Saturday, August 1, 2009

Get Off the Plane

Originally Posted 7-10-09

Phoebe’s back from her honeymoon. Don’t get bogged down with details about where she and Mike went, how long they were gone and what the others did in the meantime. Just accept the fact that she’s back without Mike and she’s ready to go on her next adventure. In this case, to teach Joey French.

Failing that, making up some excuse as to why he can’t grasp it. Phoebe scolds Joey for lying on his résumé. They go through his list of supposed skills, most of which are lies—like the ability to speak French. They get to a claim that he’s able to drink an entire gallon of milk in ten seconds. Doing this all in an hour is extremely difficult.

The joke here is that he considers “letting it spill down his shirt” as “drinking,” and so does Phoebe. That's not my problem with this. The problem is that it takes about thirty seconds for the milk to actually spill out of the container. Even with the magic of television, where editors can go to alternating shots and actually cut the time, they decide to let be shown in what seems to be real time. Or, failing that, they can time how long it takes a gallon of milk to spill out of a container, take that time and incorporate it into the script. Have Phoebe say, “It says you can drink a gallon of milk in thirty seconds” instead. That way, when Phoebe times Joey, it doesn’t look like she’s completely incapable of reading a watch or isn’t baffled by the concept of time.

With only a handful of episodes remaining, it's time to tie up the characters' lives into a neat little package so that nothing goes unanswered and it could be assumed that each character has started a new chapter in their lives.

Joey needs to get over his issues of everyone's life changes. Chandler & Monica need to get that baby from Anna Faris and head for Westchester. Most importantly, Ross & Rachel need to figure out what they're doing, because they've been jerking America around for a decade.

Phoebe, as always, despite being the most interesting character, has nothing to add to the mix except quirky comic relief. In fact, her new husband appears in twice in the time between his wedding and the end.

Let's start with the Joey storyline, since it's the most simple.

Well, Joey buys Chandler & Monica a replacement chick and duckling.

Remember when Joey and Chandler had a chick and a duck living in their apartment? Yeah, it was kind of a big deal. They were pets, but everyone spoke to them as if they were really people. They loved those birds. All very funny. Well, apparently, they died years ago. Yeah, Chandler "took them to a farm," but we didn't hear about this until just now. You'd think we would have known about this sooner, but whatever.

Chandler decides that Joey should keep the chick and the duckling. Joey accepts. Then the chick (or the doesn't really matter) ends up in the foosball table. The only way to get it out safely is to destroy the foosball table.

Him destroying the foosball table is supposed to be sad, I'm guessing, because this foosball table supposedly represents all of the time Joey and Chandler spent together. However, I'm pretty sure if I had paid better attention to this, we would know that this is probably their third foosball table since the beginning of the series.

Didn't one of them have a piece of glass over it because they were going to use it as a dining room table?

Oh look, there it is. During Season Two, I made mention to this table, which was apparently magically replacing another one.

They never had a "let's replace this foosball table for another foosball table" conversation, so this is theoretically supposed to be the same foosball table.

It's not quite like Monica's many cordless phones, but it's definitely in the same spirit.

Completely unrelated to the whole "Joey is growing up" storyline, we get to see just a bit more of Joey's apartment. I don't think we ever knew that there was a corkboard to the right of the door. We knew about the Five Card Charlie sign, that moved throughout the apartment without reason, but not the corkboard and not the framed pictures above. For reasons I can't explain, I found this relatively fascinating.

In the final episodes, Joey's post-Chandler-moving-away plans are never mentioned. The viewers already know that Joey is going to move to star in his own spin-off set in Los Angeles, but his closest friends aren't privy to this information at this point. It's probably just as well, given how anti-Frasier this spin-off was, in terms of quality and success.

And as far as I know, the chick and the duckling don't make the journey. So much for taking care of them.

I know I had commented earlier on how Joey's apartment seemed like an okay enough environment for Rachel to raise Emma. Probably not the best conditions, but it works. Right?

I'd have to say putting a bottle of Jägermeister directly next to what looks like a bottle of Baby Magic Bath doesn't seem like the best of nurturing environments. Not that Rachel would absentmindedly bathe her child in German liquor. I just think it looks bad. Of all of the girls that Joey takes home, it's likely one of them will have some connection to child protective services. We know he has already slept with someone who works for an adoption agency, and that nearly ruined Chandler & Monica from getting a child.

Chandler & Monica found the house of their dreams in the suburbs. They find out the house next door is for sale, so they check it out just to compare it. The other house sucks. It even comes with an unsurprising surprise.

What? Janice is looking to buy the house next door? I sure didn't see that coming.

