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Poster: Mr. Television  (see this users gallery)

Friends aired from September 1994 until July 2004 on NBC.


This easygoing, unremarkable series about six bright good-looking twenty-somethings in New York City simply hanging out and having a good time hit the spot with viewers in the stressed-out nineties. Monica ( Courtney Cox) was the unofficial den mother , a gorgeous young woman who just couldn't seem to find Mr. Right. She worked as an assistant chef but seemed to spend most of her time with the gang. Rachel ( Jennifer Aniston), her best friend since high school , had dumped her fiance at the alter ( along with daddy's credit cards) and was now trying to make it on her own , starting as a waitress. Ross ( David Schwimmer) , a museum paleontologist, was Monica's goofy brother, who's pregnant wife Carol ( Jane Sibbett) had left him when she decided she was a lesbian; struggling actor Joey ( Matt LeBlanc), the cute Italian guy who lived across the hall ; corporate numbers-cruncher Chandler ( Matthew Perry), Joey's roommate and the group's resident clown; and Phoebe ( Lisa Kudrow), a ditzy waiflike folk singer who was into new age " auras." They all hung out at Monica's apartment or at Greenwitch Villiage's Central Perk coffeehouse and talked about love, sex, feelings, dates, and other matters of importance in their lives.


Although not regulars, Monica and Ross's parents Jack and Judy Geller ( Elliott Gould, Christina Pickles) showed up occasionally as well. Then in 1995 Carol gave birth to a son , Ben and Ross had to come to terms with his child being raised by Carol and her companion Susan ( Jessica Hecht). Ross then had an affair with Rachel ( now a fashion buyer for a retail chain), for whom he had nursed a long-term crush, and when that ended disastrously he abruptly married British sourpuss Emily ( Helen Baxendale), in England in May 1998. Their wedding brought its own calamity , however, when Ross inadvertently blurted out Rachel's name during the ceremony, souring the newleyweds's relationship. They later divorced. Monica's most notable relationship during this period was with an older man, dentist Richard ( Tom Selleck), but during Ross's wedding in 1998 she and affable Chandler became hot and heavy. They subsequently had a clandestine affair , which was discovered by their friends , one by one , during the fall of 1998. Meanwhile cheerful Phoebe agred to become a surrogate mother for her half-brother Frank ( Giovanni Ribisi) and his wife and in October 1998 bore them triplets. She wanted to keep one-just one-but they declined.


At the end of the 1998-1999 season Ross and Rachel married during a reckless weekend in Los Vegas , but a few weeks into the next season decided it had been a drunken mistake and got a divorce. In May 2000 Chandler proposed to Monica, and a year later they were married.Rachel, who by this time was working for a fashion designer , restarted her off -and-on relationship with Ross and found herself pregnant with his baby. She gave birth to baby Emma in May 2002 ( played later by Cali and Noelle Sheldon), and she and Ross moved in together to raise their child, although they decided not to remarry.Meanwhile actor Joey had found a regular role on the soap opera Days of our Lives , where among other things he played a man with a woman's brain.


In the final season the friends began to move on. Phoebe married cute piano player Mike ( Paul Rudd) in February 2004, and Monica and Chandler -having discovered they could not conceive -adopted twins born to Erica ( Anna Faris), whom they named Erica and Jack. In the last episode they prepared to move to the Westchester suburbs. The long flickering romance between Ross and Rachel almost ended for good when he had an affair with stylish colleague Charlie ( Aisha Tyler). Later Rachel left to take a job in Paris, but at the last minute she got off the plane and stayed with Ross. That left only happy Joey , who would move to Hollywood the following season to pursue his acting career in his own series, Joey.



A Review from USA TODAY


TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH


Buds


If you gotta have friends , you could do worse than settling for the sexy sextet of Friends ( *** NBC, tonight at 8:30 ET/PT).


Though it has its share of irritating characters and moronic moments -especially in the pilot-this is far and away the best of this season's so-called Gen X comedies ( the others : Fox's abominable Wild Oates and ABC's empty Blue Skies).


The characters, familiar types atractively played range from the dizzy ( Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston) to the smarmy ( Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc) to the perkily seductive ( Courtney Cox).


Someone altogether different and elevating Friends to a higher level of comedy , is Davis Schwimmer ( MYPD Blue's ill-fated 4B) as a wounded puppy of a just-divorced nice guy. "
Try not to let my intense vulnerability be a factor here," he whimpers reaching out tentatively to a new female friend.


No one seems to have anything better to do than swill cappuccino at a plush hangout or sit around Cox's place watching bad TV ( Oh, I think this is the episode of Three's Company where there's some kind of misunderstanding," Perry ironically jokes).


Still, they're good company, a polished ensemble, a guilty pleasure that's a decent fit between Mad About You and Seinfeld. Week to Week, it gets better and funnier. And unlike some shows where you wonder how it could sustain three months ( let alone seasons), Friends has the zip and variety to be with us a very long time.





An Article from The New York Times


TELEVISION REVIEW; Yes, More Friends Sitting Around

By JOHN J. O'CONNOR
Published: September 29, 1994


Oh, no, you might well moan, not another group of pals sitting around whining and nursing their anxieties, getting up once in a while to test the passing Zeitgeist. Oh, yes. But click into NBC's "Friends" anyway. The creators and executive producers are Marta Kauffman and David Crane, whose "Dream On" has been exploring new boundaries of zaniness (and permissiveness) on HBO. "Friends," more conventional on the surface, promises to be equally offbeat and seductive.


These particular friends, six of them, live in New York City and can usually be found at a favorite coffeehouse or the somewhat cramped apartment of Monica (Courteney Cox), the one with the strongest ties to reality. Monica's brother, Ross (David Schwimmer), discovers this evening, in an episode entitled "The One With the Sonogram at the End," that his former wife, Carol (Anita Barone), who is now in a lesbian relationship, is pregnant with his child. That's where the sonogram comes in, prompting at one point a reference to "Star Trek."


Elsewhere on the episode, a tense Monica has to prepare dinner for her parents, stuffy Dad (Elliot Gould) and stiletto Mom (Christina Pickles), who purrs sweetly, "Oh spaghetti, that's . . . easy." Monica realizes: "These people are pros. They know what they're doing." Meanwhile, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Monica's best friend, somehow loses in a lasagna casserole the wedding ring she wants to return to the fiance she left at the altar.


