friends2coverGrade:  A-
Entire family:  No
1995-96, 544 min. (24 episodes), Color
Unrated (would be PG-13 for sexual talk/situations)
Warner Bros.
Aspect ratio:  1.78:1
Featured audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Bonus features:  D

You know a TV series is going to be a classic when its second season is just as well written as the first. That was the case with Friends, which kept the laughs coming as audiences got to know the characters better. In fact, a Huffpost TV countdown of the Top 10 Friends Episodes of all time included three from Season 2: “The One with Ross’s New Girlfriend” (when Joey finds out that his family’s tailor isn’t supposed to be using “cuppage” to measure the inseam on men), “The One Where Ross and Rachel . . . You Know” (where feelings finally surface), and “The One with the Prom Video” (where Rachel learns from an old prom video how much Ross has always loved her). 

Though unrated in the U.S., this season earned a PG rating from the Canadian Home Video board. Here, it would probably merit a PG-13 rating because of sexual innuendo, situations, and jokes. These are, after all, twentysomethings who are interested in enjoying life—and that includes dating. There are references to having sex, but of course this was network television, so it’s all talk. That means, depending on the maturity level of your children, the jokes may go over their heads. Or they might prompt a home discussion of the birds and the bees that the kids have already gotten at school.

friends2screenThe youngest in our family is eleven, and she likes Friends for the same reasons as everyone else:  it’s funny and the characters are likable. Though they were virtual unknowns when the show debuted on September 22, 1994, Courtney Cox (Monica), Jennifer Aniston (Rachel), Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe), Matthew Perry (Chandler), Matt Le Blanc (Joey), and David Schwimmer (Ross) quickly became household names. They had great chemistry together and paired off in various combinations, and that warmth and caring really created an emotional bond between the characters and the audience.

You enjoy hanging out with them in Monica’s apartment or Central Perk, the coffee shop nearby where Phoebe occasionally inflicts her pseudo folk-singing on patrons, and this season a couple of men bully Ross and Chandler and take over the gang’s sofa. It’s episodes and situations like this that enable younger viewers to connect with the characters. These young adults are in transition, and there are still plenty of reminders that they’re not all that far removed from the world of adolescents.

This season, the Ross and Rachel relationship is the main thread, with Monica’s relationship with Richard a sub-thread, and each of the other characters getting plot lines that range from encounters with family members to the very funny episodes where Phoebe first sings “Smelly Cat” and learns that her mother turned off every movie before the sad part (“The One Where Old Yeller Dies”), in order to shield her.

When I reviewed the complete series on Blu-ray for Movie Metropolis, I wasn’t totally sold on the HD presentation. But the more I see of it in HD the more I’ve grown to prefer it to DVDs. My kids noticed too that medium and long shots of the characters in various apartments have more depth to them—more of a 3D look—and there’s far more detail and less grain overall. I also have to admit that I like having the episodes on two discs instead of four, packaged in a standard size Blu-ray case that takes up less than half the space of Season 2 on DVD—including the handsome cardboard slipcase.

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