- 19- BD50 discs, 2- BD25 discs
- Region A/B/C
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 2.0
- German Dolby Digital 2.0
- Castilian Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
- Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
- English SDH, French, German SDH, Castilian Spanish, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian
- Friends Around the World
- Never-before-seen uncut version of Smelly Cat
- Matt LeBlanc Joey Joey music video
- Commentaries From 31 Episodes
- Friends of Friends video guestbook
- Gag reels from multiple seasons
- On Location in London
- The One That Goes Behind the Scenes Documentary
- Behind the Style: The Look of Friends
- The Flaming Lips Phoebe Battles the Pink Robots music video
- Friends Final Thoughts
Exclusive HD Content
- True Friends Retrospective Documentaries
- Legacy of Friends
- The Original Producer’s Cut for 'The One Where Rachel Tells Ross'
- The Original Script for ‘The One Where Rachel Tells Ross’
- Friends On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2005)
- Friends Visit The Ellen DeGeneres Show (2004)
- The Ones With More Friends: The original extended broadcast episodes
- The One with the Never-Before-Seen Gags: Originally for the cast and crew, this never-before-seen gag reel has all the laughs that were too funny to include on the DVD
- Friends From the Start
- When Friends Become Family
Best Sellers and Deals
Friends: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
Warner Brothers / 1994 / 5400 Minutes / Unrated
Street Date: November 13, 2012
- Offer Details
- List Price: $279.98
- Amazon Price: $186.75 (33%)
- 3rd Party Price: $179.95
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Reviewed by Daniel Hirshleifer
Monday, February 11, 2013
This review of 'Friends' was originally started by Nate Boss. Unfortunately, Nate parted ways with the site before getting further than the first season. Thus, this is something of a Frankenstein review, with portions written by Nate and portions written by Daniel Hirshleifer. The entire "Movie Itself" section was written by Daniel, as was all of the audio section. Nate wrote the Blu-ray vital disc stats, and the portion of the image review that relates to the first season, along with the special features for season one, and the HD exclusive bonus disc. Daniel wrote up the image review for the seasons two through ten and the special features for those same seasons.
There's a thought that postulates that families in the 21st century no longer revolve around nuclear groups, but rather a close, tight-knit group of friends. In many ways, this approach makes a lot of sense. You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Many people have nothing in common with their relatives, but everything in common with their buddies. And in the best situations your friends accept you for who you are, not who they think you should be. Concurrent to the rise of this concept was the original airing of the TV series 'Friends'. A story about six twenty-somethings finding themselves together, the show was a massive blockbuster hit and a cultural touchstone whose influence can still be felt today. It was also one of the last critically acclaimed multicam sitcoms before Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant changed the face of televised scripted comedy with 'The Office'.
'Friends' follows six people, high-strung Ross Geller (David Schwimmer), his obsessive compulsive sister Monica (Courteney Cox), her spoiled roommate Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), their across the hall neighbors Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), and kooky musician/masseuse Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow). The show opens with Rachel running out on her wedding to a wealthy but unexciting guy and re-entering the lives of Monica, her high school best friend, and Ross, who has long harbored a crush on her. Over the course of ten seasons, people around the world would follow the antics of these six friends, turning the show into a TV phenomenon and catapulting the cast into the realm of stardom.
There are two very simple reasons that 'Friends' became such a massive blockbuster hit. First, the show was really very funny. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it was incredibly relatable. The cast, a group of virtually unknown twenty-somethings (only Courteney Cox was a name at the time of the show's premiere), felt like the kind of people that any audience member might spend their days hanging with. They were neither overly successful nor in dire straits (although Phoebe had been a street urchin in the show's history). Even watching it now, almost twenty years from the original premiere date, as a man in my 20s, I find the group and their situation very applicable to my life. And as the show grew, it addressed a host of unconventional situations that more and more people in the real world found themselves in as traditional conceptions of marriage, children, and family were challenged.
