Thursday, February 01, 2018

The one where I praise FRIENDS

I was channel surfing over the weekend and came upon the beginning of a FRIENDS episode. That’s easy to do; it’s on seventeen channels. So I watched.   I was delighted to see that just a random episode of FRIENDS was smart, clever, had heart, and made me laugh out loud a couple of times. As with all FRIENDS episodes, it had three stories intertwined (not easy to do) and you could go to any one of the cast members for laughs (except Courtney Cox). But five out of six is a great average. I’ve been on shows where they’re thrilled if there’s a simple majority.

I am not alone in my enthusiasm for FRIENDS. It’s on seventeen channels showing multiple times a day for a reason. And worldwide it’s far and away America’s most popular import. FRIENDS also attracts a broad range of demographics. Original fans of the show are now middle age (sorry, but you are). And Millennials adore the program even though the episodes are twenty years old. When I asked my UCLA graduate students which current sitcoms like they liked no one could agree. One student’s favorite was loathed by another and vice versa. But then I said, who likes FRIENDS and every hand went up immediately.

That’s the series they should be rebooting, although the chances of getting that cast all back (and for a price that wouldn’t top the GNP) are slimsky and nonesky.

So think about it. When networks are looking for edgy, out-of-the-box fare, here is a classic traditional multi-camera sitcom, filmed in front of a live studio audience, sweetened by a laugh track, with a simple premise, relatable characters, and the kind of “jokes” most current TV comedy writers look down their noses at and it’s far more popular than any current sitcom today.

For many years during FRIENDS’ heyday, every network tried to copy it. There must’ve been twenty FRIENDS clones (maybe fifty). What they missed was this: FRIENDS had a distinctive voice, an 80% perfect cast, an inviting colorful look, and terrific WRITING. The late night rewrite sessions on FRIENDS were legendary. The quest for excellence was evident in every episode, including the one I just happened to catch. “Good enough” was not good enough.

And that standard of excellence extended to filming nights. FRIENDS filmed from 4 pm until generally 1 am every week. Two separate audiences were brought in. Now granted, you can only do that on a show that is wildly popular (I can't see two audiences lining up for DR. KEN when it was on), but still FRIENDS went to that effort. Jokes were rewritten on the stage.

And you see the results. Twenty years later people are still in love with FRIENDS. Look, for a show to become a global sensation the planets have to line up. The right time, the right place, and the right people. FRIENDS was blessed with all of that with everyone involved taking great care to ensure they made the most with the gift they were given. I should mention at this time I personally had nothing to do with the show. I never wrote on it, never directed it, was never married to Jennifer Aniston – so this is not me tooting my own horn.

One last thought – and this goes back to the planets all lining up – Jennifer Aniston was almost not in FRIENDS. She was in second position to another sitcom on another network she in at the time. But NBC managed to kill that show so it would get cancelled and Jennifer would be available. How did they do that? Preston Beckman, who put the schedule together for NBC was responsible and explains it this week on my podcast. How’s that for a tease? You can hear it by clicking on the big gold button right under the masthead.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go back and watch another episode or two of FRIENDS.  I'm sure it's on right now.  

68 comments :

Peter said...

Uh oh. Robert Wagner has been named as a "person of interest" in Natalie Wood's death.

I have a feeling Ken might put up another post today...

Mike Bloodworth said...

The main reason I started watching FRIENDS, as with most sitcoms, was because of a babe. I first saw Jennifer Aniston on the FOX sketch show THE EDGE. Anybody remember that one? She was very funny on that show and of course very hot as well. (Yes, I admit it. I'm a pig) So when I heard she was going to be on FRIENDS I decided to watch. I liked the show from the beginning. I thought It was very funny and well written. It was one of the rare times my taste lined up with the rest of the country. Ironically, I rarely watch it in syndication. Unless I happen to catch an episode where Jen's nipples are popping out. (Once again, I'm a pig.) But, most importantly, the comedy came out of the relationships between the characters. Yes, there were also a lot of jokes, but they worked in the context of those relationships. I also know that there was some controversy about the lack of diversity in the show. But, that's the topic for another rant.
M.B.

Anonymous said...

