Friends Pilot WRITERS Marta Kauffman/David Crane DIRECTOR James Burrows PLOT We're introduced to the world's most telegenic twentysomethings -- where else? -- at NYC's Central Perk… Friends Pilot WRITERS Marta Kauffman/David Crane DIRECTOR James Burrows PLOT We're introduced to the world's most telegenic twentysomethings -- where else? -- at NYC's Central Perk… 1994-09-22 2004-05-06 Jennifer Aniston Courteney Cox Lisa Kudrow Matt LeBlanc Matthew Perry David Schwimmer Charles Thomas Allen John Christopher Allen Hank Azaria Helen Baxendale Paget Brewster Eddie Cahill Anna Faris Cosimo Fusco Adam Goldberg Elliott Gould Jessica Hecht Mitchell Whitfield Paul Rudd Tom Selleck Jane Sibbett Cole Sprouse Lauren Tom Aisha Tyler James Michael Tyler Maggie Wheeler Jason Alexander David Arquette Billy Crystal Jean-Claude Van Damme Laura Dern Jon Favreau Sarah Ferguson Teri Garr Jennifer Grey Helen Hunt Chris Isaak Jon Lovitz Elle Macpherson Gary Oldman Brad Pitt Giovanni Ribisi Denise Richards Julia Roberts Isabella Rossellini Debra Jo Rupp Winona Ryder Susan Sarandon Jennifer Saunders Charlie Sheen Brooke Shields Kathleen Turner Gabrielle Union Robin Williams Bruce Willis Reese Witherspoon Steve Zahn NBC
Review

Friends (1994 - 2004)

EW's GRADE
A-

Details Start Date: Sep 22, 1994; With: Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry...; Network: NBC; More

Pilot

WRITERS Marta Kauffman/David Crane DIRECTOR James Burrows PLOT We're introduced to the world's most telegenic twentysomethings -- where else? -- at NYC's Central Perk cafe, where the Friends are having one of their many meandering chats (Chandler's naked anxiety dream) over lattes. The gang's personas are nailed before the first commercial break: Joey, the dim-bulb lothario actor (doing an exaggerated Noo Yawk shtick that softens in future episodes); Monica, the fastidious singleton; Chandler, the self-deprecating wiseass; Phoebe, the New Age flake; Ross, the depressed divorce whose wife has just ditched him for another woman; and rich girl Rachel, Monica's high school pal, who runs into Central Perk in a wedding dress having just left her orthodontist husband-to-be, Barry, at the altar. Rachel decides to move in with Monica -- even if it means being cut off from Daddy's dollars, prompting her new roomie to offer Friends' Gen-X mission statement: ''Welcome to the real world. It sucks! You're going to love it.'' INTRODUCES Central Perk and the gang; the patented Friends ''looking out the window pensively'' shot (performed here separately by Ross and Rachel); one of TV's most polarizing theme songs. HISTORIC MOMENT Rachel begins her stint as Central Perk's worst waitress. CREATIVE CASTING Clea Lewis (Ellen) as Monica's cooking coworker, Franny, who sets Monica straight about her new boyfriend, Paul the Wine Guy. BEST LINE ''Do the words 'Billy, Don't Be a Hero' mean anything to you?'' (Ross, on how long it's been since he's had sex) CRITIQUE It's remarkable how quickly this ensemble of unknowns (save Cox) establishes a comfortable, comedic vibe -- especially in the throwaway ''hanging out'' bits that pepper the action: attempting to decipher a Spanish telenovela, trying to assemble Ross' furniture over a few beers, chanting ''Cut! Cut! Cut!'' as Rachel scissors her credit cards. After 22 minutes, these six people are believably set up as lifelong buddies. B+

1 THE ONE WITH THE SONOGRAM AT THE END -- W Kauffman/Crane D Burrows PLOT Monica's in a tizzy as she prepares for a visit from her self-esteem-sucking folks. Rachel gives Barry back his engagement ring -- and learns he's now dating her maid of honor, Mindy. INTRODUCES Ross' workplace, the Museum of Prehistoric History; Ross' ex-wife, Carol (Anita Barone), and her girlfriend, Susan (Jessica Hecht); Barry (Mitchell Whitfield); Elliott Gould and Christina Pickles as the Gellers. HISTORIC MOMENTS Ross finds out he's going to be a dad; first Ugly Naked Guy sighting (Chandler: ''Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew! Ugly Naked Guy got a Thighmaster!''); Gunther (James Michael Tyler) appears at Central Perk, but has no lines; we learn Monica was once chubby (and that her dad's nickname for her is ''Harmonica''), Chandler is an only child, and Phoebe is a twin (''We don't speak. She's like this high-powered driven career type...She's a waitress''), which explains Kudrow's continuing presence on Mad About You. BEST LINE ''Oh, I think this is the episode of Three's Company where there's some kind of misunderstanding.'' (Chandler) NEW 'DO Joey CRITIQUE A snappy episode, packed with smart back story -- including Monica's anal-retentive, perfectionistic roots. Establishes the comedically fertile Ross-Susan-Carol triangle. B+

