DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Friends: The Complete First Season (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 16, 2002.

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    XenForo Template  Friends: The Complete First Season One of the things I stopped doing over the past 10 years is watching sitcoms. I suppose that getting involved in Home Theater left me less time to concentrate on prime time television. Therefor, for over a decade, I have been virtually blind to what goes on in network television.  So I wake up from this near 10-year sleep and find that Friends is approaching its ninth and final season. And while the shows boasts more than 36 million viewers, I don't think I can tell you one thing about any of the friends. First thing I had to learned is who the Friends actually are: Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), Monica (Courtney Cox-Arquette), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer), Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc). I am somewhat aware that Warner Brothers had previously been doing a shoddy job of releasing this series on DVD (as they do with most all their TV product), offering a "best of" series. Even a person like me who isn't a fan of the show can tell you that this is not the way to handle the release of television product. I suppose Warner heard the complaints of fans. Today I received a box containing the entire first season of Friends. Since Warner was so kind to send this to me, I felt it was my duty to take a look at one of television's most successful series -- a series I had totally ignored up to this point.   Friends arrives in a rather lightweight cardboard slipcover. Reach inside and you pull out a bulky cardboard insert that opens up into a five section gatefold that houses 4 discs placed in plastic housing. Essentially, there are 24 episodes spread across 4 discs. Most all of you will get 4 discs. My sealed copy only had 3 discs inside, so I can't do a full review on the supplements until Warner decides to send me the 4th disc (if they decide to do that).   The outer gatefold panes contain full listings of each episode including Director, Writers, Guest Star Alerts -- and oh yes -- original air date. Intertwined with the episode listings are pictures of the cast as well as photos from a few memorable episodes. Overall, I would rate the packaging to be rather weak than durable, but keeping the series affordable was certainly a concern at Warner Brothers and they have produced this set as cheaply as possible.  The DVD begins with a quick animated sequence that takes the FRIENDS logo set against the New York skyline and interfaces it with strips of cast photos in a finalized menu structure.  Having trouble as to exactly which episode you wish to watch? Click on over to the Episodes selection. An icon of a coffee cup beside each episode title lets you preview about a minute of that episode's best moment. This is great for fans who are looking for a favorite episode, yet don't remember the exact title. So, here I am, a Friends virgin about to watch my very first episode. In order to properly review this DVD, I chose to watch three episodes.  The One Where it all began is the show's original pilot episode that aired on 9/22/94. This is the episode that introduces to all the show's major characters, most notably Monica's old high school friend, Rachel who decides to move in after leaving her fiance' at the alter. There's also an issue of Ross's wife leaving him for a lesbian.  The One with the Sonogram at the End involves Ross's ex-wife Carol telling him that she is pregnant with his child and that she and her lesbian lover, Susan, plan to raise the baby together. There's also an issue with Monica's parents (with a guest appearance by Elliot Gould) coming to town.  The One with George Stephanopoulos never really introduces us to the politician, but it gives the girls the opportunity to discuss life and guys. Meanwhile, Ross gets invited to go to a hockey game with the guys, but ends up having his nose broken by a flying puck. After watching only three episodes, I fell for the series. At its most beginning stages, the series showed promise of being cleverly hip and funny thanks to its talented cast of actors. I really had a lot of laughs with the George Stephanopoulos episode. The scenes in the hospital emergency room are hilarious. How is the transfer? Presented Full Frame, the show looks pretty damn incredible. While the title and location establishing shots have hints of video noise in them, the rest of the show looks terrific. Monica's apartment has just about every color in it imaginable. The pristine transfer brings out all the vivid aquas, greens and purples that make up the walls and fixtures inside the apartment. The stereo surround track is rather uneven. The pilot episode is interesting, as it starts with a forcible amount of audience laughter that emanates from the rear speakers. As the episode continues, the laughter leaves the rear channel and moves to the front. In episodes that followed, the audience laughter remained in the rear channel, but its presence was much lesser defined. Otherwise, sound is very robust with dialogue remaining in front speakers while title music and musical interludes spread themselves to the rears. Special Features On the pilot episode you can listen to running commentary by Excecutive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane. I mentioned that I received a *sealed* final product copy of this set that when opened did not have the 4th disc. I do hope this is not going to be a common problem amongst consumers who buy this set. For the reason of not having disc 4, I am unable to completely review the supplemental material. If and when I get the replacement DVD I will update this review. I can tell you from the Press Release I received with this set that the supplements on Disc 4 include: A peek At Central Park, which takes viewers on an interactive tour of the set to discover inside secrets from the crew. Friends of Friends is a video guide to season one's special guest appearances. How Well Do You Know Your Friends? is a video trivia challenge. Also includes is The One With The Trailer of Season 2 as well as cast profiles. Final Thoughts I can't say that this release of Friends makes up for the botched way Warner Brothers has handled their studio product -- especially their South Park series. But perhaps finally releasing an entire season set can be considered a step in the right direction. Without being an initial fan of the series (I am now), it looks like Warner Brothers has given very special consideration to the fans by providing pristine transfers of these episodes combined with some interesting extras bundled into this boxed set. Looks like a must purchase for fans, and a consideration for anyone like me who wants to wet their appetite with top-shelf comedy. Release Date: April 30, 2002
     
