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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "Friends" The Complete Third Season (with screenshots)



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#1 of 26 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 23 2003 - 10:07 AM

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Friends
The Complete Third Season







Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1996-1997
Rated: NR
Film Length: 587 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish



What happens when six friends live in fabulous
Manhattan apartments, drink coffee and chat about
life?


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Boy, I can't tell you how much I enjoy receiving
new season sets of Friends. That's sort of
odd for me to say, as I never watched a single
episode of the show until I started reviewing the
discs for Warner Brothers almost exactly 1 year ago.

Though I don't have the time to watch these season
sets in their entirety, I do find myself picking
at particular episodes when I have nothing better
to watch. Just the fact that I find the time to
revisit these sets shows how much I have warmed up
to this terrific series.

Posted ImagePosted Image

Friends: The Complete Third Season appears
in the same manner as the previous releases,
arriving 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. A total
of 25 episodes are spread across 4 discs.

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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.

So what's new in this Season Three release?
Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel's (Jennifer Aniston)
romance is put to an end by Ross's jealousy. Phoebe
(Lisa Kudrow) is reunited with her half brother
(Giovanni Ribisi) and meets a family friend (Terri
Garr) who drops some startling revelations about
her parents. Monica (Courtney Cox) begins dating a
millionaire named Pete (Jon Favreau). Chandler is
driven to commit to his relationship with Janice
(Maggie Wheeler). Joey (Matt LeBlanc) falls for an
initially scornful theatrical costar.

This season also boasted the appearance of a handful
of big-time Special Guest Stars including Billy
Crystal, Tom Selleck, Robin Williams, Jon Favreau,
Ben Stiller, David Arquette, Isabella Rosselini

and Teri Garr.

For review purposes, I sampled three episodes from
this set. I was sort of biased in my choices of
which episodes to review as I went straight to those
that featured the biggest Guest Star appearances.

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The one with the Ultimate Fighting Champion
Monica's boyfriend Pete begins competing to be the
Ultimate Fighting Champion; he loses... repeatedly.
Chandler's new boss has a habit of slapping him on
the behind, which Chandler tries to deal with. Phoebe
asks Rachel if she can set Ross up with Bonnie; Rachel
agrees since Bonnie's the girl who shaves her head;
Later, Rachel finds out Bonnie now has plenty of hair.
A rather funny, but way too brief Guest Star
appearance with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams.

Posted ImagePosted Image

The One with the Screamer
Phoebe waits on hold so she can have her phone
repaired before the warranty expires. The gang goes
to Joey's play on opening night. Rachel dates Tommy,
who seems pretty nice... except when he starts
screaming at people; however, only Ross witnesses
this behavior and can't convince anyone else. Joey's
play gets bad reviews, prompting the director to
break up with Kate; Joey and Kate spend the night
talking and falling in love. Kate gets a job offer
in L.A. and decides to leave. Don't miss a Guest
Star
appearance by Ben Stiller, as the rather
emotional boyfriend.

Posted ImagePosted Image

The one at The Beach
Phoebe finds a picture of her parents with their
friend (also named Phoebe) and looks her up; she lives
out by the beach, so everyone decides to go to the
beach for the weekend. Joey tries to initiate a
strip-poker game, which ends up as a strip-Happy-Days
game. Rachel and Ross flirt... until Ross's girlfriend
Bonnie shows up. Phoebe finds out that the other
Phoebe has no idea where her father Frank is... but
she has a different revelation to make. Rachel
convinces Bonnie to shave her head again, which
results in a confrontation between Rachel and Ross
in which she reveals she still loves him.


How is the transfer?


The transfer is on par with last season's set.
Presented Full Frame, the show looks pretty
damn good. While the title and location establishing
shots have hints of video noise in them, the rest
of the show looks terrific.

Reading my review of the Second season, I noted
that the video looked a little soft. Not so here.
Picture looks crisp and detailed with color that
is very solid. A very satisfying presentation.

Friends is an entirely a dialogue-driven
show, so you can naturally expect the audio to be
mostly front-heavy. Audio quality is excellent and
dialogue is clear and distinct. The surrounds not
only provide support for audience laughter, but
various music sequences as well.


