Friday, April 4, 2008
Friends was first aired on the terrestrial Channel 4, but was soon taken over by satellite subscription channel Sky One while the latter was still a minor player in the television market. The series achieved a more mainstream audience through repeat showings on Channel 4. The program continues to be repeated daily on E4, Channel 4 and S4C in Wales, still achieving good ratings.
The Irish channel RTÉ Two was the first channel in Europe to air both the premiere and finale episodes of Friends. The show achieved exceptionally high ratings throughout the initial run, and continues to run twice weekly on RTÉ Two, and every weekday on Channel 6. It can also be viewed on E4 and Channel 4 from Britain.
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Friends debuted on Australian television in 1996, on the Seven Network. For the first season, it averaged 1,788,000 viewers per episode, and was the 8th most watched regular programme that year. The second season aired on the Nine Network in 1997, and took the number 2 position and averaged 2,291,000 viewers per episode. The third season aired in 1998 and saw an increase in its position and viewers, being the most watched regular programme, averaging 2,543,000 viewers per episode. Repeats were also averaging 1,918,000 viewers, and they were the 6th most watched regular programme of the year. The fourth season aired in 1999, and continued to increase in ratings, averaging 2,586,000 viewers. The fifth season aired in 2000 but saw a slight drop in viewers, averaging 2,340,000 viewers per episode, but still managed to retain its number one position.
The sixth season, aired in 2001, fell into a contentious year for TV ratings in Australia. Previously, ratings had been calculated by Nielsen Media Research, but OzTAM took over. OzTAM showed slight differences in ratings for most shows broadcast on Nine Network, and saw a significant drop in total viewers across all networks. Oztam had Friends averaging 1,816,000 viewers nationally, and ranked it as the 3rd most watched programme of the year. Nielsen Media Research Australia, however, had Friends averaging 2,340,000 viewers per episode, and ranked it as the most watched program.
The eight season, aired in 2003, saw erratic scheduling of Friends on the Nine Network, and as a result saw a major drop in viewers. It ranked as the 10th most watched regular program that year, averaging 1,629,000 viewers. As a reult of the Athens Olympic, Friends saw a decrease in its ratings. It was put on hiatus twice, being four and seven months long respectively. The tenth season averaged 1,716,000 viewers per episode, and was ranked as the 6th most watched program of the year. It was also ranked as the third most watched scripted program. The finale averaged 2,273,000 viewers, though it was not the highest rated episode of Friends ever.
While Cable TV channel Arena (a Foxtel and Optus channel) aired Friends repeats daily, channel Nine did not air Friends repeats like it did with another popular US sitcom, Frasier. In November 2007, it was announced that Network Ten has bought the rights to the show, and that it would air it seven nights a week from December 2nd screening at 7:00p.m., replacing Futurama repeats. It was also a part of the 2007/2008 summer schedule, meaning that the show has aired on all of Australia's "Big Three" television networks. In February 2008, Friends was moved to the 6pm Monday-Friday timeslot, and replaced long-running 6pm repeats of The Simpsons in Network Ten's regular schedule. Due to sexual content and low level course language, many episodes were edited to fit the G ratings, and the first two episodes of the fifth season were cut altogether due to Monica and Chandlers relationship acts.
In New Zealand, Friends first debuted on TV2 during the middle of 1995. The show typically screened around 7:30pm on Wednesday nights but some seasons were screened on Sunday nights. Repeats were screened at 7:00pm during December and January between 1996 and 1998 when Shortland Street went off the air for the Summer break. TV2 began screening repeats at 6:30pm from 2000 onwards running constant repeats of all seasons made to date. Currently the show has gone off the air and is now replaced by repeats of Joey, with the channel calling it Friends: The Joey Years.
The 66-minute series finale was named by Entertainment Tonight as the biggest TV moment of the year 2004, and was the second highest rated show in 2004, bringing in 52.5 million viewers (43% of all viewers that night), beaten only by the Super Bowl. However, it did not surpass the ratings received by series finales for M*A*S*H (106m), Cheers (80.4m) or Seinfeld (76.3m), nor was it the most watched episode of Friends—that accolade remains with the Season Two episode "The One After the Superbowl", which aired on January 28, 1996 and drew 52.9 m viewers.