2 THE ONE WITH THE THUMB -- W Jeffrey Astrof/Mike Sikowitz D Burrows PLOT Monica bemoans how the gang always picks apart her dates, but she's even more dismayed when they finally like one -- waaaay more than she does. Meanwhile, ex-smoker Chandler gets rehooked. Title comes from Monica introducing the boys to the mythical thumb-to-index-finger manhood meter (plus, Phoebe finds a severed thumb in her soda). BEST LINE '''You're such a nice guy' means 'I'm going to be dating leather-wearing alcoholics and complaining about them to you.''' (Chandler) CRITIQUE Slow pacing and feeble secondary plots, but on the upside, Phoebe gets ample screen time, allowing Kudrow to define her delightfully daffy character. B

3 THE ONE WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS -- W Alexa Junge D Burrows PLOT Chandler and Joey bring a mopey Ross to a hockey game to take his mind off the anniversary of his and Carol's first sexual encounter -- but a puck to the face doesn't help. The girls throw a slumber party and attempt to take Rachel's mind off being the only one of her hometown friends who isn't getting promoted, married, or pregnant -- and things really pick up when George Stephanopoulos' pizza is delivered to their pad by mistake. HISTORIC MOMENT Rachel gets her first paycheck: ''Who's FICA? Why is he getting all my money?'' BEST LINE ''I think you have to draw him out. And then, when you do, he's a preppy animal!'' (Monica, speculating on Stephanopoulos' sexual prowess) CRITIQUE Kudrow, Cox, and Aniston are effortlessly hilarious at the drunken slumber party, but give the boys their props: Joey's confusion over the difference between omnipotent and impotent is a gut-buster. A-

4 THE ONE WITH THE EAST GERMAN LAUNDRY DETERGENT -- W Jeff Greenstein/Jeff Strauss D Pamela Fryman PLOT Dumping is the theme of the day: Chandler dreads ending it with his heretofore unseen girlfriend -- and it doesn't get any easier after multiple espressos; Joey enlists Monica to help him break up his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. INTRODUCES Janice (Maggie Wheeler), Chandler's whiny, Fran Drescher-soundalike girlfriend whom everyone hates. HISTORIC MOMENT Rachel kisses Ross for the first time -- as a token of appreciation for helping her do laundry. BEST LINE ''You know what blows my mind? Women can see breasts any time they want.'' (Joey) CRITIQUE Ross' unrequited love for Rachel emerges as the series' one ongoing story line, and their laundry date is the first time Aniston and Schwimmer show off their cute chemistry. B+

5 THE ONE WITH THE BUTT -- W Adam Chase/Ira Ungerleider D Arlene Sanford PLOT Chandler becomes the boy-toy of a worldly Italian woman (Sofia Milos) who's already got a husband and a boyfriend, while Joey lands his first movie role -- as Al Pacino's butt double. Too bad he can't keep his derriere from overacting. HISTORIC MOMENT Joey gets an agent (Estelle Leonard Talent Agency). CREATIVE CASTING Burrows as the movie's director. NEW 'DO Rachel BEST LINE ''After all your years of struggling, you've finally been able to crack your way into show business.'' (Chandler, to ass stand-in Joey) CRITIQUE LeBlanc's Joey started off as the cast's weakest link, but around this time in the series, he ditches Tribbiani's more cliched aspects and displays deceptively subtle comic instincts. His performance in Freud! the musical is a cold-open gem, thanks to his song about penis envy: ''All you vant is a dingle/Vat you envy's a schwang!/A thing through vich you can tinkle...'' A-

