Friends - Series 1-10 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD)

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Friends - Series 1-10 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD)

Popular American sitcom FRIENDS first appeared on our screens back in 1994 to little fanfare. The show followed the lives of six twentysomething singl...

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Review of "Friends - Series 1-10 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD)"

published 12/05/2009 | bruffyboy
Member since : 01/11/2008
Reviews : 188
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Excellent
Pro so funny
Cons early episodes a bit dated
very helpful
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"With this many DVDs who needs real friends"

I just love the way this keeps going down in price; you can currently get all ten seasons of Friends for just £67 at Amazon: bargain!

ABOUT THE SHOW:

Friends is an American comedy series that revolves around a group of 6 friends in Manhatten. Each series consists of 24 or 25 episodes, with each episode last 22 minutes. The show ran 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004, achieving cult status in both the US and UK. Storylines often revolve around the romantic escapades of each character, most notably the on-off relationship between Ross and Rachel.

SEASON 1:
The first series of any show is rarely perfect. It may be enjoyed at the time, but in hindsight, is often just the beginning of something truly great, and that's the case with series one of Friends.

Without going over the plot too much, the basic premise is that a group of friends in New York spend a lot of time with each-other. They are made up of an actor (Joey), a palaeontologist (Ross), a chef (Monica) and an office worker (Chandler). They're all chilling out in the coffee house one day when Rachel turns up; she's a childhood friend of Monica's and, more importantly, the woman Ross was madly in love with as a child. She's just run out of her own wedding, and ends up becoming one of the group.

The main storyline of the series revolves around Ross' love for Rachel, which is portrayed with some depth by David Schwimmer. Ross, who has just split up from his lesbian wife who is carrying his baby, is unable to confess his love for Rachel, and the whole season hinges on it.

Season one has a very episodic nature, full of one off storylines, like dates characters go on. The writing and acting is a little naïve, and it's clear everyone is finding their feet in the show. It's funny, but not polished like future series, and some of the characters act in ways you later wouldn't expect. With the majority of the action revolving around Ross and Rachel, the other characters are largely undeveloped, especially Phoebe who hardly does anything. To a modern audience, the clothes and hair-cuts are ridiculously out-dated, but that's to be expected.

If you're new to the show, or re-visiting, it's worth trawling through season one, but don't expect the comedy gold of later seasons.

SEASON 2:
Season 2 is more serialised than the first, and begins to deepen some of the other relationships in the show. In particular, Chandler and Joey come to the forefront in this series. Their friendship is tested, and when Joey moves out, it shows a tender side to both of the boys that wasn't there in season one. It's as if the creators have realised they might be onto something, and need to pad the show out more than just the Ross loves Rachel story.

In the first of many guest appearances, Tom Sellick becomes a cast member, involved romantically with Monica, but the main storyline is still Ross and Rachel, and at the end of the series we finally see the two get together.

Joey's character goes up a gear in season 2, and begins coming out with some of the funniest lines. After 10 seasons, Joey is my favourite, and series 2 is where he starts coming into his own. He's landed a part in the soap 'Days of our Lives', and suddenly has the success he dreamt of in series 1. Of course, the American Dream is shown to be lacking, as he goes through his own series of relationship problems, most notably with Chandler.

The acting is sharper, and the dialogue is getting to the point where each character has a trademark style, but Phoebe is still underdeveloped, and the show still hasn't hit its prime.

SEASON 3:
There can be no argument about it: the main storyline of 'Friends' in season 1 and 2 was that Ross wanted Rachel, the Rachel wanted Ross, then they got together. You can almost see the writers scratching their heads thinking 'well that's kind of all there is to say about that'. But it wasn't - the show was becoming hugely popular, and had to go on, The answer: 'we were on a break'! Yes, Rachel and Ross have a break in their relationship, and Ross sleeps with another girl. This line 'we were on a break' literally becomes a catchphrase for the next 7 seasons, and you'll see why when you watch series 3.

Season 3, at last, begins to develop the character of Phoebe, who slowly becomes a much loved character. Using technology that still looks faultless today, Phoebe's twin is introduced, and we learn a whole heap of stuff about her background.

There's fresh blood to the show, with Monica's new boyfriend Pete the millionaire. Personally, this guy didn't fit the mould for me, and was a bit of a waste of time character. In fact, this season is the weakest of all in my opinion, with lots of digressions into storylines that make very little impact on the overall show.

The acting is now as sharp as it will ever be, and characters have their own trademark styles, but the storylines let down what could have been a much more interesting series.

