The Good

This long running sitcom seemed to end just when it was supposed to.

The Bad

The makers of the “Joey Joey” music video should be shot.

Believe it or not, until I was given this 4 disc set, I had never seen one full episode of the show Friends. I remember when this show first came on the air, the big complaint was the lack of diversity amongst it’s white cast. Truthfully, I didn’t care about the show so I didn’t pay any attention to it. Flashforward to 2005 and my tune as completely changed. Not so much on this show but on TV in general. Then, when the opportunity came for me to review Friends - The Complete Tenth Season, what better place to start than right at the end? This way, since I will know how everything wraps up, I can then go back and rediscover the show if I care to find out how the characters got to their final resting places.

After watching this DVD box set and going through the special features, I can safely say that I don’t regret not getting to this show sooner. This isn’t to say that Friends is a bad show, but more to the point, I just don’t feel like I missed anything by getting into it now. The standouts for me are David Schwimmer (Ross), Matthew Perry (Chandler) and Jennifer Anniston (Rachel). This isn’t to say that the other actors were bad (though I will get to Matt LeBlanc in a moment), I just didn’t think any of them were nearly as talented as their counterparts. As for this box set, I think, based on what I have seen of this show, that Friends probably ended where it should have. Who knows? Maybe they could have ended it a few seasons sooner? It isn’t that the writing is bad it’s just that it’s not that great. However, this show seemed to have a stride and all the actors played off one another very well.

Features

”Friends Final Thoughts” and “Multiple Season Gag Reels”

The Friends Final Thoughts is a bittersweet, fairly comprehensive look at the end of this TV show. I may have come into this show very late, but I still got a lot out of this box set and there was something about this “Special Feature” that really hit me. We hear from the cast and the producers and it really made me realize that this show was off the air. Now, I know I didn’t follow it, but for as long as I could remember Friends had always been there. These characters were always being talked about, good or bad, and seeing the show end on this DVD box set, it really set in that something that had been a mainstay in so many people’s lives was gone. I have never in my life (I don’t think) reviewed a DVD with Multiple Season Gag Reels. This features flashbacks from season 10 of course, but it also features flashbacks from Season’s 1 through 4. While gags are gags, these are still worth a look simply because they feature so many people’s favorite characters in their purest comic form.

”Joey Joey” Music Video, “Friends of Friends” Video Guestbook and Commentary Tracks

The Joey Joey” music video is like a greatest hits of the character that Matt LeBlanc has made famous. In a word, this was awful. It is show footage, mixed with bad 1982 video FX that are painful to watch. I am sure that diehard fans will find it funny, but I just though it was poorly done. It was cool seeing the

Friends of Friends get to hear from Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd and Aisha Taylor about what it is like being on this show. While nobody says anything that we don’t expect them say (“everyone was great,” “it was an amazing working environment” etc...), I think that it was cool that Friends incorporated these actors into this show. Also, I think that Paul Rudd is having a much different career than even he initially thought he would, but it’s also a richer one (in terms of roles) as well. Lastly, we come to the Commentary Tracks for “The One Where the Stripper Cries,” “The One With the Late Thanksgiving” and “The Last One.” These all feature Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. “The Last One” is also an extended DVD version. I found these commentary tracks sad. You really get a sense when you listen to these that something is coming to an end. My main bone of contention is that I wish these commentaries had been juicier. They just talk about the show, the logistics of the show and why certain character related things “had to happen.” I wanted them to go off and let loose. To just talk smack or something. Okay, the show was on for 10 years, do you have send it off like it’s dying? Or, wouldn’t it have been better to celebrate it a little bit more?

Video

Standard Version Presented in a format preserving the aspect ratio of it’s original television exhibition. The look and style of sitcoms has really not evolved over the years, and this I think is a good thing. Okay, I know that something not evolving is usually not that good, but in this instance I think that it is. This show is brightly lit with no filmic tricks to try and make it seem like it is anything other than what it is. Friends was designed, it seems, to make it a show that would appeal to all possible demographics. As the success of this show shows, it certainly succeeded. If creative types were to start messing with the lighting, and trying to make sitcoms edgy (in form, not content), I think the medium overall would suffer. Friends - The Complete Tenth Season plays as easily as one could hope it would.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English Dolby Surround 5.0. “I’ll Be There For You...”, that song by the Rembrandts almost didn’t make it on the show, because the band was nervous that if it did that was all they would be associated with. It is probably the best thing that has ever happened them. This is a classic freewheeling sitcom in the best sense of the word. I am not sure on this but I think this show struggled a bit to find it’s initial footing. In this, the Tenth Season, they have everything down and each show plays like clockwork. Not in bad way, just so that you feel comfortable as a viewer and can easily get into it. The sound is fine and I didn’t have any problems making out what the actors were saying.

Package

With a burgundy colored outer cover all the “Friends” are on display looking their best. Behind them is a shot of New York City that gives this set a very “nightlife” vibe. The back features just one shot of all the friends in mid-conversation. Rather than describe the show, hey, it’s the tenth season do they really need to? There is mainly just a special features listing, as well as a listing of all the guest stars on this show. Below all this is a cast list and some technical specs. All four discs are housed in one of those holders that folds out of the main DVD case. Inside the burgundy colors continue, there are pictures as well as a listing and description of each and every episode that makes up this set. While not my favorite kind of packaging, everything seems to go together nicely and this set will easily fit in with the other 9 you may own.

Final Word

How in the world did Matt LeBlanc (Joey) get his own show? I know that he is supposed to be the beefcake with no brains, but everything about his character seemed forced. I just was not able to get into his role and I couldn’t help wondering how he got his own sitcom while I screened the final season of this show. It’s as if we’re supposed to like him or something, and I just found all of his humorous moments to be telegraphed and undistinguished. I think I would obviously have more reverence for this show if I had watched Friends a bit earlier in this series. This way everything that was happening would not have seemed so foreign to me. I will say that my steady diet of TV Land did prime me a little bit, especially as far as the Ross/Rachel tryst was concerned.

For the fans, you need Friends - The Complete Tenth Season. For the newly initiated, you could start here but I recommend starting a bit sooner in the series.