Welcome to the sophomore season of Friends. This is where the show and its stars truly exploded onto the national consciousness. With the advent of season the second, the cast and crew had finally hit their full stride. Standouts were David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston as Ross and Rachel and Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe. The Ross and Rachel romance was the strong impetus of the season and had the fans very much invested in the goings-on of the star-crossed duo. But there was still ample room for the other four characters to shine. Kudrow was exceptional in episodes such as The One Where Heckles Dies and The One Where Old Yeller Dies. The best-friend relationship of Joey and Chandler is delved into in The One With the Prom Video and later in a three- episode arc (with a memorable guest star performance by Adam Goldberg). This season also introduced Monica's second greatest love and very good acting foil, Dr. Richard Burke (as superbly, intelligently played by Tom Selleck). Brooke Shields owes her resulting sitcom to her guest star turn in The One After the Super Bowl. But Jean-Claude Van Damme, Julia Roberts and Chris Isaak left fans with a tepid feeling. It goes to show that Friends is best when it's just about the six characters.
Highlight episodes are:
The One with Ross's New Girlfriend - the season 2 opener finds Ross and Julie an item, much to the chagrin of Rachel; Chandler goes to Joey's old tailor and is taken advantage of; Phoebe cuts Monica's hair ala Dudley Moore.
The One with Five Steaks and an Eggplant - the six are divided over money issues; Chandler picks up a wrong number on his phone and hooks up with a hot girl (the denouement to that storyline is gutbustingly funny).
The One Where Ross Finds Out - a drunken Rachel leaves a message on Ross's phone; Monica is Chandler's new trainer, a fact he soon regrets; Phoebe's date won't put out (but he is Joey's god).
The One With the Prom Video - an old video tape reveals a college-going Ross and high-schoolers Monica and Rachel (the debut of fat Monica and one of my favorite Chandler jokes "so how many cameras were actually on you?"); Phoebe states her lobster theory; Joey buys Chandler a friendship bracelet which Chandler doesn't want to wear; Monica is in need of a loan (check out the restaurant manager interviewing Monica right after the opening credits); this is truly a great episode.
The One Where Ross and Rachel...You Know - well, it's pretty self-explanatory; also, this is where Monica meets Richard (wherein Richard expounds on the intricacies of the head tilt and the head bob).
The One Where Old Yeller Dies - her mom had lied to naive Phoebe about the endings of sad films; Chandler and Joey bond with Richard; Ross freaks out Rachel with his long-term family plans.
The included special features here improve upon the first season's. This time, there are 2 episodes with producers commentary (The One With the List and The One With the Prom Video). The box set also contains an interactive map to Monica and Rachel's pad, a friends of Friends video guestbook, a trivia quiz and a dvd-exclusive, uncut version of the Smelly Cat music video. Not bad.
There's a reason this show was so well-loved and so much lauded by fans and critics alike. Come sit in for a fun chemistry lesson, as taught by Professors Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry and Schwimmer.
Some fun trivia facts about Friends:
The first person approached by the casting crew for Friends was David Schwimmer, the second was Lisa Kudrow.
When Matthew Perry auditioned for Friends, he had just shot a pilot for a sitcom about baggage handlers in the year 2020, which fortuitously fell thru.
The first cast member to star in a Hollywood movie is Marcel the Monkey.
The original concept of the show was to star Joey, Monica, Ross and Rachel. Chandler and Phoebe were only supposed to be supporting roles.
The record label wouldn't release the Rembrandts' album unless the band recorded a full-length version of "I'll Be There For You." The Rembrandts were reluctant to release the Friends' title tune because the band members felt the song didn't mesh with what they were doing musically.
The pilot is the only episode that shows in its entirety the opening credits sequence of the cast frolicking in the fountain. For the rest of the episodes, NBC insisted that scenes from various episodes be pulled into the opening credits, fearing that some viewers might not relate with hip, young folks splish-splashing in a fountain.