Summary: Rachel reunites with her friend Melissa from college who she kissed. Phoebe doesn't believe her and Rachel sets out to prove that it did happen. Chandler and Ross get tuxedos for the wedding. Joey tries to convince Monica to let his parents come to the wedding.
The Good: The start of the episode is brilliant and has shades of the show "Friends" used to be in it. The episode sets up a simple and realistic storyline as Rachel meets a friend from the past who she shares an awkward history with, and the rest of the scene is spent discussing this with a bunch of clever jokes thrown in. It's a shame that the rest of the episode didn't live up to the realistic humour in this opening scene. Joey had a fantastic episode and is hilarious whenever he pops up with several great lines.
The Bad: Unfortunately the 3 plots of this episode aren't very good. Phoebe is awful again as she blatantly doesn't believe Rachel and subtly insults her and is downright mean to her. Their story does not have a good resolution either as Melissa's character's realistic nature is sacrificed for a bad joke revealing that she's in love with Rachel for some reason. It's an awkward moment that isn't really funny and doesn't serve to cap off Rachel and Phoebe's story at all. Chandler and Ross' story isn't very good either. They have the occasional funny line but the characters aren't portrayed very well. Ross is surprisingly childlike at times while Chandler comes off as woefully pathetic. Chandler's comedy used to come from the fact that he's sarcastic and witty, but now it's just endless self-deprecation and he seems to be the butt of every joke. The show has changed the style of comedy surrounding Chandler and it hasn't been for the better. The Joey plot is saved by how funny he is but there isn't a whole lot to that one either.
Best Moment: The entire opening sequence, highlighted by Joey excited to hear more from Rachel's story and Ross' claim at the end of how two of his wives have now become lesbians.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This is a funny episode that had a lot of potential, but some sloppy writing and poor handling of characters really hurt what I initially thought could have been one of the season's best episodes. A disappointment overall.
Summary: Ross and Monica's cousin Cassie comes by for a place to stay for the wedding. Joey lands a big role but with one key catch: he has to do full frontal nudity. Rachel and Phoebe forget to throw a bridal shower for Monica and scramble to get it done last minute.
The Good: This is a really funny episode. All the storylines are entertaining and there are strong jokes everywhere throughout the episode. The weakest story here is Rachel and Phoebe's but even that one had some redeeming moments, especially the ending as Rachel and Phoebe throw a strong surprise party only for Monica to unknowingly insult all of her guests in a hilarious twist. Meanwhile the Cassie story is really strong. The show gets creative in showing off her attractiveness in a funny way leading to two extremely strong jokes with Ross (see: Best Moment) and Phoebe. Lastly, Joey is given a solid conflict here and though he deals with it in a silly way, it is a fun plot line with a funny joke at the end.
The Bad: There is a bit of silly writing here. Rachel and Phoebe forgetting to organize a party seems a bit unbelievable and their struggle to put together a quick party is tough to get invested in since it never seems very difficult. Joey pretending to be uncircumcised is ridiculous, especially the lengths he went to conceal it, though this is partly excusable because lying about it does fit Joey's character. However, I don't believe that Joey would stick with the lie to this degree.
Best Moment: Ross debates whether or not he should make a move with Cassie. And when he finally does make a move we are gifted this fantastic sequence where he desperately tries to convince himself to talk, ending up with "I haven't had sex in a very long time" which was a hilarious pay-off from a weaker joke from earlier in the episode. It's so satisfying to see a comedy show call back to previous moments, and it made for one of the funniest moments of the entire season.
Character of the Episode: Ross. His inner conflict was hilarious to watch.
Conclusion: I had my qualms with this, but they feel like minor details when you consider how well set up the jokes were and how funny this episode was overall. An excellent effort from "Friends".
Summary: After watching Phoebe date a new guy, Monica realizes that she won't ever have the spark of a new relationship again. Joey is nominated for a Soapie award. Ross is conflicted when a male student admits that he loves him.
