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    The One With The Sonogram At The End (Season 1, Episode 2)

    friendsep2

     

    (Original Airdate: September 29 1994)

     

    The Opening: The gang are assembled at Central Perk where Monica leads the discussion that, “What you guys don’t understand is, for us, kissing is as important as any part of it”. The guys don’t share that opinion. What follows is a one minute euphemism filled conversation of references to stand-up comedians, Pink Floyd, buying tickets, and trying to stay awake. A perplexed Joey delivers the closing line; “Are we still talking about sex?”

    A great, sharply written opening scene which plays on the male/female dynamics the show is built on while progressing the rules of the show that, while these conversations seem tame now, discussions about sex and relationship are always on the table while the guys always seem to be a couple of steps behind the girls.

    The scene also marks the first appearance of Gunther (James Michael Tyler) quietly in the background working in the coffee house.

     

    Episode Summary: Beginning at the Museum of Prehistoric History, we see Ross, as a palaeontologist, at work for the first time. It also quickly serves as our introduction to Carol (Anita Barone, in her only appearance as Carol), the already infamous lesbian ex-wife of Ross. After some awkward exchanges, Carol reveals to Ross that she is pregnant. Cue slight breakdown for Ross.

    While introducing Carol, the episode also manages to cram in the introductions of several other characters and character traits. We have the introduction of neurotic Monica that would be developed throughout the series as she franticly cleans and tidies her apartment in preparation for the arrival of and Ross’s parents, the overbearing and critical Judy (Christina Pickles) and the hilariously inappropriate Jack (Eliot Gould).

    In a brilliantly realised dinner scene with the Geller family it is revealed why Monica is so worked-up about her parents’ arrival; her mother constantly criticises and wears her down at any opportunity while praising Ross. When Monica urges Ross to take the heat off her and reveal to their parents about the reason Carol left him and that she is now pregnant, Judy immediately turns on Monica and asks, “And you knew about this?” A great moment which can show the complexities of family relationships and a classic case of the child who can do no wrong and the child who can do no right.

    Meanwhile, Rachel has to meet up with ex-fiancé Barry (Mitchell Whitfeld) to give him back her engagement ring. Barry’s name has miraculously changed from Barry Finkle from the pilot to Barry Farber. She notices he’s tanned. He just got back from their honeymoon. She is crushed when she thinks he went himself. She is less crushed when he reveals he went with her maid of honour Mindy. In the weeks since their abandoned wedding Barry has also somehow got a hair transplant and contact lenses. “But you hate sticking things in your eye,” Rachel says. “Not for her,” replies Barry. He realised he and Rachel weren’t happy together, but now he’s happy with her best friend. Barry really was the worst.

    And then there is Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe who are once again given precious little to do here beside make a couple of jokes with very brief character development. We find out that Phoebe has a twin that she doesn’t get along with and is a driven career type. She’s a waitress. Chandler is an only child. Joey is, well, he’s moved on to be the relatively cool one in the pilot to being the cool one who is a couple of steps behind everyone else.

    Chandler also makes the first reference to Ugly Naked Guy, the nudist neighbour they spy on across the street. He has bought a Thigh Master which does not look good.

    The episode crams in many great scenes but the best belong to Ross and his sonogram meeting with Carol which also introduces her lover Susan (Jessica Hecht). The trio begin to clash over the naming of the child as Ross realises he is being left out of the name. When asking why the baby will have Susan’s family name, she replies that it’s her baby too; “Really? I don’t remember you making any sperm?” The trio’s reaction to the doctor asking if there is any nausea is also priceless. The scene moves from broad comedy to Ross’s frustrations heightening to the point where is about to leave and potentially walk away from the whole scenario until the image of his baby appears on screen and the arguing stops as he realises that there is now only one thing matters in this situation.

     

    Final Scene: At Monica’s, Ross shows the gang the sonogram video. Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe continue their routine of doing nothing by having no idea how to react to the video. Whereas Monica is the only who has an emotional response when realising she is going to be an aunt which does provide a nice brother/sister moment with the Geller siblings.

    Meanwhile, Rachel completely ignores the sonogram video to have an overly nice phone conversation with Mindy to tell her she’s fine with her seeing Barry before signing off by telling her that if they get married and have kids that she just hopes “they have his old hairline and your old nose!”. Zing!

