'Friends' First Episode: THR's 1994 Review
On Sept. 22, 1994 at 8:30 pm, the first episode of Friends aired on NBC. Earlier that Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter deemed the effort "humorously involving." The original review is below:
There's a sustaining humor at work on the new NBC entry Friends.
This ensemble comedy about a pack of young adults holed up in Manhattan starts in a capable manner, evidencing a solid understanding of the forces at work within the series' architecture. True, there is some forced shtick, but nonetheless, Friends makes the lives of its protagonists humorously involving.
Comprising the group of fledgling adults are Monica (Courteney Cox), who has a talent for connecting with not-so-good men. Her roommate is high-school pal Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), who never has had to work a day in her pampered life. Their neighbors are Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Joey (Matt LeBlanc), the latter a struggling actor, the former an office worker who sardonically sizes up things. Also encountered are Monica's recently divorced brother Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica's pal Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), a new-age flake.
The interplay of characters is kickily, if slightly inartfully, accomplished in Friends' commencement, as rendered by a story pertaining to Monica's going out with a line-skipping cad and Rachel skipping out on her wedding ceremony.
While Friends sometimes does appear more like a clumsy parody of MTV's The Real World than as a knowing effort to comically report on the real world, by and large the series puts its band of actors into engaging predicaments, resulting in good laughs. — Miles Beller