Friends: The Complete First Season (1994) - DVD Review
By Widge - posted 04.30.02 @ 5:47 pm
Starring Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer
Released by: Warner Brothers
My Advice: Rent it.
I am one of five people on the planet who has never really sat down and watched a complete episode of this show (until now, of course). In fact, I couldn't even name consistently any of the six characters who comprise the main dramatis personae. It's not that I have anything really against the show per se, I just don't have time for network television in general. It's a good thing this set arrived, because I have discovered that the show really is worth giving a damn about. Although I still don't feel compelled to watch it on a regular basis (the last show I did that with was, oh, Hill Street Blues), I could certainly do with sitting down when the mood strikes and checking out an episode at a time via this set. The first season, at least, is highlighted by well-constructed characters, dialogue that is both smart and snappy, and situations that are...unlike most sitcoms I do have the displeasure of catching these days...funny.
Even without features, this set would be worthwhile for the fan of the show and a no-brainer when it comes to making that purchase. However, the features--albeit not terribly extensive--are effective across the board. The standout of the lot is the executive producer commentary on the pilot episode. The commentary is not spectacular, but rather quite informative, as they relate the casting choices, the troubles that they had with convincing NBC that certain concepts of the show would work, and also explain the dwindling running time of individual episodes as the series has kept going. Definitely worth a listen.
The trivia game is moderately amusing and the "Friends of Friends" bit is good for showcasing the guest stars. And, if you can't remember what an episode is about (despite handy titles like "The One With the Monkey"), there are previews of each one, consisting of just a snippet from the show. However, the coolest bit on here is the "Peek at Central Perk," which is a virtual tour of the coffeeshop set. Major set pieces are highlighted, delivering info on how they were acquired, their significance and whatnot. Most come with a skoche of commentary from members of the crew.
To sum, the set is rather choice, features good content and backs it up with clever features. If you don't like the show, you obviously shouldn't plonk down the coin--but if you've never seen the show before, you might become a little converted like myself.