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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Friends: Season Three
Friends: Season Three
Warner Bros. // Unrated // April 1, 2003
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 2, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

With reality TV continuing to be the flavor of the month, it's particularly thrilling to find a great sitcom in the midst of network television. A couple of them - "Scrubs" being the best and brightest - have emerged in the past few years. Yet, a few of the 90's shows remain. "Friends", now nearly in its 10th year, still remains a source of high ratings this year, even though some of the show's plots don't seem to approach the heights of the creative situations that the creators came up with early on.

This DVD set of the third season offers viewers a chance to see the show hit its stride. The show's cast started to get deeper into their characters, the plots were a bit more complex and the show started to take a couple of risks. Some of my favorite episodes of "Friends" emerged, most notably, "The One With The Football", where the characters turn a friendly Thanksgiving football game in the park into something far more competitive. There's some very funny dialogue in this episode, and the new, open setting allows the cast to go for some physical comedy.

Even the fair episodes offered some highlights. "The One With the Hypnosis Tape" doesn't really turn the marriage of Phoebe's brother (guest star Giovanni Ribisi) into much, but there's a good scene where he convinces Joey and Ross on why he loves an older woman. A sub-plot about Chandler listening to a hypnosis tape meant for women also results in some good physical comedy. Jon Faverau ("Swingers") also turns in one of the show's better guest star performances as a computer millionaire who has feelings for Monica. Not all of the guest star performances go so well - Robin Williams and Billy Crystal show up early in "The One With The Ultimate Fighting Championship", and their cameo not only isn't funny, it calls far too much attention to both the stars. That episode also has the Faverau character entering the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which seemed like an odd way to end the run of the character.

I've never been a fan of the show's occasional dramatic side, but the series usually handles these episodes fairly well, telling the emotional side (Ross has a one-night stand, Rachel doesn't know and comes to tell him how much she loves him). While "Scrubs" has taken the mixture of dramatic and comedic in one episode to a new level of excellence, "The One With The Morning After" shows that "Friends" managed it in a satisfactory manner, too.

One might begin to ponder the inconsistent track record of the feature films of the "Friends" cast, but it really doesn't matter much anymore, as they all could retire after the last audience clap echos throughout the studio, anyhow. Yet, there's something unfortunate about that, as at least most of the cast members have shown noticable improvement since the begining; Perry's sarcastic humor and impressive timing still continues to go strong and Aniston's warmth and ability to show emotion has matured and grown over the years. While "Friends" looks to be on its way out after this season, one wonders what NBC will groom to replace it in its Thursday night slot. Personally, I'm hoping for the often supremely funny and inspired "Scrubs" (in my opinion, the funniest show on network TV right now).

Although I think the show's reached it's point of conclusion and still continued, it's fun to look back at some of these earlier episodes, where the cast and writers were really at their best.


The DVD

VIDEO: If you've seen any of the past season releases, you know what to expect. As with the first and second season episodes, these are also presented in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. As with the first season's effort, these certainly aren't reference quality, but they do look more consistently pleasing visually than these episodes do when they're broadcast in syndication these days. Sharpness and detail are smooth and consistent, as each of the episodes remained crisp and well-defined.

Some minor flaws once again appear, but certainly nothing serious. Some slight compression artifacts are occasionally seen, as was some minor grain. Thankfully, edge enhancement was not spotted, nor were any other faults. Colors looked well-rendered and bright, with no smearing. Once again, a nice presentation.

SOUND: All of the episodes are presented with newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtracks along with the original 2.0 soundtracks. Certainly a dialogue-driven show, most of the audio is concerned with only providing the dialogue. While most of the sound is front-heavy, the score is still nicely reinforced by the surrounds, which also occasionally boast some nice crowd noise. Audio quality is solid, as the dialogue remained crisp and clear, as did the music.

EXTRAS: Executive producers Marta Kauffman, Kevin Bright and David Crane return again for three commentaries on this set - one for "The One Where No One's Ready", one for "The One With The Football" and one for "The One With the Morning After". All of the participants seem to have been recorded separately, and all once again provide a very intelligent discussion of the day-to-day work involved in creating one of the most popular shows on television. We hear about character development, how stories change and are created, and other stories from the set. These are all fine tracks, providing solid insight and interesting tidbits.

Also: Also included are episode previews, highlights of the show's cameos, Ross/Rachel trivia, highlight clips and a tour of Joey and Chandler's apartment with commentary from the costume designer, co-exec producer and art director.

Final Thoughts: The third season of "Friends" was one of its best, with clever writing, good development of the characters and a lot of fun situations. Scattered across the four discs of this set are some of the show's best episodes and quite a few good ones. Warner Brothers has once again put together a very nice set, with good audio/video quality for all the episodes, as well as a few interesting supplements. Recommended.

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