Saturday, August 1, 2009

Worth the Wait?

Originally Posted 12-11-08

After going through a season of Entourage with the status of the next installment of Friends being unchanged, I decided that I had to take matters into my own hand. As I had said before, I was against getting membership to Blockbuster. I mean, have you been to Blockbuster? Hollywood Video is only slightly better.

Luckily, in this part of the world, we have a place called Hastings. It's probably as bad as Blockbuster or Hollywood, but they haven't screwed me over yet, so I'm okay with them. I was able to rent the DVD without being at the mercy of Netflix, and whomever is hoarding the needed disc for whatever reason they have.

The downside is that now I have a membership to this place, and they have my address. I'm on their mailing list. I'm in their system. Anyone who looks into my record would see that I've rented one single disc in my entire history with them, and it's a seemingly random disc of Friends.

The nice thing about Netflix is that they discreetly send me my DVDs, and no one asks questions. What if I ran into someone while at Hastings? I'd have to explain that. That would be one of those situations where the only answer would be "It's a long story."

An interesting thing about these episodes is that on top of the standard "let's get some names for our sweeps episodes" way of doing things...

...they pulled out some more stops. This marked the beginning of the Supersized Episodes.

Here's what happened. In the summer of 2000, CBS had a major smash hit, Survivor. And with it, the flood gates of reality TV shows had been opened, and television as a whole managed to find new lows.

Survivor's success on Wednesday nights was huge. They opened their next season directly after Super Bowl XXXV, only this time around, the show would regularly air on Thursdays up against Friends. For the first time since their first season, Friends had to compete for viewers.

The result?

Survivor: The Australian Outback ended up winning the ratings war that year. Tina ended up winning Survivor. The world was given Elisabeth Filarski, who ended up marrying Tim Hasselback (I believe they were already dating at the time), and now she's on The View. And NBC, in a desperate attempt to make up for the fact that they only had three "strong" shows in their Thursday night lineup, decided to run 40 minute versions of Friends, Will & Grace, and Just Shoot Me. Really, though, if Just Shoot Me is considered one of your "strong shows," you're kind of screwed.

By the way, I'm not 100% sure about any of this. I just know that NBC did this to compete with Survivor during sweeps, and that a few of the episodes I just watched were around 30 minutes long, as opposed to the normal 22 minutes.

Onto the actual show. Getting back to Jason Alexander for a second. I think we may have a "world's colliding" situation. It's a bit of a stretch, but hear me out.

Phoebe is the twin sister of Ursula, who is a waitress at Riff's, a restaurant frequented by the characters of Mad About You.
We learn in an episode of Mad About You that Paul Buchman actually owns the Kramer's apartment.
If that's the case, then Earl, the suicidal office manager that Phoebe calls is a dead ringer for Phoebe's sister's customer's tenant's friend. Of course it's a stretch, but that's only five degrees of separation, as opposed to the industry standard of six.

Other than Jason Alexander, Susan Sarandon also guest stars.

Fun fact, that is the real life daughter of Sarandon, playing the actress who plays her daughter in the Friends version of Days of Our Lives. Another fun fact, this actresses's father is actually the director of Monkey Trouble.

Monkey Trouble people.

Another fun fact. As I'm writing this, my iTunes is playing Rose Tint My World from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Susan Sarandon was singing as I was writing about her. I wish I could say I planned that, but my iTunes is on random. No control whatsoever.

Yet another fun fact, seeing Susan Sarandon made me want to do some light research on her. I was always under the impression that she and Christopher Sarandon (The Princess Bride, Child's Play) were siblings. No, they used to be married. She still uses his name, I guess because that's the name she had when she became famous. This blows my mind. Also interesting—for me anyway—is that Christopher Sarandon is now married to Joanna Gleason, who played Rachel's boss at Bloomingdales.

A lot of research went into this post. Let me assure you that I've got most of my researched facts out of the way. From here on out, it's predominately me pointing out stupid stuff.

Like how Ross' hair is just out of hand at this point.

And how Yoo-hoo may have changed the design of its bottle, but that doesn't seem to stop Chandler from swigging it like it's going out of style. I didn't take pictures of it, but in this particular episode, Linus Van Pelt:blue blanket::Chandler Bing:Yoo-hoo. Like every scene he's in, there's a Yoo-hoo bottle within arm's reach.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to notice the exterior shot looking into Central Perk doesn't match up with the actual interior of Central Perk. I understand it doesn't have to be the exact same thing, but the set designers didn't even seem to try. Where's the couch?

Monica buys a magical wedding dress. She falls in love with this dress when she saw it in a bridal shop in Manhattan. She wasn't going to buy it, though. No, she was going go to a place in Brooklyn that was having a huge sale.

Luckily, she finds it in the discount place in Brooklyn. Quite the feat, considering the store was mobbed with bargain hunting brides-to-be. Not many of the dresses were on display, it seemed like they were just hanging on unmarked racks, meaning she had to hope that she just found the right rack. Most notable about this is the fact that she's able to recognize the dress despite the fact that it looks completely different.

Good thing the dress is magical and changed back to its original form once it got back to Manhattan. Otherwise, she would have fought another woman for the wrong dress. That would have been embarrassing. She just has to remember to have the wedding in Manhattan if she wants to dress to be in that form for the ceremony. Who knows what the dress will look like when Chandler & Monica eventually head off to Westchester?

