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May 06, 2004


Tonight is the last episode of Friends.

The only way that you, my gentle reader, aren't aware of this is if you've been holed up in your fallout shelter waiting for the Y2K issues to settle down.

How will I celebrate this very special last episode of "Friends" you ask?

Well if it were it up to me I would slather honey mustard across my bare chest in letters that say "I miss Friends" and then drink a full case of beer and pass out sprawled across my front yard clad only in my special "Friends" boxer shorts clutching my special "Central Perk" coffee from my Target Exclusive "Friends" party pack. Alas Fabulous Babe has vetoed my idea for the sake of our neighbors.

Don't get me wrong. Friends is a funny show. The last few seasons have been a stretch but it had a good run. Unfortunately it became a juggernaut that has continued long past its prime. The laugh out loud moments have been fewer and farther between than the original season.

To really enjoy Friends you have to suspend belief. Why? Little things like the apartment that the girls share would really cost $5000 a month in rent are a start. While I have a circle of friends in my hometown that have inter-dated a bit it hasn't been the blissful "no hurt feelings" experience that Friends has portrayed.

The other key factor is you have to really be willing to go with to enjoy Friends is the lowest common denominator humor. Friends never learned the Rockey and Bullwinkle / MST3K lesson that the writers of Frasier did: Never write down to the audience. Friends became predictable as the same gags happened all too often.

A black man I worked with in Seattle once quipped "When they get some black people on that show I'll start watching it." While funny at the time his point was pretty spot on: How am I supposed to relate to this? I wonder what Gary would say now that they finally did manage to find a black woman in all of New York City last season but she hooked up with Ross. (Gary also used to joke that he would love to see the cast wearing FUBU once in a while.)

Re-runs of Friends in syndication offer chuckles never intended. What do I mean? Well the first season is as easy to spot as the first season Star Trek the Next Generation: With Star Trek you look for a beardless Riker, with Friends all the women on the show wore push up bras that first year. Later episodes allow you to play the "how much does Chandler weigh this week" game.

Watching Friends is watching the final evolution of a sitcom. By comparison episodes of Frasier are like watching a play. Drew Carey, another long running show ending this year, still has that "vibe" that comes from a willingness to break down the fourth wall a la Moonlighting that Friends never approaches.

If you are curious we aren't having a party. We might not even watch it. (The odds are it will be on the Tivo by night's end.) I'm sure that NBC will re-run it at least once before the next week is out.

Maybe now they'll quit playing that damn Rembrandts song on the radio.

Posted by Jim at May 6, 2004 01:52 AM


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