TV Article

SEASON 9

Our guide to top ''Friends'' eps from season 9

THE ONE WITH THE MALE NANNY
PLOT Rachel and Ross get a new nanny -- a guy so sensitive he makes Mr. Rogers look like the Terminator. Phoebe finds herself torn between two lovers: Mike (Paul Rudd) and David (Hank Azaria). CREATIVE CASTING Freddie Prinze Jr. as the titular babysitter. CRITIQUE Prinze is perfectly cast as a Murray Poppins who sends a jealous Ross over the edge. Even better, Phoebe's love life finally takes center stage, and her big decision is a doozy. Who wouldn't have a hard time choosing between Rudd and Azaria? A

THE ONE WITH RACHEL'S OTHER SISTER
PLOT Rachel's sister Amy manages to ruin Thanksgiving by lobbying to take care of Emma in the event of Ross and Rachel's deaths. CREATIVE CASTING Christina Applegate as Rachel's self-involved sis. CRITIQUE Forget Joey's post-''Friends'' spin-off -- give us ''Rachel and Amy,'' the series. Applegate rediscovers her ''Married...With Children'' bitchiness to excellent effect here (she took home an Emmy for her efforts), and the unexpected ripple effect of a simple (if morbid) question gives the whole cast an opportunity to misbehave. A

THE ONE IN BARBADOS, PART 1
PLOT Ross invites the gang to join him on a work trip to Barbados, but Phoebe gets a surprise when she takes her old boyfriend David on the trip, and her most recent ex, Mike, shows up -- to ask her to marry him, which David was also going to do. Plus, Joey and Charlie (Aisha Tyler) break up because of their obvious incompatibility -- and because Charlie is falling for Ross. CRITIQUE What could be wrong with sun, fun, and romance? Nothing, except that it rains for the whole trip, the paleontologists' idea of ''fun'' leaves a lot to be desired, and the romance element? Well, that's about to come to fruition -- and the anticipation makes us want more. B+

THE ONE IN BARBADOS, PART 2
PLOT Monica and Mike engage in a marathon Ping-Pong match; Monica's frizzed-out mane becomes the source of some great hair-raising humor. After he spies Charlie and Ross kissing, Joey decides to deliver his toughest monologue yet -- telling Rachel how he feels about her. The two kiss, but decide to hold out on anything more until they've come clean with Ross. Meanwhile, Ross and Charlie are making out in his room, and Mon, Chandler, Phobe, and Mike are listening to both couples through their hotel-room walls. CRITIQUE The slapstick-happy scene of the eavesdropping quartet makes for an engaging interlude, matching the antic energy of the Ping-Pong match. And it was definitely time for the Rachel-Joey tango to reach a boiling point -- but fans may be a little disappointed that the heat that took so long to develop between them seems to already be dissipating on the plane ride home. B

Originally posted Jan 07, 2004