6 THE ONE WITH THE BLACKOUT -- W Astrof/Sikowitz D Burrows PLOT Manhattan is hit with a power outage, leaving Chandler trapped in an ATM vestibule with a lingerie model, the gang confessing sex secrets in Monica's candlelit pad, and Ross attempting to escape ''the friend zone'' by finally asking Rachel out. INTRODUCES Paolo (Cosimo Fusco), Rachel's smarmy Italian beau; Monica and Rachel's perpetually peeved downstairs neighbor, Mr. Heckles (Larry Hankin). HISTORIC MOMENT Phoebe's would-be Central Perk singing debut is shut down by the titular power outage. CREATIVE CASTING Jill (Goodacre) Connick as herself. BEST LINE ''Who am I going to meet in a blackout? Power company guys? Eligible looters?'' (Monica) CRITIQUE The series is at its best when plot contrivances are put aside for chatty, casual comedy mixed with physical high jinks (Ross wrestling Paolo's cat on the balcony is definitive Friends slapstick). A-

7 THE ONE WHERE NANA DIES TWICE -- W Kauffman/Crane D Burrows PLOT Ross and Monica mourn the passing of their maternal grandmother -- who doesn't quite make it into the light with her first attempt (see title) -- but it's Ross who ends up six feet under. HISTORIC MOMENTS One of Chandler's female coworkers mistakes him as gay, thus kicking off the series' long-running gag. Mr. Bing is soon shocked to learn that -- as Monica explains it -- he has ''a quality.'' The show goes on location for the first time (at a cemetery), but it's a little off-putting to see the cast in actual daylight. CREATIVE CASTING Father Knows Best's Elinor Donahue plays Ross and Monica's aunt. BEST LINE ''When I first met you...I thought maybe, possibly, you might be [gay]...but then you spent Phoebe's entire birthday party talking to my breasts, so then I figured maybe not.'' (Rachel, to Chandler) CRITIQUE Friends is atypically adept at handling sitcom schmaltz -- e.g., babies and weddings -- but the somewhat maudlin sentiment of Nana's death lands with a thud. B-

8 THE ONE WHERE UNDERDOG GETS AWAY -- W Greenstein/Strauss D Burrows PLOT It's Thanksgiving, but nobody's feeling grateful when the gang gets locked out of Monica's apartment after running outside to see an escaped Underdog balloon from the parade. HISTORIC MOMENT Chandler boycotts Turkey Day because his parents announced their breakup over Thanksgiving dinner (he prefers a meal of tomato soup, grilled cheese, and Funyuns). INTRODUCES Jane Sibbett as the new Carol. CREATIVE CASTING ALF's Max Wright as Terry, Central Perk's boss. CRITIQUE While this is a holiday episode first and foremost, it's the subplot -- new model Joey inadvertently becomes a clinic's poster boy for VD -- that's truly worth celebrating. B

9 THE ONE WITH THE MONKEY -- W Chase/Ungerleider D Peter Bonerz PLOT The gang decides to forgo the desperate scramble for New Year's Eve dates and have dinner together -- but one by one they break their resolution. INTRODUCES Marcel the Monkey, rescued from a lab by Ross' friend Bethel. HISTORIC MOMENTS Joey kisses Chandler at midnight -- further fanning the ''Is Chandler gay?'' flames. Phoebe gets her first on-screen kiss from a shy scientist -- but it establishes the Friends tradition of rarely letting Miss Buffay keep a man for more than one episode when he's quietly whisked off to Minsk; Phoebe finally sings her first song in Central Perk. CREATIVE CASTING Hank Azaria as the scientist; The Invisible Man's Vincent Ventresca as Monica's boyfriend ''Fun Bobby.'' BEST LINE ''Hey, that monkey's got a Ross on his ass.'' (Chandler) CRITIQUE Introducing the monkey was perhaps Friends' biggest blunder -- forcing Schwimmer to do comedy opposite a simian is beneath him. ''Monkey'' illustrates the writers' tendency to overplot (was it necessary to add Rachel getting into a catfight at the airport?), and the multiple story lines never quite jell. Still, any ep that gives Phoebe center stage gets bumped up a grade. B

10 THE ONE WITH MRS. BING -- W Junge D Burrows PLOT Chandler's mom, a lusty and beautiful romance novelist, hits town -- and hits on Ross. Phoebe and Monica make a love connection of their own: After they startle a cute guy with a catcall, he's hit by a car, leaving him in a coma and the girls fighting over nursemaid duties. HISTORIC MOMENT We learn Chandler's mom bought him his first condoms. INTRODUCES Morgan Fairchild as Chandler's mom. BEST LINE ''You don't kiss your friend's mom. Sisters are okay, maybe a hot-lookin' aunt, but not a mom. Never a mom.'' (Joey, to Ross) CRITIQUE Jay Leno's appearance is a portent of the annoying stunts and NBC crossovers to come. While the Episode One introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Geller brilliantly informs the Ross and Monica characters, the idea that Chandler's mom is a bawdy sexpot is just plain confusing. Add the forced Coma Guy story line and you have the weakest Friends outing yet. C