SEASON 4:

Series 4 of Friends is the first one that was actually written around real life events. In real life, Lisa Kudrow (who plays Phoebe) became pregnant. To get round this, the creators wrote a whole new storyline for this series, where Phoebe becomes a surrogate parent for her brother Frank. It's an odd turn of events, but one that works well; Phoebe's character was developed in series 3 (see my other review) and so is ready for a strong storyline like this. The audience are behind her and back her as a person. It's actually the most emotional story to date, and is covered very respectfully by the show.

As for the others, things are getting a bit too repetitive, and so we see Rachel and Monica swap apartments with Chandler and Joey. It's testament to the show, that there are only a few sets in the whole ten years of production: the two apartments and Central Perk make up most of the show, and the apartment swap adds a bit of new life to an old set.

The most annoying thing about season 4 is Ross' new girlfriend Emily. Played by a fiercely aggravating Helen Baxendale, all this woman does is moan and moan. She's a poor representative of the Brits, and doesn't fit into the show's overall vibe (yeah I know that's the point). Viewers who wondered whether it was all over for Ross and Rachel will know otherwise after watching the infamous wedding scene, as the wheels are once again set in motion for the two to get together.

Acting, writing and performances are perfect, as the show has truly hit its stride. If it wasn't for that annoying Baxendale, it just could be perfect.

SEASON 5:
Series 5 is my personal favourite. The whole 25 episodes largely revolve around the secret relationship that Monica and Chandler are having. There are some truly gut bustingly funny moments, like when Phoebe trys to call Chandler's bluff by trying it on with him. This may well be my favourite episode ever. What the writers are so cleverly able to do, is pull on 4 years of us knowing the characters, so what we see happening is like watching a family member or (weirdly) a friend.

It's funny that the creators of the show, acknowledging that the Ross/ Rachel relationship needed a break, decide to pair up two of the other characters. Monica and Chandler (in series 1-4) have no interest in each other sexually, and have known each other since childhood. This calls for some 'flashbacks' to make the story more believable, but to me it feels like the writers were just grabbing at anything to keep the show going.

What is amazing is that it actually results in a great series. The show is written by a team of writers, and they know how to make funny. You laugh every minute in this series, and it isn't just about Monica and Chandler; it ends with a wedding that will surprise everyone!

SEASON 6:

After 5 seasons of Friends, it is my belief that people were starting to get a little bored with the predictability of the show, and the writers had to come up with something new. Thinking back to the success of bringing in Tom Sellick in season 2, they hit upon the idea of bringing in some top stars for a few episodes. Whereas Sellick was, perhaps, all they could manage to attract in the early days, by season 6 the show had reached cult status, and they were able to draw some top Hollywood names. Thus, Bruce Willis appears in an excellent role for three episodes, as the father of Ross' new girlfriend, and Elle Macpherson comes in as Joey's new flatmate. Of course, the main bulk of the show is still focussed on the 6 friends, but Willis and Macpherson are a nice addition to the show, and both give excellent performances.

The main storyline for this season is the engagement of Monica and Chandler. It's predictable, to say the least, that control freak Monica will produce a lot of comic moments in the planning of her wedding, but it's still great fun nonetheless. Viewers have now known these characters for 5 years, and it is with real joy that we watch them plan their wedding.

I often wonder whether there were plans to hook Monica and Chandler up right from the beginning, but I can't figure it out. Personally, I would have liked to see Joey settle down, but maybe his sexual prowess would not see him as a fitting partner to any of the girls? Either way, Monica and Chandler (for whatever reason) work as a couple, and there is a real chemistry on screen. There are many funny moments in this season, but also a serious message about relating to a partner who has different beliefs than you. All in all, it's a cracking series, and one that I could happily watch again and again.

SEASON 7:

Season 7 sees Friends heading towards its conclusion, and it was time to start putting things together for a realistic ending. This season came out at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and saw the show receive a resurgence of fans. The public wanted security, and Friends was (literally) an old friend, and could be trusted. This season won awards all the others had only been nominated for, and many believe it to be the strongest too.

There are two major storylines. First off, Monica and Chandler get married. It's interesting that this wedding was planned last season, but didn't actually take place until this one. The creators wanted to make sure we came back for series 7, and so made us wait for the wedding. Everyone loves a TV wedding, and this is no different, although Chandler's transvestite dad is not something you see every day.

The second storyline is that of Rachel's pregnancy. She's knocked up, but she won't say who the father is (although we have our own ideas). In the post millennium climate, the show begins to tackle more serious storylines, and parenthood is (although humorously) examined in series 7. Viewers are left asking 'is it OK to bring up a baby on your own, without telling the dad?' It's interesting to see how these storylines develop, and fans from the start may see this as one bridge too far in terms of bringing Ross and Rachel together forever.

The star of the season for me is Joey, who has a lot of the funniest lines, and delivers them with a confidence that shines through. Joey is an intriguing TV character - wildly irresponsible sexually, we warm to him because of his naivety. He's a real paradox, and one that never fails to be interesting.