But while the group might appear as every-people, the individual characters have wonderfully charming and three-dimensional personalities. While this is a sitcom, the great thing about having ten seasons is that it gave almost everyone a chance to develop in a host of important situations. You get to see the true size of Joey's big heart, and what happens when you break it an episode like "The One with Chandler in a Box". Phoebe, who often appears to be a space cadet, is also the most perceptive, often knowing what everyone else thinks and feels before they do. Ross and Rachel of course have their famous on-again, off-again relationship (that's really more off than on), but both also develop as individuals. Rachel in particular has a great arc, going from the rich brat who came in from the rain to a strong, independent single mother.
The big exceptions are Monica and Chandler. Courteney Cox as Monica was originally meant to be the show's anchor, around which everyone else revolved, but the writers quickly realized that the ensemble was strong enough that no one specific actor had to act as the center. Unfortunately, they never bothered to give Monica a real personality. She has character traits—she's an obsessive-compulsive neat freak who used to be fat—but those traits never go beyond being the butt of jokes. She briefly flowers into a well-rounded character in season two as she has a relationship with Richard, a family friend of her father's, but the writers never gave her anything as good again. Chandler does have real issues that he has to resolve. His father came out as a gay drag queen at a family Thanksgiving, and his mother was perpetually sleeping around. He has serious commitment problems that get worked out in the later seasons. However, his basic character trait, that of the bitingly funny guy, gets muted once he marries Monica. Around this time, he goes from being the guy who is genuinely funny to someone who is laughed at because of how unfunny he is. In fact, in season nine's "The One with the Male Nanny", there's an entire plot about how Chandler thinks he's funny, and everyone else is humoring him. It's a sad change to an otherwise fun character.
But even though the writers made Chandler less funny in later years, the show itself was almost always very consistent. Sure, it took the cast and crew a while to find their footing in season one, and you got a few dud episodes like "The One with Russ" (where Rachel dates Russ, played by David Schwimmer, who is distressingly similar to Ross) or the two-part "The One That Could Have Been" (where they spend an interminable hour exploring an alternate universe where Monica is still fat, Chandler's unemployed, Phoebe is a high powered stock broker, Rachel married Barry, and so on), but for the most part 'Friends' is close to the pinnacle of traditional multicam sitcoms. Classic episodes like "The One Where No One's Ready", "The One with the 'Cuffs", "The One with All the Thanksgivings", "The One with Ross's Tan", and many more still stand up just as well today as they did when they first aired. And dramatic episodes like "The One Hundredth", "The One the Morning After", and of course "The Last One" show that the series could delve into real emotions without sacrificing humor.
'Friends' was also a cultural juggernaut. Central Perk, the group's coffee house hangout, became an instantly recognizable set. Lines like Joey's "How YOU doin'?" entered the lingo, and the show helped popularize pre-existing terms like "going commando". Ross' fist-pounding replacement for the middle finger became a great way to tell someone off without breaking social convention, and other show-specific things like The Ugly Naked Guy, Regina Phelange, Dr. Drake Ramoray, and many more became points of reference that any fan of the show would immediately recognize. The show launched the careers of all the actors other than Courteney Cox, and for most 'Friends' will be the thing that defines their professional lives. The show also gave a boost to careers of guest stars like Paul Rudd and Giovanni Ribisi, while also featuring great turns from established stars like Bruce Willis, Kathleen Turner, Elliott Gould, Susan Sarandon, Tom Selleck, and many more.
Of course, 'Friends' wasn't perfect. For every enjoyable celebrity cameo, there are a lot of needless ones, such as an entirely gratuitous and unfunny cold open featuring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. 'Friends' also had a terrible propensity for stealth clip shows. Most TV series have one, maybe two clip episodes, and the show is either all clips or has a short introduction by one of the actors. 'Friends' tried to integrate their clip shows with actual plot, meaning that you can't entirely skip those episodes, but big chunks of them will be material you've already seen. And there are four or five scattered throughout the show. In retrospect, season one feels uneven, and season nine takes a huge dip in quality, starting with the poorly plotted "The One Where No One Proposes", and then starting a major plot where Chandler has to move to Tulsa for work. Season nine is also where you'll find the aforementioned "The One with the Male Nanny", which shows just how poorly Chandler's character was being handled by that point.