Since Chandler broke up with her in Season Three, she has made a "surprise" appearance once every season. This time around, instead of the standard "Who could be around to destroy this moment?" moment, they could do the following:

MONICA: I just had a chilling idea. It's already late April, and we haven't seen Janice since last May. Aren't we due to see her?
CHANDLER: (a one-liner showing that he surprised that Janice has dropped by again, even though we all saw it coming.)

Don't worry, Janice doesn't move in next door. But could you imagine? That would make quite a spin-off. Kind of up there with Joey in terms of things I wouldn't want to see, which is all the more to wonder why the producers didn't try that route as well.

Quick aside, regarding Monica's apartment: Monica had once mentioned that the reason she's able to afford her apartment was because it was originally her aunt's. With rent control laws being what they are, Monica's rent rates would be grandfathered since it was being passed to a relative. Years later, she mentions it was her grandmother's, which would be a different relative, but whatever. If my knowledge of rent control is correct, since she's moving out, she could pass it on to another relative. Otherwise, the rent will skyrocket for the next tenant.

Monica offers it to Ross. He declines saying that it would make him too sad.

What? You idiot! When your sister offers her gigantic rent-controlled apartment to you, you say yes. It's not like he doesn't like the neighborhood, because he lives across the street. You know what would be even sadder? Living across the street from this place that was once a major part of your life, being able to see into their windows, but not being able to go there ever again.

You get over "being sad" by living in a sweet rent-controlled apartment that's big enough to house you, whatever future children of you have that you decide you wants to see more than a few times a year, and whoever happened to be that child's mother.

Then Ross could live there long enough to pass the place off to Ben.

So with the house all ready to be moved into, there's still the business about the baby.

Luckily, the pregnant woman is the one that keeps flying in to see the adoptive parents and not the other way around.

I don't mean to be presumptuous, but is she bleaching her hair? Shouldn't pregnant women not be doing that? I didn't know that was a thing until that Silkwood scene in Baby Mama, so maybe I'm wrong. And maybe this character really is naturally platinum blond.

Chandler & Monica, being the great hosts they are, take the very pregnant woman for a tour of Manhattan. I'm sure she appreciated being on her swollen feet all day with all of that extra weight.

They took her to places that tourists can rarely fit all in one day to see things that it was impossible to see. They're able to take in a Broadway show—Cats, which actually closed in 2000. They also make it to the top of the Statue of Liberty, which has been closed since 9/11 and wasn't reopened until July 4 of this year. I'm sure their day also included a trip to see the Giants play nine innings at the Polo Grounds, and witnessing Petrus Stuyvesant ceding New Amsterdam to the British.

Chandler, who got really annoyed at Joey for being mega-tourist in London, for some reason eats up being the irritating tourist in his own city. Also instead of buying one of the green foam crowns that saturate the tourist-trap souvenir shops, he seems to have handmade his own crown out of aluminum foil.

As luck would have it, the birth mother has the baby during one of her many trips to New York.

Actually, she ends up having twins. The world's worst adoption agency failed to make this abundantly clear to the birth mother or the adoptive parents. Birth mother Erica says the doctors told her that "the heartbeats sounded good," but she took that to mean that they were referring to her heartbeat and the baby's heartbeat. It would seem that the adoption agency would step in at some point to make sure the pregnancy was doing well, and in doing so, realize that there were actually twins waiting to be born, and then give the adoptive parents a heads-up. You know, just out of consideration.

They decide to name the girl Erica, after the birth mother. And they decide to name the boy Jack, after Monica's still-living Jewish father, which you really shouldn't do. As a bacon-eating, Christmas-celebrating, tattoo-having son of a Jewish woman, there's no room for me to judge, yet here I am.

Quick aside. Joey's agent, Estelle, dies. Phoebe calls Joey a few times pretending to be her to soften the blow to Joey. I'm not sure where she's calling from. It looks like the same street scene we've been looking at for the past ten years. There's a sign advertising a Garbage show taking place on a Monday in November at the Irving Plaza.

Since she's standing near signs for the Garbage show that has been advertised for possibly a year, and it's this show where people don't leave the city block without it being the center of the episode, it's safe to me to assume that she's calling across the street from Central Perk.

If that's the case, then way are they selling New Jersey Lottery tickets across the street from Central Perk?

Okay, benefit of the doubt. Let's say Phoebe does find a reason to go to New Jersey. Really, if any of the characters are going to end up in New Jersey without an explanation why, it's going to be Phoebe. She probably has a perfectly legitimate reason to go—she doesn't want to spend sales tax on clothing, she wants to fill her car with cheap gas at a full service station...these are just two reasons off the top of my head—however, the trend dictates that if it's happening to Phoebe, they're probably not going to spend to much time on exposition that makes sense.

