FRIENDS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Reviewed May 23rd, 2002 by Dan Jones
I must say; it is about time. Friends was one of those shows that obviously became studio gold, and therefore is one of those shows that studios want to push over and over again, getting maximum wallet penetration from their loyal viewers; its good business. Of course, what I am talking about is the “Best of Friends” collections that came out before this straight season release. I’ve never been a big fan of these “Best of” sets; it would be like a record company only releasing the singles from your favorite artist’s records, saying what you will like and what you don’t need. I am a fan of full albums.
Even if the road was rocky (and might have forced a few of you to drop some bucks on episodes you’re going to re-buy in complete seasons), it’s finally here, Friends, all the way through, on DVD; starting of course, with Season 1. Better late then never, right?
The complete, somewhat amusing, episode listings of Season 1 is: The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate (pilot), The One With The Sonogram At The End, The One With The Thumb, The One With George Stephanopoulos, The One With The East German Laundry Detergent, The One With The Butt, The One With The Blackout, The One Where Nana Dies Twice, The One Where Underdog Gets Away, The One With The Monkey, The One With Mrs. Bing, The One With The Dozen Lasagnas, The One With The Boobies, The One With The Candy Hearts, The One With The Stoned Guy, The One With Two Parts (part 1), The One With Two Parts (part 2), The One With All The Poker, The One Where The Monkey Gets Away, The One With The Evil Orthodontist, The One With The Fake Monica, The One With The Ick Factor, The One With The Birth, and The One Where Rachel Finds Out. Short episode naming scheme to be sure.
Nothing much really has to be said about Friends. Its one of the few shows that continues yearly to grow in popularity, with the main cast each making one-million-dollars per episode next season; clearly this show is popular when its dumping out millions of dollars each episode to keep the cast around for one more final season.
On to the DVD presentation, which spans over four discs.
Video wise, Friends has been giving very nice remasters in its full frame format. Overall, this is a very good transfer for a show that has been around for quite a while now. Detail is generally good throughout. Colors are strong with nice and deep darks and blacks. Quite impressive overall. Kudos to Warner for going the extra mile with remastering these.
Audio wise, Friends is presented in Dolby Digital 5.0. This is another strong remix of a show that clearly was not recorded in 5.0. While it is not the most enveloping or aggressive 5.0 mixes you have heard, it does do a fairly decent job. Clearly Friends is mostly dialogue driven, placing most of the action in your front three speakers, but little ambient sounds have been placed throughout in the rears, along with the score. Also included are English Closed Captions and subtitles, and more subtitles in French and Spanish.
Starting out the extras, each episode is supposedly in its “uncut” format, giving us a couple more minutes per that were not shown on broadcast television to fit the proper time slot.
Next up is a very nice audio commentary with producers Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright, and David Crane to go along with the pilot episode, “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate.” This is quite an intriguing extra, offering quite a bit of information into the series as a whole. Definitely worth a listen, and probably the best extra in the set. Unfortunately, this is only for the pilot; the rest of the episodes do not get the treatment.
Rounding out the extras we have a handful of short interactive features in “A Peek at Central Perk”, “How Well Do You Know Your Friends”, and “Friends of Friends.” Nothing too important here; but worth a look.
So, it’s finally here on DVD, and Warner has done quite a nice job with it. The Friends First Season has received nice audio and video remasters, complete cuts and a very nice audio commentary on the pilot. If you are a fan of Friends this is a must have. If you like a show, you have to watch it from where it started: Season 1. Recommended.
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