11 THE ONE WITH THE DOZEN LASAGNAS -- W Astrof/Sikowitz and Chase/Ungerleider D Paul Lazarus PLOT Ross prepares for the birth of Carol's baby -- though he can't decide if he wants to know the sex; Joey and Chandler prepare to take a big step as roommates -- buying a table; Phoebe prepares to tell Rachel that Paolo made a pass at her. HISTORIC MOMENTS We see Phoebe at work as a massage therapist; a first look at Carol and Susan's apartment; Joey and Chandler buy a Foosball table; and it's official -- Ross' baby is a boy! BEST LINE ''We are way past the fling thing. I mean, I am feeling things that I've only read about in Danielle Steel books.'' (Rachel on Paolo) CRITIQUE Masterfully silly cold open -- the gang humming the Odd Couple theme in Central Perk -- sets the tone for this meandering, somewhat scattered but charming installment. B+

12 THE ONE WITH THE BOOBIES -- W Junge D Alan Myerson PLOT It was bound to happen with all this barging in and out of each other's apartments: Chandler walks in on a half-naked Rachel. Joey meets his dad's longtime mistress. INTRODUCES Joey's philandering dad, Joey Sr. (Robert Costanzo), and his prototypical Italian mom, Gloria (Brenda Vaccaro). HISTORIC MOMENTS A flustered Chandler coins the phrase ''nipular area.'' Joey and Chandler sleep together (sharing a sofa bed while guests stay over); first reference to Chandler's dad being gay. CREATIVE CASTING Fisher Stevens as Phoebe's beau Roger, a psychiatrist who alienates everyone with his spot-on analyses of their lives. NEW 'DO Monica BEST LINE ''If I turn into my parents, I'll either be an alcoholic blond chasing after 20-year-old boys or -- I'll end up like my mom.'' (Chandler) CRITIQUE The goofy parent-child role reversal of the Joey story line is tired, but the show does a hilarious job of mocking its Gen-X hipness with Roger's bitter denunciation of the gang's ''codependent, emotionally stunted'' dynamic: ''You're all like 'Oh, define me! Define me!''' B

13 THE ONE WITH THE CANDY HEARTS -- W Bill Lawrence D Burrows PLOT It's Valentine's Day and the gang is -- go figure -- dealing with dating disasters: Chandler's blind date turns out to be his ridiculously irritating ex, Janice; the girls nearly torch Monica's apartment with an out-of-control ''boyfriend bonfire''; poor Ross ends up sharing a table with his ex-wife while on a date. BEST LINE ''C'mon, man -- she's needy. She's vulnerable. I'm thinking, 'Cha-ching!''' (Joey) CRITIQUE What Friends does best is mine laughs from love woes. Janice and Chandler's anti-chemistry continues to yield shrill comedy, and the bonfire is just the kind of true-to-life silliness we watch this show for. B+

14 THE ONE WITH THE STONED GUY -- W Greenstein/Strauss D Myerson PLOT After five years of data processing, Chandler heads to a career counselor -- and learns he's ideally suited for...data processing. Monica tries to land a head chef position, but is chagrined when the restaurateur attends her tasting stoned. Ross dates the curator of insects at his museum, but bugs out when she wants him to talk dirty. HISTORIC MOMENTS Chandler's heretofore vaguely defined job is slightly elucidated when he's promoted to processing supervisor, with a phat new salary and office -- though it's never quite clear what he does, which poses a problem for the girls in Episode 84; introduction of the ''wenus'' concept (weekly estimated net use of systems). CREATIVE CASTING Jon Lovitz as the pothead. CRITIQUE Lovitz's stoner shtick is an unfunny stunt-casting gimmick, but the ep is redeemed by an all-time classic scene in which Joey teaches Ross to talk dirty: ''If you can't talk dirty to me, how are you going to talk dirty to her? Now, tell me you want to caress my butt!'' A-