There was great teamwork on the part of all the actors too. They made a concerted effort to help each other, suggest funny additions to each other and encourage each other.

Theres too little real teamwork like that anywhere (offices, families, etc.) and its too bad because I believe it can accomplish great things.

Sean

An said...

No comment on Friends but did you see this, Ken? https://www.thedailybeast.com/official-robert-wagner-person-of-interest-in-natalie-woods-death

Brian said...


Ha Ha Ha .... As soon as I saw the topic was "Friends", I knew you will take a swipe at Courtney...

Friday Question just for Fun :)
Why do you hate Courtney Cox ? She is a good actress.

Just a guess: Is it because of all the Botox bloating her face now, which makes her look like a wannabe Faye Dunaway :)


A blog post request:
Similar post praising some aspect of "Family Guy". You did say you liked Family Guy jokes in a podcast. But a separate post will be great.

Thanks.

McAlvie said...

Yep. Some of the copy cats weren't all that bad, actually. They were better than most of what the networks pushed afterwards, certainly. But on both counts they were more interested in jumping on a bandwagon than anything else. They aren't alone: we see it in movies, books, fashion, and more sadly in music. Instead of being good, they want to be trendy.

I agree that Courtney Cox wasn't quite the laugh machine that the other characters were, but I also think that she filled a vital role. I'm not a fan, and I often find her acting over the top. But, too many quirky characters in a show is annoying. Somebody needs to be relatively normal, a kind of anchor character that is relatable to the broader audience. And I think some of her best episodes had her character playing exactly that role. Also, the chemistry being such a big part of what made that cast work, you could make a plausible argument that another actor with better comedy chops might have messed with the balance.

Dhruv said...


Great post! Thanks Ken.

My favorite Friends guest star was Christina Applegate. Just 2 episodes, but left a lasting impression. Won an Emmy too for one of the episodes.

Tom Asher said...

Ken, did you see the article about Millennials having an issue with the plots? Too much sexism, homophobism, and body shaming...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-5258829/Millennial-viewers-slam-Friends-problematic-plots.html

If you're not hip to this being in the comments, I'm OK if this doesn't get posted.

Anonymous said...

Someone wrote a 104 page thesis on humor in Friends (particularly Chandler and Phoebe):

https://is.cuni.cz/webapps/zzp/download/120079172

Brian Phillips said...

Let us now begin the following:

1. Love Friends, I agree with you!
2. Never thought it was funny.
3. It's homophobic!

I'm with the first group. I really enjoyed it. I can listen to it and get almost as many laughs by listening and watching. It is a product of its time and the only reason I mention #3, is that I've seen a youtube video and several articles calling it such. I'm not Gay, nor am I purporting to be an authority, but I think some if it needs to be watched in context of the times. For its time, it seemed to be enlightened in its attitudes toward LGBTQ folks. Heck, the longest-lasting relationship in the show, discounting the parents, is a Lesbian couple (whose marriage happened on-air, by the way). However, save the passing mentions in Cheers and Taxi, there weren't a lot of shows that featured LGBTQ folks for ANY length of time successfully. Will and Grace debuted afterwards and Ellen's character came out in 1997, as did Ellen DeGeneres, which was VERY risky.

I'm still a fan, though, the included link did force me to re-evaluate the show. I genuinely hadn't noticed any homophobia, so I guess that is down to me. By the way, the Whiteness of the show wasn't lost on me, either. I didn't see anyone that shared my ethnicity in a recurring role until the 10th season.

By the way, does anyone remember the big controversy of the first "Friends" show? Monica slept with a man on their first date, not homophobia.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsQ5za-J6I8

Stephen Robinson said...

FRIENDS ran for my entire 20s (1994 to 2004) so I have a special fondness for the show. It felt made for me and my generation. The first season especially screams 1990s fashion wise! I often find myself watching and thinking, "Oh my god, I wore that?"

I recall that it was "edgy" in content for its time slot (8 p.m. -- back when that mattered). 20somethings *now* probably don't notice or see it as tame, but what's great is that it was more than just that edginess. Certain shows that were *just* about pushing boundaries obviously fall flat when watched years later.