     

    They’ll Be There For You (Best Friend): Ross. The main arc of the episode is built around him and in the first two episodes has two storylines that can drive him through the series, with his infatuation with Rachel and now the news that he is to be a father. As Ross, and in this early stage of the series, David Schwimmer is given a major storyline that allows him to show off his acting chops at the more emotional moments, with his reaction to the image of his child being especially touching, while also showing his amazing comic timing in his scenes with Carol and Susan and with Monica and his parents.

     

    With Friends Like These (Worst Friend): Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe have had precious little to do in the first two episode with all three really only being used for punchlines at the moment. Chandler and Joey get away with having some actually funny lines while Phoebe’s ditzy shtick can wear thin pretty quickly.

    When Rachel has lost her wedding Ring and Joey asks when she last it on, she replies, “Doy! Probably right before she lost it”. Give us a break Phoebe.

    When watching the sonogram video: “If you tilt your head and relax your eyes it kind of looks like an old potato”. Great contribution Phoebes.

     

    Best Line: There are some great lines in this episode including the aforementioned opening scene closer from Joey and Rachel’s revenge on Mindy, but the winner goes to Chandler during the great opening scene.

    Chandler: “I think for us kissing is pretty much the opening act. You know, it’s like the stand-up comedian you have to sit through before Pink Floyd comes on.”

     

    How You Doin? (Love Interest of the Week):  Not so much any love interests but is the week of the exes. We are introduced to Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her partner Susan, who will be recurring characters for most of the series, and Rachel’s ex-fiancé Barry, who will be a minor annoyance for the first two seasons.

     

    Google It Kids (Dated Reference of the Week): Chandler: “Oh, I think this is the episode of Three’s Company where there’s some kind of misunderstanding.” – Three’s Company is an American sitcom which ran from 1977-1984. Famous for its misunderstandings apparently. Starred John Ritter who may be more familiar to younger audiences for 8 Simple Rules before his death in 2003.

    Chandler may have the best line with his Pink Floyd but if he sat through the stand-up comedian then he would have witnessed one of the last remaining Pink Floyd shows. They stopped touring in 1995.

    When watching the sonogram video Joey asks what they are looking that. Chandler: “I don’t know but I think it’s about to attack the Enterprise”. Star Trek reference. Star Trek: The Next Generation had broadcast its final episode in May 1994.

    Ross’s waistcoat (pictured above). If he wore that during his marriage then he probably helped his wife realise she was gay.

     

    Visits to Central Perk: Two: The episode begins there again with the whole gang assembled for their talk that was definitely about sex (while Rachel presumably has just stopped working) and for another scene halfway through the episode where they are there with Rachel after closing time (presumably, since Rachel is such a good employee, they’re allowed to do that now).

     

    Ross and Rachel: Moving on from Ross’s admission to Rachel in the pilot that he had a crush on her in high school and might ask her out sometime, here their storyline is put on the backburner as Ross has to contend with Carol’s revelation and Rachel has to face-up to her ex-fiancé. The two share a brief moment alone in Central Perk talking about their exes with Rachel talking about when they were in high school where she thought she would “meet someone, fall in love, and that would be it”. Ross is still smitten. Honestly this feels a bit tacked on to remind people that Ross had a crush on Rachel as obviously Carol’s pregnancy storyline takes centre stage.

    Meanwhile, in that other big Friends romance that isn’t Ross and Rachel, Chandler and Monica have a very fleeting moment when leaving the coffee house when Chandler puts his arm round Monica. They wouldn’t get together for four years but there are nice little foreshadowing moments dotted throughout the early seasons.

     

    Final Thoughts: A great follow-up episode to the pilot which features some great writing and stand-out scenes and gives Ross a major plot point for the rest of the first season. It may actually be a bit much this early in the series, where the characters are barely developed, to instantly cast Ross as a father but it allows David Schwimmer to really develop his character in his rapidly escalating relationship with his ex-wife and her new partner and quickly show that he is probably the most complete actor of the main group.

    But the episode tries to do too much and cram in too many new characters with the introduction of Carol, Susan, Barry, Judy, and Jack who are all given their individual scenes to shine while the three of the core group, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe, are all relegated to the background with a few witty lines each. Joey especially has only around 5-6 lines of dialogue here. For being the main group, they really should have been developed further before this episode and the introduction of so many new characters.

    Paul Fleming
    Paul was born in the 1980s, raised in the 1990s, and has pretty much stayed there ever since. This means he has a lot of misplaced loyalty towards Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Ben Affleck. He is consistently disappointed by all of them.

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