15 THE ONE WITH TWO PARTS -- W Crane/ Kauffman D Michael Lembeck PLOT Joey falls for Ursula, Phoebe's ditsy and bitchy identical twin -- continuing Ursula's lifelong habit of stealing all of her sister's stuff. Ross goes to Lamaze class with both Carol and Susan; Chandler has to fire his office crush. CREATIVE CASTING First in a series of NBC Must See TV crossovers: Mad About You's Helen Hunt and Leila Kenzle drop by Central Perk and -- get this! -- mistake Phoebe for Ursula. CRITIQUE Flights of fancy do not suit this sitcom at all, and this installment is full of them -- including Rachel dangling off the balcony tangled in Christmas lights, and the hackish split-screen gimmick when Phoebe and Ursula ''meet.'' Even worse, the script boasts nary a laugh-out-loud joke. One redeeming factor: the setup of the subtle sweetheart dynamic between Joey and Phoebe. C+

16 THE ONE WITH TWO PARTS -- PART 2 -- W Crane/Kauffman D Lembeck PLOT The high jinks continue as an injured and uninsured Rachel (who twisted her ankle in Part 1) needles Monica into defrauding the hospital by letting Rachel use her insurance. Ross continues to grapple with impending fatherhood. CREATIVE CASTING Painful NBC crossover, Part d'oh: ER's George Clooney and Noah Wyle play two hunkalicious M.D.'s whom Monica and Rachel date. HISTORIC MOMENT Phoebe and Joey kiss! (Of course, he thinks she's Ursula.) CRITIQUE Far superior to the pallid Part 1 thanks to Monica and Rachel's wickedly funny insurance-fraud-necessitated identity swap. (''See, I was supposed to get married, but I left the guy at the altar,'' says Monica, as ''Rachel,'' to the docs. ''Yeah, I know it's pretty selfish but, hey -- that's me!'') Still, the gooey Marcel-in-peril ending is unforgivable schmaltz. B

17 THE ONE WITH ALL THE POKER -- W Astrof/Sikowitz D Burrows PLOT The girls try to beat the guys at poker, while Ross keeps bluffing about his feelings for Rachel. HISTORIC MOMENT Rachel gets an interview for an assistant buyer spot at Saks Fifth Avenue. CREATIVE CASTING Beverly Garland as Monica's Aunt Iris. BEST LINE ''Hello, Kettle? This is Monica. You're black.'' (Phoebe, when Monica calls Ross ''competitive'') CRITIQUE Besides being rife with genius Chandler comebacks (Rachel: ''Guess what?'' Chandler: ''Uh, okay -- the fifth dentist caved and now they're all recommending Trident?''), ''Poker'' proves the power of this ensemble; the six players spend almost the entire 22 minutes together, and it's the best episode so far. A

18 THE ONE WHERE MARCEL GETS AWAY -- W Astrof/Sikowitz D Bonerz PLOT Rachel loses Marcel, throwing a monkey wrench into Ross' plan to confess his true feelings for her. HISTORIC MOMENTS We learn Marcel is an illegal exotic animal; Barry tells Rachel he wants her back. CREATIVE CASTING Megan Cavanagh (Marla Hooch from A League of Their Own) as Luisa, the animal control officer (and Rachel and Monica's former classmate). BEST LINE ''What happened to, 'Forget relationships! I'm done with men!' -- the whole, uh, penis embargo?'' (Ross, to Rachel) CRITIQUE The nadir of Friends first-season simian-centric plots, chockful of pointless monkeying around, including a random Shaft gag that culminates with Phoebe getting shot in the butt with a tranquilizer gun. Oh, the hilarity! C

19 THE ONE WITH THE EVIL ORTHODONTIST -- W Doty Abrams D Bonerz PLOT Rachel reconnects with Barry -- even though he's now engaged to her best friend and former maid of honor, Mindy. Chandler sends himself into a stress spiral when a girl doesn't call him after ''one of the greatest first dates of all time.'' HISTORIC MOMENT We learn that Joey cooks naked: ''Toast, oatmeal, nothing that spatters.'' CREATIVE CASTING Jennifer Grey as Mindy. BEST LINE Probably the best cold-open line of the series. Chandler: ''I can't believe you would actually say that. I would much rather be Mr. Peanut than Mr. Salty.'' Joey: ''No way. Mr. Salty is a sailor, all right? He's gotta be, like, the toughest snack there is.'' CRITIQUE Aniston is a whiz at milking Rachel's high-strung guilt for laughs, but did we ever really believe Rachel would end up with Barry when millions of viewers are now rooting for Ross? B