But, on the whole, 'Friends' holds up very well. While it's firmly in the multicam vein, being shot live in front of an audience, it takes steps that will bear fruit in single cam sitcoms that are the norm today. For example, the show's scrupulous sense of continuity and recurring jokes gave the series a sense of unity that many of its peers lacked. That's not to say that 'Friends' had a market on these things—'Seinfeld' was great at carrying over lines and jokes across whole seasons—but for most sitcoms once you reached the end credits of an episode, it tended to mean a bit of a reset button was hit. In an early season, Joey does some carpentry and ends up bisecting Chandler's door. That door remained cut in half for the entire rest of the series. Any other show would have had a completely repaired door by the end of that same episode. These are little things, but they add up and prefigure the detail-oriented humor of single cam masterpieces like 'Arrested Development'.
'Friends' isn't a masterpiece, but it managed to provide years of consistently excellent laughs, supplied by characters that were both distinctly unique but also highly relatable. Its cultural influence can still be felt, so some of the gags, jokes, and references will feel familiar even to first-timers. For fans, getting the whole series in one Blu-ray box set will be the perfect chance to revisit their favorite moments, and get to hang out in Central Perk again with some of their best friends, who are so welcome that they might as well be part of the family.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
The wait is over! Warner Bros. brings one of the best selling TV on DVD titles ever to Blu-ray, with 236 episodes from 10 seasons spread out across 20 discs, with an additional disc for new and exclusive extras. The discs are color coded per season, though the colors themselves don't match the old DVD color schemes, as the disc menus do. The discs themselves are marked 1-21, with the episodes contained (going from 1-236) marked on them. Originally advertised as a 21 BD50 set, the truth is this set is 19 BD50's, with a BD25 for both discs 20 and 21. This release contains the broadcast versions of the show, rather than the extended editions found on DVD, though some episodes are longer than others.
Packaging for the US edition of this release is similar to the 'I Am Legend' Ultimate Collector's Edition or the 'Band of Brothers'/'The Pacific' box set, with a box approximately the same size as the second 'Casablanca' Ultimate Collector's Edition, with a paper that wraps around the release, covering the box except for the lenticular card that's glued on the front. It is impossible to open this box set while leaving this paper sleeve in place, as the magnetic opening clasp is found on the bottom of the release. Inside the case, there's a 40 page booklet, featuring a brief forward and an episode and feature guide, an ad for 'Friends' in HD (5 nights a week, it promises, telling people they could have saved their money if they have a massive DVR memory), and a second book that contains all the discs. Each page holds two discs on each side, and the book itself has a magnetic clasp on the side to keep it closed and secure. The UK edition of this set is packaged almost identically to the extended edition box set of 'The Lord of the Rings.'
For the entire original broadcast and each and every prior home video release of 'Friends,' the show was presented in the old fashioned full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio. When 'Friends' was picked up for HD syndication, however, the aspect ratio was changed to the more modern "full frame" aspect ratio of 1.78:1, filling 16:9 television screens. For the entire run of the show, it was shot on 35mm film, not video, and the original airings of the program were cropped to fit the majority of TV sets. The transfers featured on this Blu-ray set are very similar, though not exactly identical, to those found on the HD channels. Each and every one of the 236 episodes in this show are presented here in 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 encode.
