The SmarK DVD Rant for Friends: Season 6
– By popular demand, I continue the Friends rants with the season that began the creative downfall for the show. After they peaked with the Monica & Chandler romance in season 5, really there was nowhere to go but down, and the show never really managed to equal the heights of “The One Where Everyone Finds Out”, although they came close with one episode in this season.
Changes abound in the sixth season as the writers play fast and loose with the dynamics of the characters, move living arrangements around, and give a major career change to one of the characters. This season also features something never really done on a regular basis for the show before Ã¢â‚¬” clear story arcs. Perhaps buoyed by the success of the Monica/Chandler relationship, you can actually split the sixth season up into several sections, starting with a six-episode storyline about Ross marrying Rachel, and progressing with several mini-seasons from there.
When we last left the show, the gang was in Vegas and Monica & Chandler were headed to a shotgun wedding chapel for a quickie marriage, only to find a drunken Ross & Rachel had beaten them to it. And that’s where we pick things up”¦
(Note: The episode listing on the cardboard sleeve of the case is incorrect Ã¢â‚¬” this is the correct listing of which episodes are on each disc)
– The One After Vegas. Three major storylines in this one, two of which directly stem from the season finale. First, Ross & Rachel wake up in bed together, unaware that they’re Doctor and Missus Geller. The others are only all too happy to tell them, however. The REAL complication is that Ross doesn’t want to be “the guy with three divorces”, but we all know how THAT one turned out. For the moment, however, he simply tells Rachel he’ll get it annulled, and things go on for another five episodes from there. Second, Monica & Chandler realize that they don’t really want to get married, but fate seems to be throwing the bouquet of destiny at them and they can’t decide how to dodge it. Chandler for once is the sensible one and comes up with the idea of living together, which Monica is more than happy to accept. And finally, Joey & Phoebe travel back to New York in her cab, but Joey’s offer of a good time is undercut by his constant napping (despite his allegedly beautiful singing voice). Totally solid episode that I can watch over and over and still laugh at the “Ross’ divorce lawyer” jokes. Plus Chandler and Monica’s exchange at the end is a great Friends moment (“There hasn’t been a sign for that.” “Well, me ASKING is a kind of a sign”¦”) that ended up taking their relationship to the next level. Plus it has a HILARIOUS gag in the opening credits, as newly-married Courtney Cox Arquette was joined in this episode by Jennifer Aniston Arquette, Lisa Kudrow Arquette, David Schwimmer Arquette, Matt LeBlanc Arquette and Matthew Perry Arquette. And you thought the Baldwins had a big family”¦
– The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel. Things pick up from the end of the season premiere, as Ross tells Phoebe that he didn’t actually get an annulment, but she’s so flattered at being the one to share his secret that she decides not to tell Rachel. Now there’s some quality rationalization for you. Meanwhile, Chandler has to break the news of his moving to an emotional Joey (“No more J-Man and Channy!”), while Monica gets to handle Rachel”¦although she takes it a lot better than Joey, mainly because she doesn’t believe it’s actually going to happen. Meanwhile, a series of conversations with Phoebe and his divorce lawyer has Ross convinced that he’s still in love with Rachel, which is handy because he’s still married to her, since you can’t annul a marriage with only one person there. Given a chance to confess to her on all counts, however, Ross wusses out and comforts her instead, which leads Phoebe to ask if he smelled her hair while hugging her. So very, very, true. Another winner.
– The One With Ross’ Denial. This one has some of the funniest “Crazy Ross” moments ever, as Monica and Chandler begin planning what to do with Rachel’s old room and get into a big fight about it Ã¢â‚¬” he wants a game room, she wants an intricately designed guest room and antique display. (“But Asteroids is the oldest game!”) Rachel, meanwhile, needs somewhere to live, so Ross offers his apartment, while Joey goes in search of a “non-smoking, non-ugly” roommate to replace Chandler. This begins a funny running gag with Ross going back and forth on whether to have Rachel live with him, as he first brings the feuding Mon & Chan back together, which produces this classic exchange:
Ross: “What’s more important, the love, or the silliness?”
Chandler: “Well, we do enjoy the silliness, but we also enjoy the love.”
Monica: “It’s the best medicine.”
Chandler: “That’s laughter.”
Monica: “Why do you do it?”
