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Friends
The Complete Second Season

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 587 minutes

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer

 

Studio: Warner Bros.

Retail Price: $69.98

Features: Never Before Seen Footage, Episode Previews, Cast and Crew, Audio Commentaries with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane for "The One With The List" and "The One With The Prom Video", Friends Of Friends, How Well Do You Know Your Friends?, Open House at Monica & Rachel's Place, What's Up With Your Friends?

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.0, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Four Disc Set

Released: September 3rd, 2002

 

 

Way back in 1994, a little show on NBC debuted called "Friends." I must admit when I saw promos and advertisments for the show, I had no idea what to think. Given similar sitcoms with similar backdrops that failed miserably in the past (and now rip-offs of "Friends" itself that are just as bad), I didn't know what to think exactly. Either way, "Friends" was the type of show NBC needed for its Thursday night staple "Must See" lineup. The show was pretty much an instant smash and success, and instant household names were born in Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry. It lifted up NBC Thursdays even more, and was pretty much the type of show people wanted: a likeable cast, solid writing that was funny and things that people could relate to: bizzare situations that come out while interlocking key relationships. The last thing is probably what has made the show so strong and evolve, especially as things grew in later seasons. NBC was successful in many ways in the 1990s, and "Friends" was truly a big mark for them. It's amazing that 1994 was only eight years ago... it seems so much longer, and it seems that "Friends" has been on longer than that. "Friends" has truly made its way and mark on popular culture... the show is really big in a variety of different countries. It's been a phenom the whole way through, basically.

I must admit I never really became hooked into the show. I do enjoy the show and I am a casual watcher on Thursdays and through the magic of syndication, but now it was time for me to go back and see where it all began. I've seen some first season episodes, but now was the chance to get into the series the proper way (and now I can wait for each season). There have been many series that are so beloved by the public, yet when they first started out, no one really got into them, let alone they weren't great to begin with. Thankfully though, this is not the case with "Friends."

Personally, I am a giant fan of the second season. I know some fans have argued there have been better seasons, but I don't know, I hold season two pretty close in what I've seen. Maybe 1995-1996 were key times in my life which is why I hold the second season in high regard, but I think this is a great second season. The relationships and some key plot points begin to develop. I did enjoy the Ross, Julie and Rachel story arc a lot particuarly, not to mention the big Superbowl episode with all those guest stars. Still, there is some classic stuff here ("Smelly Cat," anyone?) and cool episodes ("The One With The Prom Video"). I really, really like season two.

You have the dead-on writing, great directing (the talented James Burrows, a television directing legend has directed a good deal of episodes), the cast really makes the show shine and always has. Essentially, this is great casting. Everyone here has a genuine chemistry that is by no means fake, and we can see that through their acting and sense of respect toward one another. Like I said, the group of actors are quite likable. And yes, there's been stuff outside the show how they're all great "friends" (HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA PUNNY) in real life, but as the episodes grow and the seasons have packed on, we really do see that Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, Courtney Cox Arquette and Matthew Perry are talented actors with great comedic timing, solid lines deliveries and have plenty of charm to spare. This really is a good group of actors (who as I write, are getting a million per episode for the series final season), who really do have good relationships off screen, and I'm sure their chemistry there has translated on screen, especially as each season has passed. Chemistry in a show like this are key, and it's all played down flawlessly.

All the second season episodes are right here: "The One With Ross's New Girlfriend," "The One With The Breast Milk," "The One Where Mr. Heckles Dies," "The One With The Five Steaks and an Eggplant," "The One With Phoebe's Husband," "The One With The Baby on the Bus," "The One Where Ross Finds Out," "The One With The List," "The One With Phoebe's Dad," "The One With The Prom Video," "The One With Russ," "The One With The Lesbian Wedding," "The One After the Super Bowl (parts 1 and 2)," "The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know," "The One Where Joey Moves out," "The One Where Eddie Moves In," "The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies," "The One Where Eddie Won't Go," "The One Where Old Yeller Dies," "The One With The Bullies," "The One With The Two Parties," "The One With Barry and Mindy's Wedding" and finally, "The One With The Chicken Pox."