Plot lines are devices on which to build riffs, things like the conversation in which the chums wonder if kissing is as important as any other part of sex or if it is just the opening act, akin to getting past the comedian to Pink Floyd. Or there's the scene in the doctor's office where Ross, his former wife and her current lover get into a competition about a name for the pending baby. The women prefer Minnie for a girl; to Ross, Minnie says "Minnie Mouse." Also look for a deftly comic guest turn by Merrill Markoe as a museum worker.


Future episodes: next week, in "The One With George Stephanopoulos," a wayward pizza ends up being delivered across the street to a familiar White House face. A week later, "The One With the Thumb" finds the entire gang -- and that includes the spacy Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), the obsessive Chandler (Matthew Perry) and the dumb hunk Joey (Matt LeBlanc) -- swooning over Monica's new boyfriend (says one: "I'd marry him for his David Hasselhoff impression alone"). The only naysayer turns out to be Monica.


The cast is appealing, the dialogue is pitch-perfect 1994, the time-slot is between the solidly established "Mad About You" at 8 P.M. and "Seinfeld" at 9 P.M. "Friends" comes as close as a new series can get to having everything.


Then, on shakier ground, there is NBC's new series at 9:30 P.M., "Madman of the People," starring Dabney Coleman. Mr. Coleman created two of television's most memorable misanthropes in the brilliant but short-lived series "Buffalo Bill" and "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story." The problem, television doctors have concluded, is that those characters were too unlikable, definitely a mortal sin in uplift land. Now "Madman of the People" seeks to give the basic Coleman persona softer edges, a heart-of-gold patina.


Mr. Coleman's character, Jack Buckner, writes a magazine column called Madman of the People. He is, as his wife, Delia (Concetta Tomei), puts it, a professional eccentric who especially hates bosses, which becomes particularly sensitive when his daughter Meg (Cynthia Gibb) is appointed the new publisher of his magazine. Jack already has enough family problems with his 23-year-old shiftless son, Dylan (John Ales), whose idea of an anniversary gift for his parents is a Ren and Stimpy video.


The show can zap its targets with admirable relish. Tonight, when Jack writes nastily about a chirping robin disturbing his sleep and the bird then dies mysteriously, a public uproar gives Jack an opportunity to tweak the passions of animal lovers, even as he becomes known in one headline as the "Bird Butcher of Brooklyn." And a subplot has Jack's ambitious young colleague B. J. (Craig Bierko) doing a piece, called "Maidenhead Revisited," on a "new virgins" group, women convinced that they will find "the second 'first time' more meaningful." Brags one, "Yesterday I passed a Calvin Klein ad and only noticed the underwear."


The problem is that Mr. Coleman's Jack has to pause regularly to be contrite about his obviously irrepressible meanness. He is, you see, a really loving husband and doting father. Some viewers may end up agreeing with the German neighbor, played for stereotypical laughs, who says: "Ve understandt him. Ve just don't like him." The marketing of Dabney Coleman continues uneasily. FRIENDS NBC, tonight at 8:30 (Channel 4 in New York) Created and written by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Todd Stevens, producer; Jeff Greenstein and Jeff Strauss, supervising producers. A Bright-Kauffman-Crane Production in association with Warner Brothers Television. Kevin S. Bright, Ms. Kauffman and Mr. Crane, executive producers. WITH: Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Courteney Cox (Monica), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matt LeBlanc (Joey), Matthew Perry (Chandler) and David Schwimmer (Ross). MADMAN OF THE PEOPLE NBC, tonight at 9:30 (Channel 4 in New York) Created by Christopher Cluess and Stuart Kreisman. Penny Adams. producer; Steve Paymer; co-producer; George La Fountaine, director of photography; Bill Brzeski, production designer; Dava Savel and Norm Gunzenhauser, supervising producers; Pamela Eells and Sally Lapiduss, co-executive producers. A Kreiscluesco Production in association with Spelling Television; Mr. Cluess, Mr. Kreisman, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent, executive producers. WITH: Dabney Coleman (Jack Buckner), Cynthia Gibb (Meg Buckner), Concetta Tomei (Delia Buckner), John Ales (Dylan Buckner), Amy Aquino (Sasha Danziger) and Craig Bierko (B. J. Cooper).


An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on January 27, 1995


Hit Singles
NBC's newest hit sitcom -- We talk to Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, and the rest of the "Friends" cast
By Bruce Fretts


''I hate the monkey,'' David Schwimmer says, sitting in his spartan dressing room backstage at NBC's first-year smash Friends. ''I wish it were dead.''


Schwimmer's hangdog character has adopted a pet monkey, Marcel, to keep him company in his postdivorce funk, but the actor and his simian costar, an eerie capuchin simply named Monkey, aren't exactly hitting it off.


''The trainers won't let me bond with it,'' Schwimmer explains. ''They're really, really possessive. It's like, 'Land on your marks, do your job, don't touch or bond with the monkey.' It's a bummer.''


That's just about the only bummer on Friends' Burbank soundstage these days. Hammocked between two other New York-set, no-kids-allowed sitcoms, Mad About You and Seinfeld, in NBC's boffo Thursday lineup, the show ranks 15th for the season, and recently hit a high note, placing seventh in the week's ratings.


Friends' charming ensemble and snappy scripts many penned by executive producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman (Dream On) have drawn the best reviews for any new sitcom this season. (The New York Times called it ''offbeat and seductive.'') The series revolves around a close-knit sextet of twentysomething singles: Monica (Family Ties' Courteney Cox), a neat-freak assistant chef; Ross (NYPD Blue's Schwimmer), her on-the-rebound older brother; Phoebe (Mad About You's Lisa Kudrow), her spaced-out blond college chum; Rachel (The Edge's Jennifer Aniston), Monica's rich-girl roomie; and their across-the-hall neighbors, Joey (Vinnie & Bobby's Matt LeBlanc), a himbo actor, and Chandler (Sydney's Matthew Perry), an acerbic office worker.


As on Seinfeld, most of Friends' plots concern mundane dilemmas of nmarried urbanites-dating woes, career crises, visits from parents and most of the action takes place in an apartment and a restaurant (in this case, a shabby-chic coffee bar named Central Perk).


''What sold the show was six characters coming into a coffee shop, sitting for 25 minutes, and saying funny things,'' says Perry. ''All the best TV shows are that: Cheers is a bunch of people sitting in a room saying funny things. So are Taxi, Mary Tyler Moore, Seinfeld all the shows I love.'' And all, save Seinfeld, were directed by James Burrows, who has helmed most of Friends' episodes.


