When you're watching a show on DVD, years after its original air date, the time of year is usually pointed out by what people are wearing or what holiday they're talking about. In the early seasons, it was pretty easy to spot the sweeps months, because those were the episodes that they were upping the ante by casting big names like Chris Isaak and the Muscles from Brussels.
As the series progressed, and its success became pretty apparent, they didn't really need to bring anything or anyone to the table to get the ratings. People were going to watch the show anyway. They'd save the budget for May to build up to the end of the season. November and February didn't seem to be noteworthy.
That's why I looked up when Reese Witherspoon showed up as Rachel's sister. Ahh, it's February. Okay.
She shows up for two episodes, and then disappears.
Then, another sign of it being sweeps, is an hourlong episode based on a wacky premise.
RACHEL: What would have happened if I married Barry?
ROSS: What would have happened if I stayed married to Carol?
JOEY: What would have happened if I never got written off of Days of Our Lives.
MONICA: What would have happened if I never lost my weight?
SOMEONE ELSE: That doesn't make sense. Everyone's imagining things that could have happened around 1994. The thing you're imagining not to happen happened in 1988.
MONICA: Okay, what would happen if we gave the audience a chance to laugh at the fat suit again?
CHANDLER: What would have happened if I quit my nondescript job to be a writer?
PHOEBE: What would have happened if I became a stock broker?
SOMEONE ELSE: That doesn't really make sense. What would have made sense if we looked into what happened if you stayed homeless.
PHOEBE: Yeah, but it's me, no one really pays attention to what I'm doing anyway.
EVERYONE ELSE: Hmm, that's true.
SOMEONE ELSE: Hey, weren't you once married to a gay ice dancer?
PHOEBE: What? I don't know, was I?
So, there's the wacky idea. I can almost see Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald wearing fluorescent colors, dancing on the beach.
Well, first of all, Ross would have run into Rachel at the magazine stand. A magazine stand that puts Busty Ladies front and center, with the cover in full-view. For some reason, this publication shares a rack (no pun intended) with Elegant Bride, and Cooking Light. Magazines like Time get relegated to behind Busty Ladies.
By the way, Ross, being married to a closeted lesbian, decides to attempt to pick up this copy of Busty Ladies. We also find out that with his pent up sexual energy, he gets into karate. I don't think this was ever mentioned before, but he apparently was into it while he was married to Carol. It's good that this is mentioned, because the very next episode, he tries to pass off as a karate master, claiming to have 'unagi.'
Back to Ross and Rachel running into each other, what Rachel, a would-be Long Island housewife, is doing at this magazine stand in Manhattan is beyond me. Long Island housewives don't go into the city. They don't go anywhere west of the Cross Island Parkway.
I would also imagine that if Rachel and Barry got married in 1994, she would already have at least one kid by 2000. Not to take credit away from Rachel, but that was definitely the path that she was headed for before she moved in with Monica.
Rachel would have had a star crush on soap star Joey Tribbiani, in typical sad Long Island housewife fashion. And she would have almost slept with him.
Fat suit Monica would end up dating the guy who used to be in the milk carton guy in those commercials that ran around '00. But then Chandler would sleep with fat suit Monica, thereby proving that they belong together, and thereby giving the audience yet another reason to react irrationally when they kiss.
Then there's Yuppie Phoebe. She would work for Principal Vernon from The Breakfast Club.
But not for long. She eventually loses millions of dollars for her company, an act that her boss interprets with "messing with the bull," and she eventually "gets the horns." This is good, because Yuppie Phoebe is pretty inconsiderate.
Here she is smoking at Monica's. There's no way Monica stands for this. Fat suit Monica allows this, and we don't know why.
And then she smokes at Central Perk, which was actually against the law in New York State at this time. I think at this point, the only place you could smoke in New York were bars, and establishments that had separate rooms for smokers.
Surf's up on Premise Beach, indeed!
Now we have to go back to the real world.
A world where Joey works at Central Perk, but he's allowed to take a load off and join his friends whenever they're around, which is always. Central Perk, being the horrible place of business it is, allows its employees to lounge when they're working.
A world where Monica's inconsistent neuroses allows for Phoebe to have her shoes on the couch.
And a world where Chandler enjoys a refreshing can of 'Sprito.' I can almost imagine the minifridge in Ross and Chandler's dorm room. Sprito on one side, 7 p on the other.
Remember when Mondler got a new cordless phone? There it is on the coffee table. Yeah, well, they got rid of it.
They went back to good ol' trusty flatback. I guess the curvy back wasn't as good as the flatback. I guess when you keep a phone for longer than a season, you get attached to it.
Joey's fridge broke, so I'm looking forward to see what the new one looks like. If he actually gets a new one. That is if he only gets one. Someone who once owned two microwaves might be talked into buying two fridges.
As for other guest appearances:
Cheryl Hines from Curb Your Enthusiasm is seen at Central Perk. That was kind of neat.
This guy tells Joey that Phoebe is a porn star. I don't know this guy's name, but I recognize him from that awful show According to Jim. I know I call Friends a shit-com, and in a way it is. It's formulaic and ridiculous, but it's enjoyable to watch. For starters, I've been able to get through a little more than half of the series, and I'm still going pretty strong with this project.
According to Jim is also a shit-com in that it's formulaic and ridiculous, but it's also incredibly shitty and unwatchable. I think it's a gigantic slap to the face of decent shows like My So-Called Life and Sports Night gets jerked around by ABC, but According to Jim aired for seven strong seasons.
I don't forsee an According to Jim Project anytime soon. I don't think I could get through an entire episode without going on a spree of some sort.
Anyway, so this guy who is on that crapfest tells Joey that Phoebe was a porn star, but it's actually Ursula using her name.
They watch one of her movies, and her co-star looks familiar to me.
Yeah, if you go to IMDb, you find that he's appeared in to other episodes of Friends. He played the co-worker of Phoebe's fireman boyfriend, and he played the paramedic when Monica severed Chandler's toe. I was upset about Giovanni Ribisi playing to characters, this guy has played three.
This is kind of fun, because you can imagine the paramedic in 1988 had a nephew who became a fireman about a decade later, and had another nephew (maybe the fireman's twin) who was the black sheep of the family, who went into porn.
So the only way to explain that would be through a wacky premise.