The Good: There are a few good jokes scattered throughout the episode and some character beats are done really well. Monica's story has a simple but nice resolution.
The Bad: This episode is pretty dull. The stories are extremely by-the-numbers with nothing interesting about them. The characters aren't explored in any meaningful ways and it's all pretty generic stuff. My biggest problem comes from the lack of an explanation for Chandler being unafraid of marriage and the show perplexingly playing up his insecurities as a joke instead of as a legitimate point. The jokes feel cheap and uninspired and the story feels empty because of this glaring hole in the character's mindset. Furthermore, the jokes in this episode are pretty bad. Joey's award storyline is as unfunny as they come without a single inspired joke. It just plays up Joey's character to an unnecessary degree every time with hope that it'll lead to comedy. It doesn't. Meanwhile Ross' story has some potential but nothing even remotely funny is done with the idea of a male student having a crush on him.
Best Moment: Phoebe leading Monica to believe that she was being eyed by the other guy was pretty funny and a perfect character moment for her, though she is handled poorly a couple of times after this.
Character of the Episode: Phoebe. Nobody else really stands out.
Conclusion: This is the most uninspired episode of the show in quite some time. With sitcoms being just 20 minutes, it's usually a quick and easy watch. But in this episode I was unusually bored and I never got into the episode. The mix of poor writing and lazy storytelling is what caused this, and the result is one of the show's absolute worst episodes.
Summary: Monica buys the wedding dress she wants but is forced to choose between her dress and the band Chandler wants to play at the wedding when she is blackmailed by somebody who wants her dress. Ross and Joey end up dating the same girl and try to decide who will continue to date her.
The Good: Monica's story is pretty good. By the end of the episode she makes a selfless decision to preserve what Chandler wants at the expense of her wedding dress. The show has developed a nasty habit of making Chandler and Monica argue far too much so it's always nice when we are reminded of how much they actually care for each other in stories like this one. Rachel and Phoebe's involvement in the story is pretty fun, particularly as they shop for the wedding dresses. Meanwhile, Joey and Ross find themselves in a hilarious predicament that's equally fun to watch being set up as it is to see the pay-off. The most consistent laughs of the episode came here with several excellent comedic moments.
The Bad: But some aspects of this episode were disappointing. Rachel and Phoebe trying their hardest to get Chandler away from the band he wants was extremely selfish, and also unsubtle which took away from any humour that could have been present during those scenes. Chandler wasn't characterized very well either as he inexplicably became a nervous wreck around Kristen, which isn't consistent with what we know about the character. Ross and Joey had a really fun dinner set-up but it was ruined when the writers decided to have them immediately give away that they knew each other in a generic shouting fest instead of playing a funnier, more subtle scene. In these past few seasons the show is still good at getting easy laughs, but the subtlety has been really lacking.
Best Moment: Chandler realizing that Joey and Ross were dating the same women, and the joy he took in slowly revealing it was very funny. A rare case of a fantastic, patient joke that was well written in an episode that was in-your-face a little too much.
Character of the Episode: Ross.
Conclusion: This was a decent episode. The 2 stories were fun to watch and there were several great jokes. But a lack of subtlety hurt what should have been one of the season's best episodes.
Summary: Monica and Chandler search for somebody to marry them and Joey offers himself up as a candidate. Ross leaves Rachel to take care of Ben and she starts teaching him practical jokes.
The Good: This is fine stuff with mostly sound storytelling. Rachel's character is handled perfectly with her awkwardness around Ben as well as her affinity towards practical jokes, which upsets Ross. A lot of Ben's jokes are ultimately pretty funny and it's a lovely moment to see Ross come around and play a prank on Rachel at the end of the episode. Monica and Chandler's story is mostly quite good. There is some solid drama with the truth about London coming out, and it never feels too melodramatic or cheesy. The hunt for a good rabbi is also pretty funny at times, and I enjoyed Joey's absurdly ridiculous speech.
