When revisiting a long-running sitcom’s first season, it’s usually startling how primitive the show feels: The rhythms seem off, the characters less defined, and the actors’ hairstyles hilariously dated. What’s startling about watching Friends’ year-one compilation is how little everything but the coifs has changed. The writing was just as witty, the characters were just as sharply defined (Joey thankfully broke free of his generic lothario role after the pilot), and the ensemble were as tight as, well, old friends. Thanks to syndication’s truncation, it’s hard to distinguish between the hyped never-before-seen footage (up to two minutes on some episodes) and what are just not-seen-since-NBC moments, but the producers’ focused commentary on the pilot is the real bonus, discussing Ross and Rachel’s endless courtship, the Rembrandts’ once-omnipresent theme, and the two words that always make the audience laugh: nipple and lesbian. A-
Posted May 10 2002 — 12:00 AM EDT
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