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Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, German Dolby Digital 2.0, Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, German SDH, Norwegian, Spanish (Latino), Swedish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time:
  • Discs: 21 (21 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: November 13, 2012
  • List Price: $279.98

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

This is The One Where You Only Get the Original Broadcast Versions of Friends on Blu-ray. Warner, in all their infinite wisdom, have decided not to give fans of this series the extended versions of the episodes that have been available on DVD for this new high definition release. So, if you’re feeling particularly frugal, then a double-dip may not be in your future if high definition – especially middling high definition (see below) isn’t enough to get you to drop $280. For everyone else, never fear, because, while these are not the extended editions, they are the original broadcast versions, which means they are not the heavily edited and/or sped up syndicated versions you have been suffering through for years.

With that said, sitting through all 10 seasons of the series is enjoyable, extended versions or not. Undeniably, Friends has left an indelible mark on the world of comedy and television. One can see the influence the series has had, in series like How I Met Your Mother, the UK’s Coupling, or The Big Bang Theory. Starting out in the mid ’90s as a simple ensemble series about a group of six twenty-something friends struggling to make their way in the rough and tumble world of Manhattan, Monica (Courtney Cox) Chandler (Matthew Perry), Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc) would enter our living rooms on a weekly basis and eventually become a worldwide phenomenon. The intelligent writing, wonderful chemistry between the actors, and easy handling of the various story arcs are what made the series such a long lasting success. But it is the on again/off again relationship between Ross and Rachel that kept many of us tuned in, and we would finally be rewarded in the series finale, The Last One, parts 1 & 2, with the answer to whether the decade long relationship would stick. Along the way, Chandler and Monica would have their own wedding, Phoebe would finally find the man of her dreams and Joey, well he somehow stayed Joey, bighearted, a little dim on the topside, but totally lovable. One must also mention the numerous A-list guest stars that have appeared over the years, from Brad Pitt, Isabella Rosellini, and Julia Roberts, to Christina Applegate, Gary Oldman, Alec Baldwin, Reese Witherspoon and many, many more, there was no shortage of talent lining up to help infuse this great series with some fresh stories and faces — not that they needed too much help to keep us interested.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Hailing from the mid-’90s, Friends is strictly a 35mm film production done on Panavision Panaflex cameras with Panavision lenses. The packaging for this set claims it has been completely remastered from the 35mm negatives and it arrives on Blu-ray in a 1.78:1-framed AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Warner. Frankly, I’m  underwhelmed by the look of Friends in this set. As to be expected, the series gradually improves as it gets closer to and into the 2000s, but never reaches a tipping point where it looks spectacular. The early seasons, especially 1 – 5, are the worst by far, looking dim, grainy, and very soft. Somewhere around season 6, contrast and overall brightness improves and things get a bit more detailed, but still have an overall softness. The worst issue, however, is some low-level noise that can be spotted in flat colors, such as on walls in the backgrounds or on white shirts and sweaters, where one can see some clipping of white levels and so forth.There are also issues with black crush and unnatural flesh tones throughout. This could have and should been so much better.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

The soundtrack offered up by Warner makes me want to cry even more than The Last One from season 10. While I understand that sitcoms have never been known for having great sound, why couldn’t the studio at least spend a few extra ducats on remixing, remastering, and upgrading this to a lossless codec? All we get, unfortunately, is Dolby Digital 5.1 that sounds boomy, veiled, has scratchy sounding high frequencies, and audible crackle in dialogue from time to time through every season.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4.5/5]

The packaging for this set is beautiful, but most of the on-disc supplements are simple port overs from the DVD sets. That said, there are hours of additional content and a bonus BD is provided that also contains hours of new featurettes with the creators on the series, cast TV appearances, scripts, and more.

The supplements:

