The choices for all of the "Best of 'Friends'" DVDs have to be taken with a grain of salt because a lot of the best episodes already made their way into the four volumes of the original "Best of Friends" set. However, only a pair of episodes, "The One Where No One's Ready" and "The One with the Football," were pulled from the show's third season. That was the year when the show's producers decided that Ross and Rachel apart was funnier than Ross and Rachel together, which gets us to their infamous "break." The problem with the third season was that the Ross and Rachel relationship was dominating things to the point that everybody else was shoved into the background (e.g., "The One Without the Ski Trip"). Nobody else has a decent story arc in Season 3, which is amply illustrated by the whole bit between Monica and Pete the millionaire, but there are a few moments worth savoring:
"The One with Frank, Jr." is worth it just for the "freebie list," where you come up with the five stars you are allowed to sleep with and not jeopardize your relationship. If you have not yet made your own list seeing this again should remind you to do it before it is too late, and if you think that is an idle threat then all I have to say to you is "Isabella Rossellini." Yes, Pheobe reunited with her brother, but that relationship does not get seriously crazy until Season Four.
"The One with the Flashback" is a slightly better episode where Janice ask if the gang had ever almost hooked up with each other. The fun hear is to see what the Friends were like right before the series began, without going all the way back to their high school days (where Joey and Phoebe are never involved). You know this one works when you cannot predict who ends up kissing who on top of the pool table.
"The One With Monica & Richard Are Just Friends" is not really talking about being just friends, but rather just friends "with benefits." This is the least deserving choice of the five and the sub-plot has to do with Phoebe's new boyfriend, Robert, who is the only one who does not know he is an exhibitionist. However, the sub-sub plot, where Joey agrees to read "Little Women" and Rachel tackles "The Shining" has one of my favorite epilogues of all-time.
"The One Where Ross & Rachel Take a Break" is the pivotal third season episode. Rachel tells Ross they need to "take a break," so he sleeps with Chloe from the copy store. If you have not yet been convinced that Ross is under a curse, then this should be the episode that finally convinces you. But the key thing is that even when Rachel announces the "break," the relationship has enough resonance that you know that this is one that will never be over until one of these two is dead and in their grave (or in an urn on the other one's mantle).
"The One With the Morning After" is the next episode. After the "break" comes the breakup. Ross is desperately trying to keep Rachel from finding out that he spent the night with Chloe and it is just a question of how long he will be able to keep the truth from her before the world comes crashing down on his head. Funny and yet heartbreaking, since we want these two to be happy (and because Ross becomes unbearable when he is not with her). Of course, all the other four can do is try to listen through the wall to the big fight.
Of course, part of the fun with watching these DVDs is to complain about what episodes should have been included. You have to have the last two and you cannot get rid of an episode with Isabella Rossalini in it. The flashback episode is pretty good, and that means the only one I would jettison is "The One With Monica & Richard Are Just Friends," as long as I can keep the final scene ("Joey...do you want to put the book in the freezer?"). As far as replacing it, I would probably pick "The One at the Beach" over "The One with the Hypnosis Tape" and Ben Stiller's episode "The One with the Screamer." Overall, they did a good job of selecting the best episodes from Season 3, I just think of Season 3 as being one of the weaker seasons, even though the two episodes they originally pulled for the original "Best of 'Friends'" DVDs were not the season's two best.