At this point, Joey has learned that Estelle is dead. So when he sees that she has supposedly called, he's not surprised that the number is listed as "Out of Area." This makes sense. Phoebe's calling from New Jersey. To them, that's out of the area. This makes sense to Joey, because he thinks the call is coming from a dead person.

Of course, Phoebe was calling from her cell phone, so the number should be listed as "Phoebe Buffay," or "Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan" if she was set on getting her married name into the billing promptly.

I really doubt that would be changed that quickly. I've been asking my phone carrier to go paperless for years, and they're still sending me statements.

Moving on, last but not least annoying storyline to tie up, the one with the Ross and Rachel.

First, Rachel's dad has a heart attack. He's really out of it except for when Ross is in the room. Then he's sharp with insults for some reason.

So Rachel spends time at her home, in her old bedroom.

It's interesting that we get to see the posters she hung up as a teenager. We see Duran Duran's Arena, their live album, and Into the Gap from The Thompson Twins, which had their biggest hit, Hold Me Now. Both of these albums were released in 1984. While I would not be surprised to learn that these posters were up at some point in Rachel's life, I doubt they would still be up. The assumption here is that these were the posters she put up in high school. After graduating high school, she went to college, and from college, she moved in with Barry. And if her parents were the type to preserve her room from when she lived there, then they would have stayed up all of this time.

My point is that these posters are from 1984 and Rachel graduated high school in 1988. It's pretty doubtful she would have kept a Thompson Twins poster up until 1988.

The third poster, over her lamp to the left of her bed, we're able to see is Shaun Cassidy from his Under Wraps album released in 1978, when she was in third grade. Someone would have to be a pretty freakin' big Shaun Cassidy fan to keep his poster up for ten years before leaving home. She seems to have kept good care of it, too. It looks like it's in the same condition as the two posters that were put up six years later, which also appear to be near-immaculuate.

You'd think her love of Shaun Cassidy, which lasted throughout her middle school and high school years, would be a source of derision by someone close to her. Maybe a passing joke here or there. I'm trying to imagine someone my age putting a Jonathan Knight poster up in third grade. Their stars had fizzled by the time 8th grade rolled around, but this person stayed true. Four years, those posters are still up. Years later, me and this person are getting drunk exchanging embarrassing stories when she unloads loving Jonathan Knight so much growing up that she kept the same poster of him up in her childhood bedroom until the day she moved out to go to college. You can bet your biscuit that I will periodically make fun of this fact until one of us dies. No one does. Not Monica, who was best friends with her in high school, and not Ross who is in her room right now and is probably noticing the poster.

Moving past that. Rachel's sad because of her father's heart attack, and she needs some comfort from Ross in the form of sex. Ross doesn't because he doesn't want to take advantage of her. This, for some reason, makes Ross the bad guy. Just like he was a bad guy when he slept with someone they were broken up.

But then they do it again, and everything is fine.

But then Rachel has a job interview with Brent Spiner.

And wouldn't you know it, the lunch interview happens to take place at the exact place where Rachel's boss, Mr. Zelner, is having lunch. Not only that, he happens to be sitting at the table right behind her. Not only that, they seem to be at one of those high-concept New York restaurants where they have you sit right up against the person at the table behind you. That seems like the kind of thing that would go down in a fancy Manhattan restaurant. "Violating your personal space is the new black" is their motto.

Not only that. Mr. Zelner is a jerk, and he fires Rachel for having lunch with someone who might be interested in hiring her. I'm not sure if there are legal grounds for termination in this instance. True, Zelner would want to keep an eye on her, but fire her no questions asked? Dick move, Zelner!

Rachel gets a job offer, but she'd have to move to Paris. I can't remember if she got the job from the interview with Brent Spiner or not. Not important. Move on.

Chandler & Monica announce they’re leaving to a house within an hour’s car ride away and everyone has a fit. Rachel tells everyone that she’s moving to Paris, no one really bats an eye except for Ross. While Ross is upset, I’m sure on a deeper level, he’s happy that he has a valid reason to be as whiny as he normally is.

There really is conflict for Ross. If Rachel moves to Paris, will she take their daughter with them? If so, then Ross would hardly get to see her daugher. If Ross moved to Paris to be with Rachel and Emma, then he wouldn't get to be with Ben, the son of his that we haven't seen or heard mention of in 2 1/2 years.

He's torn.

It would probably be best if Rachel just stayed in New York, so that he could see his kids as little as he wanted out of his own freewill and not because there's an ocean separating them. So Ross marches right into Mr. Zelner's office to try to get Rachel's job back.

