The show was firing on all cylinders going into it's third year and produced a mix of funny and emotional shows as Ross and Rachel dealt with their growing relationship, the group had a flashback to when they met and Monica went from one relationship to another. There are lots of great single episode shows in this season and the producers picked 5 to showcase on this disc. While I disagree with a few of the choices, it's strong collection of five episodes with a nice mix of comedy and drama.
The One with Frank Jr Like most typical episodes of friends, this one has a lot going on at once. It opens with the gang in Central Perk debating what 5 celebrities they would sleep with if they had the chance when Phoebe announces that here brother, Frank Jr. (Giovanni Ribisi), is coming for a visit. When he arrives, she learns that it takes more than a blood relation to have something in common and Frank Jr. makes a mistake about the type of work Phoebe does.
This one has a lot of subtle jokes, but just isn't as laugh out loud funny as some of the other episodes this season are. Ribisi has a funny performance as Phoebe's brother who likes to melt stuff, but for family fun they should have included the episode later in the season where he returns with his much older bride to be (
The One with the Flashback Prompted by Janice asking if any of them had ever slept together, the gang has a group flashback to approximately one year prior to the start of the show. The coffee house was a dive-bar, Phoebe lived with Monica, Ross was married, Chandler lived alone and Rachel was about to marry Barry. Through the course of the night, and the episode, they all bump into each other and several odd pairings almost happen.
This is an entertaining episode, but long-time Friends fans cannot help but notice the continuity goofs and inconsistencies that pop up in this episode. Monica and Rachel were to have been best friends in high school, but barely recognize each other here. When Ross learns the truth about his wife, it doesn't fit with the other time it was talked about. Still, it's a funny episode with a lot of cool what if questions.
The One Where Monica and Richard Are Just Friends Monica and Richard meet up in a video store and decide to be "really close friends." As they continue their relation, they realize that nothing has changed from before, and the feelings that broke them apart in the first place have not changed. Meanwhile, Joey has been reading the "The Shining" by Steven King again and when he gets scared, he puts the book in the freezer. He and Rachel eventually swap books with and he begins reading "Little Women" and in the process spoils "The Shining" for Rachel.
The Monica and Richard situation here is tired and was likely a plot to get him back on for sweeps. Although realistic, it does not provide that much entertainment, as both the couple and the audience know where the story will eventually end. However, the plot between Joey and Rachel reading the books provides some of the funniest scenes for Joey, proving that if you could only have one "Friend," Joey would be it, as NBC has wisely decided.
The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break Ross and Rachel have a fight that sends Ross in search of solace at a club, where he meets up with the copy girl from a previous episode. Phoebe dates a diplomat and becomes upset when Monica has a better time with his interpreter, causing her to be left out of the conversation. Joey and Chandler discuss the rules to a threesome as they think a woman has the hots for both of them.
The One with the Morning After As Ross navigates a tangled mess of friends in an attempt to prevent Rachel from finding out about his one-night stand with the copy girl, Phoebe and Monica decide to wax their legs. When Rachel finds out about Ross, the two have a terrible fight while Joey, Chandler, Monica and Phoebe are trapped in the bedroom, afraid to interrupt, and are quickly getting hungry.
These two episodes form a strong story of an all-too real-relationship. The problems and pain that Ross and Rachel go through were affecting and still at a point where the audience cared (unlike now). The second half is difficult to watch at times, because of the rawness of the emotions being discussed, but it shows what strong dramatic actors both Aniston and Schwimmer are.
Like I said, it's a strong selection of episodes and the only one I would have included would have been "The One Where No One's Ready." Set entirely in Monica's apartment, it shows Ross pushing the other friends to get ready for his Paleontology speech at work. It's a strong episode that shows how funny these six people can be when working with nothing else than each other.
Video: From early in the series' run, the video isn't as top notch as later releases will likely be. Presented in the television aspect ration of 1.33:1, the video has no distracting flaws. That's not saying it's perfect, as the overall feel is a little soft with a few spots of grain and/or compression. It's perfectly acceptable and does not distract at all.
Audio: Re-mastered to Dolby Digital 5.1, there's not a lot to be heard aside from the vocals, but what's there is nice. You'll get occasional bits of music and crowd noise from the rear speakers, while the vocals are perfectly audible.
Extras: Each episode on the disc has extra footage added back in; giving you a little more than what was originally aired. Since I don't have originals to compare to, I'm not sure to the extra scenes. The episodes only run about 1-2 minutes longer, so they're small scenes. There's a cast and crew listing that offers no additional information.
Overall: It's a nice compilation but when considering
the fact that a full season set can be purchased for only around $20 more, this
disc seems unnecessary. It seems to be a better rental disc that purchase, as
it offers nothing that's not available on the season sets.