Friends: The Complete Series (Bluray)

“Friends”, for those of you who have been living under a rock (or in Arkansas) for the past ten years, was a series about 6 single twenty-somethings living in New York. Well, at least that’s the way it started out. As the series progressed is into its tenth (and final season), there were a few marriages and divorces and they all became more like thirty-somethings.

I didn’t start out watching “Friends” when it debuted in 1994. Most of the ensemble cast was made up of unknowns, and the premise didn’t really sound like something I’d get into. I was always aware of its popularity and became familiar with the actors as they made their attempts to move onto the big screen. One late night during its 6th season, I caught a re-run as I was channel surfing and found something unique to most of the sitcoms of the 90’s. It was actually funny.

My wife and I started making “Friends” a nightly 10:00 pm ritual and even started watching the new episodes every Thursday night.

I liked the fact that the ensemble was made up of very diverse personalities, much like some of my groups of friends. Despite their differences, it felt very natural that they would be friends. This might have been in part because of the fact that most of the actors became friends off-screen and actually hung out together. This real life bond transferred onto the show and helped to elevate their rapport.

I mentioned the cast’s diversity and I’d like to bring it up again just to give me an opportunity for a quick rant. During the show’s run, a few very bored (and probably very unemployed people) actually got irate because the cast wasn’t diverse enough. For some reason, the fact that there were no African Americans, no Asian Americans, no Indian Americans, no Hispanic Americans, and if I remember right… no Martian Americans riled these people up enough to picket the series (hence taking care of their boredom and temporarily alleviating their non-employed status). Occasionally I’d catch the writers trying to ‘fix’ this ‘problem’ by bringing in potential new cast members, but they generally didn’t worked out. This had nothing to do with any racial barriers, only the fact that the chemistry between the existing characters could not be messed with. So, for those who complained….phhhbbbbt!

Getting back to the show, it also worked for a variety of other reasons beyond the cast’s connection. Over the years these characters were allowed to grow and change (and I don’t just mean hairstyles), much in the way real people do. And in the case of a couple of them, it was obvious certain things would never change and they would be doomed to make the same mistakes over and over. They fought each other and they loved each other but the bottom line was that they would always be friends.

I find it hard to single out any particular actor in the show as that would make for a very long article, but if I were to have to potential favorites they would be Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Chandler (Matthew Perry). Joey is the naïve and slightly dim-witted wannabe actor. The way LeBlanc played him was often sheer genius. His utter clueless ness would always leave me in stitches. And Matthew Perry’s Chandler is the king of witty repartee. His rapid fire one-liner delivery makes for some of the funniest lines ever uttered in any sitcom. The thing that I have yet to figure out about all of these actors though, is how they can be so perfect in “Friends”, yet most of them cannot find a good vehicle outside of the series. Almost every movie any of them make is awful. Even with the little modicum of success that Courtney Cox and Matthew Perry have had in films, only Jennifer Aniston was really able to elevate herself to movie star status.

Of the myriad of sit-coms, “Friends” was one of the ones I most looked forward to coming out on DVD. I won’t admit to how many tapes I filled up on those 10:00 pm viewings, but they went by the wayside as my DVD collection grew.

But now I’m ready to part with the DVD sets (maybe… more later), because Warner Brothers… in their infinite wisdom… has decided to release the entire series in one, big, Bluray set. And what a set it is! All 236 episodes gathered together in one spot. Special features abound throughout the set, with a 21st disc full of even more special features.

Now, I’m not going to say this set is perfect mind you…. There are a few issues, like some commentaries that were on the DVD sets that have disappeared here (though only a few). There is also the fact that the DVD sets offered some extended episodes…. these appear to be only Broadcast versions. These would not be huge deals to most of us, but if you are a fanatic, it is something you should be aware of before letting loose of your DVD sets.

No matter how you look at it, “Friends” was a worldwide smash hit. It made highly paid TV stars out of every cast member, and is always hysterically funny, even in its worst episodes. I’ve heard some people comment that they can’t identify with the show because all of the characters are successful rich yuppies. But you know what, I can laugh at “The Jefferson” and I’m not an African American dry cleaner. You don’t have to identify to get a good laugh.

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

Over 3 Hours of All-New Special Features:

True Friends: Documentaries: Retrospective documentaries with new interviews looking at the influential 10 years of the show and how it changed the cultural landscape of the 90’s and first half of the new millennium

Friends From the Start: Learn how the show was created and the challenges of finding the perfect cast and capturing “lightening in a bottle”

When Friends Become Family: Enter the Writers Room and hear about the inspiration and development of some of the most iconic episodes and favorite moments from various seasons

Legacy of Friends: Learn why the show had to come to an end, its influence on pop culture, and the legacy that it left behind

The Original Producer’s Cut for 'The One Where Rachel Tells Ross': ‘The One Where Rachel Tells Ross’ is re-assembled back to its original form. An introduction by Kevin Bright will set up the episode and explain why it was ultimately edited before air.

The Original Script for ‘The One Where Rachel Tells Ross’

Friends On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (2005)

Friends Visit The Ellen DeGeneres Show (2004)

The Ones With More Friends: The original extended broadcast episodes

The One with the Never-Before-Seen Gags: Originally for the cast and crew, this never-before-seen gag reel has all the laughs that were too funny to include on the DVD

The Rembrandts – "I'll Be There For You": Official music video featuring the cast of Friends


Over 17 Hours of Special Features from the Original Friends DVD Releases:

Friends Around the World: Explores the Friends phenomenon around the globe

On Location in London: Cross the Atlantic for a whirlwind English visit with Friends

The One That Goes Behind the Scenes: The full hour-long Discovery Channel Documentary

Behind the Style: The Look of Friends: Costume Designer Debra McGuire, Hair Stylist Jonathan Hanousek, and Makeup Artist Robin Siegel offer an inside look at Friends fashion, hair and makeup over the years

The Flaming Lips “Phoebe Battles the Pink Robots” music video featuring Lisa Kudrow and directed by Kevin S. Bright

Friends Final Thoughts: The cast and producers reflect during their final days at work and after series production ends

Never-before-seen uncut version of “Smelly Cat”

Matt LeBlanc “Joey Joey” music video

Commentaries From 31 Episodes

Friends of Friends video guestbook

Gag reels from multiple seasons

Specifications: Full Screen,
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 11/13/2012

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