Friends-The Complete First Season: Collector's Edition (1994) (NTSC)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman, David Crane (Exec. Prod.)
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Friends of Friends - Guestbook
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-A Peek At Central Perk
Quiz-How Well Do You Know Your Friends?
Trailer-Friends Season 2 Collection
|Year Of Production||1994|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4||Directed By||Various|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, Final gag always runs through the credits.|
I have never been much for American sitcoms. Aside from the all-time classic The Simpsons, the brilliantly written Spin City and the devilishly politically incorrect and sexually explicit Sex & The City, I cannot think of many American sitcoms of recent years which have really brought it home for me. Three might sound like a lot, but if you look at the glut of laughter-track laden American TV shows that make it to our shores which just plain suck you’ll soon notice that three isn’t a great batting average.
The Friends series is very much one of those in between shows like Seinfeld – it is sometimes very good, but it is sometimes utterly woeful. Set in trendy New York, the show centres on a group of friends (hence the title) living in the same neighbourhood and frequenting Central Perk, the coffee shop which gives the show its highly caffeinated atmosphere. There is the independent Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and her younger brother Ross (David Schwimmer), the spoilt-girl gone independent woman Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), the kooky Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), the dumb but good-looking Joey (Matt LeBlanc), and the awkward and insecure yet hilarious Chandler (Matthew Perry).
Season One breaks down like this:
1. The One Where Monica Gets A Roommate (29:37) -- Rachel leaves her fiancée at the alter and moves in with Monica. Ross finalises his divorce with Caroline who is in fact a lesbian. The basis for the show is sown.
2. The One With The Sonagram At The End (24:19) -- Ross finds out that his ex-wife, the lesbian, is pregnant with his child.
3. The One With The Thumb (23:49) -- Phoebe gets a thousand dollars from the bank, gives it away and finds a thumb in a can of soda.
4. The One With George Stephanopolous (25:20) -- The girls have a night in and wind up spilling secrets and spying on their neighbours.
5. The One With The East German Laundry Detergent (23:37) -- Ross has a date with Rachel at the laundromat.
6. The One With The Butt (24:36) -- Joey gets a job as Al Pacino’s butt double.
7. The One With The Blackout (24:50) -- The power in New York state goes out, and just as Ross thinks he’s making progress with Rachel she discovers the Italian Romeo Paulo.
8. The One Where Nana Dies Twice (23:58) -- Monica and Ross’ grandmother dies ... twice, forcing Monica to confront some issues with her mother.
9. The One Where The Underdog Gets Away (23:34) -- Everybody is having a lousy Thanksgiving except for Chandler who hates Thanksgiving and has no expectations.
10. The One With The Monkey (24:58) -- Ross accepts a monkey that a friend liberates from experimental testing.
11. The One With Mrs. Bing (24:02) -- Ross accidentally kisses Chandler’s mother, forcing Chandler to confront some serious issues he has with her.
12. The One With The Dozen Lasagnas (23:45) -- Phoebe doesn’t know what to do when Paolo makes a move on her.
13. The One With The Boobies (23:37) -- When Chandler accidentally walks in on Rachel having a shower, a succession of reprisal bathroom springs is set in motion.
14. The One With The Candy Hearts (24:46) -- On Valentine’s Day, Chandler winds up accidentally sleeping with the girlfriend he has already dumped twice in five months.
15. The One With The Stoned Guy (24:02) -- Monica gets the chance to be the head chef at a new restaurant, however the owner shows up at the taste testing she organises stoned.
16. & 17. The One With Two Parts (Part I & II) (47:49) -- Joey hooks up with Phoebe’s twin sister, who is even more loopy than she is, much to Phoebe’s dissatisfaction. Ross goes to pre-natal classes with his ex-wife and her girlfriend and stresses about the fact that he is going to be a father. Chandler falls for a girl at work and tells his boss she has a mental illness in order to avoid firing her. And the monkey sets the TV in Monica's apartment to Spanish overdub.
18. The One With All The Poker (25:03) -- When the boys clean up the girls in a game of poker, the girls enlist the help of Monica’s aunt to help settle the score.
19. The One Where The Monkey Gets Away (23:13) -- Rachel is left to look after Ross’s monkey, however, she accidentally lets him get away.
20. The One With The Evil Orthodontist (23:13) -- Rachel is pursued by the man she left at the alter who is now engaged to her best friend.
21. The One With The Fake Monica (24:03) -- Monica goes to meet the woman who stole her credit card and finds out that this girl is a lot of fun.