It's interesting: I've often rushed to Cox's defense when she's often described as the "unfunny" cast member. But lately, I've been watching some old classic sitcoms, and I've come to appreciate the genius and artistry of the "straight man." Monica could have been that "straight man" but I don't think Cox was able to deliver.

A. L. Crivaro said...

Why didn't you like Courteney Cox?

David Schwartz said...

Friends is an absolutely incredible show. One of the things that I believe made it so watchable is there was a progression of the characters. You cared about them and you got to see them change and grow from week to week. Yet, even with the evolution of the characters, it was still accessible to new viewers who just tuned in for an episode.

Often in sitcoms the characters lives and attitudes stay relatively the same throughout the run of the show. The Friends characters changed and these changes affected the way they related to each other. I agree that it is an excellent show with real depth. I wish new sitcoms would have more of that instead of just the "joke of the moment" that often disregards any real characterization.

Astroboy said...

Re: today's news, All I can say is IF Robert Wagner is guilty: "Hang 'em high!"

Mike Barer said...

Thursday night was a blockbuster for NBC with Friends, Frasier, and Seinfeld. We really couldn't wait to watch those shows. Friends also had part time Elliott Gould and Marlo Thomas in occasional roles and explored new ground in TV, bringing up previously taboo topics.

Karen said...

Are you a member of the Directors Guild, Ken? Tomorrow is the awards. Do these awards carry any weight or are they just useless like Golden Globes?

Gary said...

I'm in total agreement about Friends. It was funny then, and it's funny now. I read a good line about it somewhere: for the millennials it should be retitled "That 90's Show."

Anonymous said...

Hello Ken,

Is this a Feb. 1st or April 1st post??? A "FRIENDS" review from Ken Levine???? Did you happen to catch the twitter reviews of Friends after it was released in the UK via Netflix. Very funny. Everyone HATED Ross immediately. The apartment size. How much coffee can you drink? Etc etc. Funny to read current reviews of stuff you watched 20 years ago. --LL

Terry said...

Interesting take. I was a huge fan of Friends back in the day. And yes, I'm middle aged now. However, I've been seeing a lot of backlash toward Friends lately online. Critics are saying it doesn't hold up because of the misogyny of the Joey character and the homophobia (and trans-phobia) of Chandler. Not to mention the body shaming of the "Fat Monica" episodes. Please note these are not necessarily my opinions I'm just echoing what I've read online so take that for what it's worth.

I would tend to agree that Chandler's attitudes in particular are somewhat problematic in today's climate, but I'm curious what you think? Are these criticisms valid or just overly sensitive PC-ness run amok?

Shane said...

"Kill it". Yes, Warren must have said that, but why so much "love" for Aniston, to get this big role ?

Rumor has it that......

Darryl said...

FRIENDS is one of two "old shows" my students usually all watch, the other being THE GOLDEN GIRLS.

Rory Wohl said...

Oh, Ken, thought you might be interested to know:

Robert Wagner named person of interest in Natalie Wood's drowning death - https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2018/02/01/actor-robert-wagner-being-labeled-person-interest-drowning-death-natalie-wood-nearly-four-decades-ag/1085971001/

VP81955 said...

All that said, as a sitcom it's nowhere in the league of "Frasier" or "Seinfeld."

blinky said...

Yeah friends, blah blah blah, whatever! Did you see Robert Wagner is a person of interest in the Natalie Wood murder? That’s some real news for you!

Jeff Maxwell said...

Sleepless nights made me a fan of Friends. For whatever reason, the show didn't enflame me during its initial run. But sandwiched between late-night informercials about repairing your credit or your sex life, I discovered back-to-back reruns along with why all my friends loved the show. It's funny! The cute as hell cast all found their character voice and comic sweet spot, and they appear to adore everything they're doing. Young folks with friends as family - that cast was really living the essence of the show. It's infectious. Now I get it. But I'm really tired.

Marcel said...

I agree that if I catch an episode from one of the stronger seasons, the show is firing on all cylinders. But I'm of the opinion that out of the 10 seasons it was on, 4, maybe 5, of them were good.

