Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TV on DVD Review: Friends - Season Six

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Still plenty of laughs and fun moments
Cons: The one that is an ad for Pottery Barn
The Bottom Line:
Six friends, more great laughs
As characters keep growing
And writing sparkles

The One with Musical Roommates

Like many shows that are on the air a long time, Friends declined in quality somewhere along the way.  Mind you, I always enjoyed it, but I think every fan will agree the early seasons were the best.  For some reason, I had in my mind that season six is when the quality went downhill.  Having just rewatched the season, I can say I found it very funny and enjoyable with no loss of quality at all.

This season picks up where the last one ended – Vegas.  Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) have just gotten married!  However, it was a huge drunk mistake.  When the gang arrives back in New York, that means that Ross has to get divorce number three, something that is a running joke for the rest of the season.

Also on the return to New York, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courtney Cox Arquette) decide to move in together.  And so some of the most stable roommates on the show so far get switched up.  Rachel winds up moving in with Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) while Joey (Matt LeBlanc) searches for a new one.  For a little while, it’s hot dancer Janine (recurring guest star Elle MacPherson).

As the season progresses, Chandler and Monica figure out living under the same roof.  Ross gets a new job teaching at a university and finds a forbidden romance with one of his students, Elizabeth (guest star Alexandra Holden).  Phoebe and Rachel have a tragedy at their apartment.  Joey’s lack of a roommate forces him to take a job at Central Perk.  We meet one of Rachel’s sisters (guest star Reese Witherspoon).  Joey might finally land his big acting break, if he can get along with his cheesy co-star.  And the gang spends one hour imaging what might have been if their lives had taken on turn differently.

There may not be quite as many classic moments during the course of this season, but there are still plenty of great laughs.  I laughed through every episode, both the ones I’ve seen several times before and the ones I didn’t really remember.  The characters are still growing and that leads us to some great lines.  The writing hasn’t faltered a bit and things are still crisp and sharp.

Want to know how much we still care for the characters?  Watch the last few minutes of the season finale.  I teared up both times I watched it just now, once without and once with the commentary.  That’s good stuff.

The actors are still at the top of their game as well.  No matter what the writer’s throw at them, they bring it to life with hilarity grounded in reality.  Yes, we still believe what we are seeing even as we laugh along the way.

And as a bit of trivia, this is not only a rare season without a Ross/Rachel cliffhanger, but without a cliffhanger of any kind.

About the only real misstep is one the feels like a giant ad for Pottery Barn.  The idea behind the episode is funny, and if they’d used a generic store I would have loved it.  But as it is, I’m not the biggest fan of the episode.

This season consisted of 25 episodes, but two of them are two parters that aired the same night as “events.”  They are all preserved here on four discs in their native full frame and surround sound.  Frankly, surround doesn’t do much most of the time on a sitcom filmed before a live audience, but it is nice to have.  In the way of extras, we get three audio commentaries, two of them on the two hour long episodes.  (And it explains why Ross wasn’t in that final scene of the finale.)  Frankly, the commentary on the finale was fascinating as the three creators talk about things they almost did in the finale; trust me, it is a great thing that they went with that they did.  The last disc also has a featurette with interviews with four of the recurring guest stars and a very funny gag reel from the season.

The laughs really still are good in season six of Friends.  It’s been too long since I did more than catch a random rerun, and I’d forgotten just how fun the show can be.  Hopefully, I can make some time to dive into the next season’s laughs soon.

Season Six Episodes:
1. The One after Vegas
2. The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel
3. The One with Ross’s Denial
4. The One Where Joey Loses His Insurance
5. The One with Joey’s Porsche
6. The One on the Last Night
7. The One Where Phoebe Runs
8. The One with Ross’s Teeth
9. The One Where Ross Got High
10. The One with the Routine
11. The One with the Apothecary Table
12. The One with the Joke
13. The One with Rachel’s Sister
14. The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry
15. The One That Could Have Been Part 1
16. The One That Could Have Been Part 2
17. The One with Unagi
18. The One Where Ross Dates a Student
19. The One with Joey’s Fridge
20. The One with Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E.
21. The One Where Ross Meets Elizabeth’s Dad
22. The One Where Paul’s the Man
23. The One with the Ring
24. The One with the Proposal Part 1
25. The One with the Proposal Part 2

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