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Friends: The Complete First Season (1994) – DVD Review

Friends: The Complete First Season DVD


Starring Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer


  • All 24 episodes of the first season
  • Pilot episode has running audio commentary from executive producers Kevin S. Bright, David Crane & Marta Kauffman
  • “Friends on Friends”: Video snippets of guest stars from the first season
  • “A Peek at Central Perk”: Virtual tour of the props and layout of the Central Perk set, complete with audio commentary by props masters and set decorators, among others
  • Trivia game
  • Trailer for the DVD collection of Season Two

Released by: Warner Brothers
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent it.

[ad#longpost]A group of five friends suddenly becomes six when Monica’s (Cox) estranged friend Rachel (Aniston) flees her wedding at the altar, suddenly realizing that she wants to be a purse. Or something like that, I think it was a metaphor of some sort. Meanwhile, Monica’s brother Ross (Schwimmer) has gotten divorced from his wife of four years because she realized she was in reality a lesbian. That part is not, in fact, a metaphor. Over the course of twenty-four episodes, Ross and Rachel are the Item That Almost Is as Ross excruciatingly can’t seem to ask the girl out. This is the main story arc, with plenty of support along the way from manly man Joey’s (LeBlanc) conquests and sexual innuendos, Phoebe’s (Kudrow) skewed new age sensibilities (along with an evil twin), and Chandler’s (Perry) smartass comments and corporate angst.

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.

Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer from Friends: The Complete First Season
Set tour photo from Friends: The Complete First Season DVD menu from Friends: The Complete First Season

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.

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