Friends: The Complete Third Season

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The third season of Friends really took the show to a new level. Granted it was given the “cherry spot” in the Thursday night lineup along with Seinfeld, but for a show to succeed, it has to have more than just glossy appeal and some high ratings (though those don’t hurt). We’ve met and know the characters and even in this point in time, the show has become a bona fide hit, inspiring sorority girls haircuts and the cast is only now starting to make their string of bad movies (Ed, Lost in Space, Six Days and Seven Nights, etc.). The third season of the show, however, was when I stopped watching; namely because when something gets popular – I stop watching. So seeing these episodes for me was literally like seeing them for the first time, even though I think I caught a few in syndication. Friends shows that it was more than just a bunch of pretty faces, but rather a show that people could relate to. Set aside the ensemble cast of guest appearances (Robin Williams and Billy Crystal, Ben Stiller, Teri Garr and Tom Selleck just to name a few) and the stories not only are funny, but reference one another. It’s not just a lot of stand-alone episodes, but more of a whole.

During the third season, each of the characters faced a situation that not only challenged them, but made them a bit deeper to us as well. That’s not to say that the episodes weren’t funny, but they could also be serious as well. Joey fell for one of his co-stars (after he had slept with her, naturally); Chandler tries to make his relationship with Janice work, even though she’s been seeing her ex-husband again. Rachel and Ross have called it quits after he has pined after her since early in the first season. Ross, though still a whiner, tries to move on in life even after his own jealousy has torn Rachel and he apart. This leaves Monica, who is trying to get over her relationship with Richard, only to find something in Pete, a rich industrialist who wants to be the Ultimate Fighting Champion. Phoebe is reunited with her long lost brother as well. While this is certainly not a drama, Friends proved that it could still make us laugh (and it does, with me anyway), but also add a bit of reality to our Thursday night viewing. Recommended.

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?

You’d figure that for the amount the Friends are getting paid per episode ($1 million dollars an episode per person) that they could sit down and record a few commentary tracks for us fans of the show. You know, back in the days when they were only making $100,000 an episode! Not the case, but this season does have a commentary on three episodes, “The One Where No One’s Ready” (also seen in a previous “Best of…” Friends DVD), “The One With the Morning After” and “The One With the Football” (another “Best of…” pick). The commentaries are good, not great, but do add some insight as to why the episodes were so popular. The tracks are more technical than anything, telling of where things were put up, how much time it took to shoot, etc. But there isn’t much dull space as they were only 27 minutes a piece, so if you wanted to know everything there is to know about these three episodes; here you have it. There’s a rather pointless extra, as you can move around Joey and Chandler’s bachelor pad and while highlighting certain items in their place (reclining chairs, hats, foosball table, etc.) you can learn a little more about why they are there and what, if anything, their purpose is. “Friends on Friends” is labeled as a video guestbook of sorts, but in all actuality it’s just a list of the guest stars who appeared on the show that season. Click on a name, I first chose Sherylin Fenn (because she’s fine and we have the same birthday, but no one cares), and you’re treated to a scene in which that actor/actress appeared. Ben Stiller’s takes the cake as being the funniest in my own opinion, though. Some Video Character Bios are also included as the text-based ones that are present are just that, plain text. Click on a character and you’re treated to a collage of clips of them during the third season. Not the most original supplement in the world, but rather interesting. Alongside some DVD-ROM material, there is a Ross and Rachel trivia quiz. You correctly answer questions and you get them back together. Should be easy if you watch all the episodes. All in all, it’s another great season of Friends and we have (at least) seven more to look forward to. To quote Joey “…Nice…”.

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