Today is my birthday, so we're doing things a little differently on the meme.I mentioned Friends as my favourite show on Day 4. Choosing my favourite from in excess of 200 episodes is a difficult one…but today is my birthday so I’m going to go avant garde and choose not one, not two but my nineteen episodes that strike me as well made. As often occurs with list making, I may forget one…but these 19 are excellent.
#19: The One With Rachel’s Big Kiss (Season 7)
This is probably one of those “you had to be there” episodes. The guys are off picking a tuxedo for Chandler but the big event is of course Winona Ryder’s appearance as one of Rachel’s college friend, with whom she shared a kiss. Phoebe is sceptical of this, especially when Melissa denies it. Eventually though all is resolved culminating in a kiss from Phoebe to Rachel leaving Rachel shocked. Kudrow’s line reading is a beauty, “I just wanted to see what the fuss was about.”…”I’ve had better.”
#18: The One With All the Cheesecakes (Season 7)
Joey and Phoebe’s bond is shown to be even deeper when its revealed that they meet once a month to talk about the rest of the group, but Phoebe is in a dilemma when a date with her scientist ex-boyfriend (remember Hank Azarai’s brilliant guest performance?). The reason I like this episode, though is found in the title. Chandler enlists Rachel to steal cheesecakes from their downstairs neighbour. It’s a plot device I like because Aniston and Perry have good chemistry (that’s oddly rarely used), but it’s the end that always gets. A smashed cheesecake on the hall floor leads to the two taking out their forks and eating it right there followed by Joey’s entrance. He gives them a dubious look, and then pulls a fork (out of his coat jacket mind you) – “What are we having?”
#17: The One Where Estelle Dies (Season 10)
Each of the three storylines combines excellently. Rachel tries to get her job back at Ralph Lauren, only to realise that she wasn’t exactly, Ross then tries to help her through bribery. Maggie Wheeler returns as Janice with that legendary laugh of hers. She sets herself up as a possible neighbour for him and Monica in the suburbs, but Chandler’s fake lasciviousness gets her to rethink the idea. But it’s Lisa Kudrow who steals the episode. She realises that Joey’s agent has died and spends the entire episode pretending to be Estelle. It leads to a series of ridiculous events and some excellent quotes from Phoebe. “No, don’t call her. Wait for her to call you.” Joey responds, “Why?” After a moment phoebe responds, “Because…Patience is the road to understanding which is the key to a happy heart.”
#16: The One With the Lesbian Wedding (Season 2)
Was Friends ever a big hit with the gay community? I don’t know, but it’s inspired how despite his misgivings on his ex’s new wife he’s the one who helps her to go ahead with the wedding despite her parents’ disapproval. Joey notably appears for the first time on Days of Our Life and Marlo Thomas appears as Rachel’s mother intent on divorcing her husband. She was always my favourite of the parents. Once again, though Lisa Kudrow insists on stealing the show. When a client dies on the massage table her spirit “embodies” Phoebe. As her husband says, she always said she wanted to see everything so it’s tentative how long Phoebe will remain possessed. Luckily, on witnessing the lesbian wedding Phoebe is free as the woman’s “spirit” says, “Now I’ve seen everything.”
#15: The One at the Beach (Season 3)
This episode subtly prepares us for the eventual pairing of Monica and Chandler, and Phoebe memorably realises that her real mother never died. Teri Garr’s guest appearance is truly exceptional. But the episode hinges on Rachel’s flirting with Ross. They’ve officially broken up for some time, but of course Rachel remains as a voracious tease. The episode is memorable for the cliff-hanger of Ross standing outside in the hall unsure if he should go to Rachel or his actual girlfriend…
#14: The One With Ross’ Inappropriate Song (Season 9)
Most remember this episode for Ross’ inspired rendition of “Baby Got Back” to cheer up. It’s one of the memorable examples of original parenting from the cast of Friends. However, it’s not the main plot that lands this on the list. What makes this a favourite episode is Phoebe’s visit to Mike’s bourgeoisie parents. Phoebe is stricken with a case of intense nervousness resulting in a stilted voice which is just hilarious, and her parting line in the selfsame posh accent is a knockout – “here’s something rich, 13 bathrooms in this place I threw up in the coat closet...Tatah”
#13: The One the Morning After (Season 3)
It’s one of the few that gets points not for the funny, but for the sad. No matter how contrived you feel their romance is, and no matter how I much I admit to not being a fan of Aniston both she and Schwimmer deliver the dramatic chops in this episode where Rachel finds out that Ross slept with another woman – while they were on a break. The dramatics of their breakup argument is oddly funny when juxtaposed with the four other friends trapped in the bedroom listening on. For a situational comedy, they really went all out with the breakup.
#12: The One With the Proposal 1& 2 (Season 6)
Oddly the clunker in this episode comes from Ross whose relationship with college student Elizabeth rarely amuses me. Of course, it all comes down to the proposal and even though Tom Selleck’s Richard (another good guest star) almost throws a wrench in it, it ends well for love. Monica and Chandler are among the best married couple on TV (Ross and Rachel never married, so they don’t count).