Fans will need to take note of three important aspects of this newer viewing presentation for 'Friends:' first, the original 1.33:1 framed versions of the show are not included in this release. Second, the majority of the show was composed in a manner that would keep most of the activity in what viewers would see on the 1.33:1 frame, so while the picture is expanded, it sometimes becomes slightly distracting if one pays attention to the tight composition of the majority of shots, leaving wide open, empty space in a large amount of the frame. Lastly, and most importantly, there have been a number of scenes that created visual goofs, due to the tight filming conditions of some scenes making the ends of sets and sometimes even video and sound equipment visible. For the most part, this Blu-ray release removes these visual errors. For example, in the episode 'The One with Rachel's New Dress,' as Rachel shoos a duck out of the apartment, for a brief moment in the HD broadcast version a camera is visible, as is the end of the set. This Blu-ray release fixes this issue with a cropping of the edge and a slight zoom, making part of Rachel's body leave frame momentarily. Additionally, errors featured on the 1.33:1 framed version of the show are also fixed, with audio equipment featured at the top of the frame in a shot of 'The One After Joey and Rachel Kiss' as Monica does her (somewhat weird) hair braid dance. Said equipment is no longer visible on this release, and it's not even a noticeable change, like the quick zoom job fix.
'The Pilot' (also known as 'The One where Rachel Moves In') hasn't aged well, with colors that are amazingly washed out, making the cast look like gamers who live in their parents' basements. Detail levels are quite poor in this episode, which also features some minor noise issues. Black crush is a concern in Joey's shirt and Joey and Monica's hair. Thankfully, the rest of the show looks much better than the premiere/test episode. Skin tones become a natural, warm hue, with only the rarest bit of paleness. Noise is reduced significantly, there are far less softer shots, and the amount of texture in clothing increases exponentially. The picture brightness and clarity improves as the first season rolls on, and while there's the occasional soft shot (not counting SD establishing shots, like at the hockey game), for the most part the picture remains balanced and even. There's no wobble to the picture, no artifacting, and a constant level of grain that only has the occasional hiccup, with a minor freeze every now and again. There are a couple of problems with the picture that remain constant in this first season, such as bright red clothing (there are more than a few red sweaters) that have an awkward light fuzzy bleed to them, or the way Phoebe's hair isn't always finely defined, with the occasional appearance of some DNR in the strands closer to her body.
While things may vary from episode to episode, for the most part seasons two through nine look very consistent. The film grain remains noticeable but not intrusive. Clarity is better than you'll have seen it on DVD, although there are some annoyingly soft shots, and contrast can get out of whack at times. DNR also pops up here and there, although not overwhelmingly so. Fleshtones start off naturally, but get warmer in the middle seasons, before returning to more natural hues on later discs. Season ten was shot in high definition, and the difference is obvious. Going from the last episode of season nine to the first episode of season ten is a night and day difference. Clarity is significantly boosted, and the grain is completely gone. Season ten looks like what you'd expect from a big budget network show. However, these were early high def cameras, meaning some entirely separate issues show up just for season ten, like oversaturation and black crush. Again, these don't dominate, but they are worth mentioning.
Overall, 'Friends' holds up very well for a show that premiered almost two decades ago. Luckily it was shot on film, not on tape (except season ten, which was shot in high definition), so we could even get a Blu-ray release of this set. It doesn't look as good as new TV releases, but it looks pretty darn good and it's unlikely WB will offer any further HD remasters anytime soon.
All 236 episodes of Friends arrive in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes, with French, German, Spansh, and Portuguese language options. For such a big show, it's disappointing to discover that Warner couldn't be bothered to offer lossless audio, although this may have been done to keep each season limited to two discs. Whatever the reason, lossy is all we get, although it's questionable how much a lossless mix could have improved things without further remastering anyway. These soundtracks show their age, with various issues such as hiss, a canned aspect to the laughter (the show was recorded live in front of an audience, but reactions were often edited in post to get the best reactions or cut down over-enthusiastic responses) audio dips and drops, and other things you might expect when transferring over two hundred episodes at once.
The good news is that for the most part the issues are intermittent, and dialogue, the most important element of a series like this, comes through loud and clear. Dynamics are rarely pushed, but there's no distortion. The audience ably fills the rear speakers, and there's a decent amount of directionality, depending on the content of the episode in question. Season one sounds a bit primitive, but things get better over the course of season two and by season three the sound quality is set at a level that the rest of the seasons would follow. Overall, these mixes do a good job of filling the sound field, but they're not going to blow anyone away either. Like much of this set, the audio is merely good enough instead of exceptional.