The Friends cast is an intensely cheery group of people; ask the actors to describe any one of their costars and the first word out of their mouths is liable to be sweet. Their mutual admiration is tangible, but they didn't necessarily expect to get along at first. Schwimmer, Perry, and Kudrow were concerned that Cox, the biggest name of the group, might have a star attitude. ''I thought she'd be a little aloof and celebrity-ish,'' confesses Kudrow. ''And she wasn't at all. She's so great.''


Schwimmer and Perry are equally effusive about Cox now, but they were also initially skeptical about LeBlanc, a onetime Levi's 501 jeans model. ''I was like, 'This guy's kind of a d---,' '' recalls Schwimmer of meeting LeBlanc. ''I thought, 'Oh, great, here's this guy I'm going to work with for maybe five years, and he's f---ing Joe Cool stud.' Well, he's turned me around completely.'' Adds Perry: ''He's an unbelievably nice guy in the body of a tough, get-out-of-my-way guy.''


And so far, the other cast members don't seem jealous of Friends' standout star, Schwimmer. His character's plight Ross' wife left him for a woman, then discovered she was carrying his child and Schwimmer's wistfully neurotic line readings have delivered many of Friends' biggest laughs. ''It's always nice to have a vulnerable character girls love that stuff and that's Ross,'' says Cox.


''He's got this quality I admire and hate at the same time,'' says Perry. ''I admire it because nobody else has that hurt-guy style, and I hate it because every single woman on the face of the planet wants him.''


Schwimmer says he doesn't want the focus to shift to his (or any other) character. ''That would be the downfall of the show,'' he says. ''All of us signed up to do an ensemble show.'' The producers confirm that the story lines will continue to be parceled out in six equal portions. ''They're all our children,'' Kauffman says. ''We have great affection for all the characters, and we try to be as good parents as we can,'' offers fellow executive producer Kevin S. Bright.


Besides, Schwimmer isn't the only budding sex symbol. Friends may have the best-looking cast in sitcom history (there's no Norm here). ''People tend to be either funny or attractive,'' says Kauffman. ''We lucked out and got both.''


The actors uniformly reject the idea that comedy is not pretty. ''I've been hearing this my whole career,'' says Aniston. ''And I say, 'Oh, my God, Lucille Ball? I thought she was gorgeous! Mary Tyler Moore? Beautiful!' '' Not that Aniston or anyone else in the cast will admit to feeling pretty. ''I don't think, 'Oh, I'm Miss Outstanding-Looking Person,' '' she says. ''The last thing we think about is our looks, even though people think we do because our wardrobe and hair are so great.'' Says Cox: ''If one of us gained a lot of weight or something, we'd have the same personality that we do now.''


For such a toothsome group, Friends' characters certainly have a hard time sustaining relationships. None has a significant other, although Schwimmer's Ross has a severe crush on Aniston's semi-oblivious Rachel. ''They're going to play us like two ships passing,'' Schwimmer says. ''She'll realize, 'Oh, my God, Ross likes me!' and 'Ooh, he's cute. Why not?' and then it'll be too late because I'll be seeing someone else.'' But Crane promises the flirtation will come to fruition after ''a long and bumpy ride.''


Still, two Friends have shared an intimate moment: At the midnight climax of the New Year's Eve episode, Perry's Chandler begged someone to kiss him so LeBlanc's Joey planted one on him as a gag. ''We were really not wanting to do it, and we leaned in, and our teeth hit each other,'' recalls Perry. ''We're hopefully not going to do that again.''


The male buss made it past NBC's censors, which puts Friends one up on Fox's Melrose Place. LeBlanc explains the difference: "They had tongues."


On the apartment set, Cox and Schwimmer prepare to rehearse a scene in which the Friends engage in one of their favorite pastimes: watching TV.


The Patty Duke Show.


"Sometimes I hate this job," moans Kauffman, marveling at the star's pop-cultural illiteracy.


"Well, I'm 30. I'm not too young. I just didn't watch it," Cox pleads.


"And I was watching The Munsters," concludes Cox.


Friends' producers say they aren't designing a demographically specific sitcom. "Even though the characters are young, a lot of what they're involved in is universal stuff," says Crane. "My mother's friends love the show, and 12-year-olds love the show. I don't know why, but apparently they do."


Friends team scorns the generational label that has been attached to the show. "This is not a group of people sitting around a coffee shop reading Nietzsche and complaining about their fathers," says Perry. And LeBlanc asks, "Was it Generation W before us?"


But, fitting the Gen-X stereotype, most of Friends' cast were truggling in their careers prior to the show. All except Kudrow had endured at least one flop sitcom, yet that didn't stop the producers from casting them. "You put actors on a different show and they do different things," says Crane. "You look at David Schwimmer on (the 1994 Fox dud) Monty, and he's almost a different actor."


Muddling Through. "I don't feel like I have to apologize for my work."


It's two hours until filming, and someone knocks on Lisa Kudrow's dressing-room door. The door opens. It's Mad About You's Helen Hunt. "I know you from another show!" Hunt says, throwing her arms around Kudrow. "I know you from another show," Kudrow replies.


Friends, and Kudrow will do double duty as Phoebe and as her twin sister, Ursula, the airheaded waitress she occasionally plays on Mad. (The long-estranged twins will reunite after Ursula starts dating LeBlanc's Joey.) Phoebe wasn't originally written as Ursula's sister, but when Kudrow was cast and Friends was slotted to air right after Mad, Crane says, the producers decided to "make a virtue out of this rather than having it seem like a ridiculous coincidence."


Friends drinking game circulated in cyberspace, players are instructed to "drink everything in sight" if Phoebe and Ursula ever have a scene together. (Liquor store owners should start stocking up now.)



The weather in L.A. has given new meaning to one of the lines from Friends' theme song, ''I'll be there for you when the rain starts to pour.'' Floods have shut down some freeways, Friends' studio is still packed.


COURTENEY COX
On her character, Monica Geller: ''She's the most normal. She has her quirks she's compulsive but she's the voice of reason.'' Age: 30 Companion: Michael Keaton, her boyfriend since 1990 Number of times costars described her as ''sweet'': 2 Favorite hot beverage: Lemon Soother Lipton tea with honey and extra lemon


DAVID SCHWIMMER
On his character, Ross Geller: ''He's the '90s Guy, struggling with old-fashioned values in a contemporary world.'' Age: 28 Companion: A Louisiana lawyer he's dated since 1993 Number of times costars described him as ''sweet'': 3 Favorite hot beverage: Double latte with nonfat milk and no foam


LISA KUDROW
On her character, Phoebe Buffay: ''She's not stupid. She just has a different point of reference for everything. She's a little Nell-ish'' Age: 31 Companion: Fiance Michel Stern, a French Adman Number of times costars describes her as ''sweet'': 2 Favorite hot beverage: Droste hot chocolate with a little whipped cream


JENNIFER ANISTON
On her character, Rachel Green: ''She's not bitchy. She's spoiled, but she knows no other life.'' Age: 25 Companion: None Number of times costars describe her as ''sweet'': 5. Favorite hot beverage: Mochaccino. ''And if you ask me my favorite cold beverage, I'd say an iced mochaccino.''