  2. DanC

    DanC Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the review Ron...can't wait for it to get here! Maybe this means Seinfeld season sets aren't too far away...one can hope [​IMG]
     
  3. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    I said once they box up a season, it will be mine. 14 days and counting.
     
  4. Randy B A

    Randy B A Supporting Actor

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    Ron you are so lucky to be seeing this for the first time on DVD. the set will definately be mine on the 30th.
     
  5. Craig_T

    Craig_T Second Unit

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    Down with the "Best-Of" crap! Now release South Park by season too!
     
  6. Joel C

    Joel C Screenwriter

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    So... when does season 2 come out???
     
  7. Larry Gardner

    Larry Gardner Stunt Coordinator

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    Ron:

    Could you verify that the episodes are in stereo. All the Best of episodes were 5.0. SOme sites advertieise them as 5.0 others 2.0.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    Ah, I’m a sucker for Friends! Although that I have already the entire episodes on DVD, I’m going to get this!

    ...I'm wondering, they showed a lot the twin towers for the transition shots. Anyone knows if they are untouched or removed?
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Larry,

    Dolby Digital 5.0
     
  10. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review Ron. Friends is a great show and I will be getting mine as soon as they come out.

    The Pilot episode is one of the funnier Pilots I have seen from any show.
     
  11. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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    Ron, you have NO idea how much better this series will get over the next couple of seasons. If you think the 1st 3 episodes are funny, JUST WAIT!!

    BTW, this is BY FAR the best looking TV series transfer out there. Does the packaging let on in any way as to what the new additions to each episode are?
     
  12. Bjorn Olav Nyberg

    Bjorn Olav Nyberg Supporting Actor

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    I also already own the first seven seasons on R2 DVD... but the first season looks very bad, with blurry pictures with some kind of blue discoloration around edges etc...

    I was already tempted to get the R1 for the extras, now the improved video quality will be another reason.
     
  13. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    I'm nearly decided on picking this up. Originally it was just to encourage WB to release TV product properly. Now watching the current season of Friends, I remember the show how it was when they had their groove on, and want this anyway.
    A couple of questions:
     
  14. LarryDavenport

    LarryDavenport Cinematographer

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    DanC-Warners doesn't own Seinfeld. I beleive it's Columbia.
     
  15. DanC

    DanC Stunt Coordinator

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    Larry,

    I'm aware of that but it's just an encouraging sign to see other studios giving their t.v. shows the proper treatment, regardless of the studio. That's all I was referring to.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    You can either click on the coffee cup to

    preview about a minute of the show, or, click

    on the show's title to play each individual

    episode. To my knowledge, there is no PLAY ALL

    button.

    The laugh track seems to fall in both the

    front and rear speakers -- just at different

    levels.
     
  17. Richard Ruffner

    Richard Ruffner Stunt Coordinator

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    Most of the time, Friends is filmed before a live audience. Usually, when this is the case, there is no seperate laugh track.

    MASH was filmed on a set, so they added the laugh track later.
     
  18. Daniel Kikin

    Daniel Kikin Screenwriter

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    Great review Ron, I'm really looking forward to this set.

    The only minor nit I have for this set is not including the Rembrandt's(sp?) "I'll Be There For You" music video that included the cast as well. I know it's on the first two "Best of" sets but since a lot of people didn't buy those, why not include it on this one as well?
     
  19. Trace Downing

    Trace Downing Supporting Actor

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    Larry & Dan,

    Seinfeld is a Castle Rock production, which is a AOL/Time/Warner company. Columbia has domestic syndication distribution rights.

    As to who owns the home video rights, your guess is as good as mine.

    Regarding Friends, my TiVo records about 2 a night for me. I'm just wondering if the picture quality would be worth the purchase.
     
  20. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    It’s not just the quality. I’m not that geek to get things twice. This release has never-before-seen footage. They are not the broadcast cut but extended cuts.
     

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