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, or occasionally early June, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
Over the ten years the show ran the show mainly won Emmy Awards over other awards such as Golden Globes and SAG Awards. It won 6 Emmys out of 63 nominationsAwards
- 2003 - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series - Christina Applegate
- 2002 - Outstanding Comedy Series
- 2002 - Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series - Jennifer Aniston
- 2000 - Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series - Bruce Willis
- 1998 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series - Lisa Kudrow
- 1996 - Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series - Michael Lembeck (for "The One After the Superbowl")
- 2003 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy - Jennifer Aniston
- 2004 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 2004 - Favorite Female Television Performer - Jennifer Aniston
- 2003 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 2003 - Favorite Female Television Performer - Jennifer Aniston
- 2002 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 2002 - Favorite Female Television Performer - Jennifer Aniston
- 2001 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 2001 - Favorite Female Television Performer - Jennifer Aniston
- 2000 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 2000 - Favorite Female Television Performer - Jennifer Aniston
- 1999 - Favorite Television Comedy Series
- 1995 - Favorite New Television Comedy
- 2000 - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series - Lisa Kudrow
- 1996 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
- Outstanding Comedy Series (1995-96, 1999-2000, 2003) 5 nominations
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Jennifer Aniston (2003-04) 2 nominations
- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Matt LeBlanc (2002-04) 3 nominations
- Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Matthew Perry (2002)
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Jennifer Aniston (2000-01) 2 nominations
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Lisa Kudrow (1995, 1997, 1999, 2000-01) 5 nominations
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series David Schwimmer (1995)
- Best TV Series-Comedy (1996-1998, 2002-2004) 6 nominations
- Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series-Comedy Matt LeBlanc (2003-04)
- Best TV Supporting Actress Jennifer Aniston (2002)
- Best TV Supporting Actress Lisa Kudrow (1996)
- Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (1999-2004) 6 nominations
- Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series Matt LeBlanc (2003)
- Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Lisa Kudrow (1999, 2004) 2 nominations
- Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series Jennifer Aniston (2002-03) 2 nominations
- Funniest Supporting Female Performer in a TV Series Courteney Cox (1999)
- Favorite Television Actress Courteney Cox (1997)
- Choice TV Actress - Comedy Courteney Cox (2002-03) 2 nominations
Friends has made a notable contribution to some areas of popular culture - in particular, language and fashion. The use of "so" to mean "very" or "really" was not invented by any Friends writer, but it is arguable that the extensive use of the phrase in the series encouraged its use in everyday life (others assert that the use of "so" on Friends as an "unconditional" in the sense of "absolutely" ["You are so moving"; "You are so dead"], supplanting its 80s counterpart "totally," was much more influential than "so" in the sense of "very," which was firmly established in the vernacular long before Friends). The series has also been noted for its impact on everyday fashion and hairstyles. Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle was nicknamed "The Rachel" and copied around the world.
Joey Tribbiani's catchphrase "How you doin'?" has become a popular part of Western English slang, often used as a pick-up line or when greeting friends. The show also popularized the idea of the "laminated list", a list of celebrities that a person's partner will permit them to sleep with if they were to ever meet them. In "The One with Frank Jr." the characters exchange "lists" verbally, while Ross creates a physical list and laminates it, making his choices permanent. The concept of the laminated list has been adopted by the Hollywood Stock Exchange website.
The phrase "Ross and Rachel" has appeared as a joke in Scrubs: the janitor describes J.D.'s relationship with Elliot as "not exactly Ross and Rachel." After a pause, the "Ross and Rachel" in question is revealed to be two other employees in the hospital, "Dr. Ross, and Rachel from book keeping," and the offscreen shots. Friends has been referenced again in the Scrubs episode, "My Cold Shower"; Carla describes J.D and Elliot's relationship as being, "On and off more than Ross and Rachel, from Friends", J.D then explains how he is nothing like Ross and in Doctor Cox's tradition of calling J.D girl's names, he tells J.D he's more like Rachel. On the television show One Tree Hill, a character references Ross saying the wrong name at the altar when he was marrying Emily. In one episode of the British show Skins, a Russian girl learns English from Friends, and uses many of the catchphrases (such as "How you doin'" and "We were on a break") as a recurring joke.
One of the principal settings of the series, the "Central Perk" coffee house has inspired various imitations worldwide (the coffee house is based on Cholmondeley's, a coffee shop and lounge in Usen Castle at Brandeis University, the alma mater of the show's creators), including the now-defunct "Phoenix Perk" in Dublin (named for the park in the city, and the 'Riverdale Perk' in Toronto. In 2006 Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started a "Central Perk" franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The décor of his coffee houses are inspired by that in Friends. James Michael Tyler attended the grand opening of the flagship Dubai café and is the spokesman for the company.
