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I've never understood the concept of releasing "best of" compilations of television shows on DVD. Anyone who is a fan of any given show is going to want to own more than just a handful of unrelated episodes. Than is why television shows should be released in chronological order- in groups of several episodes, or better yet, in entire season collections. This brings us to THE BEST OF FRIENDS Volume 1 and Volume 2, which offers fans of the series two DVDs, each containing four half hour episodes and one hour long episode. As an added bonus, these DVDs also feature additional footage from the episodes that was not included in the original television broadcasts or in syndication.

FRIENDS has proven to be one of the most successful sitcoms on to ever appear on NBC, in fact, the show has become their flagship half hours series and a huge winner in the ratings war. Although I've watched the series since its early days, my interest has waned from time to time. Had it not been for the Ross and Rachel romance, then Monica and Chandler affair, I might not have kept coming back to the show. But then again, FRIENDS features a really strong ensemble cast and many truly hilarious moment that probably would have brought me back into the fold again anyway. Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer comprise the cast of FRIENDS.

THE BEST OF FRIENDS Volume 1 includes the following episodes: The One Where It All Began, The One With The Two Parts (Part I and II), The One With All the Poker, The One Where Ross Finds Out and The One With The Prom Video. THE BEST OF FRIENDS Volume 2 includes the following episodes: The One Where No One Is Ready, The One With The Embryos, The One With Ross' Wedding (Part I and II), The One With All The Thanksgivings and The One Where Everybody Finds Out. Every episode contains a whole lot of funny stuff, but a number of my favorites didn't make the cut for either "best of" collection- which harkens back to why every episode of popular television series should be released on DVD.

Warner Home Video has done a great job with the presentation of FRIENDS on DVD. Every episode looks a whole lot better on DVD than they did on broadcast television. Shot on film, the full screen presentation of FRIENDS is far crisper and more detailed thanks to the increased resolution of the DVD format. Colors are vibrant and the flesh tones are right on the money. There are no signs of chromatic distortion or smearing of the more intense hues. Blacks are accurate and the picture has a good level of depth. Digital compression artifacts are nicely concealed on these dual layer DVDs.

The Dolby Digital 5.0 channel soundtrack is surprisingly good for a television sitcom. There are some mild directional sound effects, but don't expect split surrounds from a television mix. Dialogue reproduction is excellent, with all of the voices sounding natural and maintaining full intelligibility. Music is well recorded and well balanced in the mix, taking advantage of both the forward and rear soundstages. The bass channel provides a solid foundation, but there isn't anything earthshaking going on. Subtitles are encoded on the DVD in English and Spanish. The basic interactive menus allow one access to individual episodes, as well as the DVD's set up features and extras. The Rembrandt's music video for the FRIENDS theme song I'll Be There For You is included on Volume 1 and Volume 2 features a Making-Of for The One With Ross' Wedding, in which the cast went to London.

 Volume 1 and Volume 2 of THE BEST OF FRIENDS are available on DVD individually for $19.95 or in a two-disc gift pack for $34.95.

One final note: FRIENDS fans have made their voices heard at Warner Home Video by participating in an e-mail campaign initiated by The Digital Bits. The e-mail response has been overwhelmingly in favor of FRIENDS being released in entire season sets, which Warner is currently mulling over. Donít be surprised if FRIENDS DVD box sets start showing up in the future.





The Best of Friends, Vol. 1-2


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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