One With The Male Nanny,” “The One With Rachel’s Other Sister,” “The One In Barbados,” “The One With the Late Thanksgiving,” “The One Where The Stripper Gets It,” and “The Last One.” Bright, Kauffman, and Crane really dig into the creative process while divulging behind-the-scenes stories. It’s a shame that none of the cast members did any commentary tracks though as it would have been interesting to get their perspective.
* Season 2 trailer.
* Videos for “Smelly Cat,” The Flaming Lips’ “Phoebe Battles The Pink Robots,” Matt LeBlanc’s “Joey Joey” and The Rembrandt’s “I’ll Be There For You.”
* “Friends Of Friends”- 8 features that covers the series MANY guest stars.
* “What’s Up With Your Friends?”- 3 segments highlighting memorable moments of the 6 main characters.
* “Friends Around The World”- An 8 minute featurette that covers international fans and dubbing episodes in other languages.
* “”Friends On Location In London”- A very brief 2 minute piece about the shoot in London.
* “Gunther Spills The Beans”- 5 segments of Gunther talking about seasons 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.
* “The One That Goes Behind The Scenes”- A fun 42 documentary that features cast and crew interviews and loads of behind-the-scenes set, rehearsal, and writer’s room footage.
* Gag reels for seasons 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 (with 4 flashback gag reels for seasons 1-4). There’s also a special gag reel on the bonus disc featuring never before seen gags. Most gag reels are pretty forgettable, but these ones are surprisingly funny and raunchy (often times more than the episodes themselves). You can really get a sense of the cast’s chemistry and their ability to make each other laugh. Look out for a funny Conan O’Brien bit as well.
* “The Ones With More Friends”- 4 super-sized episodes of “The One Where Rosita Dies,” “The One Where They All Turn Thirty,” “The One With Joey’s New Brain,” and “The One With The Truth About London.” Sadly, they are only presented in standard definition.
* “Friends Final Thoughts”- A reflective 26 minute featurette in which the ensemble cast and crew talk about everything from favorite moments to characters.
* “Behind The Style: The Look Of Friends”- A behind-the-scenes documentary that covers the costumes, hair styles and makeup work.
* “Friends On The Tonight Show With Jay Leno”- Jay Leno interviews the 6 main cast members after the airing of the finale.
* “Friends Visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show”- Ellen talks with Aniston, Kudrow, LeBlanc and Schwimmer individually.
* The producer’s cut (and script) for “The One Where Rachel Tells Ross.”
* “The Legacy Of Friends”- A featurette on season 10.
* “When Friends Become Family”- The showrunners and crew members talk about the show’s success, the growth of the characters and show, highlights, etc.
* “Friends From The Start”- Showrunners, crew members, and guest stars look back on the show and talk about its creation from the pitch to the small screen. Expect to see clips from the show as well as discussions about the casting, characters, and more elements of the series.

Summary: The majority of “Friends” fans will love this set. Some might take issue with the picture quality and or the lack of extended episodes, but the set will still make a great gift to the “Friends” fan in your life (or for yourself).

December 11, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] case you didn’t pick up the complete series of “Friends” last year on Blu-ray (reviewed here: https://dvdcorner.net/2012/12/11/friends-the-complete-series-blu-ray-review/), Warner Brothers is now starting to release single season sets of “Friends” on Blu-ray […]

    Pingback by Friends Seasons 1 and 2 Blu-ray Reviews « DVD Corner's blog | June 2, 2013 | Reply


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