Saturday, August 1, 2009

Out With a Fizzle

Originally Posted 5-10-08

Season Two was actually pretty uninteresting. Maybe the show blew its budget on the post-Super Bowl extravaganza, but the most noteworthy addition to this May’s sweeps was Charlie Sheen.

He was playing Phoebe’s supposed longtime friend with benefits in the Navy, who spends a lot of time out to sea. When he gets a chance to go to New York, he spends it with Phoebe. He was never mentioned before, and I don’t believe he’s ever mentioned again. He certainly doesn’t appear in any other episodes. How close could you be with someone if you only mention him once in the span of ten years?

Nothing against Charlie Sheen, it’s just that we were used to bigger things in sweeps.

Also, last season’s big cliffhanger was the fact that Rachel found out that Ross is in love with her and blah blah blah, and then she finds out that he met someone while he was away, and holy crap, what happens?

This season ends with Monica finding out that Richard doesn’t want kids, and this kind of ends the relationship. Or does it?

Of course it does! What, Tom Selleck is suddenly going to have a part on Friends? The Monichard relationship lasts three months, or the span of ten episodes. Richard appears in only six of those ten. He doesn’t even show up to Rachel’s surprise birthday party.

Look, Gunther’s there, front and center of the shot when Rachel walks in. Where’s Monica’s boyfriend? He’s not even mentioned in some lame way, like he’s “dealing with an ophthalmology emergency.” He’s just not there. From a Tom Selleck point of view, I understand this. He’s Tom Selleck. He’s busy doing whatever it is that Tom Selleck does when he’s not doing something else. He may or may not have better things to do than to appear in a sitcom.

However, from a Richard point of view, this troubles me. Why wouldn’t he be at Rachel’s birthday party? Clearly, something is up, and this is the beginning of the end.

Giovanni Ribisi is introduced as the guy who did not once leave Phoebe a condom, but as her half-brother. Her step-mother is being played by SNL-alum Laraine Newman. I won’t get into how uncool it is that Ribisi plays two different characters. I may have even have excused it if Phoebe had no direct interaction with his first character. If, say, Chandler had run into him somewhere, and then he appeared later as Phoebe’s half-brother, then I could say, “Okay, small world.” Even though Frank lives in Middletown, NY, maybe he’s in Manhattan for some reason.

Not only does he play different characters in two different episodes. He plays a different characters in two different episodes that aired within six months of each other. At least space a few years between them, people. They waited for another series before they recycled Adam Goldberg. Why were they in a rush to use Giovanni Ribisi again?

I realize I had just said I wasn’t going to go into how uncool it is that that Ribisi plays two different characters, and then I went into it.

Another casting issue was the second Mindy. Mindy, who ended up marrying Rachel’s ex-fiancĂ©, was originally played by Jennifer Grey. Jana Marie Hupp, who actually went on to play Nancy in Ed, plays her here. Not to put down the original Jeanie Bueller, but why couldn’t they get the original Mindy? It wasn’t an extensive role this time around.

This picture isn’t here to denounce Chandler’s crustache. It’s to address the size of his shirt. Someone should really talk to him about the oversized shirts. A strong enough gust of wind could conceivably take him away.

In fact, here he tries consoling Rachel with a nice friendly hug, and Rachel’s hand gets a little stuck on his oversized armpit flap.

Who knew that Chandler was ahead of his time in the popped collar style? All that’s missing are the ragged jeans halfway down his butt and the askew trucker hat to complete the Complete Douche Bag look that was all the rage at around 2004.

Actually, as much as I like to poke a little fun at the fashion missteps, I’d hate to equate these people to those people.

Also, I think this was a “wardrobe malfunction,” because in the next shot, the collar’s down. I guess that qualifies as a continuity error, since he’s not given enough time off-camera to fix it, but I’m not here to harp on continuity errors, just the other nitpicky stuff.

I hope Ross burned this sweater the second he got home that day.

Here’s another example of the shoddy service one would expect at Central Perk. Both Chandler and Monica order a banana nut muffin each. Rachel brings the single remaining muffin, puts it between Chandler and Monica and says, “Sorry, I only have one left.” Chandler grabs the muffin, and Rachel takes the plate away (as shown here) without offering Monica an alternative. Whoever gets the muffin still needs a plate, or else the crumbs will get everywhere. Especially if the muffin were to be split, which seems the most democratic way to handle this, seeing as the lousy waitress didn’t offer an alternative.

Even if it wasn’t split, crumbs will still get everywhere. Let’s face it, muffins produce a lot of crumbs. Assuming their cleanup crew is as inept as their waitstaff, this place must be overrun with rodents and insects.

In the special features of Disc 4 of Season One, there was a teaser to Season Two with no narration. Season Two didn’t have a teaser to Season Three. There was, however, a feature introduced by Gunther, where he says something to the effect of, “So, you want to know more about…” and then he goes on to name all six of the main characters, as if you hadn’t been paying attention for the rest of the disc. This leads to a menu where you can choose a character, and see a two minute montage of that particular characters quips and the like.

What I notice is that Gunther saves Rachel for last, and follows her name with, “Oh, Rachel…” I find this interesting, because at this point in the show, his character hasn’t been developed enough for us to know that he’s in love with Rachel. I wonder if this is a sneak peek into Gunther’s soul—a special treat for people who check the special features—so that they know a little extra something that the average viewer wouldn’t, or just an anachronism put there by the careless makers of the DVD, because really, who’s going to read into it that much?

Probably the latter, because really, who’s going to read into it that much?

I mean besides me?

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