Ross’ return to the apartment to try to change their mind about moving in together produces an even funnier moment, as Ross freaks out as only he can, but to less impressive results this time. And in the end, Rachel moves in with Ross, which sets up the next episode”¦
– The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance. This is a total Joey episode, as his medical benefits lapse and the law of comedy says that he must immediately suffer a painful (and disgusting) hernia while lifting weights. His search for an acting gig to reactivate his insurance produces a moment so funny that you’ll give yourself a hernia from laughing, as he has to read the line “Hey, Billy, I’ve got a surprise for you” while trying to counter the blinding pain of a hernia by putting his hand down his pants. Kills me every time. And speaking of dying, Rachel finds out that she’s still married to Ross, and moves out again after another huge fight with him about it. Ross, meanwhile, begins that career change I mentioned earlier, as he takes a job lecturing at the university and he’s so nervous for his first class that he lapses into a (very bad) British accent. But it’s no problem, he can just phase it out”¦right?
– The One With Joey’s Porsche. Another Joey episode (notice who’s starting to carry the show more?) as he finds a set of car keys in the coffee shop and becomes obsessed with guarding a Porsche parked outside, to the point where he starts dressing like something out of the Porsche gift shop, since only an idiot would dress like that if he didn’t actually own one. Using twisted Joey logic, it kind of makes sense, honest. Chandler has a commitment-phobic moment, as Phoebe gets the happy couple to help babysit the triplets (last seen and mentioned in The One Hundredth in season 5)”¦until Chandler raises the intellectual bar by swallowing a toy and thus demonstrating that those warnings are there for a REASON. And finally, Ross & Rachel try getting the marriage annulled, but Rachel’s slight exaggerations about Ross’ sexual preference and, um, intravenous drug use leave the judge unimpressed and leave them with no choice but to get a divorce. Funny, but not hilarious, except for the judge’s ultra-dry reactions to the feuding Gellers’ snipes at each other.
– The One On the Last Night. This episode has the two cornerstones for any great Friends episode: Monica & Rachel fighting, and Chandler exploiting Joey’s lack of intelligence. The first half of the equation sees Rachel preparing to move out and live with Phoebe, but it’s such a sad occasion that Phoebe suggests that they think up something bad about the other person so it won’t hurt so much. This proves to backfire in a BIG way, as Pandora’s Box is opened (“I LOVE Ross! I HATE Ross! I LOVE Ross! I HATE Ross!”) and soon they’re chasing each other around the kitchen table and on the verge of a catfight. Oh yeah. Meanwhile, Chandler thinks that Joey can’t take care of himself financially, but Joey doesn’t want charity (Personal note for anyone with Paypal: I have NO SUCH feelings, personally) so Chandler invents a card game called “Cups” and proceeds to “lose” $1500 as a result of some killer beginne’s luck on Joey’s part. Apparently it’s very important in Cups. Of course, Joey manages to lose it all back to Ross, because it’s Joey. Great stuff, and this is the official end of the Ross/Rachel story arc, as well as the last episode where Rachel lives with Monica. You could almost say it’s the end of an era.
– The One Where Phoebe Runs. And this is the beginning of an era, albeit not a very funny one, as new roomies Phoebe & Rachel go running in the park, but Phoebe does it like a freak (what a shock, I know) and Rachel is mortified. Meanwhile, Chandler makes the dumb decision to clean the apartment while Monica is at work, and forgets where everything goes. And finally, another major storyline arc begins, as Joey meets new roommate Janine, played by Elle MacPherson, but discovers that she’s remarkably unattracted to him, leaving him with pent-up flirting energy. I believe this is the only episode to feature TWO instances of “How YOU doin’?”, but I could be wrong. This one, however, is beaten to death by syndication and I don’t like it no more. It does, however, have one great moment, and you’ll know it when you hear it. (Hint: “Dude, what’d you have?”)
– The One With Ross’ Teeth. The title is about Ross, but this is a Joey ep all the way. After airing his concerns about the apartment being too “girlie”, with flowers and pictures of famous babies everywhere, Janine teaches Joey to get in touch with his feminine side, which gives Chandler no end of material. Ross, meanwhile, uses a bit too much whitening gel on his teeth before a big date, and unfortunately she has a blacklight. And in another lame-o storyline, Phoebe makes out with the copy guy in Rachel’s office, but think it’s Ralph Lauren, and hilarity results. Chandle’s despair over men putting on makeup and making potpourri is funny, the rest is not.
