Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Friends Around the World
featurette (7 mins); The One That Goes Behind the Scenes documentary
(43 mins); Flashback Gag Reels (32 mins); Friends of Friends 3-part
featurette with guest stars (55 mins); Easter egg (Fans of Friends).
THEYVE been there for us all for the past ten years, so
its hard to believe Ross, Rachel, Chandler and co wont
be any more.
Friends, one of the finest television comedies to hit our shores
ever, finally bowed out on Channel 4 on Friday night (May 29,
2004), and there was barely a dry eye in the house.
While final episodes always tend to face an impossible task in
realising audience expectation, Friends delivered a low-key, but
satisfying, finale, which tugged at the tear-ducts on at least
The big conclusion, involving Ross and Rachel, succeeded in reuniting
the couple, while Monica and Chandler adopted twins, before leaving
their apartment to head for a new life in the suburbs.
But while the showpiece sequence, involving Ross and Rachel,
drew the biggest audience reaction, it was the smaller moments
- in which Friends so excelled - that provided the pockets of
Chandler and Joeys farewell, over the shattered remains
of their football table, was genuinely heartfelt and desperately
touching, expertly tapping into the excitement and anxiety felt
by any guy who is faced with the prospect of growing
While the final moment, in which the six friends assemble at
Monicas apartment to hand back their keys, was also quite
sad, as the realisation dawned that we, like the characters on-screen,
had reached the end of an era.
So why the enduring appeal?
Friends, for me, was that rare type of series which tapped into
the highs and lows of a generation.
The series, about a group of New York twenty-somethings, as they
navigated lifes tricky path, could be related to so many
real-life scenarios, that it almost seemed as though we were growing
up with them.
They may have sported designer haircuts and clothes, and may
have lived in impossibly expensive apartments, but, at their core,
all of the characters were just like you and me.
Ask any group of real-life friends, and I bet they could pick
out members from within, who remind them of certain characters.
The scenarios, too, resonated with peoples own experiences
of falling in and out of love, of realising dreams and ambitions,
and of dealing with disappointment and tragedy. The series genuinely
lived up to its promise to be there for us.
I can think of numerous occasions when I have turned to re-runs,
or new episodes, to seek comfort, safe in the knowledge that the
stresses of my world, could be replaced with a few laughs, during
the half-an-hour each programme run for.
And it was the ability to mix the comedy with the drama that
made the series so easy to fall in love with. Its acclaim was
deserved, as was its world-wide appeal.
Season ten, the final series, may, occasionally, have struggled
to reach the giddy heights set by its predecessors, but it was
still packed with memorable moments.
Who can forget the fairytale ending to Phoebes wedding
day, in the snow, or the horror/delight of seeing Danny DeVito
appear as a stripper?
Joey continued to stake his claim for most popular character,
while justifying the writers decision to invest their future
in his spin-off series.
And, of course, there were the ongoing spats between Ross and
Rachel, and Monica and Chandlers comical attempts to secure
an adoption, which included upsetting some of Phoebes friends.
In its final series, Friends occasionally seemed like it was
trying to do too much to appease the fans, deftly trying to blend
favourite scenarios, with the need to move forward. Occasionally,
it came up short, but that, perhaps, came with the knowledge that
these were, indeed, the final episodes, and a last opportunity
to hang out with these characters for any new episodes.
Of course, there will be re-runs, and the DVD box sets, but there
is nothing now to replace the buzz and excitement of sitting down
to watch a new series.
Needless to say, I shall be at the front of the queue when the
time comes to invest in the box set for the final series. At least,
then, in some small way, those Friends can continue to be there
for me during any time of need.