20 THE ONE WITH FAKE MONICA -- W Chase/Ungerleider D Gail Mancuso PLOT After Monica's credit card is stolen, she tracks down the thief and becomes enamored of the Fake Monica's free-spirited, rule-breaking ways. HISTORIC MOMENT Ross sends Marcel -- who's reached his sexual peak and is getting aggressively randy -- to a zoo in San Diego. CREATIVE CASTING Broadway's Claudia Shear as faux Mon; Harry Shearer as a creepy animal collector. BEST LINE ''Let's just say my Curious George doll is no longer curious.'' (Rachel, after an amorous Marcel attacks her stuffed animal) CRITIQUE A thin, hokey episode with a semi-sappy, ''carpe diem'' theme that doesn't jibe with the series' tone of slackeresque cynicism. And that ''Marcel-likes-to-hump-things'' joke isn't getting any funnier the zillionth time around. Good riddance, Fuzz Boy. C

21 THE ONE WITH THE ICK FACTOR -- W Junge D Robby Benson PLOT Monica is dating ''young Ethan'' (Stan Kirsch), but doesn't find out how young he is until after she deflowers him. Chandler discovers his entire staff hates him when he hires Phoebe as his temp secretary. At least Rachel likes Chandler -- if those sex dreams she keeps having about him mean anything. HISTORIC MOMENTS We learn Monica is 26; the Chandler-loves-Joey theme stays alive when Rachel dreams about the two of them going at it; Carol goes into labor. BEST LINE ''Oh God, I just had sex with someone who wasn't alive during the Bicentennial!'' (Monica) NEW 'DO Chandler CRITIQUE A perfectly balanced episode: Monica's shrill hysterics over her jailbait boyfriend are countered by Chandler's chagrin over being ''Bossman Bing.'' Genius subplot alert: Ross buys a beeper so Carol can reach him when she goes into labor, but he gets all the wrong messages when his number, 55JIMBO, is frequently mistaken for the gay prostitute 55JUMBO. A-

22 THE ONE WITH THE BIRTH -- W Teleplay by Greenstein/Strauss; story by Crane/Kauffman D Burrows PLOT The gang descends on the hospital when Carol goes into labor, but Ross and Susan's constant bickering in the delivery room gets them tossed out -- and eventually locked in a storage closet. Not that Rachel notices: She's too busy flirting with the cute obstetrician. HISTORIC MOMENTS We learn Joey is 25; Chandler foreshadows his romantic future when he offers to have a baby with Monica if they're both unmarried at age 40. CREATIVE CASTING Jonathan Silverman as the obstetrician; Leah Remini (The King of Queens) as a single mom Joey helps get through labor; June Gable (later cast as Estelle, Joey's agent), as a nurse. BEST LINE ''I love them -- each one's like a little party in my uterus!'' (Carol, after the doctor asks how she's doing with the contractions) CRITIQUE Once again, Friends delivers standard-issue sitcom devices (the locked-in-a-closet gag, the tearjerker ending) with exceptional charm and restraint. Schwimmer works his patented nebbishy anxiety to great effect, while Phoebe reminds us that she's actually the most insightful Friend with a casually sweet observation of the squabbling Susan and Ross: ''Here's this little baby who has, like, three whole parents who care about it so much they're fighting over who gets to love it the most.'' Dammit -- we told ourselves we wouldn't cry. A-

23 THE ONE WHERE RACHEL FINDS OUT -- W Chris Brown D Kevin S. Bright PLOT As you might have already guessed from the title, Rachel discovers Ross' love for her when a careless Chandler lets it slip at her birthday party. Even if Rachel wanted to reciprocate she can't, because Ross is in China on a museum trip, where he digs up a new fossil -- and a new girlfriend. INTRODUCES Julie (Lauren Tom), Ross' new squeeze. HISTORIC MOMENT Major product placement of Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries in Chandler and Joey's kitchen. BEST LINE ''Wow, you're going to be making money hand over fist.'' (Phoebe, learning what Joey will earn for his sperm donations) CRITIQUE Though the long-awaited Ross-'n'-Rachel romantic revelation is ostensibly the focus of ''TOWRFO,'' we found ourselves more entertained by the randy b-story: Joey's got a hot-to-trot new girlfriend, but he's also participating in a paying fertility study that requires, of all things, celibacy. There's nothing like sex jokes to temper shmoopy sitcom sentimentality. B

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Originally posted Sep 15, 2001 Published in issue #615 Sep 15, 2001 Order article reprints
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