Friends: The Complete Fifth Season

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The fifth season of “Friends” was the one that made it stand out and finally establish itself as one of the better television comedies. The show has lurked in the shadow of the “Seinfeld” dynasty, but now that show had ended its run. This season had to prove that it had what it took to still reel in the viewers and stand alone as its own show (not just the one that was on the same night as “Seinfeld”). As it turns out, “Friends” scored high in the ratings and if there was even any doubt that the show had legs, they were extinguished by the season’s end. The show is full of moments that almost define what we think of when we think of “Friends”. Phoebe gives birth to her brother’s triplets, Ross gets married and Monica and Chandler have to face their true feelings in a season that would set the pace for the season’s to come. While it’s hard to comprehend exactly how popular the show is, we know how much the gang is getting paid per episode, but it’s worth it as they have given us countless hours of entertainment. The usual bevy of guest stars are present, that always make for a much more enjoyable experience and we even get to see Janice as Ross starts dating her (in a move that boggles everyone’s mind).

This might have been the most anticipated season opener in the show’s history. Ross (David Schwimmer) and Emily (Helen Baxendale) are to be married, but Ross accidentally blurts out Rachel’s name at the most inopportune moment. I say this now as if you’re reading about the fifth season, then you’ve most likely seen it. Ross, now back in the states, is trying to reconcile his relationship with Emily and almost to any consequence. Monica (Courtney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) are having a good time with their newfound friskiness, but have to try really hard to keep it from the rest of the group. Joey (Matt Le Blanc), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and Rachel don’t have quite the spotlight that their other halves do, but there’s always fun to be had. Joey moves out of Chandler’s apartment and gets his own place in a more expensive part of town. As Dr. Drake Ramore on “Days of Our Lives”, he now has the money to live like the star he’s become. But his casual comments might see that his part goes down the drain (elevator shaft, that is). As the season progresses, we get more than our share of laughs and the usual comedic timing of the group is near perfection. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you have to admit that “Friends” has stood the test of time and is sure to please fans of the series who want to watch reruns from their favorite seasons.

Video: How does it look?

Friends is shown in its full-frame aspect ratio, which makes perfect sense seeing as how it’s a television show. Just like the previous Volumes, these appear very clear and the level of detail is excellent. Though some episodes tend to vary in clarity, I did a comparison to the digital cable that I’m used to watching them on and the DVD is superior to even that. Some of the episodes tend to have a bit of halos to them, mainly in the panning city shots (that feature a lot of shots of the World Trade Centers), but that’s about all the fault I can find with the way these look. Fans of Friends will not be disappointed as it’s more of the same. And that’s a good thing.

Audio: How does it sound?

Again, just as in previous seasons, Friends is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.0 mix that does add a new layer of depth the audio portion of the show. While a dialog-driven comedy, the scenes do feature some fairly strong audio portions. What I notice most is the applause (filmed in front of a live studio audience) coming from the rear speakers and the guitar music for the “in between” shots does sound nice as well. I think I said the same thing about the previous version, but it’s essentially the same thing, just different episodes. While not the best audio presentation in the world, it certainly gets the job done.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Though just owning another season of “Friends” is treat enough, the set comes equipped with some commentary tracks on select episodes. “The One With All the Thanksgivings”, “The One Where Everybody Finds Out”, and the landmark “The One Hundreth” each feature a commentary track by the creators Marta Kaufman, David Crane and Kevin Bright. The trio has teamed up for plenty of commentaries in the past and these are no different. Though running at nearly thirty minutes, there’s a few dull spots from time to time, but for the most part the tracks are filled with some very creative insight and little interesting behind the scenes comments. Personally, I liked “The One Where Everybody Finds Out’ the best as it seemed to be a more light-hearted episode and it’s reflected in the commentary. But wait…there’s more! There’s an hour long documentary “The One That Goes Behind the Scenes” which is the same documentary that was featured on “The Best of Friends: Volume Three and Four”. Living up to its namesake, this essentially shows the process of making the show, from the writing, rehearsal to the filming of the show. If it’s behind the scenes stuff you’re looking for, look no further. Also included is “Friends: On Location in London” which as also been included on a previous “Friends” disc. The show went to London to film a few episodes (most notably, the wedding) and this explores the show’s popularity overseas as well as here in the states. All in all, another great season of America’s favorite show is here and they’ll be there for you…

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