Hey, everyone, it's Joey in a fat suit. Fat suits are...hilarious, I suppose. I guess they thought that we would be sick of seeing Monica in a fat suit, and rather than stop using fat suits all together, they decided to slap someone else in one.

I can't tell, but it looks like Joey and Rachel are watching Studs. I could be wrong. It wouldn't really make sense, since that show went off the air almost eight years earlier. I don't know what it would be instead. If it's not Studs, then it's probably some more atrocious update.

Phoebe announces her address, and it's and actual place. For the record, last post, I guess she lived uptown from everyone else. Really, she lives down three blocks.

Joey and Rachel don't ever mention having Tivo, yet they apparently do. They love it so much, they display their support for it on their entertainment stand. Their little decoration isn't even doctored to say "Iivo," or "Ti o," so they must really like it.

Another quick note about Rachel. She broke things off with her assistant, Tag. I'm just waiting for the storylines about how awkward it is that she has an ex-boyfriend working directly under her. I mean, it's been a few episodes already, and it hasn't even come up once. According to IMDb, Tag makes one more appearance, so we'll see what happens with that. I hope they don't expect us to just forget that for 40 hours a week, she's got some dude that she used to nail answering her phone.

Kind of like how Monica got her father's Porsche, and she hasn't mentioned that fact since. You would think it would come up again. Possible conversation points include:
"What the hell am I going to do with a car in Manhattan?"
"What the hell am I going to do with a Porsche in Manhattan?"
"I cannot believe how expensive it is to insure a Porsche in Manhattan."
"That's funny, Joey once pretended to have a Porsche, now I actually have one."
"Notice the logo says it's a 'PORSCHE,' and not a 'PORSCIIE.'"

I found the episode The One Where They All Turn Thirty interesting on many levels, and not just for the fact that I, myself, am actually turning thirty sooner than I care to admit or think about. This episode is essentially a clip show, only the flashbacks are new to us. So, although it's all new material, it's still filled with unnatural set-ups leading up to the flashbacks.

#1: Well, it wasn't like your birthday.
#2: My birthday? Oh please!
#3: (Character #2's name, followed by a joke)
#2: It wasn't that bad.
Then the clip rolls.

We learn something interesting about how these people celebrate each others' 30th birthdays.

They apparently like to make signs for each other.

Monica's 30th birthday is a fancy event involving having to wear suits and having to invite Gunther. It's nice to invite Gunter. We haven't been seeing much of him lately.

Of course, fancy party means fancy sign.

We don't know if Phoebe had a sign for her birthday. Her friends probably did not go through the trouble of making a sign. They were too busy securing the proper permits to close the streets to allow for her to jump on a Hippity-Hop—or whatever those things are called—for a mile. Really, it's probably a good thing they didn't invest on a sign that says "Happy 30th Birthday, Phoebe," since Ursula tells her that she's actually turning 31.

Ross buys himself a red sports car that he apparently quickly sells. This car is never spoken of again until Rachel's 30th birthday. You know, I think it's just what the Gellers do. They don't speak about sports cars they own. Ever.

Speaking of Rachel's birthday, her friends decide to throw her some sort of breakfast party. I'm not sure what kind of breakfast party this is. Judging by the fact that they have two full bottles of "maple" (well, maple flavored) syrup in preparation, I'm guessing it's a pancake or waffle binge.

I treated the episode like a logic puzzle to try to figure out the order of oldest to youngest. Here's what I came up with before things started going off the rails:

Rachel is the youngest, since everyone was able to reminisce about their 30th birthday at her party.
At Chandler's party, Joey cries, because now Chandler is thirty too, meaning that he's slightly older than him.
Ross is older than Monica...we already knew this.
When Phoebe tells Joey to imagine being 31, he says that that is never going to happen, so her "30th" birthday is after Joey's, but her actual 30th birthday is before it (meaning they're within a year apart of each other).

In fact, they all seem to be within a year apart of each other. This is confirmed when Ross says "So here we are, a bunch of 30-year-olds," which is seemingly impossible, since Ross was a grade ahead of Monica. Okay, we learned that he may or may not have skipped the fourth grade, but Chandler was in the same year as Ross, and Rachel was in the same year as Monica.

Also, at this point, Phoebe could have said something like, "Really Ross? I had just finished—just finished—telling everyone how upset I was on my 31st birthday. I realize I'm only here for comic relief, but can't you at least try to make an effort to pay attention to me when I speak?" She didn't say any of that. She may have had a funny quasi-non-sequitor to throw in there, I can't remember.

While Phoebe is singing along to Ross' bagpipes, Jennifer Aniston tries to hide the fact that she's losing it. I found this funnier than Phoebe singing along to Ross' bagpipes.

Anyway, so as it turns out, this did end up being an interesting part of the series. Not "keep from Netflix to keep anyone else from watching it" interesting, but apparently it is "apply for membership at a video store, get in the car and return it the next day and then go on and on about things found in the episodes" interesting.


Shar said...

we do see the porsche later :)

also, the part where phoebe is singing along to the bagpipes KILLS me. i laugh hysterically every time i see it. :)

Shar said...

Oh, AND, when we see Chandler and Monica get married, she's wearing a different dress than either of those dresses. I always thought that was weird.