After Season One's release on DVD earlier this year, it was only a matter of time till Season Two of Friends, which originally aired on TV from 1995-96, arrived on our beloved format. Friends is, of course, the hit comedy sitcom from NBC. The show stars Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Matthew Perry (Chandler), Courtney Cox (Monica), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), and David Schwimmer (Ross). For those who have never seen the show, the series explores the intertwining friendships, relationships, and lives of the six main characters through a variety of situations and events.
The twenty-four episodes of Season Two are: Ross's New Girlfriend, The Breast Milk, Heckles Dies, Phoebe's Husband, Five Steaks and an Eggplant, The Baby on the Bus, Ross Finds Out, The List, Phoebe's Dad, Russ, The Lesbian Wedding, After The Super Bowl (pts 1 & 2), The Prom Video, Ross and Rachel…You Know, Joey Moves Out, Eddie Moves In, Dr. Ramoray Dies, Eddie Won't Go, Old Yeller Dies, The Bullies, The Two Parties, The Chicken Pox, and Barry and Mindy's Wedding. As a bonus, each episode includes previously unseen footage. Season Two also boasts an incredible array of guest stars, which include: Steve Zahn, Lea Thompson, Giovanni Ribisi, Michael McKean, Julia Roberts, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chris Issak, Brooke Shields, Adam Goldberg, and in what became a reoccurring role, Tom Selleck.
Though I feel that Season One had more classic episodes, Season Two still contains some great moments, especially those including Ross and Rachel's relationship. Friends has always been one of the funnier shows on TV, and while Season Two is not without a few clunkers, it definitely delivers quite a few laughs. Highlights of the season include: Breast Milk, The Baby on the Bus, Ross Finds Out, The List, After The Super Bowl, Prom Video, and Where Ross and Rachel…You Know.
Friends is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, as it was originally presented on TV. The episodes have few flaws, though there is some minimal edge enhancement and some slight grain, especially in the restored scenes. Colors are well saturated and vibrant throughout, with no smearing or bleeding.
Friends has been newly remastered in Dolby Digital 5.0. Dialogue for all the episodes is crisp and clean with no distortion. Surrounds, though, are really only used for the laugh track and the music between scenes. Still, these sound much better than they do on TV. Optional subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish, as well as Closed Captions in English.
The main extras in the set are the two audio commentaries from Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane on The List and The Prom Video. The List is important because it was the first episode post Rachel and Ross's first kiss, and The Prom Video was selected because part of it was shot on location and with a single camera. During the two commentaries, the trio talk about outtakes, behind the scenes stories, the challenges associated with living up to the hype from Season One, the Friends phenomenon, Ross and Rachel's relationship, the editing process, and shooting on location with a single camera. Though there are a few pauses, these tracks are filled with a lot of great information and listening to them is definitely recommended for fans.
The remaining extras reside on Disc 4. First is Friends of Friends, a list of guest stars with brief clips from the episodes they appeared in. Next is Open House at Rachel and Monica's Place, which is an interactive map of the set with facts about the props and set design. A few of the props have the option of accessing either a clip or additional comments from the art director or set designer. Then we have What's Up With Your Friends?, which are quick one-minute montages of each of the six Friends characters best moments. Also available is a Trivia Quiz that unlocks the 'uncut' version of "Smelly Cat" upon completion and a cast/crew list, which is also on the other discs.
At last and for a reasonable MSRP, you can now watch every episode, in order and uncut, from Season Two. With an improved presentation over the original broadcast showings, fans should find the collection hard to pass up, though the extras are a bit lacking. Newcomers might want to try renting the already released "Best Of" collections to get a taste for the show. Highly Recommended.