– The One Where Ross Got High. The big winner of the season as it’s the traditional Friends Thanksgiving ep, and one of the best. This one locks them all in a room again for 30 minutes, and produces four stories: Ross & Joey want to go with Janine’s hot dancer friends to do hot dancer stuff, Jack & Judy Geller hate Chandler because Ross blamed his pot smoking in college on him, Rachel tries to cook a traditional English trifle but mixes it up with a Shepard’s pie due to sticky cookbook pages, and Phoebe may be in love with Jack Geller, although just in her dreams. The show builds at a manic pace for 20 minutes, with Chandler trying to suck up to his future parents-in-law (who still don’t know he’s dating Monica), while Ross & Joey convince everyone to suck it up and eat the banana-beef dessert so they can leave on time, and by the end of the episode all the stories collide in one frantic 30-second burst of yelling that leaves Judy to sort out all the problems by herself. The sequence of people attempting to eat the trifle and making excuses to ditch it was so funny, according to the commentary, that they actually had to delay filming because of all the actors constantly cracking up. If I were to vote for NBC’s top 5 Friends episodes thing, this would probably find its way in there. Once you hear Ross declare that “It tastes like feet!” and then Joey counter “Custard, good. Jam, good. Beef”¦GOOD!” you too will be won over forever. Million billion stars.
– The One With The Routine. The dark side of geekdom is explored (okay, not really) as Janine gets an invitation to dance on Dick Clark’s New Yea’s Rockin’ Eve and lifelong dorks Monica & Ross are dying to come along. Meanwhile, Joey just looks at it as a way to score with Janine. However, Ross & Monica are astounded that their dancing skillz don’t earn them time on camera, as the snippy director keeps favoring the talented people. Bastard. So they have no choice but to bust out”¦THE ROUTINE. Joey, meanwhile, uses his charms to wear down Janine’s resistance to his lovable nature, and finally gets his girl. And back at the apartment, Rachel & Phoebe draft weak-willed Chandler into helping to search for the Christmas presents hidden by Monica, resulting in nothing but disappointment”¦especially when they find the presents hidden by Chandler. Oh, and that stuff he was “holding for Joey” in the back of his closet. This one also contains a rather lengthy bonus scene just for DVD, as Rachel tries Central Perk as a potential location for the presents, and asks Guenther if there’s “any presents hidden down there, if you know what I mean”, which causes him to faint. The stuff with Ross & Monica is so stupid that it’s funny, and the rest is solid stuff, especially the sweet relationship between Janine & Joey before they turn her into a total bitch in the next episode. Who knew Australians had such potential for evil?
– The One With the Apothecary Table. This is another one driven into the ground by syndication. First of all, as a Canadian, I feel like I’m missing some huge chunk of the joke because I’d never even heard of Pottery Barn before this episode centered the whole storyline around it and Phoebe’s hatred of it. Anyway, Rachel and Ross both get an apothecary table from them, but since Phoebe hates them so much, Rachel assuages her by saying that it came from a colonial flea market, and it’s from “days of yore”. With Phoebe buying that line of crap, Rachel then sets about buying more Pottery Barn stuff and lying about the origins of them. Meanwhile, Chan & Mon double-date with the new couple across the hall, but Janine thinks that Chandler is “blah” and Monica is “very loud for such a little person” (and she has a point, but still”¦), which sets off a feud that inevitably ends with Joey picking his friends over his new girlfriend. Monica’s characteristic overreaction to the whole thing (“I’d better not see you in the hall!”) is funny stuff, the rest I can take or leave.
– The One With the Joke. Humor brings out the worst in the guys, as Ross sends in a joke about a monkey doctor to Playboy and makes $100 for it, but Chandler claims the joke was stolen from him. They spend the whole episode fighting about it in increasingly petty and immature manner (which is when the show is at its funniest) until Monica finally settles things by declaring that the joke was stupid to begin with. Chandle’s silent attempts to sway her are the kind of subtle moments that I love about the show. And speaking of Monica, while the girls are looking at said Playboy together, they muse about which girl they’d date if they were dating girls, and Phoebe picks Rachel over Monica, which sets off another show-long feud, this one between the girls. I don’t really think Rachel is a pushover, as claimed by Phoebe, but then her character has wavered a bit over the years in terms of portrayal, so it’s at least within the realm of possibility. Finally, Joey begins an unfunny and unneeded arc as a waiter at the coffee shop, which felt forced and was dropped without explanation after a few episodes (and in fact they even made a joke about the abrupt nature of the way they ended it later on). Not a lot of super-funny moments, but a strong show overall.
