003779Reviews & Counting
Friends (S2)
DVD disk
10.10.2004 By: Scott Weinberg
Friends (S2) order

David Schwimmer
Matthew Perry
Matt LeBlanc
Courtney Cox
Jennifer Aniston
Lisa Kudrow


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It’s the second season of our favorite sitcom sextet, complete with guest stars, recurring story lines, wonderful chemistry, and lots of comedic sexual tension.
How does one adequately 'review' an entire season of FRIENDS, especially seven years after it first aired? Well, first off I should admit that I've always been a big fan of the show. For the first four seasons, I never missed a single episode (I've slacked a lot over the past few seasons, but that just saves me more stuff to enjoy on syndication and in the eventual DVD releases, eh?) Few sitcoms have ever skyrocketed into the pop culture stratosphere like this show did, and for one very good reason: it's really damn funny.

Sure, I could drone on and on about the superlative chemistry between the six leads, but if you're reading this review - you probably know all about how well these actors work together. Preaching to the choir is generally a waste of keystrokes, so I'll mention instead the deceptively clever writing that's been the trademark of Friends for eight seasons now. On the surface, this show seems about as 'deep' as your average Seinfeld episode, but I'd contend that it's extremely difficult to write about the trivial minutiae that these six 'average Joes' contend with every week: ex-lovers, irritating parents, unrequited crushes, loyalty among longtime friends, gaining and keeping a good job, etc. You know - somewhat 'normal' stuff.

So if you're ranking the quality aspects of FRIENDS, I'd place chemistry between the leads and the consistently entertaining teleplays at the top of the list, but the individual actors deserve the lion's share of accolades as well. Of the six, it would be difficult to name the one 'weak link' performer. My favorite's always been Matthew Perry as the insecure and deliriously sarcastic Chandler Bing - mainly because I've always considered the character a more clever version of ME! Jennifer Aniston shines in this season, proving that she's as deft a comedienne as she is painfully adorable. Some dismiss David Schwimmer's Ross as a stammering weenie, but I think the guy's never done better work. (I'd rather watch one random episode of Friends 4 times in a row than any ONE of Schwimmer's feature films.)

Matt LeBlanc is stunningly good in the series, and although his character would get more attention in later seasons, the actor infuses his potentially cliched 'sitcom dimbulb' role with a surprising amount of warmth and depth. Seriously! This is a funny guy! Though it sometimes seems that 'comedy' is a foreign language to her, Courtney Cox strikes a sweet balance between fastidious and silly (Though she was the biggest 'star' at the series' outset, Cox often seems the most lost around a punchline.) Lisa Kudrow (much like LeBlanc) took her potentially throwaway 'new-age ditz' character, and turned it into one of the most lovable sitcom oddballs ever. (How can you not love "Smelly Cat"?)

So we have six entertaining young actors who managed to strike a truly impressive onscreen chemistry, a series of witty and warm scripts, a gaggle of surprising guest stars, a few lingering plot threads that lent a mild soap-opera feel to the proceedings, and NOW we have the entire second season on a lovely 4-disc DVD set. Friends-o-philes can now begin to curtail their devoted syndication obsession, and enjoy this show in the best light possible: no commercials, no 'syndication edits', and all 23 episodes are offered in accurate broadcast order.

The only real question with a set like this is: Will the fans get their money's worth? Simple answer: Absolutely! Everyone's got their favorite episodes, so I'll spare you my rehashing of mine. Instead, here's the Season 2 playlist:

The One with Ross's New Girlfriend The One with the Breast Milk The One where Heckles Dies The One with Phoebe's Husband (Cool actor alert #1: Steve Zahn!!) The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant The One with the Baby on the Bus (CAA #2: Lea Thompson!!) The One where Ross Finds Out (CAA #3: Arye Gross!!) The One with the List (CAA #4: Michael McKean!!) The One with Phoebe's Dad The One with Russ The One with the Lesbian Wedding The One After the Super-Bowl (CAA #5: Dan Castellaneta!! Homer Simpson himself!!!) The One with the Prom Video (CAA #6: Elliot Gould!!) The One where Ross and Rachel…You Know (CAA #7: Tom Selleck!!) The One where Joey Moves Out The One where Eddie Moves In (CAA #8: Adam Goldberg!!) The One where Dr. Ramoray Dies The One where Eddie Won't Go The One where Old Yeller Dies The One with the Bullies (CAA #9: Nicky Katt!!) The One with the Two Parties The One with the Chicken Pox (CAA #10: Charlie Sheen!!) The One with Barry & Mindy's Wedding
Though there are a few impressive goodies, this set isn’t exactly overloaded with extras (A minor complaint, but I’m just doing my job here!). Of most interest to Friends freaks will be the two producers’ commentaries, which appear on episodes “The One with the List” and “The One with the Prom Video”. You’d expect 50 minutes of commentary to come off kind of skimpy, but producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane are overflowing with fascinating tidbits and cool anecdotes. I’m not going to spoil anything, but fans should make a beeline to these tracks as soon as they unwrap their Season 2 set.

Also quite cool is the Interactive Map of Monica and Rachel’s apartment. You can pass the time clicking on various doors, lamps, and furniture while learning all sports of arcane trivia about the beloved show. Nothing earth shattering, but a very nice addition to the set. You’ll also find a “Friends of Friends” Video Guestbook, which focuses on the impressive array of guest stars that showed up in Season 2. (Tom Selleck is always a welcome sight on the Friends set, and Van Damme actually made me laugh!) Though you may only look through it once, the “How Well Do You Know Your Friends?” Trivia Quiz should entertain the hardcore fans, as should the “What’s Up with Your Friends?” Video Character Bios. These last three features are comprised mainly of clips from various Season 2 episodes, but they’re still nice inclusions.
If you’re like me, you care not a whit about the various contract disputes and off-air controversies; FRIENDS is one of the most consistently entertaining sitcoms I’ve ever seen, and Season 2 has some truly classic episodes. Forget those awful ‘compilation’ DVDs. The full seasons are where the FRIENDS-faithful should spend their hard-earned money.
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