Revisiting `Friends' - all 10 years of it - brings a comfortable feeling

Critics' picks: New DVDs

November 13, 2005|By DAVID ZURAWIK

FRIENDS - THE ONE WITH ALL TEN SEASONS -- Warner Home Video / $299.98 / Remember the pilot? Ross (David Schwimmer) just found out his wife of four years is a lesbian and is leaving him for another woman. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) just left her fiancM-i standing at the altar of a $40,000 wedding. Monica (Courteney Cox) wonders why she's a "beacon for men with severe emotional problems." And Chandler (Matthew Perry) feels compelled to share every detail of his dreams, which are Freudian feasts of sexual insecurities and confusions. Remember Monica's dinner date with a dreamboat of a guy? Just as they appear to be starting to connect, he tells her he's impotent, and the sip of tea she hadn't yet swallowed comes flying out of her mouth: "Sorry, I know being spit on is probably not what you need right now," she says trying to sound supportive. One of the pleasures of having a collection like Friends -- The One with All Ten Seasons, which will be released Tuesday, is being able to go back to the beginning. Few series in the history of the medium have carved out as safe and comforting a place of escape for its millions of fans as Friends did with its vision of community based on a group of young people who truly care for one another without ties of workplace or blood. This celebration of the urban tribe preached a message of being nice at a time when much of the rest of culture - from TV advertising and cable talk shows, to politics - went mean and nasty. The Friends Thanksgiving episode that aired after 9/11 is one of the greatest moments in the history of the sitcom genre, as a seemingly silly story line of Joey (Matt LeBlanc) stuffing himself with turkey helps transform the narrative into a fable of abundance about New York City - and a reaffirmation of America as a land of greatness, plenty and brotherhood. Special features The good ones: final thoughts from the cast and commentary by producers on three episodes from the last season. The bad one: a LeBlanc Joey-Joey music video. (Note: These are the same features from Friends - The Complete Tenth Season that is also being released Tuesday for the price of $44.98, according to a publicist for the DVD.) ALSO ANTICIPATED BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: THE CHOSEN COLLECTION -- Twentieth Century Fox / $199.98 / All seven seasons of Buffy on 40 discs - what more could a fan of the Slayer (Sarah Michelle Gellar) hope for? (Plus a collectible book and a letter signed by creator Joss Whedon.) Talk about young people creating a community of goodness not based on ties of workplace or blood ...

David.Zurawik@baltsun.com

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