  • Box with lenticular cover
  • Hardcover “book” with all 21 discs.
  • Keepsake episode guide
  • Pilot Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 1)
  • The One Where No One’s Ready Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 3)
  • The One With the Football Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane and Art Director John Shaffner (Season 3)
  • The One the Morning After Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 3)
  • The One with Chandler in a Box Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 4)
  • The One with the Embryos Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 4)
  • The One With Ross’s Wedding, Part 1 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 4)
  • The One With Ross’s Wedding, Part 2 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 4)
  • The One Hundredth Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 5)
  • The One With All the Thanksgivings Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 5)
  • The One Where Everybody Finds Out Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 5)
  • The One Where Ross Got High Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 6)
  • The One That Could Have Been, Part 1 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 6)
  • The One That Could Have Been, Part 2 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 6)
  • The One With the Holiday Armadillo Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane and Costume Designer Debra McGuire (Season 7)
  • The One With Joey’s New Brain Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 7)
  • The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding, Part 1 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 7)
  • The One With Monica and Chandler’s Wedding, Part 1 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 7)
  • The One Where Rachel Tells Ross Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 8 )
  • The One With the Videotape Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 8 )
  • The One Where Rachel Has a Baby, Part 1 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 8 )
  • The One Where Rachel Has a Baby, Part 2 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 8 )
  • The One With the Male Nanny Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 9)
  • The One With Rachel’s Other Sister Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 9)
  • The One in Barbados Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 9)
  • The One With the Late Thanksgiving Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 10)
  • The One Where the Stripper Cries Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 10)
  • The Last One, Parts 1 & 2 Commentary with Executive Producers Kevin S. Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane (Season 10)
  • Friends of Friends (1.33:1; SD) – Browse through clips of each star’s guest appearance on the series.
  • The One with the Trailer of Season 2 (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:17)
  • What’s Up With Your Friends? (1.33:1; SD)
    • Gunther
    • Chandler
    • Joey
    • Monica
    • Phoebe
    • Rachel Ross
  • Smelly Cat Video (1.33:1; SD; 00:01:49)
  • Friends Around the World (1.33:1; SD; 00:07:36) – A look at the German, Swedish, and Japanese translations of Friends, with the international voice casts and Friends fans from around the world.
  • Behind the Scenes:
    • The One That Goes Behind the Scenes (1.33:1; SD; 00:42:29)
    • Friends: On Location in London (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:16)
  • Gunther Spills the Beans (1.33:1; SD)…on the seasons to come.
  • Gag Reel (1.33:1; SD; 00:09:37) (Season 6)
  • Gag Reel (1.33:1; SD; 00:09:26) (Season 7)
  • Gag Reel (1.33:1; SD; 00:08:37) (Season 8 )
  • Gag Reel (1.33:1; SD; 00:06:40) (Season 9)
  • Gag Reels:
    • Flashback Gags Season 1 (1.33:1; SD; 00:05:23)
    • Flashback Gags Season 2 (1.33:1; SD; 00:06:29)
    • Flashback Gags Season 3 (1.33:1; SD; 00:04:32)
    • Flashback Gags Season 4 (1.33:1; SD; 00:05:03)
    • Season 10 Gags (1.33:1; SD; 00:20:05)
  • The Ones with More Friends: The Original Broadcast “Super-Sized” Episodes (Season 7) (1.33:1; SD):
    • The One Where Rosita Dies
    • The One Where They All Turn Thirty
    • The One With Joey’s New Brain
    • The One With the Truth About London
  • Behind the Style: The Look of Friends (1.33:1; SD; 00:20:08)
  • Phoebe Battles the Pink Robots (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:08) – A music video of The Flaming Lips song reworked for “Phoebe.”
  • Joey Joey Music Video (1.33:1; SD; 00:02:37)
  • Friends Final Thoughts (1.33:1; SD; 00:25:30) – The creators and cast offer their final reminiscences on working on the series, from the early casting to the very last episode.

Bonus Disc (Blu-ray):

  • True Friends Documentaries:
    • Friends from the Start (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:27:50) – The creators of Friends come back to talk about how and why the developed the series and the process of bringing it to TV.
    • When Friends Become Family (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:20) – A discussion of the chemistry in Friends that helped make the series successful and make it the anchor of NBC’s “Must See TV” for the ’90s.
    • The Legacy of Friends (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:10:46)
  • The Original Producer’s Cut for The One Where Rachel Tells Ross (1.33:1; SD; 00:22:49) – The original episode with Chandler telling a joke about a bomb while at the airport is restored. This was originally removed due to the 9/11 tragedy.
  • The Original Script for The One Where Rachel Tells Ross
  • Music Video: The Rembrandts: I’ll Be There for You (1.33:1; SD)
  • Short Feature: Friends Visit The Ellen DeGeneres Show (1.33:1; SD; 00:16:08)
  • Short Feature: Friends on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1.33:1; SD; 00:22:01)
  • Gag Reel: The One with the Never-Before-Seen Gags (1.33:1; SD; 00:07:01)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Friends is a laugh a minute and, even though this series is in constant syndication, this is the better way to watch it. It’s unedited, in high definition, open matted for widescreen televisions, and commercial free. Of course, if you have the original DVD sets, you’ll be missing the extended versions of certain episodes that were done specifically for the home video releases. This isn’t exactly the greatest HD I’ve seen, but it still beats any version of Friends I have ever seen before.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B008D19WBQ[/amazon-product]

Purchase Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Season 1:

Season 2:

Season 3:

Season 4:

Season 5:

Season 6:

Season 7:

Season 8:

Season 9:

Season 10:

[amazon-product]B008D19WBQ[/amazon-product]

Purchase Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]



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