Thursday, January 16, 2014

Looking Back: Friends Season Two

Friends was wildly popular from the word "Go." Millions and millions of people tuned in to watch Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Joey and Ross each week. The first season was unquestionably a success, but I've always maintained that Friends hit its stride in season 2.

Season 2 feels a lot more put-together. The storylines are much larger and span over multiple episodes, instead of the single-episode-story format that dominated in the first season.

The big deal in this season is definitely the Ross and Rachel payoff. The writers of the show put Ross and Rachel into the foreground of the series in the very first episode, so the payoff was a year and a half in waiting. Their relationship really dominates the entire series, especially starting here in the second season.

This season introduces Phoebe's search for her dad, including two different trips in the cab, which would become a staple of the show. Giovanni Ribisi is introduced as her younger half-brother. Interestingly, he actually appears earlier in the season while Phoebe is playing guitar outside, he comes back looking for the condom he put in her guitar case. The show never addresses whether that's meant to be Frank Jr or just a coincidence where the same actor plays two different parts.

Season 2 is when "Smelly Cat" is introduced and explodes. I remember Smelly Cat from my youth, even though my knowledge of Friends as it was happening is slim (I was too young and not a devoted fan of the show... I was 9). People who didn't watch Friends (if they exist) knew about Smelly Cat.

Season 2 introduces Richard. Tom Selleck plays Dr. Burke, Monica's major love interest for the first few years of the show (even after they break up at the end of Season 2, his mustached shadow remains cast over the series). I should say now, I loved Monica and Richard as a couple!

There's no Thanksgiving episode in Season 2. This would make its return in Season 3 when the group plays football.

Guest Stars

Friends had a huge run of amazing guest stars come on the show over the years. This year had four major guest stars:

Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself as the star of Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan (a movie I'd love to see).

Brooke Shields plays Joey's stalker since he's a big star on Days of Our Lives. She plays a character who has no grip on reality, creating incredible awkwardness when she thinks Joey is Dr. Drake Ramoray.

Julia Roberts is super young at this point in her life. She plays someone from Chandler's past. Hilarity ensues. 

Charlie Sheen shows up late in the season as Phoebe's Navy-boyfriend. He just returned from a tour on a submarine, but they both get chicken pox on their weekend together.

My Top Five Episodes

#5 - The One Where Ross Finds Out

I absolutely love Rachel in this episode. She is having trouble getting over her feelings for Ross, and makes a drunk call while on a date with another guy. In 2014, we call this drunk-dialing. However, based on the difficulty Rachel has finding a cell-phone on her date, we can assume that drunk-dialing wasn't a phenomenon at the time. The next morning, before getting a cat with his girlfriend Julie, Ross checks his messages at the girls' apartment and Rachel remembers the call she made. The moment when she jumps on his back to stop him from hearing the message is perfect. Ross's response might even be better, "When were you... under me?"

Oh yeah, this episode also features Ross and Rachel's first kiss.

#4 - The One After the Superbowl

A double episode that initially aired... after the Super Bowl, this is the first "Guest Star" episode for the show. Van-Damme, Roberts and Shields all guest in this episode. Each of the episode's storylines are very funny. Ross finds out that Marcel is now working in show-business. Ross is completely taken over with his attempt to reunite with Marcel. Phoebe is invited to sing songs for children at the library. The songs are wildly inappropriate and she is summarily fired from that job. Joey is stalked by Brooke Shields, who thinks that he is actually Dr. Drake Ramoray and gets upset when she sees him kissing another woman on television. Monica and Rachel have a major crush on Van-Damme, fighting over who should get to see him. My favorite story in this episode is Chandler meeting Stephanie (Julia Roberts) and getting embarrassed by being left in a bathroom wearing only Stephanie's underwear. The scene with Joey, Ross and Chandler in the bathroom is absolutely amazing!

#3 - The One Where Ross and Rachel... You Know

Honestly, I don't care about the first time Ross and Rachel "yadda, yadda, yadda" (Oops, wrong show), the other subplots of this episode are why I like it so much. It's the first appearance of Richard, who becomes one of my favorite characters in the show. I have mustache envy, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

The best part of this episode, though, is that it introduces two of the most important features in the show, Joey and Chandler's chairs. The guys on the chairs becomes a running gag for the rest of the series and features prominently when Joey's chair (Rosita) dies at the hands of Rachel. We'll get there, though. 


#2 - The Ones with Eddie

I'm cheating here, because this is really a series of three episodes, but I can't pick one of them to put on the list. They all run together so well. The plot here is that Joey has moved out of the apartment, so Chandler needs a new roommate and invites Eddie to live there. Eddie turns out to be absolutely crazy. He accuses Chandler of sleeping with his ex-girlfriend. He gets a goldfish, although, the fish is actually just a goldfish cracker. He has an obsession with drying out fruit. He sits in Chandler's room and watches Chandler sleep.

Eddie is one of the most underrated moments in the entire run of the series. He was absolutely hilarious!

I had a moment of epiphany while I was watching this season. I realized that Eddie is played by Adam Goldberg. My brain started ticking, and I remembered that Adam Goldberg is the autobiographical centerpiece of ABC's new sitcom The Goldbergs, which is one of my favorite new shows this season. I thought maybe they were the same person, but they are not. Awesome moment of clarity subverted by the truth, I'm afraid.

#1 - The One With the Prom Video

There's really no competition here, if we're being honest. This is one of the best episodes on any show, let alone on Friends. This episode has some continuity problems, mostly between Chandler and the three who were featured in the Prom Video. He should've already seen "Fat-Monica" and Rachel with the nose. He already knew Ross and his "music." But, that's apparently something that the writers fleshed out later on as the show progressed.

This is when Ross and Rachel get together for real. Also, we get to see Ross's amazing mustache, Tom Selleck, eat your heart out!

Another awesome part of this episode is the bracelets. Joey buys Chandler a hideous bracelet, which Chandler hates then loses. So, he buys a replacement then finds the original, prompting Joey to say, "We can be bracelet buddies!"

Most Friends fans absolutely love this episode. It is, for sure, our lobster. (I think I may have tried too hard for that one)

Dat Mustache
Thanks for joining me as I relive Season 2!! Did I miss anything? Which is your favorite episode of this season? 

See ya for Season 3 once we've watched it!


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