Friends Series 7 episodes 13-16 Review
Last year I reviewed a disc of Friends season 6 from the middle of the series, and this is a similar point in the following season. Last year it was a case of the show not being as good as its heyday but reasonably good episodes after a mediocre start to the season. Pretty much the same could be said here, as after some weak opening episodes these four episodes are actually quite funny. The main theme that runs through all episodes of season seven is the upcoming wedding between Chandler and Monica, and the truth about London episode spends most time on that. Other highlights of these episodes include Joey's favourite chair getting wrecked (funnier than it sounds) and Rachel's thirtieth birthday.
The episodes are:
The one where Rosita dies
Rosita, of course, being Joey's beloved reclining chair. This episode also features a story where Ross and Monica's parents are selling their house, and Phoebe gets a job in telesales which involves having to deal with a suicidal customer (played by guest star Jason Alexander).
The one where they all turn thirty
Rachel's thirtieth birthday causes her a lot of distress and everyone else reminisces about the day that they hit that landmark age. From the face of it, this looks like it could be one of those "flashback" episodes full of clips from previous shows, but it is in fact all new material and is quite funny.
The one with Joey's new brain
Joey's soap character gets a brain transplant and takes over the role of one of the show's longest running stars (played by guest star Susan Sarandon) who gets the boot from the show.
The one with the truth about London
A few home truths come out about how Monica actually hooked up with Chandler when they were all in London. This doesn't go down at all well with Chandler, who thinks he was actually second choice. Elsewhere Rachel is in trouble for teaching Ross's son Ben practical jokes and general naughty behaviour.
Season seven Friends discs are different from previous seasons as they now feature four episodes instead of eight, but also have "special editions" of the shows as well, on side B of the flip disc.
Side A features a 4x3 full screen image and side B features... a 4x3 full screen image. The image itself is about as good as can be expected from an NTSC broadcast source. That is, a little bit on the fuzzy side and not as sharp as that from film or PAL broadcast.
The original episodes side of the disc features just the plain stereo sound as broadcast on TV, but the "special editions" have Dolby Digital 5.0 sound. That is, the five separate channels are there, but there is no LFE (low frequency effects). The 5.0 track obviously generates a fuller sound than the basic stereo version, but don't expect anything too fancy. Main usage of the rear channels is for audience laughter, music and the occasional ambient effect.
Up until the end of the season six discs we had eight episodes per DVD, four on one side and four on the other. Now we have four original episodes on one side, and the same four on the other in special edition versions. As well as having better sound these are director's cuts which mean they feature additional material, though this varies from episode to episode. All the original shows clock in at around 22 minutes; the special edition of The one with the truth about London comes in around 29 minutes, whereas The one where they all turn thirty is pretty much the same episode with no changes. In fact, three of the four episodes are longer here, though this will obviously vary from disc to disc. Sometimes the extra scenes are extensions of existing scenes, such as Phoebe's encounter with the suicidal manager in The one where Rosita dies; others, such as in The One with the truth about London feature subplots that were completely removed from the broadcasted version. For this disc, the additional scenes are almost all worthy additions to each episode. Only a duff sequence involving Joey and Rachel in the Rosita episode spoils things.
Not forgetting the other "extra" on this disc, as with all other Friends discs, which is a fairly pointless weblink.
Although it's nice to see the "special editions" of each episode, by reducing the number of episodes from eight to four per disc Warner have effectively doubled the price to own Friends on DVD. Here's an idea: why not just keep releasing eight episodes per disc, four special editions on one side, and four special editions on the other. Trouble is, that would eat into Warner's latest money making idea, as they know that there are enough Friends fans out there that will accept this stealth price increase. As for this disc, although season 7 has been a bit patchy, these are four episodes which are all very watchable, and the special editions are generally even better.