#11: The One With the Blackout (Season 1)
Trust Friends to make a blackout seem like something really cool. Five of the friends are stuck at home when it hits, and Paolo makes his first appearance. Phoebe’s improvisation skills always amuse me, “New York City has no power / And the milk is getting sour / But to me it is not scary / 'Cause I stay away from dairy.” But, it’s Chandler who shines in this episode. Perry singlehandedly shows us why he’s the strongest male on the show after he’s stuck with Jill Goodacre in an elevator. I love when she offers him a stick of gum and he replies, “Gum would be perfection.”
#10: The One With Ross’ Wedding 1 & 2 (Season 4)
…or the one where Ross says Rachel. Kudrow’s pregnancy prevents her from being in London and yet she holds it down excellently acting with a phone alone for half of the episode. Monica and Chandler’s hook-up works and is a testimony of great things to come, but of course it’s the end that puts it here…one for the books.
#9: The One With the Red Sweater (Season 8)
This episode works on so many levels. The friends (minus Ross) try to convince Rachel to tell the father of the baby she’s pregnant but not before Lisa Kudrow steals the show (she tends to do that often) by pretending she’s the one pregnant and accepting Joey’s impromptu proposal and of course Monica voraciously opening wedding gifts is hilarious.
#8: One With the Videotape (Season 8)
Phoebe and Joey try valiantly to steal the episode with their aliases Regina Filangee and Ken Adams, but the show belongs to Rachel and Ross and the tape of them having sex. True, the seduction story has to be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard but it still works completely – Schwimmer and Aniston have excellent chemistry; and having the entire group sit down to watch it is twisted but completely believable.
#7: The One With Monica & Chandler’s Wedding
As always with Friends, random humour often becomes more memorable than main plots. When Chandler has cold feet he leaves a note “Tell Monica I’m sorry”, Ross walks over to the girls’ apartment and shows Phoebe who promptly replies, “Tell her yourself.” It’s one of Kudrow’s deadpan deliveries that I never forget. The episode is great in every way and with the added twist of Rachel’s imminent pregnancy it ends on a high note.
#6: The Last One (Season 10)
It perfectly encapsulates all that’s wonderful of the show complete with a good guest turn from Anna Farris. Chandler and Monica freaking out over the unexpected second baby is lovely, Phoebe’s attempts to make Rachel’s plane get delayed are awesome (Something’s wrong with the left filangee), Joey and Chandler playing foosball one last time is sweet and of course Ross and Rachel finally getting together. Perfect.
#5: The One Where Everybody Finds Out (Season 5)
Everyone gets their chance to shine as the truth comes out about Monica and Chandler. The top three maintain their spots turning in the best performances of the episode (Perry, Kudrow, Schwimmer) and the game of seduction between Phoebe and Chandler is hilarious. I love Phoebe’s derivative line from The Lion in Winter, “They don't know that we know they know we know.”
#4: The One In Vegas 1 & 2 (Season 5)
Joey’s idea of the hand twin was a bit nauseating at times, but everything else is on point. Phoebe’s ranting with the lurker at the slot machines was effective as usual from Kudrow and seeing Monica and Chandler almost get married was well played, but of course the cincher was the drunken wedding of Ross & Rachel. Easily, my favourite season finale.
#3: The One Where No One’s Ready (Season 3)
It’s one of those rare episodes where no one stands out and everyone is equally excellent, it’s also one of those bottle episodes where only the six star. Ross has an important function to attend and only Phoebe’s ready. Chandler and Joey get into a fight and Chandler hides Joey’s underwear, Joey then puts on all of Chandler’s clothes (still underwear-less) “Look at me, I’m Chandler. Could I be wearing anymore clothes?” Monica is obsessing over her breakup up with Richard and Rachel memorably dares Ross to drink the glass in the fat if he wants her to go. Good stuff.
#2: The One After I Do (Season 8)
The main draw of the episode is the girls’ realisation that Rachel is pregnant, and it’s one of Aniston’s best performances (save the one to come). It’s one of those sedate season premieres that doesn’t overdo but brings the funny nonetheless, Phoebe tricking Rachel intro realising she wanted a baby was a completely Phoebe-esque thing to do.
MY FAVOURITE EPISODE
The One Where Ross Finds Out (Season 2)
“And that my friend is what we call closure.”
This is such a classic episode and has the usual funny stuff, like Phoebe begging her boyfriend to have sex with her, Monica and Chandler’s exercising but ultimately it is Aniston who steals the show with her drunken call to Ross and Schwimmer’s excellence response to the message – “You’re over me? When were you under me?” Rachel and Ross will always be at the root of Friends, I suppose.
This entry is part of my ongoing meme on TV Moments
What better way to celebrate a birthday than with Friends?