Saturday, June 29, 2013

TV Show Review: Friends - Season 4

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Many great stories milked for maximum laughs
Cons: The show was never quite this good again
The Bottom Line
The laughs never stop
In these classic storylines
Outstanding season

The One with the Apartment Swap, Phoebe's Pregnancy, and Emily

While there are many classic episodes and storylines in the 90's sitcom Friends, I think it would be easy to argue that season 4 has the most memorable of the show's run.  (And my favorite episode doesn't even come until season 5.)  There's less drama and plenty of fun laughs as this sextet of friends face life together.

The season starts out exactly where last season ended as Ross (David Schwimmer) must make a choice between Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and his current girlfriend.  As the season progresses, Chandler (Matthew Perry) fights his growing affection for roommate and best friend Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) current girlfriend.  The two of them swap apartments with Rachel and Monica (Courteney Cox).  And Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) agrees to become the surrogate mother for her brother and sister-in-law who can't have kids on their own.  Meanwhile, Ross falls head over heals in love with a woman from London and proposes to her after only a few weeks.

Yeah, all that is really in this season.  And while we get more drama between Ross and Rachel, it's funnier here and not quite as dark as some episodes were last season.  In fact, the entire season is filled with many funny moments and lines.  It doesn't matter how many times I've seen them, I still crack up.  Plus these stories are among the most classic the show ever produced with arguably the best known cliffhanger of the series.

By season four of a show, the writers and actors know the characters, and it shows.  The main cast is amazing hitting the jokes perfectly every week while keeping things believable.  And when they are called on for more serious moments, they nail those as well.  This is especially true of Lisa Kudrow, who won an Emmy for her work here.  In the guest star department, the likes of Penn Millette, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Michael Vartan, Charlton Heston, and Hugh Laurie stop by.

The season consisted of 24 half hour shows, including the two part finale that takes most of the cast to London.  All of them are here on 4 discs and presented in full frame and surround sound.  Okay, since the show is shot in a studio, the surround isn't that impressive, but over all the picture and sound are nice.  Extras include three interesting commentaries by the creators/executive producers, and couple of clips features from the season, an interesting documentary on how the show is aired in foreign countries, and a trivia challenge based on the one Ross creates during the season.  Unfortunately, it just has 10 questions, so it's not worth playing more than once.

Friends has already managed to become comfort viewing for me.  Just a few minutes with these characters is enough to lift my spirits and have me laughing.  Season 4 has so many great stories it's hard to name a season that was better over all.

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