May 7, 2004

Friends Has Finally Passed On...

Ten years. It's hard to believe that Friends has been on that long. At the rate shows come and go these days, it's surprising to see a show last two or three years. Some shows, really good ones too, don't even make it to one. But that isn't really what I want to talk about. The last episode is.

Well, estimates place the viewership of the final Friends at 54.1 million. An amazing number to say the least, but now you can add one to it. It's true faithful readers, I have watched. As a series finale it served it's purpose, but still left me wanting. It did a good job of closing the major arcs and giving everyone the warm and fuzzy. The cynic in me hoped for a partial downer, but I knew it wouldn't happen, that's not what this show is all about, and on in that it stayed true to the tone that it created 10 years ago.

I don't think it would serve much of a purpose to go over the plot, as everyone has either seen it, or knows somebody has seen and has heard what happened. Instead, I want to go over some things that worked and some that didn't.

First the things that worked. First and foremost, the Ross/Rachel relationship, before getting to far here, but did anyone else notice how fantastic Jennifer Aniston looked, I mean wow! OK, enough of that. This could be said to be the linchpin of the show. It is the one main thread that has lasted for ten years, and it ended the only way it could. As I mentioned before, I hoped for a different outcome, even though I was fooling myself, no one really wanted to see these two apart. If somehow they didn't end up together, I think we would have been cheated. Anyway, the build up and reunion was fantastic, Aniston and Scwhimmer were great at expressing the emotion at the airport terminal and especially back at the apartment. Next thing done right, was closure between Joey and Chandler, these guys have been pals for years and now they will finally be separated, I particularly enjoyed the return of animals to the fold. Lastly, the end with the gang deciding where to go for that last cup of coffee. There was more to like about the episode, but that is what stood out to me.

Now for what wasn't so good. First, Joey! Apart from one single commercial for Joey, there was no hint of the spinoff within the show, I was hoping for him to announce getting some big part that required him to move, but I guess that was to much to ask for. Next was the birth, I found it a bit corny and it just didn't hold me enough. Then we have Phoebe, poor, underused Phoebe. She just wasn't given enough to work with here, all she really did was drive Ross to the airport, no resolution, nor any ideas as to what was next for her. Finally, the overly sentimental pan around the apartment, I would have liked the end to have been on them walking out of the apartment on their way to the coffee shop. I could probably say more, but that would be nit picking a fine closing episode.

I actually think this finale worked better than the Seinfeld finale, which is a shame as I think Seinfeld is arguably the best sitcom ever. You see, Seinfeld relied to heavily on clips of previous heights rather than giving a more fitting closure to the characters. Friends tried harder to give us resolution. Finale's of sitcoms are tricky, especially for long running favorites. They have to walk a fine line between actually being funny and the sentimental closure of the story arcs. Because of this juggling act, we generally end up more on the sentimental side at the cost of the comedy. The writers here have walked the line quite well between the Ross/Rachel sentimentality and Joey's more slapstick approach to the proceedings.

In the end, I hope everyone got what they were expecting, or at the very least, were entertained.


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