MATT LEBLANC
On his character, Joey Tribbiani: ''He's got your back in a bar fight. He's honest that's a result of his cloudy perception of the world.'' Age: 27 Companion: Lady, a mutt he bought at the pound for $40 Number of times costars described him as ''sweet'': 5 Favorite hot beverage: Cafe mocha


MATTHEW PERRY
On his character, Chandler Bing: ''He's the guy everybody thinks will do really well with women, but he thinks too much and says the wrong thing.'' Age: 25 Companion: None Number of times costars described him as ''sweet'': 1 Favorite hot beverage: Coffee with cream and two Equals



An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on November 17, 1995


Pop Culture News
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
THE PALS' SKY-LEVEL PAD AND THEIR COZY CAFE HANGOUT REACH THE PINNACLE OF TV STYLE
By Dan Snierson


Neo-Dada paintings. Hand-carved antique sofas. $75-per-yard fabrics. A terrace with a view...Hey, since when have marginally employed twentysomethings had it this good?


Well, if you want an exact date, since Sept. 22, 1994, when a certain six-pack of buds hit the air with a hip comic riff on Gen-X life. And now there are surely a number of fans among the 28 million viewers of NBC's Friends who have busted their budgets copying the characters' outfits, their hairdos, and -- here's where this story can help -- their decor.


Scour every nook and cranny of Manhattan's Greenwich Village (including 90 Bedford Street, where the exteriors of Monica and Rachel's apartment are shot), and you'll never find the gals' fourth- floor digs, or the clique's fave coffeehouse. A better place to look: Burbank, Calif. -- specifically, Stage 24 on the Warner Bros. Television lot (previous tenant: Full House!).


The Friends set is an affront to the principles of sensible design, boasting unorthodox layouts, exposed foundations, and neon tints. ''Lavenders, greens, yellows, and pinks -- it sounds like too many colors came out of the can,'' says Friends art director John Shaffner. ''But it melds together to create a joyous space.''


Even more inviting than the colors are those ubiquitous sofas. ''We sleep on the couches all the time,'' says Courteney Cox (Monica). ''Except Joey and Chandler's sofa, which is really gross.''








An Article from Time Magazine


DON'T LAUGH
Monday, Jul. 22, 1996 By KIM MASTERS/LOS ANGELES Article


The friends in Friends, NBC's hit sitcom, are all for one and one for all when it comes to negotiating a new deal for themselves. According to sources close to the show, the stars are telling Warner Bros. that unless the studio accedes to their demands, they won't be back in August to start work on new episodes.


The six cast members--Courteney Cox, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc--each want about $100,000 an episode plus a piece of the series' profits. All signed five-year contracts when the show was launched two seasons ago. Then unknowns, they settled for about $22,500 an episode--not bad, but pretty much entry-level pay for sitcom stars.


The stars have got raises since the show took off, but with Warner looking at staggering profits, the cast wants more. The studio has reportedly sold the show into syndication for an astronomical $4 million an episode; the deal hinges on the Friends staying for at least two more seasons to generate enough episodes for reruns. With Warner's big payoff on the line, the stars have a lot of leverage--although given the panoply of agents, lawyers and managers involved, the six will defy industry odds if they stick together.


The weakest link, according to those involved in the discussions, is Schwimmer. He is said to be balking at a longer-term contract, which Warner would surely demand in exchange for more generous remuneration. An aspiring movie star, Schwimmer may have something better to do, but it's probably not The Pallbearer II.


--By Kim Masters/Los Angeles





An Article from Time Magazine


Television
Monday, Nov. 16, 1998 By KIM MASTERS/LOS ANGELES Article


The FRIENDS--Monica, Joey, Ross, Rachel, Chandler and even the sweet-tempered Phoebe--have been feeling rather unfriendly these days. Having recently celebrated the 100th episode of their series, which has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for Warner, the Friends were hoping for some special acknowledgment from the studio. Such hopes were not unreasonable, given that Warner has been known for its generosity. Top E.R. cast members got million-dollar bonuses when NBC renewed the show; and DREW CAREY got a Porsche for turning his show into a hit, and his show won't earn Warner anywhere near what Friends does. So what did the Friends get on their special day? Paperweights. Oddly enough, NBC also gave the Friends paperweights, which led the Friends to think the whole thing was a joke. It wasn't. A Warner spokesman said the studio meant to acknowledge the Friends when the series went into reruns in September, but was a bit tardy. Late last week the studio gave them what the spokesman would characterize only as "a very, very generous gift." Still, next year's negotiations for a seventh season may make the NBA talks look like a church picnic.


--By Kim Masters/Los Angeles


An Article from Entertainment Weekly
Published on April 27, 2001


'Friends' Watch
Buss Stop
Guest star Winona Ryder deserved better -- and so do fans, says Nicholas Fonseca
By Nicholas Fonseca


''Stop picturing it!''


Thus spake Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) to horny friend Joey (Matt LeBlanc) in Thursday's much hyped episode of NBC's ''Friends.'' She was referring, of course, to the kiss she supposedly planted on old college friend Melissa at a long ago fraternity party. The show's stunt casting of Winona Ryder as Melissa -- indeed, the entire girl on girl kiss itself -- seemed to arise for no other reason than that ''Friends'' is getting clobbered by the CBS timeslot competitor ''Survivor.''


Unfortunately for viewers, it was hard to follow Rachel's advice. Aniston and Ryder -- for those of you who follow these sorts of things -- are part of a heterosexual Hollywood Mobius strip that has Aniston married to a man, Brad Pitt, who once seriously dated a woman, Gwyneth Paltrow, who dated a man, Ben Affleck, who was best friends with Ryder's old flame, Matt Damon. So, by the time they finally did kiss, the moment had been so endlessly plugged that the only real shock was how unshocking it was.


The kiss existed as nothing more than a vehicle for NBC's promotions department to slap Ryder's face all over its commercials, a cheap thrill for anybody who didn't care to watch Elisabeth get kicked off ''Survivor.''