– The One With Rachel’s Sister. One of Rachel’s unseen spoiled sisters finally makes an appearance, as Reese Witherspoon plays Jill, who gets cut off by daddy and needs to stay with Rachel. This sets up one of my all-time favorite one-off gags, as all six friends are in the apartment playing Monopoly and Jill knocks on the door, which causes everyone to stop and take count in confused manner, completely shocked that someone outside of their tight-knit group would actually dare knock on the door. It’s all done without dialogue, but the audience immediately gets the joke and it’s the whole relationship between the six of them summed up in a nutshell. Anyway, although Rachel immediately shoos away Joey before he can move in, Jill surprises her by going after Ross instead (“Isn’t that like incest?”), earning disapproval from Rachel while at the same time she pushes them together inadvertently. In the other big plot, Monica is sick, but since it’s Monica she won’t admit it and tries to seduce Chandler while struggling with her pronunciation (“If you put a “d” at the end of “fine”, you’re not fine.”). In the end, Vick’s Vapo Rub shows that it has other uses. Ewwww. Finally, an unfunny story with Joey giving out free food to hot chicks in the coffee shop. Sick Monica is REALLY unappealing, much like Reese Witherspoon as Rachel’s sister. Christina Applegate would take up the mantle of her other sister and hit one out of the park, however, in later seasons. This one ends with a cliffhanger, as Jill appears to be getting it on with Ross behind the curtains.
– The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry. This is considered part two of the epic Rachel’s Sister two-parter, although they’re two separate episodes in every other way. Anyway, it turns out that Ross was just showing her geological slides and nothing happened. However, Rachel turns the disapproval dial up to 12, so Jill is determined to MAKE something happen out of spite. Ross is a better person than that, however, and turns her down. Well, good people can be dumb, too. The title story involves Chandle’s inability to cry for sad movies, or anything else, and it’s not really funny stuff. The REALLY funny shit in this one is the subplot with Ursula using Phoebe’s name to make porn movies, which allows the writers to get in some porn spoof titles and Lisa Kudrow to flex her bitchy acting chops by playing her twin sister. Highlight here is poor Joey being torn up about seeing Phoebe in a porn movie and being unable to watch, until he realizes that it’s Ursula, which of course changes everything. Nice moment with Ross & Rachel at the end, too, as they keep jerking the fanbase around.
– The One That Could Have Been. A famous (or infamous, depending on which side of the fickle fanbase you’re on) hour-long episode that acts as a fantasy world for the writers to play in. In this case, the gang muses about what life would be like if one thing in the past had changed Ã¢â‚¬” if Joey hadn’t been fired from Days, if Monica was still fat, if Chandler had quit his job in season one, if Rachel had married Barry, if Ross was still married to Carol, and if Phoebe had taken a job as a stockbroker. Okay, the last one is kind of a stretch, but it’s Phoebe, what else are you gonna do? You’d think “If her mother hadn’t died and she had a normal life” maybe over that, but they’re the writers and I’m just the reviewer. Anyway, this is an extended dream sequence, more or less, and it’s about destiny and how they’d all end up together again anyway. This is basically one big easter egg for the fans, with all these cool self-referential moments and out-of-character actions from people we know so well as other people. The story, such as it is, is like an alternate universe version of the pilot, with Ross & Rachel’s marriages falling apart (for totally different reasons of course), as they bump into each other at the coffee shop and get reacquainted. Soon, Rachel is debating cheating with hunky soap opera star Joey Tribbiani, while Ross confers with Phoebe about ways to spice up his sex life, which results in Carol being overly enthused about the idea of a threesome. It beats ka-rah-tay, I guess. His conversation about the disappointing threesome, with Joey, is very funny and true stuff (“Did you ever go to a party and feel like no one would miss you if you weren’t there?”). The other major storyline has Chandler, broke and in need of money while trying to sell his writing to Archie Comics, working as Joey’s bitch (excuse me, assistant) and finding himself with Monica no matter what universe they’re in. As stated by the commentary, if NBC decided to drop the regular show and use this reality instead, the characters here were so well-crafted that they could have gone on following this thread and probably been just as successful and found just as many stories to tell about them. Great stuff all around. Plus the opening credits are even re-shot to reflect the “new” characters, in a nice touch.