'Friends' is among the best selling DVD titles ever. It was also one of the first TV shows to premiere on DVD. As such, the special features on a per-season basis are rather sparse. WB has included a new disc exclusive to this set with more features. However, other features are missing, including some of the audio commentaries and all of the extended episodes found on the DVD sets. Again, this could have been due to space considerations per disc, but at that point, slap a 22nd disc in there so we could at least have all of the existing extras on the set. For a show with such a large following, the selection of features here is disappointingly slim.
Season One: Discs One and Two
- Audio Commentary - On episode 'The Pilot' with Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. This track is a compilation of audio snippets, where the trio are obviously not in the same room. We learn about the origins of the show and the title sequence, with what the studio had in mind versus the executive producers. This track is mostly a history lesson for the show, delving into how the pieces came into place.
- Friends of Friends"hey, we just saw these people!"
- The One With the Trailer of Season 2 (SD, 1 min) - A trailer for the show, on DVD. Yes, we're apparently back in 2001 when the first season hit DVD.
Season Two: Discs Three and Four
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 11 min)
- What's Up with Your Friends? (SD, 8 min) – Much like the "Friends of 'Friends'" extras, this is a collection of clips that show the arc of each main character in the season. Rather useless for someone who has purchased the entire series in one box.
- "Smelly Cat" Music Video (SD, 2 min) – This music video sadly does not answer the question of exactly what they're feeding that smelly cat.
Season Three: Discs Five and Six
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One Where No One's Ready", "The One With The Football", and "The One the Morning After" with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. Art director John Shaffner also participates on "The One With The Football". These commentaries set up the template for the commentaries throughout the rest of the set, with each participant recorded separately. Crane mainly talks about writing, characters, and arc, Bright mainly talks about the logistics of shooting, and Kaufman usually tells anecdotes or just laughs at the jokes. In this set, we learn that the football park was built in a studio, and that Lisa Kudrow actually flashed people during that episode.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 11 min)
- What's Up with Your Friends? (SD, 8 min)
Season Four: Discs Seven and Eight
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One with Chandler in a Box", "The One with the Embryos", and "The One with Ross's Wedding" parts one and two with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane.
- 'Friends' Around the World (SD, 8 min) – While 'Friends' was made in America, it wasn't just for Americans. This featurette shows the kind of work that went into localizing an episode of 'Friends' for another country.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 8 min)
- What's Up with Your Friends? (SD, 9 min)
Season Five: Discs Nine and Ten
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One Hundredth", "The One with All the Thanksgivings", and "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. Starting with these episodes, the three participants are in the same room, but there's such a heavy amount of editing going on that they feel like separate tracks.
- The One That Goes Behind The Scenes (SD, 42 min) – Originally produced for the Discovery Channel, this in-depth documentary follows the production of an episode from conception through to airing. The show intercuts interviews with true behind the scenes footage, including looks into the writer's room, the live stage, and the editing booth. Easily the best feature that isn't on the bonus disc, and possibly the best feature in the set, period.
- 'Friends' on Location in London (SD, 2 min) – The finale of season four takes place in London, and this featurette briefly looks at the logistics of that decision.
- Gunther Spills the Beans (SD, 2 min) – The first of many series previews hosted by Central Perk waiter Gunther. Also rather useless given that the set has every season included.
Season Six: Discs Eleven and Twelve
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One Where Ross Got High", "The One That Could Have Been", and "The One With The Proposal" parts one and two with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 13 min)
- Gag Reel (SD, 10 min) – A gag reel seems like a no-brainer for a show like this, so it's a bit surprising that it took six seasons to get one. It's nice to see the cast fumble and be real with each other, and some of the flubs are quite funny.