What's worse, the kiss -- which occurred in the present, not a flashback, because Melissa couldn't remember it at all -- immediately sparked old feelings of passion in Ryder's character, a lesbian, who apparently carried a torch for Rachel for years. (Yeah, right. Like any self respecting lesbian would wear a powder blue power suit.)


It was an easy out, but one that a show like ''Friends,'' which has ridden on the ''What's really going on with Joey and Chandler?'' wave for eons, can get away with. Making matters worse, Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) decided to plant one on Rachel's lips for the heck of it. Apparently ''Friends'' writers have forgotten that out-of-character shenanigans like this sent ''Ellen'''s ratings diving at the beginning of her final season.


But I digress. ''Friends'' has never been a gay show, so its depictions of homosexuality -- or same sex kissing experiments -- probably shouldn't be the subject of any doctoral theses. This is a show about six straight friends who, for Nielsen's sake, keep encountering characters played by stars whose wattage is so bright it overpowers their natural camaraderie. Anybody who has appreciated their seven(!) years of laughs doesn't need a guest star stuck in a mediocre story thread as a reason to tune in.


However, last night's episode offered a glimmer of hope for Ryder, a two time Oscar nominee who hasn't exactly been blessed at the box office in the past few years. After a soulless romance (''Autumn in New York'') and an unscary thriller (''Lost Souls''), our Noni needed redemption. No, she didn't have to stretch last night, but it was refreshing to watch Ryder let her hair down. Find a good comedic script, girl, and soon you won't have to resort to unnecessary NBC sitcom guest spots to win back our respect.



An Article from the Cincinnati Enquirer
Published on January 27, 2002


'Friends' grows in stature, ratings


BURBANK, Calif. Ten writers and producers huddle like a football team in front of the Friends Central Perk cafe set while stars Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer wait for them to punch up the scene.


Ms. Aniston, who plays pregnant Rachel on TV's top-rated sitcom, has been rushed to the hospital with false labor pains in the episode to air Thursday.


The writers are displeased with the lack of response from those of us in the bleacher seats on the Warner Bros. sound stage.


We didn't laugh when Ms. Aniston grimaced, as the baby's father (Mr. Schwimmer) dismisses the false labor: That's no big deal. Most people don't even feel them.


After the impromptu writers' meeting, Rachel shows her contempt with a comeback on the next take: No uterus, no opinion!


The studio audience howls. So will most of the 24 million Friends viewers Thursday.


My recent visit to a Friends taping at Warner Bros. shows why the ensemble comedy, in its eighth season, is TV's best. And why millions of viewers worry that their favorite TV Friends might call it quits when their contracts expire this season.


Friends is blessed with a cast that can deliver both verbal and physical comedy, such as Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) giving Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) a massage while trying not to hear Monica's orgasmic moans. Their comic timing is perfect, take after take after take.


Unlike most sitcoms, Friends juggles multiple story lines every episode. Thursday's subplots include Phoebe's massage; Chandler's (Matthew Perry) obsession with Monica's locked hall closet; and dimwit Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) new-found passion for Rachel, who had been Ross' soul mate for seven seasons.


The Friends taping also is memorable for another reason the six hours needed to tape the 22-minute show. The retakes and rewrites make it twice the length of most sitcom tapings.


We sit so long that they pass outpizzas to the audience. Twice.


What makes it long are the rewrites, says comedian Jim Bentley, who entertains the 300-member studio audience between takes. That's what makes this show good.




While tossing and turning in bed, Joey dreams of Rachel giving birth. When he pulls back the blanket to look at the baby's face, he sees Ross.


I hope you're a better father than you were a friend! Ross says.


Friends has enjoyed a creative and ratings resurgence this fall with the pregnancy story line. Executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane have turned the formula on its head shifting the focus from the Ross-Rachel unrequited love to Joey's feelings for Rachel, while Ross struggles through career difficulties usually experienced by Joey.


Some TV critics attribute the Friends revival to our craving for the familiar after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the comfort food theory.


Les Moonves, CBS president and CEO, has another theory on why the show has gained 4.6 million viewers over last season.


Marta and David are terrific show-runners, says Mr. Moonves, who was head of Warner Bros. Television when the Friends pilot was made in 1994. He points out that the Bright-Kauffman-Crane team, no longer trying to keep afloat Veronica's Closet or Jesse, is devoting full attention to Friends.


Friends lost it a little bit, and then Marta and David got back in there, Mr. Moonves says. They did a great job. They deserve all the credit in the world.


A year ago, CBS' Survivor 2 became the first show to beat Friends, the cornerstone of NBC's Must See TV lineup. This season, Friends consistently topped Survivor 3.


That Friends or any show could be No. 1 in its eighth year is an achievement in itself. Only Cheers and Seinfeld have done that since The Andy Griffith Show.


Friends and Seinfeld also share another distinction: They became hits with the original cast intact, something that can't be said about Cheers, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, Andy Griffith or ER.


Some fans have been disappointed in the budding Joey-Rachel romance. Even some Friends are repulsed by Joey, the bit-part actor, having feelings for classy Rachel. As smart aleck Chandler says to Joey in this show: How's the hideously inappropriate crush on Rachel coming?


Adding a baby to a sitcom can be risky. Remember Mad About You? But Garth Ancier, former NBC Entertainment president, trusts the executive producers.


In the eighth year, you start running out of stories to tell, says Mr. Ancier, now a Turner Broadcasting vice president.


Something has to happen. You can't keep jockeying people around the same story lines. They (producers) would not make this move lightly . . . They probably have all 24 of the episodes laid out in their minds, he says.


Most surprising has been the broad range of Mr. LeBlanc's Joey. One minute he's concerned about the expectant mother; the next he's still as dumb as a fence post.


As he says Thursday: I'm great! No, I'm better than great! I'm good.




When Mr. Bentley exhausts his stash of give-away goodies Friends pencils, plastic cups and T-shirts, plus candy bars and bottled water he solicits questions from the studio audience.


It doesn't take long for someone to ask the one on the mind of every Friends fan: Will this be the last season?


That's the question we'd all like to know the answer to, Mr. Bentley says.


NBC executives don't know, either. Faced with losing a second No. 1 show (Seinfeld) in five years, NBC says renewing Friends is the top priority.


There's absolutely no acrimony or anything like that. We're in discussions, says Jeff Zucker, NBC Entertainment president. We want them to come back.


His boss, NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa, says money is not an issue for the six stars, each now making $750,000 a show. They likely have been offered at least $1 million per episode, or $22 million a year, Mr. Ancier says. (Kelsey Grammer makes a reported $1.6-million per episode for NBC's Frasier.)


