Thursday, January 9, 2014

Looking Back: Friends Season One

On September 22, 1994, six people jumped into the collective hearts of TV-watching Americans. Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe are six of my favorite television characters of all time.

I don't want to skip over this very important fact though,

Friends is 20 years old.

20. Years. Old.

It's been one of my favorite shows for as long as I can remember; I didn't really get it when it first came out, but it's definitely been at the top of my list for a very long time. I've owned the ten seasons on DVD pretty much since they first started coming out, I'd buy them as they were being released. I've had a lot of marathons over the years and they almost all have one thing in common. I almost always skip season one.

Holly and I are watching the entire season, and we started with season one.

We finished the first season the other day, and are currently in the second season. But here are my favorite moments from the first season, and my top 5 episodes.

Random Thoughts

The first season used a lot more silly, physical, slapstick (ish) humor than the seasons that would follow. There was still physical humor later on, but it felt like there was a lot of it in this first season. More than I remember, even.

I loved the "Tie-Ins" that NBC did with Friends. I assume they were an attempt to legitimize the show. Mad About You, which was in its third season at the time plays a little part in the first season of Friends (Helen Hunt makes a cameo). George Clooney and Noah Wyle also played the roles of doctors, which they were also doing on ER.

My "Whoa" Moment

As I was watching the first season, it dawned on me, the characters are about 3 (maybe 4, or as many as 5) years younger than me.

Man, I'm getting old.

My Top Five Episodes 

#5 - The One with the Birth

Ross's son Ben is born. There's a lot of funny moments in this episode, especially Joey helping a young mom (played by Leah Remini, who would later star in King of Queens). The back and forth between the two of them is really funny. However, the sappy parts are why I really like it. When Phoebe is "Hospital Worker Ben," it's a great moment for the series. Then, Ross's reaction to Ben being born is perfect. It's a great episode.

#4 - The One with the Stoned Guy

John Lovitz is absolute gold in this episode. He makes a return to the show much later in the series as the same character and is just as funny. The sequence with Phoebe, Monica, Rachel and him is absolutely hilarious. "Tartlets... Tartlets... Tartlets... Word has lost all meaning."

This is also the episode that features Joey teaching Ross how to talk dirty. Very, very funny.

#3 - The One where Underdog Gets Away

Thanksgiving episodes would become one of the hallmarks of Friends. This was the first and it's absolutely brilliant. Rachel is trying to get people to help her pay for a skiing trip with her family. Monica is hosting Thanksgiving for the rest of the group because her and Ross's parents made other plans. Joey can't go home because he's featured on a set of ads that go viral in NYC. The ads are for VD and imply that Joey has the disease. When the Underdog balloon gets away, everything falls apart. The group ends up eating grilled cheese, courtesy of Chandler. We learn, for the first time, that Chandler hates Thanksgiving, a theme that would continue over the years.

#2 - The One with the Blackout

My top two episodes of season one are really a tie. I'm giving the nod to the other episode for the sake of ranking them, though. The highlight of this episode is Chandler getting trapped in an ATM vestibule with a Victoria's Secret model. This episode is highly quotable, "Jill says vestibule... I'm going with vestibule," "Gum would be perfection..."

This is also the first appearance of Paolo, Rachel's Italian boyfriend.

#1 - The One with All the Poker

This is hands down my favorite episode of the season. The girls join the guys for poker night and hilarity ensues. Possibly my favorite line in the entire series is in this episode: "Guess what! Guess what!!" "The fifth dentist finally caved, now they're all recommending Trident?"

Everything about this episode is great. We get a great glimpse of Ross and Rachel, which would dominate the next 2-3 seasons of the show. The joke with Chandler and Ross making fun of Joey for crying at the last game is funny. Joey stumbling over how many syllables food at a poker game is allowed to have is hilarious.

I absolutely love this episode.

What about you? What's your favorite episode of the first season? Sound off in the comments!


  1. The episode with Jon Lovitz is one of my very favorite ones ever.

    "Macaroni and cheese?? We have to make this!"

    "Bears overboard!" (I use this one whenever I drop a gummi bear.)

    "Well slap my ass and call me Judy!"

    1. "Here, grab onto a Sugar-Oh!!"

      That one makes me laugh harder than just about any other episode. Lovitz really nailed that episode. His return to the series later on is just as funny, when he's staring at his hands and freaking out! Hahahaha =)

    2. "I do like me hair."