Special Features

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Producers commentary appear on three episodes:
The one where no one's ready, The one with the
morning after
and The one with the football.
The producers in question are: Marta Kauffman, David
Crane and Kevin S. Bright. I listened to the
commentary on the football episode and found
it to be really cool! The producers are joined
here with production designer John Shaffner. Kevin
Bright (who also directed this show) talks about
his fear of doing an episode about football, since
nobody is very comfortable about shooting the show
outside of its soundstage. What was the solution?
They went across the lot to an empty soundstage
where they built an entire park to support the story.
David Crane knew very little about football, so he
made sure that the show was easy to understand by
those who fans who weren't football enthusiasts.
Shaffner talks about how he turned an empty studio
stage into a "pocket park." A very lively and
entertaining commentary, and I imagine the others
to be equally the same.

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Disc Three features Tour of Joey and
Chandler's bachelor pad
which is an interactive
map that reacts to your remote control commands.
For instance, click on The Sofa to learn the
reason why the Friends sets have a pyramid
shape to them. Click on the icon in the lower left
corner to hear more secrets from Art Director
John Shaffner. Be sure to click on The Foosball
Table
and its adjoining icon to watch a super
match between the Stage Coordinator, Asst. Upm,
Dimmer Board Operator and The Grip.

Posted Image

Friends of Friends is basically a Guest
Book
that lists all the guest stars that appeared
on the show during this season. Click on a name to
see an extended clip of their appearance.

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How Well Do You Know Your Friends? takes
us to the Central Perk where our server introduces
us to a menu containing the faces of our favorite
characters. Click on an individual face and be
treated to a montage of that character's finest
FRIENDS moments.

Posted Image

Ross and Rachel: On a break? is an interactive
quiz that should be easy for those familiar with
this season's episodes. Each correct answer is
rewarded with a clip from the episode. Each wrong
answer tears Rachel and Ross further apart.

Although there is also a Cast and Crew list
featured here, its is rather limited in the fact
that you cannot click on any individual name to
access a filmography.


Final Thoughts


Another superb season supported by some rather
cool guest star appearances makes Friends: The
Complete Season Three
a nice addition to the
previously released season sets.

Still not a watcher of Friends? You really
have missed the boat!


Release Date: April 1, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 26 David Lambert

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Posted March 23 2003 - 11:43 AM

I was just telling the wife an hour ago how much I was looking forward to this release next week! I can't wait to fool around with this set on April Fool's Day!!
DAVE/Memphis, TN

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#3 of 26 DanC

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Posted March 23 2003 - 11:45 AM

Thanks for the fine review Ron, glad to hear the video quality seems somewhat improved from the first 2 seasons. Definitely a purchase for me! Posted Image
Go Noles!
>>------>

Home Theater/DVD's

#4 of 26 Clinton C

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Posted March 23 2003 - 01:51 PM

can't wait to get this set. season 3 has some of my favorite episodes from the entire series. I will pick this up on release day even though i'm only on disc 3 of season 2

#5 of 26 Joel C

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Posted March 23 2003 - 04:24 PM

Love this show, all nine seasons. Three is great, but I can't wait for four.
Joel
woemcats@hotmail.com
"Why I laugh?"

#6 of 26 Michael D. Bunting

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Posted March 23 2003 - 05:30 PM

Thanks for the review Ron Posted Image

I'll add Season 3 to my collection to go along with my Season 1 and 2 Posted Image

#7 of 26 James Costin

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Posted March 23 2003 - 09:15 PM

In relation to these Friends season sets. Can anyone tell me if the Canadian versions feature bilingual covers or are they the same as the American versions?
Thanks.

#8 of 26 Christian Preischl

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Posted March 23 2003 - 10:01 PM

James,

Warner don't do bilingual covers, so you should be okay.

Anybody else notice that the menus are now anamorphic?

I can't wait for this set, I already ebayed my PAL discs a few weeks back and I just love rediscovering my favorite Friends episodes in extended versions.
And the sudden price drop from $70 SRP to $45 SRP is amazing! Credit where credits is due: Great job, Warner! Posted Image

Chris

#9 of 26 James Costin

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Posted March 23 2003 - 10:03 PM

Thanks for the info Christian.

#10 of 26 Ron-P

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Posted March 24 2003 - 02:26 AM

Excellent. Cannot wait to add this to the collection.

Peace Out~Posted Image
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#11 of 26 MishaLauenstein

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Posted March 24 2003 - 04:56 AM

The only reason I would buy these is for the additional footage as seen in the previous seasons' releases.

Is there no additional footage for Season Three?
40% Ben Katz + 30% Bobby Hill (Texas) + 20% Monica Geller + 10% William Dent. (Wardrobe by George Costanza)

#12 of 26 LarryDavenport

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Posted March 24 2003 - 05:18 AM

I'm sure there is additinal footage since there was on the Best of Friends sets. I only wish they (WB) were quicker getting the sets out. Two a year seems awfully slow.

