TV on DVD: Why there won't be a 'Friends' reunion for now, plus who's the (unofficial) 'seventh Friend'?
Like "Seinfeld" and "The Big Bang Theory," "Friends" seems like it's always on TV somewhere, and as with both of those series, it's impossible to keep changing channels when you land on one of your favorite "Friends" installments, no matter how many times you've seen it.
But fans who haven't allotted some space on their home entertainment shelf for the Central Perk gang should consider doing so with this week's release of "Friends: The Complete Series Blu-ray" (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), a collection of all 10 seasons (236 episodes) of the Emmy-winning hit from NBC's must-see-TV years.
We're not likely to be seeing the "Friends" gang hanging out together again anytime soon. Series producer and director Kevin S. Bright tells TVGuide.com, "There is absolutely, 100 percent no talk about a reunion. Maybe they'll find a reason one day, and obviously the reason can't be about money and things like that. Other than that, I don't think there is a reason to do it. There will be no 'Friends' movie. It was made to be an intimate show in your living room … It's wonderful the way it is, but it's even better on Blu-ray!"
And he makes a good sales pitch for the Blu-ray set. The episodes have been completely remastered in 1080p high-definition video for a 16 by 9 widescreen format, meaning Chandler's trademark sweater vests and the yellow frame around Monica and Rachel's door look their best and brightest.
The sound: a fine Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, all the better to hear the infectious Rembrandts theme song, "I'll Be There for You," with.
And then there are the extras, which make the "Friends" Blu-ray set a true must-own-DVD collection. The set is packaged in a gorgeous lenticular box that shows the "Friends" stars when the series debuted in 1994 and, with a slight shift of the box, as they looked when it ended in May 2004. Inside, a hardcover book houses the 21 discs, and a 32-page episode guide is packed with color photos (including a two-page version of the iconic photo of the "Friends" sipping on milk shakes).
The Blu-ray set also offers all the original bonus features from the individual season DVD releases, including 31 episode commentaries, documentaries on "Friends" style and the show's global fan base, and gag reels. And among the more than three hours of new extras, the Blu-ray set features "True Friends: Documentaries," a set of retrospectives on casting the show, the "Friends" writers, and the show's pop culture influence; a never-before-seen gag reel originally made for the cast and crew; and the original producer's cut and script for "The One Where Rachel Tells Ross."
Most of all, the "Friends" Blu-ray set is a chance to own the complete lineup of the show so many of us still love and to revisit the characters we got to know so well that they often felt like real friends, from roomies Monica and Rachel and Joey and Chandler to the quirky Phoebe, the endearingly annoying Ross, and the guy often referred to as the "seventh Friend": Central Park manager Gunther (James Michael Tyler).
He of the shockingly white hair and wardrobe of colorful ties started on the show as a background character who didn't even have a name. Through brief interactions that increased with frequency in the show's second season, he got a name, an obsessive crush on Rachel, and even a backstory -- like Joey, Gunther had been a daytime soap star (who, also like Joey, had been killed off on his show).