The Bad: There aren't any particularly good jokes here and the episode feels rather ordinary as a result. Phoebe is practically meaningless in this episode as she contributes nothing whatsoever and still manages to come off an unlikeable and annoying. The flashback to London did have poor moments as Monica and Chandler behaved a little too childishly at times.
Best Moment: Joey walking in on Chandler in London was funny and the writers got some pretty good jokes out of it.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This episode had 2 solid stories with some pretty funny moments. Nothing that special happened, but it was a solid episode of comedy.
Summary: Joey's character comes back and Joey is really excited, but it means the departure of a much-loved actress, Cecilia Monroe, who Joey grows close to. Ross tries to convince Chandler and Monica to let him play bagpipes at their wedding. Rachel and Phoebe argue over who should keep a phone that was left behind by a hot guy.
The Good: Joey's story is really well done and reminded me of the quality one-off stories that the show would produce in season 1. It was a lovely mixture of funny and engaging, and Joey looked better here as a person than he has in a long time. He's childlike in just the right amount without being over the top, and he comes off really well as he tries to respect Cecilia's character and her feelings despite being really excited about being back on the show. The side stories had their moments as well.
The Bad: But for the most part, the side stories weaken the episode significantly. Ross looks really bad here as he tries to force bagpipes on Monica and Chandler. There aren't very many good laughs here either so it's a weak story. Phoebe and Rachel do have funny moments, but the resolution of the story feels extremely lazy with Phoebe being super attracted to the old guy. I also don't think that Rachel and Phoebe come off well as they continually bicker and argue over a really dumb conflict.
Best Moment: Ross' hate for the brain transplant followed by Joey insulting him for not having sex in 3 months was the best joke of the episode.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This episode had one great story but the rest didn't really hold up. What this results in is a solid episode, but one that isn't particularly special.
Summary: We see various storylines of everyone's 30th birthdays. Rachel is a mess and contemplates her future with Tag. Monica shows up to her surprise party drunk. Ross rashly buys a new sports car and tries to show it off. Phoebe learns that she's one year older than she thought she was.
The Good: This was a really funny episode and a good comeback from the very poor previous episode. The concept of jumping between various birthdays is quite fun and it leads to some strong stories and a lot of funny moments. Ross and Joey are their usual selves and have a lot of great moments. I particularly enjoyed Joey's almost childlike nature in this episode as it felt more subdued. Rachel's story is very well executed as she contemplates life and ends her relationship with Tag on good terms just so she can move on with her life. It's surprisingly well written and there are some great bits of humour added wherever it made sense. Monica being drunk is a bit cheesy (see: The Bad), but it does lead to a few really good jokes.
The Bad: There are some flaws in this episode. Monica being drunk is a very easy way to get cheap laughs, and it doesn't make for any kind of superb comedy. Ross' story tried a bit too hard to replicate the fantastic "pivot" joke and I don't think it worked at all.
Best Moment: I'll go with Chandler's horrible choice of birthday card and Monica's disbelief how Chandler messed up his one job.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: I was laughing pretty consistently during this episode so it was certainly quite good. I just don't think that the quality of humour was top-tier "Friends", but this was still a very strong episode.
Summary: Joey is distraught that he has to get a new chair when Rachel breaks his old chair Rosita. Phoebe takes up a new job as a telemarketer and her first call is a guy who wants to kill himself. Monica and Ross learn their parents are moving and they visit to see their childhood memories, but all of Monica's stuff has been destroyed.
The Good: There are some funny moments here. Jack is great as always. Joey has fun moments with his childishness, and the end joke with him destroying Chandler's chair was pretty funny. Ross and Monica have the occasional good moment as well.
