The series starts off with five of the six main characters at the local coffee shop, City Perk, commiserating over Ross’ (David Schwimmer) recent divorce. At the same time, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) barges into the shop in a wedding gown, talking about how she just left her fiance at the altar. Rachel was in high school with Ross and Ross’ sister, Monica (Courteney Cox), and has run to her old friend for comfort. Watching this strange scene unfold are Chandler (Matthew Perry), Joey (Matt LeBlanc) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow). And that’s how it all starts.
Rachel moves in with Monica while she tries to figure out how to live away from her family’s money for the first time ever and Ross starts pining over the woman he used to crush over in high school. While the Rachel/Ross storyline is definitely a main theme in the entire series of the show, it is all about the six of them and their relationships, both with each other and other characters.
We learn a lot about these characters in this first season. Not only does Ross’ insecure nature become obvious right away, but the word that his ex-wife-turned-lesbian is pregnant with his child hits him hard and early in the season. Monica’s OCD and controlling nature also shows itself and is really apparent in the episodes where her carefully laid plans come apart. Rachel starts waiting at Central Perk and everyone quickly learns how bad of a waitress she is.
Joey’s infrequent acting jobs becomes a running gag, only to be shadowed by his apparent thick-headedness and his bad choice for acting roles when he does land them. Chandler tends to joke his way through his dead-end desk job and bad relationships (especially with the annoying Janice) while Phoebe (a personal favorite) is filled with non sequiturs and a radically different view of the world from her holistic and new age perspective.
One of my favorite episodes from this season includes "The One with Two Parts" where Kudrow’s other role as a waitress in Mad About You shows up as Phoebe’s twin sister. While both characters are far from normal, they are also very different from each other and when Ursula and Joey start to date, Phoebe feels like her twin is stealing a good friend. All comes to a head as Ursula and Phoebe’s birthday comes close.
Another classic episode has Ross getting a pet monkey named Marcel, and of course, Marcel’s various antics before leaving the series add some interesting bits of comedy to the show, even if he isn’t in the show very long.
The season wraps up with Ross’ kid being born, but along the way, Ross’ odd relationship to his ex-wife and her partner is a running theme, especially when the trio starts attending lamaze class together. Of course, throughout this whole ordeal, Ross is trying to tell Rachel how he feels, but she doesn’t make things easy on him when she dates a hunky Italian and then later, a former lover comes back into her life.
Friends: The Complete First Season’s Blu-ray release doesn’t seem to come with anything that wasn’t on the DVD release, but the cleaned up video and audio look great in high definition. The special features it does have include a commentary for the pilot episode and clips featuring the season’s various guest stars like Hank Azaria, Jon Lovitz and George Clooney.
If you’ve already made the investment in either the DVD version of this season or the Blu-ray complete series, then I can’t really recommend getting this individual season release. If, on the other hand, you want the higher quality video and don’t want to plunk down the dough for the entire show all at once, then Friends: The Complete First Season is a good option.