Monday, July 1, 2013

TV Show Review: Friends - Season 5

Stars: 5 out of 5
ProsChandler and Monica's story highlights a strong season
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line
Still bringing the laughs
These friends will entertain you
In their fifth season

The One with the Secret Relationship

It can be hard to keep coming up with stories with a cast of characters.  I certainly understand why many shows slide in their last couple of seasons.  And it can be even harder to come back from a strong season and top it.  But for me, that’s just what Friends did in season 5.

The season picks up right where the last one ended.  Ross (David Schwimmer) has just said Rachel’s name (Jennifer Aniston) at his wedding instead of his bride Emily (guest star Helen Baxendale).  Naturally, that marriage doesn’t last long, although Ross spends a few episodes trying to save it.

Meanwhile, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) is about to pop with the triples she’s carrying as a surrogate mother.  Over the course of the season, she dates a restaurant health inspector and a cop plus meets her father, Rachel gets a new job despite an embarrassing interview, and Ross gets suspended from work and loses his apartment.

But I’m leaving out the storyline that really defines the season.  In the last season finale, Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Monica (Courtney Cox) hooked up for one night.  Or so they thought.  They continue their relationship in secret once they get back to New York.  They do their best to sneak around, although in a very funny twist it’s actually Joey (Matt LeBlanc) that figures out their secret first and very early on.  Eventually, the rest of the gang begins to learn the truth, which leads up to the episode, “The One Where Everyone Finds Out.”  That’s my favorite episode of the series because it is absolutely hilarious and yet has such a sweet ending.

As the season wraps up, Joey gets his big break in Vegas, and the rest of the gang follows him.  Before it’s over, someone gets married.

Really, there are so many funny moments in this season, like Rachel smoking (and Chandler’s reaction), the invention of Fireball, and Joey trying to get his line for a commercial audition right.  There are so many laughs in every episode.  The show is clearly still running on all cylinders.

And while I give the writers full credit with the brilliant jokes and fun stories, the actors continue to get full marks for keeping it real.  Even at their most absurd (Ross losing it over a sandwich), you can identify with them.  The cast obviously knows and loves the characters as much as we do, and they put their heart into every episode.

Season 5 consisted of 24 episodes (if you break the hour long season finale into two), and all of them are preserved on 4 discs.  The full frame picture and surround sound look and sound great, although there isn’t much use for the surround.  After all, the show was shot on a stage in front of a live audience.  There are three audio commentaries by the creators of the show.  The last disc contains a two minute segment on the trip to London for the season 4 finale and the 45 minute behind the scenes special on how an episode gets made that uses the season 6 opener as an example.  Frankly, I feel both should have been in other sets, but I do like having them.

Season 5 of Friends is an absolute classic.  It wasn’t too much longer before it lost some of the charm, but you can still sit back, pop these discs in, and enjoy some laughs with these six wonderful characters.

Season 5 Episodes:
1. The One after Ross Says Rachel
2. The One with All the Kissing
3. The One Hundredth
4. The One where Phoebe Hates PBS
5. The One with the Kips
6. The One with the Yeti
7. The One where Ross Moves in
8. The One with the Thanksgiving Flashbacks
9. The One with Ross's Sandwich
10. The One with the Inappropriate Sister
11. The One with all the Resolutions
12. The One with Chandler's Work Laugh
13. The One with Joey's Bag
14. The One where Everyone Finds Out
15. The One with the Girl Who Hits Joey
16. The One with the Cop
17. The One with Rachel's Inadvertent Kiss
18. The One where Rachel Smokes
19. The One where Ross Can't Flirt
20. The One with the Ride Along
21. The One with the Ball
22. The One with Joey's Big Break
23. The One in Vegas Part 1
24. The One in Vegas Part 2

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