Whatever the cast decides, it will likely be unanimous, as with other Friends decisions. The cast gelled in 1994 with a rare all-for-one loyalty that has distinguished Friends from other shows.


All six insisted on appearing together on magazine cover photos in the first season, as Friends established itself as a top 10 show. They held out together for raises in 2000, demanding that each be paid the same. (All have declined interviews this season, and closed rehearsals to the press.)


From the beginning, we made sure that we'd always tell each other what was going on, because we were having such a good time, Ms. Aniston told me after the first season. We're friends, actually.


Before this season started, Ms. Aniston told reporters this would be the last for Friends.


It's really heartbreaking for me, every time I think about it I'm on the verge of tears, I really am, she said in August, promoting her Rock Star film.


When this will be over, it will be hard, it's hard for me to think about right now, she said. We have all shared so many crossroads of our lives together, and then we're all going to go our separate ways."




On this night, the Friends cast heads separate ways before the taping ends.


Only Ms. Arquette, Mr. LeBlanc and Ms. Kudrow stick around for the wildly enthusiastic curtain call. (It didn't sound like we were sitting there six hours.)


Ms. Aniston split early to attend the Sundance Film Festival with her husband, Brad Pitt. Mr. Schwimmer and Mr. Perry had other engagements, explains a Warner Bros. employee.


Is this a sign of a crack in the famous Friends unity? How much longer will they be there for you, as the theme song says?


It's strictly up to the six stars, Mr. Sassa says.


I don't believe we can convince them of anything, he says. It's really a decision for them, it's not a negotiation. A decision: Do they want to do the show?


An Article from Time Magazine


Reconsidering Friends
Monday, Apr. 19, 2004 By JAMES PONIEWOZIK Article


In the Friends episode "The One Where No One Proposes"--in which Rachel Green has had Ross Geller's baby after a one-night stand--Ross's father gazes at the tiny girl in the hospital. "My first grandchild," he purrs. "What about Ben?" asks Ross, referring to his son by his lesbian ex-wife, born in the first season. "Well, of course Ben," Mr. Geller covers up. "I meant my first granddaughter."


Is it farfetched that a man would forget his own grandson? Sure. But the gag works, because many of us also forgot Ben existed, even though he figured heavily in the sitcom's first two seasons. Jokes on Friends often involve characters' reminding us of basic details about their lives (say, that Monica and Ross are brother and sister) or forgetting details about one another (in Season 7, Chandler gets glasses, and everyone, including his fiance Monica, believes he has always had them). Friends is like that: content to be funny and forgettable. Even the episode titles--"The One Where ..."--suggest that even if the titles were more grandiose, you wouldn't remember them.


Friends underestimates itself. But that's understandable, because we underestimate it too. The highly popular show, which signs off after 10 seasons on May 6, has not inspired the kind of cultural hand wringing about its existential meaning that Seinfeld did--despite NBC's hubristically plugging Friends as the "best comedy ever"--and its proud-to-be-shallow attitude may be the reason. Beginning in the Norman Lear 1970s, we decided that great sitcoms must not be simply funny; they must also be important. That is, they must court controversy (All in the Family). They must document social progress (Mary Tyler Moore). They must have a sense of satire (M*A*S*H) or mission (The Cosby Show). They must be about something. Even Seinfeld, the "show about nothing," was about being the show about nothing; its nihilism was so well advertised as to beg cultural critics to read deep meaning into it.


Friends, on the other hand, is simply about being a pleasant sitcom. The bland, it-is-what-it-is title, the innocuous theme song I'll Be There for You--everything about it screams that it would rather be liked than respected. Its comments about the outside world are kept to the background. (Literally. After 9/11 rocked New York City, the Magna Doodle board on Joey's apartment door had the initials "FDNY" written on it.) What do people talk about when they talk about Friends? Jennifer Aniston's hair. Jennifer Aniston's husband. The Ugly Naked Guy across the street. The Smelly Cat song. "We were on a break!"


But perhaps we need to redefine "important TV." When Aniston, Courteney Cox (later Cox Arquette), Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer arrived en masse, controversy was still a mark of great sitcoms (Roseanne); however, it also allowed mediocre ones (Ellen, Murphy Brown) to act important. Friends went out of its way to be lightweight. But it may have done more to show how American values and definitions of family have changed--and to ratify those changes--than its peers, precisely because it was so innocuous.


Back in 1994--that Reality Bites, Kurt Cobain year--the show wanted to explain people in their 20s to themselves: the aimlessness, the cappuccino drinking, the feeling that you were, you know, "always stuck in second gear." It soon wisely toned down its voice-of-a-generation aspirations and became a comedy about pals and lovers who suffered comic misunderstandings and got pet monkeys.


But it stuck with one theme. Being part of Gen X may not mean you had a goatee or were in a grunge band; it did, however, mean there was a good chance that your family was screwed up and that you feared it had damaged you. Only Ross and Monica have a (relatively) happy set of parents. Phoebe's mom (not, we later learn, her biological mother) committed suicide, and her dad ran out. When Chandler was 9, his parents announced their divorce at Thanksgiving--Dad, it turned out, was a cross-dresser, played by Kathleen Turner. Joey discovered his father was having an affair. Rachel's mom left her dad, inspired by Rachel's jilting her fiance at the altar.


For 10 years, through all the musical-chairs dating and goofy college-flashback episodes, the characters have dealt with one problem: how to replace the kind of family in which they grew up with the one they believed they were supposed to have. One way was by making one another family. But they also found answers that should have, yet somehow didn't, set off conniptions in the people now exercised over gay marriage and Janet Jackson's nipple.


There was, of course, all the sleeping around, though that's not exactly rare on TV today. More unusual was Friends' fixation--consistent but never spotlighted in "very special episodes"--with alternative families. Like all romantic comedies, Friends tends to end its seasons with weddings or births. And yet none of the Friends has had a baby the "normal" way--in the Bushian sense--through procreative sex between a legally sanctioned husband and wife. Chandler and Monica adopt. Ross has kids by his lesbian ex-wife and his unwed ex-girlfriend. Phoebe carries her half brother and his wife's triplets (one of the funniest, sweetest and creepiest situations ever--"My sister's gonna have my baby!" he whoops). As paleontologist Ross might put it, Friends is, on a Darwinian level, about how the species adapts to propagate itself when the old nuclear-family methods don't work.


