A First-Rate `Friends’ With Guests From High Places

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
January 29, 1996

Julia, Jean-Claude, Chris and Brooke joined Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Ross and Joey in a special “Friends” Sunday night, and the high-profile guest stars proved a hilarious addition to the cast.

The one-hour episode, titled “The One After the Super Bowl,” compared to the best of “Friends” – and that includes last season’s hourlong sweeps special where Monica (Courteney Cox) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) tried to one-up each other on a double date with guest stars George Clooney and Noah Wyle from “E.R.,” and the episode where all the pals made and broke a pact to spend New Year’s Eve dateless.

Julia Roberts played a sexually adventurous childhood friend of Chandler (Matthew Perry) who paid him back for exposing her panties back in grammar school. She cajoled him into wearing her undies out to dinner and stripping down in a rest room, then gleefully fled with his clothes. The chemistry between the two actors  apparently was authentic, since Perry and Roberts are dating in real life now.

There were other on-screen couplings as well. Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) fell for Rob (singer Chris Isaak), a droll librarian who hired and then fired her for singing depressing ditties about animals being led to the slaughterhouse.  Then there was Joey, who didn’t have the nerve to tell an obsessed but beautiful fan (Brooke Shields) that he is an actor and not the doctor he plays on a soap. Shields, who hasn’t fared well on the big screen, may have found her niche as a sitcom queen.

“Friends” also had some funny moments when roommates Monica and Rachel got into a catfight over action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme, who was starring in a movie with Marcel, the former pet monkey of Ross (David Schwimmer).  Walking down the street with Van Damme, Monica was the epitome of a giddy fan, asking, “Can you beat up that guy?”

And for all the fans who’ve complained about the Rembrandts’ chirpy theme song, here’s a suggestion:  Write the producers and request that they have Kudrow sing instead.  Each week she could duet with a different guest star.

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