– The One With Unagi. A very underappreciated episode that I quote all the time (which is probably why my friends think I’m a Friends geek) but it’s all damned funny. The central plot of the episode revolves around Phoebe & Rachel taking a self-defense course and Ross mocking them by noting that one course isn’t enough to give you Unagi Ã¢â‚¬” a state of total awareness held sacred by the Japanese, or a kind of sushi, depending on who you ask. Either way, there may be, oh I don’t know”¦.DANGER! Or not. Ross sets about finding a way to attack them and show them the way of Unagi, but it doesn’t work out too well for him. In fact, he tries asking the self-defense instructor for a way to effectively counter their self-defending, but there’s really no good way to ask that kind of question without sounding like a psycho. Meanwhile, it’s Valentine’s Day (or at least close enough to it) and Monica & Chandler have promised to make gifts for each other, but both of them forget, so Chandler recycles a mix tape from Janice (with DISASTROUS results) and Monica is so moved by the gesture that she’s nearly ready to forgive him when she hears Janice singing on the tape. Finally, money-hungry Joey tries for another medical experiment to earn money (a callback to the second season), but the only thing paying is a twin study, so he does the only sensible thing”¦hires an actor to play his identical twin. And despite his best efforts, it’s another Minute Maid fiasco. This would be notable for being the only season where Janice does not make an on-screen appearance at least once Ã¢â‚¬” her voice cameo on the tape is her only “appearance” in the sixth season, sadly.
– The One Where Ross Dates a Student. This is a multi-episode story arc for Alexandra Holden as Elizabeth, who turns a crush into a relationship with Professor Geller, although it may or may not be against the rules for him to date a student. I (and I believe many others) did not buy this relationship one bit, although it would have redeeming qualities in the form of Bruce Willis later on. Anyway, while they sneak around, Phoebe and Rachel find their apartment has caught fire, destroying both their bedrooms. With nowhere to live, one of them gets to stay in Monica’s guest room, and the other gets to stay in Joey’s apartment, and that would actually lay the groundwork for the Joey-Rachel relationship in later years. Monica’s mothering of Phoebe is a little over-the-top, even for her, though. Finally, Chandler hooks up with an old girlfriend who is directing the new Pacino movie, and Joey tries to weasel an audition off her. It’s funny because while it was weird when Rachel moved in with Joey here originally, it just feels like normal now. I don’t like the central plot with Ross & Elizabeth, and it leaves the episode kind of blah overall as a result.
– The One With Joey’s Fridge. More lameness with Ross robbing the cradle, as Elizabeth wants to go to Spring Break alone, but that has him freaked out. Meanwhile, Joey’s fridge breaks, so he tries to con the others into putting up $400 to buy a new one, but no one bites. And another lame storyline sees Rachel in need of a date to a ball, so Mon & Chan compete against Phoebe to find her a guy, and it just brings out the worst in everyone. Not funny, mildly funny, and not funny, respectively.
– The One with Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E. Now, I believe I’ve made my total hatred and complete disdain for clip shows known in the past, but I have a dirty little secret to share: I kind of like this one. It not only has a funny and well-written story surrounding the clips, but they’re some really good clips, too. Joey gets an audition for a TV show, as detective Mac “Mac” Machiavelli, who teams with the Computer Humanoid Electronically Enhanced Secret Enforcer (C.H.E.E.S.E.) and together they fight crime and stuff. However, Chandler answers the phone and forgets to leave a message, and clips ensue. Then he answers the phone again and remembers the message this time, and more clips ensue. Okay, that’s really the whole show, but there’s some great little moments in here, like the hug montage or the triple-fakeout with Joey and Chandler that actually make this one worth watching for once. Just don’t tell anyone, okay? I don’t want to be known as a clip show advocate. Small note: This episode sees Matthew Perry make a fairly drastic change in appearance, as he gains a noticeable amount of weight and grows his hair out in between the fridge episode and this one.
– The One Where Ross Meets Elizabet’s Dad. Another big story arc as the season winds down, as Bruce Willis redeems the crappy Ross storyline by playing Elizabet’s dad, Paul, who is like something out of the PTA meeting from hell. He immediately hates Ross and zings him with every possible putdown, but with most of them you can easily understand where he’s coming from. Hell, a 32 year old guy dating a 20-year old college student IS weird and creepy. Ross asks the guys to talk him up, but Rachel decides to sleep with Paul instead, which makes for an awkward moment between the three of them, to say the least. Even funnier is the dinner conversation as they double-date, and the all-star baseball team of comedy gold that is Ross and his three marriages hits for another standup triple. Meanwhile, Phoebe decides to write a book, but uses Monica & Chandler for inspiration a BIT too closely. Not funny. Finally, Joey pisses off the guy who operates the CHEESE robot and nearly gets himself fired. Not really funny either. In fact, they really dropped the ball with the whole Mac & CHEESE story arc in general because a cheesy (pardon the pun) spoof of those sorts of shows within the sitcom (ala the soap opera parody stuff) would have given them MONTHS of material. Sidenote: This episode was written by David Lagana, who would go on to become a Paul Heyman protÃƒÂ©gÃƒÂ© and Smackdown writer.