One of Phoebe's songs, "Smelly Cat", became popular enough to be adopted by a group of Portuguese comedians claiming to be fans of Friends, who named their show "Gato Fedorento" (Portuguese for "smelly cat"). This choice of name was probably the basis for their statement that they 'often steal ideas from American comedians'. The cat (normally drawn with smell lines) has become Gato Fedorento's mascot, and the four comedians are usually known as "the smelly cats" or simply "the cats". One of the comedians, José Diogo Quintela, has stated that he thought "smelly cat" meant "cranky chair" in English, and some fans still call the show Cadeira Rançosa (cranky chair). The show was one of NBC's most popular shows, and along with Will and Grace was one of the few shows not to include a laughter track in its final season.
It is noted every single episode is named 'The One...', e.g. 'The One with Ross' Inappropriate Song'. This reflects how people, typically unaware of an episode's actual title, in conversation simply identify as, for example, 'the one where they get married'.
The show has also shown an cultural impact in other countries, in a song text (Bråkmaker) made from the Norwegian rap buddies Erik & Kriss  they song "Kan vi ikke bare komme overens, Stikke hjem til meg og se noen episoder av Friends", translated into English means "Can't we just get along, go home to me and watch some episodes of friends"?
Friends was created in 1993 by David Crane and Marta Kauffman as a follow-up to their cable series Dream On. Friends was aimed at young adults who, during the early 1990s, were identified by their café culture, dating scene and modern independence.
Originally to be named Across the Hall, Six of One, Insomnia Café, or Friends Like Us, Friends was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television, for NBC in the U.S., and was first broadcast on that network. 'Friends' debuted on September 22, 1994. The show was a huge success throughout its ten-year run and was a staple of the NBC Thursday night line-up. Kauffman and Crane note only one moment they would take back - the use of the line "I'm wearing two belts," in two different episodes and seasons. The final episode aired on May 6, 2004. The finale was one of the most-watched series finales in television history, behind only M*A*S*H, Cheers, and Seinfeld. The fountain seen in the opening title sequence can be found at the Warner Bros. Ranch at 411 N. Hollywood Way, in Burbank, California, about a half mile north of the main studio lot. The fountain was also used prominently in the finale of the Charlton Heston classic, The Omega Man, and in the film version of the Broadway musical, 1776. The opening scene was shot at about 4:00am while it was particularly cold for a Burbank morning.
After the series finale in 2004, the spin-off show Joey was created. Many fans heavily criticized NBC's decision to give the one-dimensional Joey character his own show and ratings decreased significantly between the first and second season. Forty-six episodes were filmed, but only 38 episodes aired in the U.S. The show was canceled on May 15, 2006. Only the first season has been released on DVD. The first episode drew 18.6 million viewers compared to the four million who tuned in to the final broadcast episode.
The first season introduces the six main characters and establishes that Ross has been infatuated with Rachel since the characters attended high school. Several episodes revolve around his attempts to tell her how he feels. She eventually finds out in the season finale. Meanwhile, Ross' ex-wife Carol is pregnant with his baby. This puts him and Carol's partner Susan in an awkward position. When the baby is born at the end of the season, Ross, Carol, and Susan agree to name him Ben. The episodic nature of the season sees the other characters having multiple dates, many of which go wrong (Monica dates a minor in one episode, for example). The recurring character of Janice (played by Maggie Wheeler) is introduced as a girlfriend Chandler breaks up with in an early episode but frequently returns to through the ensuing ten seasons.
The second season features more serialized storylines; it begins when Rachel discovers that Ross is dating Julie (played by Lauren Tom), someone he knew from grad school. Julie returns for several episodes early in the season. Rachel's attempts to tell Ross she likes him mirror his own failed attempts in the first season, though the characters eventually begin a relationship that lasts into the following season. Joey, a struggling actor in the first season, gets a part in a fictionalized version of the soap opera Days of Our Lives but loses the part soon after when he angers the writers by saying in an interview that he writes many of his own lines. Tom Selleck begins a recurring guest role as Dr. Richard Burke. Richard, a friend of Monica and Ross' parents who is recently divorced and with grown children, is 21 years older than Monica; in the season finale, they end the relationship when they realize that he does not want any more children and she does. The second season also served to deepen Chandler and Joey's friendship. This becomes especially apparent in the episodes in which Joey temporarily moves out and a creepy guy named Eddie moves in.
