Analytical Episode Guide:

 

Welcome back to Analytical Episode Guide! This year we focus on the other 90’s mega hitfor NBC, Friends! Before we dive in I wanted to point out some changes to theformat. First, instead of Best Quote I will do Funniest Line. No deleted scenes because unlike Seinfeld, the Friends DVD has the episodes fully restored deleted scenes and all, which I think is just awesome! Also no episode fun facts Instead I will list the syndication edits if I can remember them (I maydrop this idea we’ll see how it goes). A new section exploring the charactersby focusing on one character which especially shined in each episode and once again no counters since that has been done to death.  Oh, and my nitpicks will not be continuity related you can find those mistakes all over the internet.

Onefinal change, the last time I did a DVD (just five episodes) a week and, to be honest, doing that for eight months got old and I was getting burned out by the time that was done in August. On top of that I imagine it was getting annoyingfor everyone reading these, I imagine thoughts of “my lord isn’t he done withthis Seinfeld thing yet?” Of course Friends was on even longer!  So I will try to get these out either twice aweek (six episodes per article) or once a week with two DVD’s worth of episodes on them.

Now that we’ve gone over that, let’s discuss one of my favorites show’s……

 
Season 1, Part 1

Friends premiered on September 22, 1994 created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman andwas an almost immediate monster hit for NBC. This show combined with Mad AboutYou, Seinfeld, and ER made Thursday night must see TV, quite literally. While it’s true that some called this a Seinfeld clone, like many that were poppingup at the time, this one was different. The characters seemed fresher and the show was genuinely funny. So as we discuss the episodes I hope to explore whatmade this show a hit, what made it unique, and maybe even why some hate thisshow since it does have a few more haters than Seinfeld did.

Season 1, Episode 1
The Pilot

PlotSummary- We are introduced to Monica, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey inCentral Perk. Rachel runs in with a wedding dress on, having just fled herwedding, This episode establishes Rachel dumped her fiancée, will end up movingin with Monica, Ross is divorced to a lesbian, and Monica has sex with a man onthe first day but discovers his line that got her into bed was just, well, aline.

FunniestLine-Man, I am going to throw my arms up and say every joke works here andthat’s that.

Nitpickof the episode-The only real complaint about this episode was the pacing whichleft me and I think many viewers confused the very first time. Now it’s not aproblem because we know who they are but it wasn’t until the third episode Igot all the characters and how they were related all sorted out. This episodefeatures something else which would thankfully be dropped, having thecharacters watch TV for no reason and make jokes about what they were watching.I realize this was to make it more realistic, but we don’t watch TV to watchother people watch TV, and I am very glad that did not last past the firstseason.

Standout Character-For the pilot I think Chandler, not because he had the most to dobut because Matthew Perry’s comic delivery made Chandler’s jokes genuinelyfunny and you don’t need to go further than the first episode to see that.

Syndication Edit-Phoebe’s first song was here, but you’d need to buy the DVD to hear itsince it was cut from the episode.

Final Thoughts-Most pilots feel awkward because even the cast is still getting usedto their roles. This one dives right in and feels like another episode.Seriously, if you didn’t know better would you think it was a pilot? It isfunny and well written. Ok, to be fair some of the characters are still off.Especially Joey who here is the jerk he was created to be, rather than the lovable jerk he would develop into. I am so glad it changed because if we gotthis guy for ten years I am pretty sure no spin-off would have been considered.Phoebe is also flakier than what she would become later, but her backstory ispretty much the same here as the rest of the series. We also begin theRoss/Rachel thing at the end of the episode, though it goes nowhere at first whichis the norm at this point in the show. Monica’s story is kind of weak but doeslead to one of the episode funniest gags regarding the line Paul gives to gether into bed.
Grade=A,One of the best pilot episodes ever

Season 1, Episode 2
The One with the Sonogram at the End

PlotSummary-Ross discovers that Carol is pregnant with his child, Rachel has toreturn her engagement ring to Barry, and Monica has to deal with her parentswho clearly favor Ross over her.

FunniestLine-“I’m not sure but I think it’s about to attack the Enterprise”, Chandler(let’s be honest, he’s going to get a many of these

Nitpickof the episode-I always thought Courtney Cox overplayed Monica’s aggravationwith her parents here. Something about it just seemed too much, almost as ifshe should have ran out to see her therapist as soon as they left. In laterepisodes her parents still favored Ross but won’t aggravate Monica soextremely.

Standout Character-Ross, since he is basically the main focus of the show. I love theearly episode when we got the sweet lovable Ross as opposed to the goofy dufushe would be later.

Syndication Edit-First ugly naked guy sighting, apparently he got a thigh master

FinalThoughts-It seems like whenever the pilot is strong, the follow up is weak andthat is no exception here. Ross finding out Carol is pregnant might have hadmore weight is this wasn’t the second episode and we weren’t just meeting herfor the first time. Rachel returning her engagement ring is ultimatelypointless. And the bit with Monica and Ross’s parents is overplayed; Monicaacts like a mental patient while her mother is a bit colder than she would belater on. The opening teaser is the one highlight that is pretty funny. Also inthe early episodes Phoebe and Joey seemed to be competing for the role of groupdimwit, which we all know Joey would finally win.
Grade=C,this episode is forgettable

Season 1, Episode 3
The One with the Thumb

PlotSummary-Monica dates a man all her friends seem to like. Phoebe has sometrouble with a bank and a can of soda. Chandler starts smoking again.

