Sunday, 4 September 2011

Top 5 'Friends' Episodes

Inspired by Andy Buckle writing a Top 10 Seinfield episodes post, I thought that a TV series which I could easily pick a Top 5 from is Friends. My argument against Ryan about Top 5 Lists is when the writer may not be as informed - so, how can you write a Top 5 about Martin Scorsese films if you haven't seen them all, etc. Friends  for me though, I know exceptionally well. I initially got into the show when my sisters watched it in, roughly, 1995. I recall the complete shock when Ross says "I take thee.... Rachel..." as my best friend Pete and I watched the closing minutes of Series 4. Then - and I remember this vividly - I was stuck for a DVD to buy on one payday when I was 16. Best friend Tom gave me the sage advice that I should 'begin' a Friends DVD collection (after all, I'd had never seen the first few episodes of Series 1). I collected them all, and watched them all, up until Season 8, whereby they re-released the series in sweet packaging at a low price. I sold my Series 1-8 and re-bought all the Series 1- 10. And rewatched them all again. When we first started dating, Sarah had not seen them either, so we watched all ten-series (for me, it must've been the fifth time by this point) and then they sat on a shelf whislt I saw a better boxset released with special features on. I sold the box sets again, safe in the knowledge that as the complete series boxset drops lower and lower in price - roughly £40 now - that I will buy it again when I know I am prepared to watch them all again. Suffice to say, this has not happened yet and so I currently own no Friends DVD's whatsoever but know the whole series exceptionally well.

This is also correlates nicely with the end of Friends repeats on E4 in the UK - an end of an era because, whenever you were stuck for something to watch, E4's constant playing of Friends would always be a source of amusement.

5. The One with Russ (Series 2, Episode 10) -

This episode-choice, in itself, clarifies how this list will be made up. I think, for all the highs and lows - and yes, Monica crying as she tries to propose to Chandler makes me cry too - my Top 5 will primarily be the funniest episodes and I think this episode is an example of when the series plots a whole episode around a well-thought-through gag. Rachel starts dating a character called Russ who is virtually the same person as Ross (both are played by Schwimmer) and the whole episode shows the two face-off to comedic effect. Additionally, the episode ends so well when the actress who plays Julie makes a cameo and bumps into Russ almost wrapping up the background charactrs lives too.

4. The One with the Routine (Series 6, Episode 10) -

The later seasons get a lot of stick but I think, as my favourite character is Ross, this is another great example of how the Gellar family are complete screw-ups. Throughout the series you find hints and are shown flashbacks to their childhood but this is one whereby clearly Schwimmer and Cox must've prepared for weeks to get the routine right. And it works. Ross as wet-blanket is good ... but Ross as manically-depressed and a bit nuts is when he truly comes out of his shell.

3. The One with the Nap Partners (Series 7, Episode 6) -

I originally watched this as the 'uncut' episode on the DVD and it is a brilliant episode. The very nature of two guys enjoying sleeping on top of each other with no homosexuality undertones is unlikely - but I think Mr Heterosexual Joey and Always-In-Love-With-Some-Girl Ross mean that this episode plays for jokes throughout. On the uncut episode, I vividly remember a section whereby Ross and Joey are 'testing' Phoebe and Rachel on being Bridesmaids and Joey attempts to force Ross into a nap - I was in tears watching it... but alas, I have not seen the sequence since that joyful viewing.

2. The One with the Stoned Guy (Series 1, Episode 15) -

Jon Lovitz makes two appearances in Friends. This is his first appearance, whilst his second comes in the ninth or tenth season as Rachel goes on a date with him in The One with the Blind Date. The funny thing is, he is the same character in both. In this first appearance, he plays a chef owner who is high on drugs as Monica attempts to show-off her culinary skills as Rachel plays waitress. Funniest line? "Tarlets .... Tartlets ... Tartlets ... the name has lost all meaning".

1. The One Where No One's Ready (Series 3, Episode 2) -

I think this is historically known as the best episode. Completely self-contained and effortlessly acted by everyone involved - as if, at this very moment, all the actors completely understand their characters. Whenever I rewatch the series, I always feel that Series 3 is when the series becomes much more credible. I don't know why, but the look and feel of the show simply becomes more professional. I think they began shooting it on slightly better camera's but, most noticably, Joey doesn't look like he belongs in the eighties.

Writing this post makes me reminisce about the series - and I think, with its disappearance on E4, I think I'll miss it more as I won't be able to sneak in an episode here and there. Maybe that £40 boxset will be more tempting as time goes on ...

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  1. Great post, Simon! We're currently going through our boxset again and nearing the end of the show.

    As many times as I've watched the series, I love finding something new to appreciate about it. This time around I have found a new adoration for Phoebe, especially around the middle seasons. She's always been the fun weird one, but now I've really noticed Kudrow's timing and have laughed harder at her quips than ever before.

    Though the show provided plenty of fantastic emotional moments with proposals, weddings, and births, I too consider the pure comedy episodes as my favorites, and our number one choice is the same.

  2. Thanks Rachel - What about Ross? I think that when you watch the whole thing through, initially Ross is a bit of a sap whilst Chandler steals the show but in the later seasons when Ross goes completely nuts his character is so funny - almost slapstick as his dumb-founded face when things go wrong in and of itself is so funny!

  3. Hey, Simon, I think pretty much all episodes of FRIENDS could be called the best ones :) It really is the most successful and the most beloved sitcom of all times. Every episode was done so marvelously and they paid amazing attention to characters.

    I loved all episodes. One of the great ones was also the one in which Phoebe shoots the video for SMELLY CAT :) I also loved the London episode in which Chandler and Monica sleep together for the first time.

  4. Yeah, those London episodes are unforgettable. The cameos of the Duchess of York and Richard Branson too! You could write a whole blog post on the brilliant cameos - Clooney, Pitt...

  5. My own Favorite episode must include The One with the Embryos. But I love your choices. Check out Episode 59 (Zooey) of Reel Insight for an AWESOME Friends joke - particularly during the outtakes.

    It inspired me to do my own Top 10 of The West Wing!

  6. I am catching up on my REEL INSIGHTS at the moment now I am back at school!Glad I could inspire you, as Buckle inspired me ... but, WEST WING... I point you in the direction of my I-hate-west-wing post ... ;)


  7. Glad you're catching up! And after reading your post, I would suggest you actually hate Season 1 of the West Wing. I wouldn't suggest that you continue since you didn't like the first season (and let me know if you have watched more already) All the points you made about what you DID like are what is improved upon during subsequent seasons. They finally create their own political problems and issues rather than settling on relatively generic treatments of real-life political issues. This allows the characters to react to the problems as their characters rather than generic people. Creating my list of top 10 I mostly avoided the first season (except the death penalty episode you mentioned) and focus on what they create based upon that first season. I don't particularly enjoy politics, but I also don't particularly like football and I love FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (TV show only). I would argue that The West Wing is about politics as much as Friday Night Lights is about football. Great thoughts and well done arguing your dislike for West Wing - impressive.


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