Season three took on a significantly greater serialized format. Rachel begins working at Bloomingdales and Ross becomes jealous of her coworker, Mark. Ross and Rachel break up after Ross sleeps with the hot girl from the copy shop, Chloe. His insistence that he and Rachel were "on a break" becomes a running gag through the remaining seasons. The two show significant animosity towards each other through the second half of the season, though the cliffhanger ending suggests the two reconcile. Interestingly, the first episode after they break up doesn't focus on the two of them, but on Chandler, who's having a very hard time dealing with the situation, as it reminds him of his parents' divorce. Phoebe, established as having no family except for an identical twin sister, becomes acquainted with her half-brother (played by Giovanni Ribisi) and in the finale discovers her birth mother she never knew she had (played by Teri Garr).
During the fourth season, actress Lisa Kudrow became pregnant. This was written into the show by having Phoebe become a surrogate mother to the children of her brother and his wife (played by Debra Jo Rupp). Ross and Rachel briefly reconcile in the premiere but soon break up again. Mid-season, having moved on, Ross begins dating an English woman called Emily (played by Helen Baxendale) and the finale, featuring the wedding of the characters, was filmed on location in London. Chandler and Monica sleep together when, after a wedding guest mistakes Monica for Ross' mother, Monica seeks comfort in the arms of a friend. Rachel attends the wedding at the last minute, intending to tell Ross that she still loves him, but she is sidetracked when Ross replaces Emily's name with Rachel's while saying his vows.
The fifth season follows Monica and Chandler keeping their new relationship a secret from their friends, while Ross' marriage to Emily ends before it even started, following their wedding (Baxendale's pregnancy prevented her from appearing on-screen in all but two episodes). Monica and Chandler's relationship becomes public and on a trip to Las Vegas, they decide to get married. On a cliffhanger, Ross and Rachel drunkenly stumble out of the wedding chapel.
In the sixth season premiere Ross and Rachel's marriage is established to be a drunken mistake and, although Ross is reluctant to do so, the two get a divorce (Ross's third). Monica and Chandler move into her apartment together and Rachel moves in with Phoebe. Joey, still a struggling actor, gets a part on a cable television series called "Mac and C.H.E.E.S.E", where he stars alongside a robot. Ross gets a job lecturing at New York University and starts dating a student (played by Alexandra Holden). Bruce Willis makes a three-episode cameo as her father. Phoebe and Rachel's apartment has a fire meaning Rachel moves in with Joey and Phoebe with Chandler and Monica. In the final episodes, Chandler decides to propose to Monica. Trying to make it a surprise, he starts acting like his old commitment-phobic self, telling her he opposes marriage. For a brief moment Monica considers going to back to Richard, who confesses to her that he still loves her and is willing to have children with her. Monica gets wind of Chandler's idea, and attempts to propose to him but breaks down in tears and cannot finish. Chandler then asks her to marry him and the show is ended with celebration with many of the friends who were standing outside the door.
Season seven largely concerns various wedding-related antics by Monica and Chandler. Joey's television series is cancelled but he is offered his old job back on Days of Our Lives. Phoebe's apartment is fixed but due to the way the apartment has been rebuilt, Rachel stays with Joey. The two-part season finale follows Monica and Chandler's wedding, with guest stars that include Kathleen Turner as Chandler's transvestite father. The closing moments of the season reveal that Rachel is pregnant.
The eighth season's first episodes follow a "Who's the father?" format, with the father revealed to be Ross in episode two and Rachel telling him in episode three. Joey begins to develop romantic feelings for roommate Rachel (who moved in with Joey after a fire at Phoebe's apartment left them with only one bedroom) and when Joey's feelings are revealed things become awkward for the two. Eventually their friendship returns to its status quo but in the finale, following Rachel's giving birth to a daughter, she accepts an accidental proposal of marriage from him. The season was regarded as a return to form for the series; its ratings increased as viewers tuned in for comfort following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The ninth season follows Ross and Rachel living together with baby Emma after she and Joey clear up the misdirected proposal. She soon moves back in with Joey after a fight with Ross. Monica and Chandler, inspired by Ross and Rachel, decide to conceive a child of their own. They seek medical advice after several episodes of trying for a baby, and discover that both of them are physically unable to conceive. Paul Rudd appears in the recurring role of Mike Hannigan, a new boyfriend for Phoebe. Hank Azaria returns as David "the scientist guy", a character originated in the first season, and Phoebe must choose between the two in a touching finale, deciding to choose Mike. The finale is set in Barbados, where the group goes to hear Ross give a keynote speech at a Paleontologist conference. Aisha Tyler appears as the series' first recurring black character. Tyler plays Charlie, Joey's intelligent girlfriend.