I felt that the strongest seasons were ones where there was a strong story arc (Chandler and Monica's secret romance, Rachel's pregnancy, Ross pining for Rachel). When there wasn't a season-long arc playing, the episodes felt aimless. So much of the middle and later seasons was just filler, and at its worst, it was a typical mediocre sitcom that happened to have a megastar cast.

And David Schwimmer became insufferable around season 5 or 6 with the constant mugging and overplaying he did. I was so unhappy when they reunited Ross and Rachel in the final episode...at that point, Rachel had become a multi-dimensional, strong character, while Ross had devolved into the least likable Friend (thanks mostly to Schwimmer's performance). So I'll take Courtney Cox over Schwim any day.

Rock Golf said...

FRIENDS has been gone long enough that they could do a "FRIENDS: The Next Generation" with Ben Geller, Emma Geller, Jack & Erica Bing, and Phoebe's triplets, Frank Jr Jr, Leslie and Chandler Buffet.

Filippo said...

Yeah!
Whatever in culture, art and literature is considered a classic, to me Friends is a classic. It's the Tolstoy of sitcom. It's top level and yet it settles somewhere in the middle.
Probably a sitcom, to be considered 'classic', has to be about family. Without being explicitly about family, Friends achieves that.
The deal with it, I believe, is the feeling that they are really friends.

Gil Grossberger said...

Come on, you love Cox. You certainly put enough of them in yo mouf.

Sid said...


Has anyone noticed that Jennifer's nipples were always stiff?

Some said she iced them before every shot. Imagine That !!!!

Some said she deliberately cut holes in her bra to draw viewers attention.

Whatever!!!! It drew my eyes.


Sadly such crass tricks never helped her in movies or any further success. She was most successful compared to her other cast members. But still forgettable crappy movies. She should thank Angelina "Balloon Lips" for keeping her in news :P

Anonymous said...

This from an article by Robert Wagner:

"I remember the instant I fell in love with her. One night on board a small boat (!!!) I owned, she looked at me with love, her dark brown eyes lit by a table lantern. That moment changed my life."

How this hasn't been made into a movie is beyond me.


Sean

Lisa said...

Why do so many hate Monica - Courtney? She was good and I loved her chemistry with both Richard and Chandler.

Then there was Lisa's poor acting - when like, she needs to be surprised about her 'real' mom. Her only reaction "Eh"..... Bad acting by Lisa. No one blames her for her acting.

The worst was Ross. Horrible acting by David. Take any poll and David will stink more than others.

The other characters I loved the most was Jack and Judy. Also Emily's British dad.

Ben Koch, PhD said...

Yes well, Baywatch was also the most popular American export for a very long time...

Peter said...

I was never a big fan of FRIENDS, but millennials, particularly those here in the UK, whining about it supposedly being homophobic, which it isn't, are really getting on my nerves.

Apparently millennials also don't like the early James Bond movies for being politically incorrect. Jesus, these idiots really know how to suck the fun out of everything. You can't make anything without them screaming about how offended they are. In today's climate, you couldn't make AIRPLANE, NAKED GUN, BACK TO THE FUTURE, GHOSTBUSTERS or RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK because of all these social justice warrior punks. Watching DIRTY HARRY would probably make their heads explode.

Dhruv said...


Another guest actor who I liked a lot was "Mr. Heckles" played by the actor Larry Hankin.

He was also on "Seinfeld" as the actor playing Kramer and also steals George's raisins. Also had a minor role in "Breaking Bad".

Great actor, who I would love to see in a bigger role. I guess there are many such good actors who never get that big role.

Y. Knott said...

Wow, was Courtney Cox driving the car that ran over your cat or something? Aniston and Kudrow are absolutely top-drawer, but I'd say Cox could also deliver the comedic goods. I'm thinking particularly of her scene where she has numbered various erogenous zones on a drawing, and then practically climaxes just by calling out numbers.

Schwimmer was, for me, the one who was less funny than the others. Not unfunny, just someone whose comedic choices were not always as on-point. And the character could be more annoying than funny.

Annoying but funny is tough to play ... my vote for all-time champ is James Gregory as Inspector Luger on Barney Miller. You might move out-of-state to avoid a guy like Luger in real life, but his appearances on a TV screen never fail to make me laugh.