– The One Where Paul is the Man. Now the gruff exterior of Paul Stevens begins to crumble, as Ross & Elizabeth sneak off to her dad’s cabin to have sex and stuff, but Paul & Rachel get the same idea, and wacky sitcom farce results. That’s not funny in itself, but when Paul goes off to his bedroom and gives himself a little self-help seminar (to the tune of “Love Machine”), THAT’S funny, and that’s where Bruce earns his money. Meanwhile, the big finale for the season and the biggest character change is set up, as the girls tour a museum that’s used for weddings and Monica puts her name down as a joke”¦but they call the apartment and Chandler is home when they offer a wedding date for her. He completely freaks out”¦or does he? Okay, he doesn’t, which you probably know by now because they’ve been married for three years in the show.
– The One With The Ring. Again, beaten into the ground by syndication. Chandler and Phoebe go ring shopping while having to keep everyone else in the dark, which leads Ross & Joey to conclude that Chandler is mad at them. Chandler finds the perfect ring (and a steal at $8000, too Ã¢â‚¬” do these guys have Al Capone’s accountant working for them or something?) but someone else gets it before he can find his credit card, so they have to hatch a Wacky Scheme to get it back. Also, Rachel wants Paul to open up a bit more, but it leads to a 20-hour crying session over a plastic chicken toy. I think I may have liked this one on first airing, but it’s dead to me now. DEAD I SAY!
– The One With the Proposal. And the season wraps up with the only finale NOT to feature a cliffhanger (although there was originally two of them Ã¢â‚¬” more on that in a bit) as Chandler is ready to propose, but Richard and his moustache come back into their lives again and now he’s ready to marry Monica, too. However, Chandler has a Wacky Scheme to throw Monica off the scent of marriage, which works so well that she’s apparently being driven into the arms of Richard again. Richard, however, is fatally flawed in that he’s a nice guy, and he steps aside to set up one of the best and most emotional moments in the show’s history, as Monica and Chandler propose to each other for the happiest of happy endings. There’s other stuff going on Ã¢â‚¬” Ross THANKFULLY dumps Elizabeth (original cliffhanger: She’s pregnant; we later find out that it’s not his) and Joey accidentally buys a $20,000 boat at a charity auction (which was supposed to figure into COMEDY GOLD in season 7, but only got mentioned once before disappearing into the comedy ether again from whence it came) but let’s face it, this one is all about the proposal. It was kind of payback for us longtime fans to see them pull the trigger on something like that after years of jerking around the Ross & Rachel relationship, and it’s good to see they learned their lesson the first time. Although the commentary reveals that the original plan was for Richard & Chandler to propose at the same time and the cliffhanger was that Monica has to choose one, but we knew who she wanted all along, and they thankfully dumped it.
Unfortunately, season 7 came up against a little show called Survivor and things got bad from there, but we’ll get to that in April, won’t we?
Definitely a TV show transferred from videotape, and it shows. Colors and contrast are about the same level as, say, a really good digital cable channel, although I noticed a lot of compression problems in darker scenes and some noise on the transfer. It’s as good or better than broadcast, so that’s the important thing.
Redone in Dolby 5.0 surround, it’s never really used. Pretty much all from the center with the audience occasionally mixed into the rears, it’s generally a waste of disc space and would have been just as well served in 2.0 stereo. I should note that the episodes from this season which were featured in the Best of Friends volumes 3 & 4 DVDs, which were released what seems like ages ago, had major problems with the sound mix, and they’ve been fully corrected for this release. A good mix, but not a necessary one.
As usual, there’s commentaries on the three best episodes of the season (TOW Ross Gets High, TO That Could Have Been, and TOW The Proposal) featuring Bright/Crane/Kauffman, and there’s tons of good stuff in them. There’s FINALLY a gag reel here, too, with about 10 minutes of bloopers and stuff from this season and it’s HILARIOUS. They advertise one for the next season, so I hope it’s a new tradition for the sets. You also get a “Casino Challenge” that’s a rather inventive Friends trivia game, which unlocks some fans talking about the show and singing “Smelly Cat”, and the usual cast & crew junk, plus Gunther previewing season 7. In other words, mostly the same as the other seasons.
The Film: ***1/2
The Video: **1/2
The Audio: ***
The Extras: **1/2