The Bad: For the most part this was very poor. First of all, the episode simply wasn't very funny and I didn't find myself laughing much at all. The jokes weren't very well done and most of them felt quite cheap as the characters had to be dumbed down and stripped down to one single trait in order to be funny. Phoebe's story was awful. Not only did it not lead to any conclusion, but the whole thing was pointless, unfunny, and even managed to make a mockery out of a serious topic like suicide. And to top it all off, the show wasted a cameo from the terrific Jason Alexander on this stupid plotline. Ross and Monica's story isn't good either. We have already seen several episodes where Monica is left wondering if her parents love Ross more than her, so this doesn't add anything new. There aren't many laughs in the story either, and the conclusion with Monica getting the Porsche falls flat. It grossly dumbs down Monica as a character if her father giving her his Porsche is enough to quash all thoughts she has about her parents loving Ross more than her. I also feel that Ross' dramatic overreaction was pretty unrealistic and was another case of Ross being transformed into a far more annoying character than he was early in the series. David Schwimmer does a good job trying to salvage the episode, but his efforts aren't enough to overcome the poor writing.
Best Moment: There isn't much that stands out. I'll go with Ross' realization that his parents are selling the house and Phoebe's initial confusion about there being something wrong with the window.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This episode had some decent moments, but it was pretty badly written overall. Certainly the worst episode of the season so far.
Summary: Joey and Ross get locked on the roof when they stay behind to watch for a comet and they try to find a way down. Chandler can't sleep so he tries talking to Monica to pass the time. Rachel and Tag go to work at night when they argue over who is at fault for some reports not being submitted. Phoebe wages war against a fire alarm that won't stop beeping.
The Good: This is a fun episode. "Friends" almost always excels with these gimmicky episodes and this is no exception. The episode starts perfectly with everyone together. I wish the show allowed the entire cast to interact together more often since the lines and the comedy often feels most natural in these situations. After the characters branch off, most of the stories are really good. Joey and Ross are the highlight as they try to climb down the fire escape. All of the episodes' funniest jokes come from this story and it is a joy to watch. Rachel and Tag also have a very strong story. Their bickering over who is at fault gives depth to their relationship and makes it pretty clear why they are attracted to each other with all of the fun they are having. There are some really funny moments as both of them try to shift the blame to the other person in clever ways. Chandler and Monica have the occasional clever joke as well.
The Bad: Chandler and Monica's story is too simple and the jokes aren't creative enough to be memorable. Phoebe's story is pretty awful since she has nobody else to bounce off of with the only funny joke coming from when she thinks the fire alarm is knocking on her apartment door. Her entire storyline seems so implausible as the fire alarm inexplicably keeps beeping without reason.
Best Moment: Ross asking Joey where the pipe holding the door open is followed by Joey's slow and painful realization was a hilarious moment.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: For the most part, this was an excellent episode that played to the show's strengths. Was everything excellent? No. The show still has problems with consistency across storylines and that did hurt this episode. Still, I can confidently call this a great episode of comedy.
Summary: Chandler and Rachel find some delicious cheesecake delivered to their door and can't stop eating it. Phoebe gets mad at Joey for cancelling dinner with her for a date but finds herself in a similar situation when David returns for one day. Ross is invited to a family wedding and Monica isn't, so she goes as his guest to figure out why she wasn't invited.
The Good: This was a funny episode on the surface. The Chandler and Rachel dynamic is a less common one, so it feels fresh to see them in a story together. There are some good laughs with them as they are unable to resist the temptation of the cheesecake. Ross and Monica are enjoyable in their storyline too. Phoebe and David have some good scenes in their short story, and Joey is consistently funny throughout the episode.
The Bad: It feels like such a waste to have David return and not even be the focus of the episode. I'm surprised that so much time was spent developing the Phoebe/Joey conflict when it really should have been focusing on David's return and the effect it has on Phoebe. Ross and Monica are enjoyable but all of their most annoying traits are played up too much. The resolution of their story with one of Monica's ex-boyfriends is wholly unsatisfying. Did she really not know who the groom was? And why is it that big of a deal anyways?
Best Moment: Joey pulling out a fork to eat the cake that had fallen on the floor was a good joke.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This episode was fun and easy enough to watch but it did nothing special and fell into some classic sitcom trappings with wasted storylines and overly emphasized character traits.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.