22. The One With The Ick Factor (23:54) -- Monica finds out she has just slept with a senior ... in High School.
23. The One With The Birth (23:17) -- Ross’s ex-wife Caroline finally gives birth to his child.
24. The One Where Rachel Finds Out (25:55) -- Rachel finds out that Ross is madly in love with her.
What I have to say after watching this first seasons is that, for sure, this show works a lot better without commercials breaking up its momentum. Every time I tried to watch this on TV, the comedic timing was totally messed up by interjections in the form of ad breaks, and this series is quite dependent on its continuity. Rather than a series of interdependent skits, Friends works as an overall episode-long thematic joke with its last gags in the final reel of the credits which usually relate to the first gag that kicks off the episode (much like Seinfeld). It is highly unlike the Simpsons in that respect, which often has opening sequences which have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode, playing way out in left field, to use an American aphorism. Friends has its comedic timing down pretty well without the interruptions, and I got two or three good chuckles per episode, which is better than most sitcoms can induce. But its issues are not always great and you can often pre-empt a lot of the jokes.
If you’re a fan, you’re a fan, and I won’t put this show down for you. In all honesty, it’s not bad, and I’ve been told that later seasons are much better. It doesn’t yet rate up there with my favourite American sitcoms, but I am told that by the end of Season 2 I will be a full convert. Hope springs eternal.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced and NTSC, the picture quality here is really not all that good, and probably only a bit better than VHS (I checked out a couple of tapes from the video library, but they were so worn it was hard to tell what they might have been like before somebody chewed them up in their VCR.
For starters, colours are a little off, the show being persistently a little too red, and sometimes skin can even go a little green rather than pale. There was a fair amount of cross-colouration - anything with closely grouped lines usually exhibited this fault, and Ross’s shirt in The One With The Birth is just a mess of cross-colour artefact and noise.
The picture is also persistently soft - not blurred, but not that filtered feel that other US TV shows have, either. Something in between. This results in posterisation on facial close-ups and dot-crawl where the pinkish hues of flesh meet white or blue shirts or where red meets blue on clothing.
Shadow detail is reasonable, but hardly fantastic. There is no crisp definition in dark clothing, just a mass of black.
As for other film-to-video artefacts, the background often exhibits low-level noise and dot crawl. There were many objects with recurrent moire – the intercom next to the door in Monica’s apartment; the stacks of plates on Monica’s shelves; the stacks of plates at Monica’s workplace; the stacks of plates at Central Perk; the exterior shots of New York buildings; ribbed t-shirts and pullovers; sofas and cushions with cord-style covering. External panning shots also exhibited a jerkiness that was quite distracting and were especially marred with aliasing.
There were few actual film artefacts. I spotted only the occasional fleck of dirt which, when stacked up against the other faults, was really unnoticeable.
There are subtitles available in English, French, Spanish and Korean. They are white with a black border and are easy enough to read.
The dual-layer pause is in between episodes (I assume episodes three and four on each disc, as there are roughly six episodes per disc) and hence not noticeable.
Although recorded only in 2.0 Stereo, sound is presented here in English 5.0 Dolby Digital Surround. In all honesty, with such a dialogue driven show, the 5.0 track merely fleshes out the laughter track a little and adds some ambience to the odd bit of music played as a segue between scenes.
There is no real trouble understanding the dialogue, however with the 5.0 remix, it is sometimes drowned a little in the laughter track and the odd burst of music which suddenly brings the other speakers to life. I found I had to turn the sound up so that the centre speaker dominated the field and listened to the show with the amplifier switched to 2.0 Stereo which was, in fact, an improvement.
There is no real surround presence here except for the laughter track and the odd bit of music. There is nothing much in the way of directional cues, with most of the dialogue and sound effects emanating directly from the centre speaker and nowhere else.
There was no subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The main menu has the theme song in 2.0 Dolby Stereo.
Every episode has a trailer which you can access via the coffee cup icon next to the episode name. All trailers are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo.
A series of stills with written information on the principal cast and crew.
Presented in 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a commentary track by series producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane talking about how they came up with the idea for the show.
Snippets from the guest appearances by famous stars during Season 1, including Hank Azaria, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, and Helen Hunt.
An interactive tour of the coffee shop where much of the show is set, including audio clips from production designers and a look at the art on display.
Interactive game with ten multiple choice questions based on Season 1, complete with clips for right answers and wrong answers.
Trailer for Season 2.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This looks to be identical to the R1 release in every way.
Friends – Season 1 is a good compendium of the beginning of this multiple award winning series. It is good fun and definitely worth a look for a chuckle or two if you are in the mood. Apparently it gets better so I am looking forward to the next season.
The video is not so hot, being in the original NTSC format which has all its incumbent problems. However, the show was produced for TV with a much lower budget than most modern films and so the picture quality is merely a reflection of this.
The sound is primarily driven by the centre speaker, with the surround picking up the laughter track and the odd flash of music which is, in all honestly, a little annoying. Switch your amplifier to 2.0 Stereo.
The extras are good for a laugh, and the audio commentary was pretty good.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|