 

 

Presented in their original 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratios (as you'd expect since this is a television sitcom), like the first season, the second season looks quite nice. It's a little grainy, and soft at times, but there's nothing terribly bad. Some prints of the episodes have your speck or little annoyance, but nothing too bad. Everything is pretty golden. There's not too much noise, detail is decent, fleshtones are pretty good and so is color saturation. Once again, "Friends" fans should enjoy this.

 

Remixed in English Dolby Digital 5.0, these mixes are very nice and compliment the show quite well. The laugh track feels natural and sounds particuarly good as well, it just fits in. The opening theme song and music cues are very well mixed throughout the channels and have a nice presence to them, while the dialogue is clear and crisp. Since this sitcom is all talk and not so much on physical comedy for noises, there's not much surround wise to expect here. All the tracks have a nice, loud ambiance to them. And while there is no .1 LFE, I didn't find it needed. Overall, strong stuff here given the material. Also included are English subtitles, French subtitles, Spanish subtitles and English closed captions.

 

Like the first season, the second boxed season of "Friends" isn't filled to the brim, but is fine for what it is. I'm still hoping for some cast commentaries, but there's some decent goodies here that "Friends" fans should enjoy.

We're treated to a pointless Cast and Crew listing on each disc, but the highlight here is that we get two Audio Commentaries with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (why not more?). I really enjoyed the track they did last season set for the pilot, and here they contribute thoughts for "The One With The List" and "The One With The Prom Video." As you should know, the latter two, created the show and have written some episodes. Like last time, they deliver nifty comments. They talk about the advantages of having Mary Kay Place direct an episode, the tone they were trying to establish for the job, praise for the cast, what they wanted to do on the episodes, what makes each episode stand out on their own and much, much more. Again, I wish wishing the trio would comment for every episode on the set, but I guess it's better than nothing. There are no major laughs or anything, but it's very precise and insightful on the series itself and on making sitcoms in general. So if you like the show or are interested in television... enjoy. Also, I think each track is edited together... but it's done so well, you probably won't notice.

The rest of the stuff is on the fourth disc, just like last time. Open House at Monica & Rachel's Place is like last time's "Peek at Cental Perk" where you can check out the two apartments of the characters and look around. There are some sound clips and stuff too... a little superfluous, but interesting I guess.

Friends Of Friends lists all the guest stars of the second season and shows their clips here. I still say this is a pointless feature, seeing how you can just see these clips in the episodes themselves. But if you want to jump directly to a guest star and see a single scene with them, knock yourself out. And yes, season two did have a lot of stars.

How Well Do You Know Your Friends? is a trivia quiz mixed with clips from the episodes when you answer (just like last time), and finally, there is What's Up With Your Friends? where you can learn more about each of the six characters which is assorted clips of each character. Feh.

Also, each episode has Never Before Seen Footage. And yes, you "The Best Of Friends" fans know that those collections also had never before seen footage. Everything is seamless though, and since I'm not a die hard watcher, I rreally couldn't really tell what was new and what was old. For all I know some episodes may have minutes of new footage and others mere seconds. And there is no indication of what is new, which would have been nice (keep this is mind for future sets, Warner!). My guess still? Probably the stuff that doesn't really work or advance the plot... like cheap laughs. Hmm. Oh yeah, and there are Episode Previews. I really wouldn't call this an extra... by clicking the coffee cup next to each episode, you'll be treated to a short clip from the episode you picked.

Oh, on another note, I wish the episodes had chapter stops. Yes, that's me nitpicking again. But as far as this second set goes... it's cohesive with last season... which could be a good or bad thing, I suppose.

 

Season two of "Friends" on DVD isn't much of an improvement over last time... the extras are pretty repetitive, but if you're a fan of the show, you should enjoy them. The transfers and sound mixes are above average too. Still, I hope in the future Warner will consider adding more supplements to each season, since a 70 dollar list price is pretty steep, and considering other shows on DVDs with the same amount of episodes are sold for not only cheaper, but you get more extras. But if you're a fan... you gotta have it. Simple as that.