Doesn't Mr. Zelner have some sort of gatekeeping assistant to keep any baby daddies of any former employees from marching in whenever they want?

Or did he sleep with his assistant, break up with him/her, leading to their convenient disappearance, much like what happened to Tag. Ralph Lauren only gives you one assistant, and if you sleep with them, that's it. You don't get another one. It's a pretty good policy, I think. It dissuades people from sleeping with their assistants, yet obviously, people still do it and suffer going without assistant.

Forbidden fruit, I suppose.

Can we stop and ask why someone who would leave her home wearing this sweater be asked to work in the fashion industry in Paris, the fashion capital of the world? I admit to have very little fashion sense. This low-cut sweater with a turtleneck extension added and a buckle connecting the two...I don't know what they're going for here. Either way, it saddens me.

If this had been accompanied by news that Monica had also been offered a job to serve as head chef in one of Paris' top restaurants with her recipe for macaroni and cheese served with sewer rat, then Rachel's career advancement would make a lot more sense. "In this universe," I'd reason, "Paris has gone bonkers."

I mean look at the outfit Rachel chooses for a trans-Atlantic flight. First of all, Rachel, you're a mother. It's time to put those boots away for a time when you know you're going to get some. Ditto for that skirt. The flight itself is 7 1/2 hours. Dress comfortably. Jeans and a T-shirt. Wear sneakers that are easy to slip on and off. You're going to go through security, and you're going to have take your footwear off. Now is not the time for knee-high boots.

Well, Ross finally realized that he could actually control the actions around him and he decides to try to stop Rachel from getting on that plane to Paris.

He has Phoebe help him. Remember? Phoebe has a cab? Yeah, it doesn't come up very often. Only when they need a car for something. It would have made sense to borrow Monica's Porsche. Remember? She has a Porsche that she rarely uses except for when it's convenient to the plot...except for right now, when Ross is stuck with Phoebe's cab.

Ross buys a ticket to get through security. What's in his wallet?

I don't know. Maybe he was a fan of the David Spade commercials.

I bet Ross even dressed in sensible shoes, though.

Anyway, turns out he went to the wrong airport. Rachel was going to fly out of Newark. So they have to book it to Newark.

But it's too late.

Wait. Why does Newark Airport have wall decorations of the 1939 World's Fair? If any New York-area airport should ride the glory of the World's Fair, it should be Laguardia. At least Laguardia is near the grounds of the World's Fair (both '39 and '64).

Really, I shouldn't be worrying about that. I should be worrying about whether or not Ross was able to convince Rachel to get off the plane. Because if she didn't, then she'd be stuck in Paris until the next flight to New York which could be months away...except we're talking about New York and Paris, not Tarawa and Ouagadougou, so she could get a flight back that night if she really wanted to, assuming she packed another outfit slutty enough to fly in.

Since it's Friends, it all works out.

As Rachel says, "I got off the plane."

And everyone lives happily ever after.

Except for Gunther, who speaks to Rachel before she leaves to Paris and tells her that he has always loved her. Yeah, he's going to spend the rest of his life at Central Perk, only it's not really the same because they don't feel obligated to permanently reserve a table for six people. His life is much emptier now, but we're not supposed to care, because he's Gunter.

Gunter could have actually brought us a spin-off slightly better than Joey. You pretty much have a blank slate with him. All we know about him is that he's been a barista for at least a decade and that everyone thinks he's gay despite the fact that he's been in love with Rachel for years. That could be goodish.

So, each season has come to me in four discs, and apparently this season came in only three. Yet there's still a disc for the series finale coming, even though I've already seen it.

So, I don't know what that disc has. Are they going to make me rewatch the season finale? Whatever is on this disc, it doesn't score very high with "raters like me."

I will say this. I am thankful that the Friends DVD set omits a two-part episode titled, The One With All the Other Ones. While all of the clip shows from the past dress up themselves up to be something that it isn't. This one is so blatant, it's in the actual episode title.

These episodes aired the same night as the finale. I think it was the same deal NBC had with Seinfeld. They took up two hours, wrote the finale to whatever length they wanted and filled the rest of the time with a clip show.

Only Friends had clip shows more often than Seinfeld, or so it seems that way. Maybe I'd think differently if I crammed the whole series in a 14-month period.

I'm glad I didn't have to sit through this two-parter clip show, because it apparently features clips from 69 other episodes, including four clips from the final season (according to IMDb).

A clip show referencing something that happened that year. How does that work?

CHARACTER 1: Hey remember that time when.........
CHARACTER 2: Of course I remember that. It happened three months ago.

That would be nice if a character called someone out on that.

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