‘Friends: The Complete Series'
Return with us now to the '90s, when millions tuned into NBC at 8:30 p.m. (7:30 central) every Thursday night as alt-pop duo the Rembrandts burst into the infectious, hand-clapping “I'll Be There for You” — the happy-rock theme song of “Friends,” one of the most popular sitcoms of all time — and we saw six good-looking young adults splashing and dancing to the music in a New York City fountain.
Then for the next 30 minutes we all watched the misadventures of these three guys and three girls, all single, all white, all living in Manhattan and hanging out in a hip coffeehouse called Central Perk when they weren't all hanging out in Courteney Cox's character's cute purple apartment, all struggling to survive on their own and weather the dating game, rocky relationships, failed marriages, weird and/or meddlesome parents, career crises, and so on, all the while offering — or attempting to offer — each other companionship, support and comfort with varying degrees of effectiveness.
Created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, the show featured sharp writing loaded with hilarious dialogue, situations and universal truths, delivered with flawless comedic timing and nuance by one of the most well-matched ensemble casts in the history of any performing medium.
Courteney Cox is Monica, the unofficial den mother who's kind of bossy and works as an assistant chef; David Schwimmer is Ross, Monica's neurotic paleontologist brother whose pregnant wife has left him for a woman; Jennifer Aniston is the poor little rich girl Rachel, who leaves a fiance at the altar and moves in with former high school friend Monica; Matthew Perry is Chandler, a corporate number-cruncher and sarcastic wisecracker who lives across the hall; Matt LeBlanc is Joey, an aspiring actor who's sometimes slow on the uptake and constantly on the make; and Lisa Kudrow is Phoebe, the ditsy masseuse and wannabe folk singer who's obsessed with New Age auras.
It was an amiable little series that people allowed into their living rooms from September 1994 to May 2004. It still has a dedicated following in syndication, and all 10 seasons — 236 episodes — are available in the 21-disc “Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray.”
All 10 seasons have been completely remastered in high definition video with a 16x9 widescreen format and 5.1 audio. A hardcover book holds the discs, and there's a 32-page episode guide, all housed in a collectible box cover.
There are 20 hours of special features including more than three hours of newly added material that consists of a retrospective documentary with new interviews, never-before-seen cast appearances, unaired footage and a new gag reel.
If you're an ultimate fan or know one, your “Friends” are still there for you — for a suggested retail price of $279.98.
— Gene Triplett