The tenth season closes up several storylines; Monica and Chandler decide to adopt a child, and meet Erica, a birth mother from Ohio (played by Anna Faris). Erica gives birth to twins in the series finale. Phoebe and Mike get married towards the end of the season and Rachel takes a job based in Paris. Ross declares his love for her and they resume their relationship (not making any mistakes this time) in the season finale, while Monica and Chandler move out of their apartment into the suburbs. Joey is upset that everything is changing. Rachel still gets on the plane even with Ross' confessions, but later appears at his apartment door admitting she loves him too. In the series finale, at the end, a tearful Rachel says 'Shall we go get some coffee?' to which Chandler sarcastically responds, 'Sure. Where?' (the last words spoken on the show).
- Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, a waitress for Central Perk who later gets a career in fashion management at Bloomingdale's and later at Ralph Lauren.
- Courteney Cox Arquette as Monica Geller-Bing, a neurotic chef who works at several restaurants throughout the series.
- Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay, an eccentric masseuse and musician.
- Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, a womanizer and struggling actor who becomes famous for his role on Days Of Our Lives as Dr. Drake Ramoray.
- Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, an executive in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration for a large multi-national corporation. He is later a junior copywriter at an advertising agency.
- David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Monica's older brother, a paleontologist working at a museum of Natural History and later a professor of paleontology at New York University.
Two of the series' stars, Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston, had already appeared in several unsuccessful sitcom pilots. Another, Lisa Kudrow, was also familiar with working on sitcoms, having played Ursula Buffay on Mad About You. (In an interesting twist, it was revealed in Friends that Phoebe was Ursula's twin sister.) Kudrow was cast in the pilot of Frasier in the role of Roz, but the part was later re-cast with Peri Gilpin in the role.  Courteney Cox was already an accomplished TV and film actress when she was cast in Friends, having appeared in the likes of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and with several minor roles on sitcoms such as Seinfeld and Family Ties. The character of Ross was written with David Schwimmer in mind; having auditioned for Crane and Kauffman in the past, Schwimmer was said to have a memorable voice and was most known for his Broadway work. Matt LeBlanc appeared as Vinnie Verducci in Married... with Children in the early 1990s and starred in that sitcom's short-lived spin-off, Top of the Heap, as well as in the unrelated Vinnie & Bobby, but before that had mainly been focusing on advertising and modeling work when he was cast as Joey Tribbiani.
During the show's run, the cast all achieved household name celebrity status, and all pursued careers in the movies, with varied success. Aniston's movie career is predominantly populated with light rom-coms. Cox made several lightweight films and achieved her greatest success with the Scream series, followed by the critically acclaimed TV series, Dirt, that portrayed her as a ruthless editor of a two-bit tabloid magazine. Kudrow fared best in low budget indie films, most notably The Opposite of Sex, and also films like the comedy hit Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. Most recently Kudrow played a main character alongside Hilary Swank in 2007's P.S. I Love You. Perry co-starred in the Canadian mafia comedy The Whole Nine Yards and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards along with Bruce Willis, who had also made guest appearances on the show. Perry also starred as the title character in The Ron Clark Story, and has since co-starred in TV drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Matt LeBlanc took a leading role in Lost in Space. In 2001, Schwimmer co-starred as Capt. Herbert Sobel in the 2001 TV mini-series Band of Brothers. In 2005, Schwimmer starred as the voice for the giraffe Melman in the movie Madagascar. In 2006 he co-starred in black comedy Big Nothing alongside Alice Eve and Simon Pegg. In 2007, Schwimmer directed British comedy Run, Fat Boy, Run also starring Pegg, and Hank Azaria, another star who has made guest appearances on Friends. In November 2008 Schwimmer will reprise his role as Melman the giraffe in Madagascar 2. LeBlanc continued his role as Joey Tribbiani for the main character in the spin-off sitcom Joey.
Behind the scenes, the show was known for its unusually cohesive and unified cast. The six main actors made deliberate efforts, from early on, to keep the show's ensemble format and not allow one member to dominate; notably for a show of its length, the six principals each appeared in every episode of the run. This included requesting that all actors on the show be nominated either for the same category of award (Supporting Actor until 2001, then Lead Actor from 2002 onwards) or not at all, and entering collective instead of individual salary negotiations. The actors became such close friends that one guest star, Tom Selleck, reported sometimes feeling left out. The cast remained good friends after the show's run, most notably Cox and Aniston, with Aniston being godmother to Cox and David Arquette's daughter, Coco.