Friends: The Complete Tenth Season (Viva)(DVD)
Throughout its phenomenal run, Friends
demonstrated that familiarity doesn't always breed contempt. But isn't it nice that even after 10 years, we could still learn something new about these intimately observed characters? Tidbits revealed in the episode "The One Where the Stripper Cries": Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courtney Cox Arquette) used to entertain at family gatherings as Donny and Marie; ("Oh God, that's right," remembers Rachel. "I blocked that out.") and Chandler (Matthew Perry) kissed Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) at a college party in the 1980s. The best was saved for "The Last One": At one time, Ross (David Schwimmer) pursued being a professional dancer ("Do you realize we almost made it 10 years without that coming up?," he remarks).
Friends' tenth season is all about life changes and closure. Monica and Chandler buy a house and make plans to adopt. Once New Age free spirit Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) gets married. Rachel is offered a job in Paris, prompting Ross to finally proclaim his love. Two of Friends's most invaluable players are granted worthy send-offs. Janice (Maggie Wheeler) resurfaces as a prospective homebuyer in the house next door to Monica and Chandler in "The One Where Estelle Dies," and Central Perk fixture Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at last professes his adoration of Rachel in "The Last One." Christina Applegate makes a welcome return in "The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits" and Danny DeVito is the unlikely and very temperamental stripper in "The One Where the Stripper Cries." Greg Kinnear is at his smarmy best as Ross's new girlfriend's Nobel-prize-winning ex-boyfriend in "The One with Ross' Grant." Dakota Fanning has a sweet scene with Joey (Matt LeBlanc) in "The One with Princess Consuela" and Anna Faris joins Paul Rudd (Phoebe's husband Mike, a.k.a. Crap Bag in "Princess Consuela") as a recurring cast member in "The One with the Birth Mother."
Friends' final season quickly recovers from the Joey-Rachel misstep to find its consistent and satisfying groove. As each Friend turns in their key to the apartment each had shared at one time or another over the past 10 years in "The Last One," could Friends end on a happier or more poignant note? This final addition to the Friends DVD library, too, rises to the momentous occasion with a more generous package of features, including a lengthy gag reel and reflections from the ensemble. --Donald Liebenson