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Old 02-19-2005, 04:12 PM   #1
Brian Damage
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Default An interesting perspective from a 'Friends' fan

'Joey' follows other TV spin-offs down path of failure


I've been wanting to do this for a while now. By this, I mean write a column.

I thought about discussing my political views, like everyone and their mom before me has. I thought about discussing the annoyance of the five-minute-shuffle near the conclusion of each class, but then I realized that sometimes I am guilty of committing this infraction just like the rest of the student body. I also thought about discussing my qualms with the university administration, but then I realized that Graham Spanier is as likely to listen to me as I am to sprout wings and fly up his nose. Then alas, the topic of my editorial came to me like a beam of light from the heavens last Thursday evening. My Thursdays, once rich in NBC Must-See TV tradition, are now filled with memories of the good old days. It all began last spring, when I, like the rest of America, lost six of my closest Friends. We'd been chums since the fall of '94, but then, as we all faced the toughest decision we've ever had to make, we chose to go our separate ways. Pheobe found happiness for the first time in her life with Mike; Rachel and Ross finally got over their whole break thing; Chandler went off to live in Westchester with Monica; and Joey, well, went off to do his own thing and left behind everyone else ... or so we thought. Then this fall, Joey decided to take me to L.A. with him to pursue his acting career.

Now I love Friends just about as much as anyone can, and my former roommate can attest to my true obsession with the show. I have all the DVDs, the books, autographed pictures and I manage to catch the 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. weeknight reruns on a regular basis. But the truth of the matter is that Joey cannot and will not work by himself. One of the great things about the series was its originality in terms of characters and their relationships. As an ensemble, no one character or actor stood out from the rest. During the series, the show simply could not exist, even if just for a week, if one of the characters was missing. Just as it couldn't function then, it cannot work now with one of the ensemble's members as the focus of his own show.

Each year as Emmy nominations were announced, the show's stars were consistently nominated, but in Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. All six of them were, collectively, supporting actors of the ensemble itself. The characters were written and developed as part of an ensemble, and that is how they were to remain throughout all of their existence. As a die-hard fan since the beginning, I was sad to see the series go. I believe tears were shed; I will fess up to that. But I think that more tears were actually shed when NBC announced it was pursuing a spin-off with Matt LeBlanc's character Joey Tribiani as the main character.

Don't get me wrong, if any one of the six of them could even try to pull off this one, Joey is the one who would have the best shot.

I guess it doesn't help that I utterly despise the concept of spin-offs. I really don't think I have to do much convincing here. I mean come on, The Brady Brides and The Ropers? As Chandler would say: could these shows BE any more painful to watch? Frasier is the exception to the rule. As a Cheers spin-off, the series only worked because the main character had depth. Viewers saw the hopeless romantic, the psychiatrist and the witty family-man. I love Joey Tribiani as much as the next red-blooded American woman, but there is only so much that can be done with a warm-hearted but lame-brained wannabe actor. He's now living in Hollywood, everyone's an actor! Last Thursday's debut affirmed my doubts of the show's ability to attract new viewers and retain old Friends fans. Where Frasier succeeded in drawing a fan base, Joey will fail. Frasier had the depth to appeal to people who had never heard of a place where everyone knew their name.

But I'm a true fan, and I've seen my Friends through thick and thin. And as much as it pains me to see Joey Tribiani fail, I'll be around for as long as he is. After all, I suppose a reunion of any of the six of them and me is better than anything else Thursday has to offer.
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Old 02-23-2005, 02:17 PM   #2
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Excellent piece Brian Damage. I agree with a lot of it, if not all. Still, the one thing that disappoints me is that I want Joey to be good. I want the show to last long and I want to care about the characters. I'm getting there, but it'd help if the show didn't seem to be one gag after another. The only one I'd actually miss if this show tanks, besides Joey, is his nephew. That isn't nearly enough. I feel like this is Friends Season 11 where this is just one long subplot with Joey and we're waiting to hear from the other 5 friends. Want to know why else it feels like Friends Season 11? Because by Season 10, the show was clearly tired and needed to be put to rest. Joey is not only tired but exhausted...

How I wish this wasn't the case...

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Old 02-23-2005, 03:39 PM   #3
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Nicely done.
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