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Friends - Season 9 Box Set (Part Two)



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Inter-active menus; Scene access.

NINE seasons down and one to go... life without Friends is going to be difficult.

As Season 9 drew to a close with yet another gem of a cliffhanger (Joey kissing Rachel), thoughts began to turn to how the makers of one of television's most successful franchises of all time could draw things to a close.

Throughout their ten years together, the cast of friends have consistently maintained the highest standards, providing us with a little ray of joy on a Friday night, which we could tape and enjoy endlessly whenever we felt down, or blue.

Season 9 was another corker. Beginning with the birth of Ross and Rachel's baby, and confusion over marriage proposals, it took in Chandler's decision to quit his job, and Phoebe's developing relationship with her new boyfriend, Mike (brilliantly played by Paul Rudd), before culminating with Joey's continuing bachelor endeavours (this time with a potential love-interest for Ross, in the shapely form of Aisha Tyler), and Rachel's feelings for him.The final two episodes are set in Barbados, as Ross, Joey, Charlie (Tyler) and Rachel are forced to confront their true feelings for each other, and Phoebe considers marriage proposals from ex-boyfriends, Mike and David (Hank Azaria).

There was also an hilarious guest appearance from Jeff Goldblum to savour (involving an audition process for Joey), which helped to ensure that season 9 lived long in the memory and seldom kept a smile away from the face.

The enduring appeal of Friends lies in both the quality of its writing (the way in which it effortlessly mixes laugh-out-loud humour with a nice line in drama), as well as the charisma of its six central stars.

And it is a tribute to each of them, that they have felt comfortable enough to progress their characters, appearing likeable at times, and selfish at others.

This time around, it is Rachel's turn to, once again, thwart Ross's romantic endeavours, while pursuing any man that takes her fancy - including Joey, once she realises she has feelings for him.

Courtney Cox's character, Monica, is slightly more neurotic and paranoid this time around, with a 'me, me, me' attitude, yet her attempts to conceive with husband, Chandler (Matthew Perry) made for some touching and poignant moments, as the married couple are forced to come to terms with the likelihood of adoption.

It is the way in which they are not afraid to tackle life's difficult issues, as well as its funny ones, that makes them seem, well, like friends - we can always empathise, sometimes cry, but, most notably, laugh along with them, through whatever ups and downs life throws at them.

All of which leaves me to ponder, almost continually now, what will we do without them?

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