The message of Friends, in other words, is that there is no normal anymore and that Americans--at least the plurality needed to make a sitcom No. 1--accept that. (To the show's discredit, it used a cast almost entirely of white-bread heteros to guide us through all that otherness.) In January 1996, when Ross's ex-wife married her lesbian lover, the episode raised scant controversy, and most of that because Candace Gingrich--the lesbian sister of Newt, then Speaker of the House--presided over the ceremony. "This is just another zooey episode of the justifiably popular Friends," yawned USA Today. Sure, sitcoms like Roseanne had introduced gays earlier--but it's not as though that had rendered gay marriage uncontroversial, then or now. The bigger difference was in attitude, both the show's and the audience's.


What was radical about Friends was that it assumed these situations were not shocking but a fact of life. Maybe your dad wasn't a drag queen, Friends says, but maybe your parents split up, or maybe you had a confirmed-bachelor uncle whom the family, whatever its politics, had come to accept. If it was important for Murphy Brown to show that a single woman could have a baby in prime time--and spark a war with a Vice President--it was as important that Friends showed that a single woman could have a baby on TV's biggest sitcom, sparking nothing but "awwws."


In the end, the characters are approaching something like traditional happy endings: Phoebe married, Chandler and Monica becoming parents, Ross and Rachel headed for whatever closure the writers have devised, Joey going west for the Valhalla of spin-off-dom. Still, what a weird route they took. Friends may not have been as artistically great as NBC says, but it may have been more important than the show itself seemed to believe. If, as the headlines keep screaming, the culture war is not over, for half an hour a week over 10 years, we were able to forget it existed. What else are friends for?


An Article from The New York Times


COVER STORY; Sitcom Writers' Grail: The Perfect Exit Line

By ANITA GATES
Published: May 2, 2004


THE ''I Love Lucy'' writers had their chance. In February 1957 Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) left the city and moved to Connecticut. But did the megapopular series end there with a tearful goodbye to the Mertzes, their landlords and best friends? No. The show went on for three more months, calling it quits in May with an unexceptional episode in which Lucy accidentally destroys a statue of a Minuteman and has to pose as the statue herself.


They'd never get away with that today. On Thursday at 9 p.m., as the 10-season run of NBC's ''Friends'' comes to a close, millions of viewers will be on the edge of their sofas waiting to see if Ross Geller, mild-mannered paleontologist, and Rachel Green, sexy fashion executive, will end up together ever after. Or won't. And on May 11, fans of NBC's ''Frasier'' will gather to see if, after 11 seasons, Dr. Frasier Crane, lonely radio psychiatrist, will finally find lasting romance. Maybe with his matchmaker.


So it all comes down to love.


''Ross and Rachel have been in many ways the romantic thrust,'' said Marta Kauffman, a creator and executive producer of ''Friends.'' ''That started at the pilot, and we have luckily been able to keep it alive off and on over all these years.''


Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) became lovers after being pals (although he always had a crush on her); were briefly married long after breaking up; and had a child together long after their divorce. In last week's episode the two were having a deep emotional moment, but it still wasn't clear whether Ross would persuade Rachel not to take the glamorous job in Paris, leaving him and her New York life behind.


Things at ''Frasier'' seem more predictable. ''What we felt going into this year is that we had not really seen Frasier fall in love,'' said Joe Keenan, an executive producer who returned to the series this year after a three-year absence. Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) has dated plenty of women during the show's run, but ''they seem to come and go with startling regularity,'' Mr. Keenan said. And the end of the relationship was always comic.


''What's really been hard for us is finding a character, an actress, the audience would root for,'' Mr. Keenan said. They now have Laura Linney, whom viewers know from the ''Tales of the City'' mini-series and from films like ''Mystic River'' and ''You Can Count on Me.'' ''There's also the freedom that ending a series gives us,'' Mr. Keenan said. No one has to worry about making the couple's relationship interesting week after week for years to come.


But what about Ross and Rachel? Mr. Keenan, pressed for an opinion on how a show other than his own should end, said he thought the longtime ''star-crossed lovers'' should have their chance, but changed his mind when reminded of Rachel's career opportunity abroad. ''O.K.,'' he said. ''I think she should move to Paris and marry Baryshnikov.''


He was alluding of course to the finale of ''Sex and the City'' 10 weeks ago, in which Sarah Jessica Parker's character abandoned Mikhail Baryshnikov's in Paris to go home with her off-and-on love (Chris Noth). In fact, ''Sex and the City,'' which ran for six seasons on HBO, spent its last few episodes wrapping up all its characters' love lives.


''Situation comedies in the 90's have emphasized the personal lives and emotional development of the characters,'' said Ron Simon, television curator at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York. ''Sitcoms in the past were much more devoted to the comic elements.''


No one seemed immediately concerned about Mary Richards's romantic future when ''The Mary Tyler Moore Show'' wrapped up its seven seasons on CBS in 1977. Mary and her colleagues at WJM-TV had all been fired (except the inept anchorman Ted Baxter), and an era really was ending for them. ''That was the show that did it for me,'' said Mr. Keenan, speaking from his home in Studio City, Calif. ''With the final image of hugging and not being able to let go.''


It's Ms. Kauffman's favorite finale, too. In a joint telephone interview from their office in Burbank, she and David Crane, her fellow creator and executive producer on ''Friends,'' said that they also considered the ''Newhart'' finale in 1990 clever, but that it was all about the last two minutes. At the end of the last episode, Mr. Newhart's character, a Vermont innkeeper, wakes up to find himself in bed not with his wife (Mary Frann) but with Suzanne Pleshette, who had played Mr. Newhart's wife in his 1970's series, ''The Bob Newhart Show.''


Mr. Crane said the last episode of ''M*A*S*H,'' in 1983, was the brilliant finale, finding a surefire way to split up an ensemble cast en masse: the end of the Korean War. Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) did give a passionate kiss to Hot Lips Houlihan (Loretta Swit) before he flew away, but it was understood that these characters were moving on.


Some consider the ''Seinfeld'' finale (1998), in which the four main characters (played by Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander) are jailed for not helping a man in trouble, one of the less successful efforts. Mr. Simon said that Larry David, who created the series with Mr. Seinfeld, was ''sort of hedging his bets in trying to put a twist on the complaint that the characters were too self-involved.''


In the show's defense, Mr. Crane said: ''They thought out of the box. That was one of the strengths of that show.''


Strangely, the series-finale phenomenon didn't start with comedies. ''It was 'The Fugitive,' a detective series, that showed the enormous ratings potential,'' Mr. Simon said. ''It became a national event.'' In 1967, after four seasons of chasing and hiding, Dr. Richard Kimble (David Janssen) finally caught the one-armed man who had murdered Kimble's wife.


