On September 22nd 1994, the pilot episode of Friends was screened in America. It is twenty years since that fateful moment Rachel walked into Central Perk, wearing her wedding dress. Looking around, she finds her old best friend from school, Monica. The first jokes were slightly twee, but some clumsy slapstick (Ross’ umbrella bursting as he greets Rachel) and a self-depreciating joke (Monica is the only one Rachel could turn to. Monica is the only one she didn’t invite) began Friends - the TV series we all fell in love with.
I was introduced as my older sisters watched it in 1995 on a Friday night on Channel 4. I recall the complete shock when Ross says "I take thee.... Rachel...". I sat with my best friend watching the closing minutes of Series 4 and sat with him again to watch the aftermath. I watched the entire series when it first came to DVD. Then I watched it again when I first started a girl who became my wife (a rite of passage in many ways, considering Friends taught me so much about the trials and tribulations of ‘dating’). Recently, with the new BluRay boxset release, I watched it all again. All ten seasons within three months.
With this in mind (and split over the next fortnight), here are my Top 10 Friends episodes to mark the twentieth anniversary of one of the best American sitcoms in history …
10. The One with Russ (Series 2, Episode 10) -
Trying to balance the funny episodes, and the deeply-serious (but-still-funny) episodes, is always a challenge. This episode is an example of a whole plot structured around a single gag. Rachel starts dating a character called Russ, who is virtually the same person as Ross (both are played by Schwimmer). High-jinks ensue as Russ and Ross meet each other – and immediately despise each other. Additionally, it also includes the perfect ending with a cameo from Julie (Lauren Tom) who inevitably falls for Russ.
The countdown continues tomorrow ...
This article was originally written for Flickering Myth on September 22nd 2014