I should be getting my pre-order with The Beatles Anthology, I might have to play hooky and have a Beatles/Friendsmarathon for a couple days.

#13 of 26 MishaLauenstein

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Posted March 24 2003 - 10:54 AM

Ah, I can see now on the images of the front cover that this season also says: Now With Footage You've Never Seen

Never mind.
40% Ben Katz + 30% Bobby Hill (Texas) + 20% Monica Geller + 10% William Dent. (Wardrobe by George Costanza)

#14 of 26 Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 24 2003 - 12:51 PM

Quote:
I'm sure there is additinal footage since there was on the Best of Friends sets. I only wish they (WB) were quicker getting the sets out. Two a year seems awfully slow.


Still beats the progress for The Simpsons!
Colin Jacobson
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#15 of 26 Joel C

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Posted March 24 2003 - 01:30 PM

And at least there wasn't a big delay before Friends got "good." I like the early Simpsons, but it didn't really kick in until S3.

It's better than the release rate for Seinfeld, too! Posted Image
Joel
woemcats@hotmail.com
"Why I laugh?"

#16 of 26 Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 24 2003 - 01:58 PM

Quote:
And at least there wasn't a big delay before Friends got "good." I like the early Simpsons, but it didn't really kick in until S3.


Actually, I don't think Friends really came into its own until its third season. I find the first two seasons of The Simpsons to be superior to the first two years of Friends. (Of course, I like The Simpsons more as a whole...)
Colin Jacobson
http://www.dvdmg.com

#17 of 26 Michael Martin

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Posted March 25 2003 - 12:10 AM

Quote:
Actually, I don't think Friends really came into its own until its third season.


Wow, I am completely opposite. I think the strongest seasons of Friends are Seasons 1 and 2. I'm going to buy 3 and 4 on the overall strength of the seasons, but am stopping there.

Season 5 has a few strong eps, but (at least for me) not worth investing to purchase an entire season set. Don't even get me started on the quality of the show from season 6 onwards.

Thanks Ron, for the review. Great to know they're slowly expanding the commentaries - only 1 in the season 1 set, 2 in season 2, and now 3. The interactive tours of the sets are very cool, too.

If only they could get the cast to do commentaries...that would be just awesome.

"You know, God has some really weird kids, and I find it hard to be in their company most of the time."
--Paul "Bono" Hewson

#18 of 26 Debbie E

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Posted March 26 2003 - 09:32 PM

I bought it for $22.XX at overstock.com. I'm waiting for the price drop to buy seasons 1 and 2. Should I hold off and watch it in order or do I jump right in?

Also... anyone know when the price drop will come? Will stores like Best Buy and DDDvd drop their prices?

#19 of 26 David Lambert

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Posted March 26 2003 - 10:44 PM

I'm waiting for the price drop to buy seasons 1 and 2. Should I hold off and watch it in order or do I jump right in?

Also... anyone know when the price drop will come? Will stores like Best Buy and DDDvd drop their prices?

The price drops for S1 and S2 were originally scheduled to be a week or two after the streetdate for S3...but Warner has sensibly changed them to take place on 4/1 (same day S3 streets).

The prices should in theory take effect at all chains and e-tailers simultaneously on that date. Actually, price changes are allowed to take place on the Sunday prior, so 3/30 they ought to go into effect. However, your milage may vary as not every chain is on-the-ball. And, often the price changes in the register system but the tags aren't updated until the staff gets around to it (if ever). So, noone can guarantee that Best Buy will get the price drops done "on time".

Someone asked (either earlier in this thread or perhaps over in the Bargains section, I forget) whether Best Buy would have S3 on sale. Without violating forum rules about naming sale prices before Sunday prior, I think I *can* say that BB's deal for Friends S3 is their typical one for subsequent season sets: Buy only S3, "regular price". Buy S3 and one of the previous ones at the same time, save a little money on the combo purchase. Buy all three, save even more money. Of course, this scheme is only good for BB customers if they take the price reduction first! Posted Image

DAVE/Memphis, TN

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#20 of 26 Debbie E

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Posted March 26 2003 - 11:20 PM

I can wait Posted Image So Best would -definitely- do a price drop within the next month? It doesn't have to be right on the first.

Right now BB's price is $60. How much do you think it will drop? to $30 or $40, or will it just drop $10 or so?

BTW your descripion below your name is accurate Posted Image Posted Image