- Gunther Spills the Beans (SD, 2 min)
Season Seven: Discs Thirteen and Fourteen
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One with the Holiday Armadillo", "The One with Joey's New Brain", and "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" parts one and two with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. Costume designer Debra McGuire also comments on "The One with the Holiday Armadillo", and she's a welcome and smart addition, as that particular episode has some very memorable costumes.
- The Ones with More 'Friends' (SD, 111 min) – During the original airings of 'Friends', NBC sometimes requested shows with longer runtimes for sweeps and other special events. Four of the original broadcast super-sized episodes are included here: "The One Where Rosita Dites", "The One Where They All Turn Thirty", "The One with Joey's New Brain", and "The One with the Truth About London". Unfortunately, all four are offered in SD 1.33:1 video with 2.0 audio.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 13 min)
- Gag Reel (SD, 9 min)
- Gunther Spills the Beans (SD, 2 min)
Season Eight: Discs Fifteen and Sixteen
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One Where Rachel Tells Ross", "The One with the Videotape", and "The One Where Rachel Has a Baby" parts one and two with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. We learn that Rachel waiting in the hospital while five other women give birth before her was inspired by Marta Kauffman's actual experience in the hospital waiting to give birth.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 20 min)
- Gag Reel (SD, 9 min)
- Gunther Spills the Beans (SD, 2 min)
Season Nine: Discs Seventeen and Eighteen
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One with the Male Nanny", "The One with Rachel's Other Sister", and "The One in Barbados" parts one and two with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. The logistics of doing Barbados on a sound stage are discussed in depth, as is Monica's bad hair.
- Behind the Style: The Look of 'Friends' (SD, 20 min) – Costume designer Debra McGuire, hair stylist Jonathan Hanousek, and makeup artist Robin Siegel. McGuire has the most to say, discussing how the clothing choices embodied the personality of each character. The others aren't bad, but there's not as much to talk about with hair and makeup.
- Phoebe Battles The Pink Robots (SD, 2 min) – A bizarre oddity, this musc video features The Flaming Lips singing a modified version of their single "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots" intercut with footage of Phoebe from the show.
- Gag Reel (SD, 9 min)
- Gunther Spills the Beans (SD, 2 min)
Season Ten: Discs Nineteen and Twenty
- Audio Commentaries – Commentaries for "The One with the Late Thanksgiving", "The One Where the Stripper Cries", and "The Last One with Bright, Kaufman, and Crane. "The Last One" gets understandably emotional, with Marta Kauffman totally unable to keep it together starting about halfway through.
- 'Friends' Final Thoughts (SD, 26 min) – On set interviews with the cast and crew, looking back on ten years of the show. Aniston even tears up a little at the end.
- "Joey Joey" Music Video (SD, 3 min) – Even weirder than the last music video, this one is cut together by what appears to have been an eight grader using iMovie.
- Gag Reels (SD, 17 min) – Outtakes for season ten along with four flashback reels.
- Friends of 'Friends' (SD, 17 min)
This box set advertises four hours of new supplements, though the 21st disc (which features the same modern WB menu system found on the other discs, though the bottom bar has less button options), only contains about two hours worth of extras, meaning some of the extras may be new season specific goodies (that or the people at Warner can't add very well...). Audio on these extras is English only, though the same list of subtitles found on any season of the show are present here, as well. There are three features in the "True Friends Documentaries" tab, which are being split up in this section due to the lack of a "play all" option. Some of the features are upconverted SD, and are marked as SD in the specs.
Disc Twenty One:
- Friends from the Start (HD, 28 min) - Countless people involved with the production of the show provide new interview footage crafting the origins of the show. This feature really delves deep, from the parallels to the executive producers' real life experiences as young adults trying to make it out on their own, to the casting of the program (including the bits of the character that were provided by the cast members themselves), the chemistry and themes between characters, set design, costuming themes, and the concern featuring six people from one generation with little outside age-group members of the cast. A nice retrospective, though a little light on the details.