Ed said...

Sean - Anonymous,

The cast fought a lot and didn't speak to each other as the show got popular. Just shut themselves off in their trailers after each scene. There are many articles on net and also I know.

Ken Levine said...

Sorry but to me Courtney Cox wasn't funny and overcompensated by overacting. It's like she was in a different show. It might not have been as apparent on other shows, but everyone else had such great comic chops that it stood out. At least to me. One viewer's opinion. She obviously had her legion of fans. I did love her in the Springsteen music video though.

Joe said...

So, Ken, I guess you won't be creating a show starring Courteney Cox, Paula Marshall and Kim Raver. :-)

Anonymous said...

Ed,

Just going off what they said at the tribute to James Burrows. But, if you have first hand information well then Ill listen to your version too.


Sean

Andrew said...

@Dhruv: Off topic re Friends, but you mentioned Larry Hankin. I remember watching Breaking Bad and thinking that he looked familiar. I was stunned when it turned out he was the pseudo-Kramer. Anyway, there a brief but neat interview with him here: http://www.amc.com/shows/breaking-bad/talk/2013/02/larry-hankin-interview

Concerning Friends, I always thought it was okay, but never up to the standard set by Cheers, Seinfeld, or Frasier. I found the characters too annoying.

Patrick said...

I think Courtney Cox is great - I always liked her the most actually. Even if you dont like her she in no way would have detracted from the show or the cast. Everyone was perfect.

Liggie said...

This discussion of comedic chops leads to a Friday Question: Are there any strictly dramatic actors that would be good in a comic role, and vice versa?

Keeping on the "Friends" vibe, Drea De Matteo has appeared in dark, gritty shows like "The Sopranos", but she was very good as Matt LeBlanc's sister in the short-lived spinoff "Joey". Likewise, Jessica Chastain has quite a resume of dramatic movies, but she is a hoot on talk shows and absolutely killed it hosting "Saturday Night Live" a few weeks ago, and I wonder how she'd do in a screwball comedy.

As for the reverse, Jim Carrey has earned plaudits for non-slapstick movies like "The Truman Show" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". Also, I just read that Jim Parsons of "The Big Bang Theory" will appear in a movie about Ted Bundy's prosecution. Since that subject's as far apart from a multicam sitcom you can get, and that Parsons' Broadway work has been comedic as well, I'm interested to see how much his comedy chops can switch to drama.

Dhruv said...


Thanks Andrew :)

Some actors just stay in mind.

I saw Friends in 2005 here. From then on he, Christina Applegate (I have never seen any other sitcom of hers) and few other actors just imprinted in memory....

His best act was pretending to be Chandler's new roommate and blocking the would-be roommate (the one with Porn star sister).

Then now a couple of years ago I saw him on Seinfeld.

Last year it was surprising to see him on "Breaking Bad" so old... was not sure. Then I looked up on the net, yes he was the same actor :)

Lisa,

I too liked Emily's dad. Especially his interactions with his wife and daring Jack to fight. He was also in 'Dark Knight Rises'. The guy who keeps encouraging Batman to "Rise".

Brian Phillips said...

Ms. Cox is every bit as good a dancer in videos as Lionel Rich...

Oh, never mind.

Tom said...

As tiring as it gets to keep saying this: millennials are the generation that started somewhere around 1980. Outliers like Nielsen start them as early as 1977. So when Friends ended in 2004, Nielsen thought that the oldest millennial was already 27 years old. I guarantee you those people are not just now suddenly having their eyes opened to the less-liberal attitudes of the 1990s.

As to the sitcom, I can see that it's incredibly well-crafted and therefore deserving of its endless success, but it's always felt a bit middle-of-the-road to me. Cosy even. As is the standard measure for these things, it's 0.2 MASHs. Which equates to 0.3 Seinfelds. Or 632 Dr Kens.

Hugh Surratt said...

I live a couple of blocks from the corner of Grove and Bedford in NYC's West Village. At that corner sits the building that provides the exterior shot(s) of the Friends apartment--it even shows up when you're looking for something in the 'hood on Google maps. Every day and night, literally hundreds of tourists from all over the world stop at the corner to take photos of that building. Bus loads! Nobody pays attention to the clapboard house across the street, where Miles Davis once lived and (supposedly) Walt Disney lived when he created Mickey Mouse.

