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Friends - Season 10 (Final Season)



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).

THEY’VE been there for us all for the past ten years, so it’s hard to believe Ross, Rachel, Chandler and co won’t 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 two occasions.

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 genuine emotion.

Chandler and Joey’s 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 up.

While the final moment, in which the six friends assemble at Monica’s 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 life’s 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 10

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 Phoebe’s 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 Chandler’s comical attempts to secure an adoption, which included upsetting some of Phoebe’s 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.

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