SEASON 8:

It's season 8, and the show is heading back to its original and most powerful storyline - the Ross and Rachel relationship. Season 7 left us on the cliffhanger that Rachel is pregnant. The father? No-one knows. In season 8 they tease us for a bit before telling us who the dad is, and it's not that difficult to guess who it might be.

To complicate an otherwise over-simple storyline, they have Joey fall in love with Rachel. For me, this was a much nicer relationship than Ross and Rachel, and for a bit I genuinely hoped these two would get it on. It's a sign of Matt LeBlanc's acting prowess that he is very lovable in this storyline - something he hasn't been for most of the show up to this point.

Rachel has her baby in this season too: a girl! From the start of season one, when everyone was single and childless, it's been a long old journey where there are now two characters who are parents and two who are married. The only ones left without children or wedding partners are Joey and Phoebe. Despite a few powerful storylines in seasons 4 and 5, Phoebe has drifted into the background again by now, and I can't help but think the show creators couldn't really think what to do with her. She adds an undeniable comic element to the show, but she could've done so much more. Some of Lisa Kudrow's movies prove she has real talent, but the show never showed that. On the contrary, the rest of the cast all made a bunch of terrible movies, proving Phoebe should have had more of the limelight in Friends.

SEASON 9:

At last, Ross and Rachel are living together as parents to baby Emma. It's been 9 years since we first wanted to get these two together, and things are finally happening. Just how an on screen relationship still matters after 9 years is testament to the skills of the creators, and I was genuinely chuffed to see these two playing mum and dad, but it's not all fun and games.

Serious storylines are becoming more regular in the latter seasons, and this one is no different. Monica and Chandler decide to have a baby, but find both of them are unable to. After much soul searching, they decide adopt. I'm not sure I enjoyed this season's seriousness; at times it got a bit pretentious for me and forgot that it was just a 22 minute comedy (or was it?)

In response to criticism from the public, the show brought in its first recurring black character, a girlfriend for Joey. It's true that, in 9 years, there was never a recurring black character, but isn't it even worse to bring in the token black woman just to pacify the critics? The poor woman must have felt used!

This is another season that totally underplays Phoebe. Whilst the other characters are busy falling in love with each-other, or getting fertility treatment, Phoebe adopts a family of rats. The poor girl must have been pulling her hair out at tall this, but at least it's funny to watch.

Overall, the show is winding up for its big ending, and the storyline is screwed up completely with the shock ending of this season!

SEASON 10:

It's the end of an era, a ten year hit show is coming to an end. For the creators, it must have been a tough decision what to do. When 'The Sopranos' ended, the finale left everything up in the air, and offered no closure - not so for Friends: in a nutshell, every character is given closure to satisfy the millions of viewers who needed it.

Because the season is so storyline heavy, it's hard to review, but I will say the final bit of the final episode gave me goosebumps and (if I wasn't so damn tough) I could've cried.

The plot:

Joey and Rachel are an item, but Ross hates it. Monica and Chandler pick a surrogate mum for their adoption, and Rachel is offered a job in France. Oh, and Phoebe gets married! How all that plays out on the screen is one of the best 18 lots of 22 minutes I have spent in front of the TV! As well as being funny, it's an extremely emotional season, for all involved. It's the end of an era. For many of us, we grew up with Friends, and for the youth of today it's already nearly irrelevant. 51 million people watched the last episode in the USA alone. The impact the show had on popular culture became the thing of a million crappy Channel 4 documentaries, and many of us still go around saying "how you doing?" in our best Joey voice.

IN CONCLUSION:
Hundreds of hours of entertainment for a snippet of the original price, make this box-set a must for even the remotest of Friends fans.

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Comments on this review

  • shabbating published 24/08/2012
    Great review!
  • akaykumae535 published 12/01/2012
    Very Helpful
  • claribella published 13/09/2009
    Excellent review!
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Product Information : Friends - Series 1-10 - Complete (Box Set) (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Popular American sitcom FRIENDS first appeared on our screens back in 1994 to little fanfare. The show followed the lives of six twentysomething singles--Monica (Courtney Cox), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Ross (David Schwimmer), and Chandler (Matthew Perry)--who occupied a trendy New York loft apartment. These were essentially six beautiful people who had probably never known a hard day's work in their lives, and whose every utterance was a well-crafted witticism. But despite their idealised lifestyles and perfectly coiffed hairdos, there was something annoyingly endearing about them. Viewers could easily relate to their struggles with work, sex, and relationships because these were universal struggles - albeit heightened for comedic effect. From early on it was clear that FRIENDS had successfully tapped into the zeitgeist of its time, and now, 10 series down the line, the show's broad appeal continues to live on in popular culture. This box set contains every episode from series 1 through 10.

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