MikeN said...

Cox was originally cast as Rachel. She asked to switch to Monica as a better fit.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the appeal of Friends re-runs. I was a fan during the first run, but towards the middle it got annoying, and stopped watching, then tuned in for last episode. Now in Chicago, it runs 2 episodes at night (it bumped The Middle). So many other shows I prefer to watch at 11:30 at night.
I didn't mind Courtney Cox, and enjoyed her other show set in Florida. I think most of the Friends cast did a cameo.

Pete Grossman said...

As a writer and show runner, surprised you mention David Crane and Marta Kaufman, the creators and frequent writers of Friends who certainly deserve kudos.

Pat Reeder said...

Ken, this is the second time in the past week I've left a comment that never appeared. I don't think I said anything too horribly offensive (and I think I proved I'm not a robot by expressing human emotions), so I wonder if there's some tech glitch.

BTW, I also included a link to the Natalie Wood story. Since I work all night and saw and sent it the minute it appeared online, I'm going to say this anyway: "First!"

Ken Levine said...

Pat,

I have never intentionally deleted a comment of yours. If I haven't posted it then I haven't received it. The problem might be on your end or your server.

Doug G. said...

Ken, try watching "Friends" from beginning to end and I bet you'd get bored with it. I quit watching halfway through the series run on NBC because I could see the punchlines to the jokes a mile away. I lost count how many times Ross & Rachel broke up and got back together again. I got bored with it although FRASIER is probably responsible for that boredom. The writing was so much better. Brilliant because I didn't see the punchlines coming. Or how an episode ends even when you think you know what's going to happen. In the episode "To Kill A Talking Bird" we assume going in that just having the cockatoo stuck to Niles' head will ruin the dinner party. But not on FRASIER. That would have been the easy way out. Instead the bird ruins it by sharing the gossip about the guests Niles had been telling Frasier.

On the Friends' series finale there was all of one surprise- Monica and Chandler would end up with twins- and that came before the first commercial break. A week later, after Frasier Crane signed off for the last time, one television critic opened his review of the episode by writing, "Take notes 'Friends' because that's how you do a series finale." It was also a reminder why FRASIER won 37 Emmys over 11 seasons.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

One thing I hate about sitcoms is how writers exaggerate character quirks after several seasons, likely due to the fact that it's very hard to come up with new stories. Ross and Phoebe were the worst offenders in terms of losing their appeal over 10 seasons. Monica suffered from it as well (especially after marrying Chandler, when they tossed the motherly aspect aside and turned her into a caricature shrill). Thankfully, it took FRIENDS six seasons to run into this problem. MODERN FAMILY lost it by season 3.

But if there's one aspect of FRIENDS I truly admire over its 10 season run is how Rachel developed as a character, and how Jennifer Aniston improved as a performer. During the first three seasons or so, Rachel was by far the weakest character, saddled with being a love interest for Ross. To top it off, she wasn't remotely funny. Neither Aniston nor the writers had found a good handle on the character.

That started to change during season 4. After breaking up with Ross and moving on with her career, Rachel found an edge that really gave the character some badly needed depth. And Aniston managed to find the funny within that characterization. If anything, these 10 seasons helped her improve tremendously as an actress. No longer being defined as a love interest, but as a fully realized character in her own right. And Aniston has since learned to pick good roles, especially the comedic ones.

You gotta hand it to Kauffman & Crane, and also the likes of Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan. They knew what they were doing and always gave it their best effort, even during that period they were running three sitcoms simultaneously (FRIENDS, plus JESSE and VERONICA'S CLOSET).

And the best episodes tended to be the bottle shows (not the clip shows). The ones that put the six of them in a single room for 22 minutes. The Thanksgiving episodes worked as well as they did because of this structure.

Anonymous said...

I find Parsons to be one-dimensional and cannot believe he is being offered roles beyond the current one he has, which I feel is similar to who he is (mannerism and intonation-wise) in real life.