Some 37 years later the series finale is ''just part of the life cycle of a comedy,'' said Mr. Simon, and a necessary one.


''Sitcoms now almost have to react to the way the reality shows end,'' he added. ''There's always a big ending. They have a winner. That puts the burden more on the scripted shows.''


Meanwhile producers and writers worry. ''The most frightening thing is that you'll somehow get it wrong,'' Mr. Crane said. ''There's so much scrutiny. There's so much pressure, external and internal, to make it the best episode ever.''


Ending a series also means never being able to do some of those crazy ideas you'd planned on. Like the idea for a ''Friends'' episode in which Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) would meet Julie Andrews and ask for her autograph for the triplets. (Phoebe bore them for her half-brother five seasons ago.)


''I tried every year for like the last four years to get Julie Andrews on the show, to no success,'' Mr. Crane recalled. The funny part, he said, would have been that ''Phoebe becomes indignant that she hasn't signed it Mary Poppins.''



Correction: May 2, 2004, Sunday The cover article on Page 4 of the Television section today, about the finales of ''Friends'' and ''Frasier,'' misstates the date for ''Frasier.'' It is May 13, not May 11.


An Article from CNN


'Friends' to the end
By Stephanie Snipes
CNN
Monday, May 3, 2004 Posted: 6:38 PM EDT (2238 GMT)


(CNN) -- In 1994, O.J. Simpson fled, Nancy Kerrigan got whacked in the knee and a TV show called "Friends" hit the airwaves to become one of the most successful television comedies of all time.


The ensemble members -- Jennifer Aniston (Rachel); Courteney Cox Arquette (Monica); Matthew Perry (Chandler); Matt LeBlanc (Joey); Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe); and David Schwimmer (Ross) -- skyrocketed from pop-culture obscurity to sitcom superstardom in a show centered on heart, with comedy thrown in for good measure.


Executive producer and creator David Crane admits the show's huge success was surprising. He thinks "Friends," which began with the trials and tribulations of six 20-somethings facing life after college, flourished because of the characters' chemistry.


"There's an emotional component to the show that we can never lose sight of because I think the shows you get tired of the fastest are the ones where you don't really invest on some level," Crane said.


Crane and creating partner Marta Kauffman faced some resistance pitching the show to the networks. NBC, home to the show since Day One, was concerned that the characters were in the same demographic.


"We kept insisting that so long as you cared about the characters and there was a universal aspect to the story you didn't have to service every demographic," said Crane.


After the initial hesitance blew over, "Friends" went on to make the names of its characters household words. It rose in the ratings from No. 7 in season one to No. 3 in season two -- and remained in the Nielson Top 10 every year it was on the air.


Despite the comedy's popularity, Kauffman and Crane hit another roadblock.


When "Seinfeld" aired an episode about condoms, up-in-arms network censors made changes to a "Friends" script. In the episode "The One Where Dr. Ramoray Dies," Rachel and Monica argue over who gets the last condom in the apartment. Executives claimed the segment was too controversial and instructed Kauffman not to show the wrapper on TV.


"We went through a very, very, difficult reactionary period where we couldn't say certain words or even make jokes about certain kinds of sex. We tried to fight it tooth-and-nail because we felt the show was responsible," said Kauffman.


Laughter is the best medicine
While controversies facing "Friends" paled in comparison with shows like "Ellen," one of the first primetime shows to touch on a main character's homosexuality, and "Murphy Brown," which dealt with backlash after Brown became a single mother, producers still felt a sting. But it didn't stop them from producing laughs.


Producers originally strived to stay away from the use of catchphrases, but bent the rules when the actors' delivery left them begging for more.


Now, when fans hear the seemingly neutral phrase "How you doin'?" they envision Joey, a womanizer with a heart of gold, going in for the score.


"There's something so sort of cheesy sitcom about [catchphrases] and yet the way like Phoebe said 'Oh no' made us laugh so hard that we kept coming back to it," said Crane.


Another favorite, Courteney Cox Arquette's "I know!" was written in so many times that at one point Cox requested something else to say.


Story time
According to Kauffman and Crane, the show's success boiled down to heartfelt characters and intriguing plotlines. Kauffman counts Phoebe and Rachel's birth episodes, and "the game" in which Rachel and Monica lost their apartment to the boys, among her favorites. Crane admits certain story arcs surprised them. In the original show pitch, there were no romantic considerations between Rachel and Ross. Monica and Chandler's marriage was another unplanned event.


"When we put them (Monica and Chandler) in bed together initially, I don't think we realized that this would be the loves of their lives. We went into it going 'Well, we'll see how many weeks this works,'" said Crane.


Matthew Felling, media director of the Center For Media and Public Affairs, credits weak competition, not storylines, with the show's success.


"I think 'Friends' ' success lies partly in the diversity of its characters but mostly 'Friends' enjoyed the benefits of a very weak decade in television entertainment. Were they on top? Were they champions? Sure, but the competition wasn't all that good to begin with," said Felling.


"I think it was nice, simple, fun TV over a period of time that was less than nice and simple," he said.


All's well that ends well
Aside from a few speed bumps in the beginning, "Friends" remained intact and untouchable. The show racked up 55 Emmy Award nominations.


Accolades aside, Kauffman and Crane said no matter whether the cast was willing to consider another year, the time had come for them to depart primetime and re-live their glory days in syndication.


"I'd like to hope that years from now people can look at the reruns...and say 'That is still a really funny show' or 'It's still really sweet.' And if that happens ... I'll be thrilled," said Crane.


To watch some clips from Friends go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=friends+tv+show&aq=f


For a Website dedicated to Friends go to http://www.friends-tv.org/


For a Website dedicated to Friends go to http://web.archive.org/web/20051226040531/friends.rjhnet.com/


For Tim's TV Playhouse go to http://timvp.com/tv/friends/


For some Websites dedicated to the 1990s go to http://www.1990sflashback.com/ and http://www.patrickjreilly.com/the1990s/the1990s.htm and http://www.inthe90s.com/


The Architects of NBC’s Classic Must-See Lineup Reveal How Friends and ER Became Legends here... http://www.vulture.com/2014/09/1994-friends-seinfeld-er-warren-littlefield-transcript.html


For some Friends-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/friends


For another Review of Friends go to http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/friends.htm
· Date: Mon July 5, 2004 · Filesize: 23.7kb · Dimensions: 350 x 363 ·
Keywords: Friends: Cast Photo (Links Updated 7/31/18)

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