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My views on the actual box set
Friends - Season 1-10 Complete Collection - 15th Anniversary (DVD)
Member Name: jennikitten
Friends - Season 1-10 Complete Collection - 15th Anniversary (DVD)
Date: 14/01/10, updated on 14/01/10 (90 review reads)
Advantages: Price, single sided DVDs, extras
Disadvantages: See review
Thanks to the price war between Asda and Amazon just before Christmas, this box set dropped substantially in price (it started off at a recommended £100, went down to £70, then to £40). When it got to around £39, I knew it would go no lower and picked up the last one from Asda. I'd heard things about damaged boxes and scratched discs, so I wanted to buy it from a physical place and check it was okay (I was giving it as a Christmas present).
I'm not going to explain what Friends is as I'm sure everyone knows. Suffice to say it follows the lives of six people living in New York - Monica, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey - and their ever-changing relationships, jobs and general situations. It's mainly based in their favourite coffee shop and at the girls' apartment, but there are a lot of other locations portrayed around the world.
£39 is an amazing price for what you get, which is 40 single-sided DVD discs, each featuring a picture of one of the six Friends. Series 1-10 are all catered for, and whilst the collection isn't completely 'un cut', all episodes have extra footage, some several minutes. This is actually cheaper than the nearest comparable American box set available on Amazon.com, which is an older and inferior version, so you honestly are getting great value for money with this - you couldn't really burn the discs yourself that cheaply, and the quality is much better than if you did.
The DVDs come in a thick, sturdy white cardboard box which has a big lid that you have to push down hard. White may not be the most practical colour, but it looks really nice and there are pictures of the Friends on the box. Simply pull the lid off to reveal a bookshelf-style arrangement of plastic DVD cases - each one the size of a regular DVD case, not those rubbish skinny or cardboard ones. The discs are labelled by season, which sounds obvious, but they have released box sets in the past where they are arranged by character (a disaster).
The DVD cases have simple but nice covers, and you open one up to find four discs, each with a different Friends picture on. The older seasons have older cast pictures on, whilst the newer ones have newer pictures, which in my opinion is a thoughtful touch. The only problem I have is that the discs are on those plastic circles that you browse through (as if leafing through pages), and with the way the discs are arranged unevenly on the front and back, it's easy to scratch the back of the disc behind as you're pulling the front one out, and vice versa. However, if you're careful, it's not too much of a problem. I haven't damaged any discs yet, but they do get easier to manipulate as you take them in and out.
You also get an 'Episode Guide', which has some background history to Friends and summarises each episode. This is very handy if you can't quite remember which you're looking for. It's actually much better quality than I thought it would be, because it's a fairly thick book with a proper spine and lovely colour pictures. It also gives you more of an insight into the characters and how they are portrayed. However, some of the factual information differs from what you see on screen. There are some plot holes in Friends itself though, so I'm not bothered about that too much.
Each episode plays clearly and looks good, though obviously the older seasons show their age a bit in terms of colour quality. I watched these on my parents' massive TV (it must be 60" at least), and they filled the screen well. The only disadvantage is that the episode start and ends could be more clearly marked; though this would interrupt the flow a bit, it would be useful as there is extra footage so it's sometimes hard to tell where an episode begins and ends if you aren't paying much attention. The theme tune is included after the initial introductory cut scenes, as shown on TV.
As well as all the episodes, you get hours of extras, including bloopers, quizzes, interviews and commentaries. We tried out a variety of these - you seem to get one set of these extras per season - and they were pretty good. The Friends trivia quizzes can be played in teams or individually, and the questions are surprisingly hard, even for dedicated fans, which gives them more playability. The actual format of the quizzes consists of you choosing an answer with your DVD player remote, and then there's a short clip from Friends which shows your team (e.g. girls vs boys) celebrating or commiserating. This can get a bit repetitive, and it's not particularly well done but then again it's the questions that are more important. It does add to the length of the quiz though.
We watched a few of the blooper reels because I love them, and I'd say they were about average. A lot of them consist of the Friends randomly laughing or not being able to get their words out, but there are a few genuine laugh out loud moments and it was also amusing to hear genuine reactions from the studio audience, as their responses always seems so artificial in the episodes themselves.
So why would you buy this box set when Friends is shown on TV pretty much every day? Well, I bought it for my dad because he works strange hours, so he's rarely around when it's showing in the evening. As mentioned in the review, there are plenty of extras to satisfy any major Friends fan, and interactive elements which you don't get from just watching TV. Furthermore, all the episodes are longer and shown added footage. You don't have to put up with adverts. And if you fancy watching a particular episode or series of episodes, you can (though there are poor quality ones available on YouTube as well). Unlike previous box sets and releases, the DVDs are single sided, which means you can find what you're looking for more easily and there is less chance of getting scratches. And it makes a lovely gift because it's well presented and the episode guide is nice.
Overall, a firm 5/5 because the price is excellent. I could knock a star off for the potential scratching when you're getting DVDs out and the mistakes in the Episode Guide, but I'm not that mean!
Summary: The only box set you need to buy - it's the best