- When Friends Become Family (HD, 29 min) - After the first season, the show takes off, and this feature handles the success of the program, with what type of episode worked best, handling jumping the gun in the writing and having to cool off on some of the plots, with on-the fly rewrites, and lots of swerves. With the previous feature covering from the ground up, this extra takes the ball and runs with the show's dominance over the years.
- The Legacy of Friends (HD, 11 min) - With the tenth season marking the end of 'Friends,' this feature deals with the closure of the program. From writing the final episode, to the deconstruction of the sets, we get a nice little load of final thoughts and assessments.
- The Original Producer's Cut for 'The One Where Rachel Tells Ross' (SD, 23 min) - Chandler makes a joke about a bomb in an airport. Then 9/11 happens, and the show has to be recut. This episode is framed in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, and the regular chapter breaks found on the rest of the episodes. This gives us a reminder of what the DVDs would look like (although with no compression issues, so it's still a bump up), and provides us with an abandoned plot. The minute the joke happens, you have to shake your head considering modern parallels with a certain administration...
- The Original Script for 'The One Where Rachel Tells Ross' - The script for the above abandoned version of an episode.
- Music Video (SD, 3 min too long) - The theme song of the show, The Rembrandts' I'll Be There for You. If you didn't get enough of this "song" over almost 300 episodes of the show, well, here it is again. It's worth noting here that this "song" regularly ranks on "X (amount) Worst Songs Ever" countdowns. Even AOL Radio dismisses this "song" as pure awfulness, and if anyone knows awful, it's AOL.
- Short Feature: 'Friends' visits 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' (SD, 16 min) - Schwimmer appears on Ellen's show after the airing of the final episode, with a gag version of the answering machine message. Kudrow appears after Schwimmer, playing a game to see if she remembers her lines from the various clips from the show, before LeBlanc does the same game, whilst plugging some forgotten relic called 'Joey.' Aniston, you guessed it, plays the same game, and the studio audience doesn't riot at the lack of creativity. And then the entire studio audience gets a free tenth season on DVD, as Ellen forgot she's not Oprah.
- Short Feature: 'Friends' on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' (SD, 22 min) - On the Central Perk set, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer (replete with crappy Rembrandts "song") sit down with the chin after the airing of the show's finale. This feature is far superior than the 'Ellen' bits, since this feature actually has insight, instead of pure pandering. After the first bit, the women of the show (Kudrow, Aniston, Cox-Arquette) are featured, and the short brunette hair Kudrow sports makes this reviewer very happy, as the gals discuss their experience together. For the finale, the entire main cast sit with Leno and reminisce.
Gag Reel: The One with the Never-Before-Seen Gags (SD, 7 min) - Censored as it is, this track has a lengthy montage of all the cuss flubs, fat suit dancing, more censored cussing, and man did this cast say "poo" a lot!
The Cutting Room Floor: What Didn't Make the Blu-ray?
Season One - The DVD box set from 2002 featured a trivia quiz and a short featured called "A Peak At Central Perk," which focused on the various items found in the iconic set.
Season Two - The DVD release for this season had audio commentaries for "The One with the List" and "The One with the Prom Video". The Blu-ray does not.
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'Friends' is one of the great multicam sitcoms, so it's fitting that it's WB's first major catalog TV release. The show brought laughter, tears, and everything in between for ten years. It spawned classic lines and left an indelible mark on popular culture, and that excellent run is all here in 1080p. The video quality is up and down, but still better than any other home video release of the series. The audio quality is sadly only lossy, and despite a bonus disc with set-exclusive features, the total sum of the extras on this set is disappointing. Whether or not this set is worth it to you depends on how much you love the show. If you're the kind of person who keeps coming back, then this is the best we'll get for a while. On the other hand, if you're the kind of person to watch a few episodes in syndication, or just like a few seasons here and there, then the upcoming standalone Blu-ray releases might be more up your alley. Either way, you can get the set for under $200 on Amazon, making it less than a dollar per episode. With math like that, it's hard to say no to such a good group of friends. Highly recommended.
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