--Orleanas

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Agree. Although farce was a staple of "Frasier," it still retained an adult elegance and sophistication.

"Friends" never caught on with me, although I'm roughly the same age as the cast. To me, it celebrated perpetual adolescence.

Mr. Hankin also had a bit part in the first episode of "Lou Grant" in 1977. In fact, he was the first actor, besides Ed Asner, seen and heard in the series.

Ben Koch, PhD said...

Orleanas ---
Have you ever seen the Jim Parsons SNL? It became clear very quickly that Sheldon is Jim Parsons playing Jim Parsons. Everything I've ever seen of him is one-note.

MikeN said...

Friends reruns seem weak. They are probably cutting some jokes, and they are definitely speeding it up digitally. The timing is off.

Steve said...

Talking about rebooting Friends, is this a fake?

Albert Giesbrecht said...

I can honestly say that I have never watched a full episode of Friends. Once I saw the monkey, I made a vow to never watch it again. I must admit however that I woukd watch the Opening title sequence at leadt once a season.

TireKicker said...

Steve:

Yes. It's a fake. All cobbled together from projects the cast members have done since FRIENDS, with just enough in the way of cameos to make it look like they're all working together.

Albert: The writers wisely sent the monkey away after a couple of seasons. It's safe to go back after that.

I actually did watch FRIENDS from beginning to end recently. I had not watched it when new (in the 90s, I worked in TV news on the evening shift), and my wife is a fan, so we watched an episode or two a night on Netflix for something close to a year. I liked it. Like Ken, it made me laugh. It absolutely had its weak spots and probably should have run seven seasons instead of ten, but it was mostly entertaining.

To fill in my 90s primetime gaps, we've gone on to FRASIER and are now near the end of the first season. A big step up in terms of quality.

VP81955 said...

"Friends" also got plenty of aid from the TimeWarner corporate publicity machine, specifically Entertainment Weekly and People magazines. Because of such logrolling, so much more was made of its series finale compared to that of "Frasier."

Stefon said...

friends reboot :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DcHnkIqFW0

Elf said...

@VP81955: While that corporate synergy may have helped Friends some, it was clearly far more present in the zeitgeist than Frazier ever was, so the relative levels of attention to the respective finales was appropriate. Or, to put it simply, how many women ever went to the hair salon and asked for "The Daphne"?

Ralph said...

True, FRIENDS airs often and on many channels these days, but not nearly as much as M*A*S*H or THE GOLDEN GIRLS do. It's common for those two shows to have episodes running on different channels at the same time (not counting the two Sundance channels)

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

That's because "Friends" aimed at the young and hip, while "Frasier"--farce aside-- stood for maturity and erudition.

Obviously, any scripted show that lasts 10 years or more--as "Frasier" and "Friends" did--has something going for it.

As for me, though, I'll take depth over the latest hair style any day.

Sam said...

I've recently caught a few episodes of Friends--and, I was underwhelmed. They seem to drag on and on...

I remember when it was on, and I watched it if I could. I was in college, so I had a friend who had the "Rachel" haircut. Honestly, my friend's hair never looked like Rachel's, but I never told her that.

Anyway, I thought maybe I was bored because some of the episodes were later ones, when I thought the show was really creaky, but then I saw earlier shows and it was still a bust.

I agree that Cox wasn't all that funny to me--sort of shrieks her lines. Ross was whiny and Joey was a dud. I guess the other three were good relative to the others.

I really will flip around a lot until and only watch Friends when I absolutely cannot find anything else.

From that period though, I recently borrowed the dvds of Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place and enjoy it. It's not the best show ever, but it's funny enough that I can watch several 20 minute episodes in a row. I can't say that I do that with Friends. But it's just a matter of personal taste. It's not like, say, Two Broke Girls, which is just a terrible show, and I can't understand why anyone would watch it. I understand why folks like Friends and Seinfeld even if they're not for me. Apparently neither are Will and Grace or Mad About You--both of which I watched when they first came on, but I flip passed now. To each his own.

Pete Grossman said...

CORRECTION: As a writer and show runner, surprised you DIDN'T mention David Crane and Marta Kaufman, the creators and frequent writers of Friends who certainly deserve kudos.