FunniestLine-Not a line, but the scene where Chandler tries smoking at work is always abig laugh

Nitpick of the episode- It’s a clever idea to have the man Monica is dating actuallyliked by the group, but I think the gag of him hating them should have beenfleshed out more. After being so nice to the group, doing things with them andoffering them advice, it’s just a little hard to swallow. I think it was meantas a joke to end the episode but in context it doesn’t make sense.

Standout Character-Phoebe, after being in the background the first two episodes it’snice to see her get a little story even if she is different here than how shewould end up

Syndication Edit-The opening scene with Chandler teaching Joey to smoke was longer

FinalThoughts-This was the first episode I really liked. I guess for me this is theepisode where the show finally started to work. I always hated they madeChandler a former smoker but to be fair they do a good job with it. At leastthey were smart enough to bring it back once in a while. Phoebe’s story issilly but as I stated it is nice to see her get some attention. We meet herweird friend Lizzie who will never appear again. Likewise, I love the scenewhere Chandler points out the others flaws; the ones for Monica, Joey, andPhoebe never appear again. Only the one for Ross, about over talking, wouldremain part of the character. I am just nitpicking now; truth is I really likethis one.
Grade=B+,one of my favorites

Season 1, Episode 4
The One with George Stephanopoulos

Plot Summary-Chandler and Joey take Ross to a hockey, Ross is upset because it’s aspecial anniversary, Rachel, Monica, and Phoebe spend the night spying on aspecial neighbor.

Funniest Line-“It’s kind of an emergency! I guess you know that, or we’d be in thepredicament room”…Chandler

Nitpickof the episode-This is one of those stories it’s hard for me to understand as aguy. Why would three women want to spend the night staring across the alley forthe chance to see a cute guy they only know from the news? Oh and Ross…GET OVERIT! Ok that’s mean but his whining gets real old in this one.

Standout Character-Rachel, it’s nice to see her dealing with the repercussions of leaving her fiancée and when you see her in this episode compared to where she would eventually be the evolution of the character is really amazing.

Syndication Edit-Ross and Monica discuss Phoebe sleeping in public; the girls discuss theguys and foreshadow their future relationships with them

FinalThoughts-I always kind of hated it when they friends split up and this is anearly installment doing just that. Ross’s whining gets annoying by the end. Thewhole thing at the hospital is dumb from the receptionist at the ER, if shewere a real one she would have been fired long ago, to the stupid kid who takesRoss’s puck. It is nice to see the girls bonding though. Not a bad episode butthe best either.
Grade=C,average

Season 1, Episode 5
The One with the East German LaundryDetergent


Plot Summary-Ross helps Rachel do her laundry; Monica poses as Joey’s boyfriend,Chandler and Phoebe help each other break up with their respective others

FunniestLine-“Look at this, I’m going to look like a marshmallow peep”…Rachel

Nitpickof the episode-Find it hard to believe that Monica believes Joey and buys thescenario for as long as she does

Standout Character-Ross & Rachel, this is the first time we really see thechemistry between them

Syndication Edit-Joey and Monica’s scenes were longer

FinalThoughts-This is our introduction to Janice, and she is much more down to Earthhere. Also the early shows would have cold openings that had nothing to do withthe episode, like the conversation seen in the opening of this episode. Theywere ripe for syndication edits. The Joey and Monica story does not work at all;in fact these are the two characters that worked the worst off each other. Notsure what it was exactly, but off the top of my head I can’t remember one timewhen Monica and Joey had a scene that worked. Chandler and Phoebe’s story isfunny but of course the main drive of this episode is getting the Ross &Rachel plot moving which this episode does very nicely. And their scenes inthis episode are gold, maybe it was here I was on board with seeing these twoget together.
Grade=B-,Ross and Rachel save this one

Season 1, Episode 6
The One with the Butt

Plot Summary-Joey gets a cheeky role in a movie. Chandler dates a beautiful womanwho has other men in her life. We establish how anal retentive Monica can be.

FunniestLine- “Look at it this way. You dumped her. Right? I mean this woman wasunbelievably sexy and beautiful, intelligent, unattainable. Tell me why you didthis again?”….Ross

Nitpickof the episode-Ok, I will do the one everyone comments on. In the shower sceneyou can see Joey is clearly wearing boxers by looking at his shadow on the wall.

Standout Character-Joey, in many ways this is the first time in the series Joeyfeels like the guy he would develop into. Why does he get so excited about sucha silly role?

Syndication Edit-Joey visiting his new agent, this is Estelle’s first appearance but sinceit is cut then in syndication her first appearance comes later (am I makingthis more complicated than it needs to be?). Also originally the closing credits had the gang teasing Joey by singing that awful song he sang at thestart of the episode.

Final Thoughts-Joey and Monica show signs of what their characters were going tobecome here. We get Joey excited for a movie role which is nothing to getexcited about, and Monica and her anal retentive habits. Chandler’s story isreally weak because we know how it’s going to end before it begins, and reallydoesn’t add anything to the character.

Grade=B,decent episode as we see the characters finally start to really click

That’s it for today, and this is a work in progress so please share any comments or criticism. See you next time as we continue season 1!

By richb

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