Oh High-Definition TV! Don’t we all remember HD tv a while back? It was everywhere, and it was super-duper obnoxious, and no one shut up about it and it didn’t really change a God damned thing. It turns out a sh*t tv show is sh*t and increasing the pixels won’t make it any better.
However, there’s one tiny area where HD tv has actually changed how we watch shows and that’s when it comes to binge-watching old TV series. High-definition re-releases of shows like Friends and Seinfeld have allowed people to see details where they wouldn’t have back in the old days of outwardly-curved TVs that were t h i c c in the back.
And it turns out some of those old TV shows, especially Friends, had a butt load of little jokes, references, and even plot points hidden away out of sight behind blurry scan lines. Did those old writers, or set builders, or producers know that one day we’d be remastering the footage and finding those details? Or were they just happy to go the extra mile because they loved their job? We’ll never know, but for now let’s just enjoy some of the coolest details in Friends that you’ve never noticed until now.
Friends has had some controversial re-evaluations in recent years and a lot of them focus on one of two things. They either whine about how Chandler was transphobic towards his dad, or they whine about the show’s complete and utter failure to mention anything about 9/11. In hindsight this seems a bit odd. The characters live in New York and were in the city at the same time that one of the worst attacks on American soil ever happened. Thousands died and it’s kind of odd that at no point did anyone mention it.
I like to think that, in reality, Friends was a comedy and it was made at a time when TV wasn’t a ground-breaking medium filled with serious topics. I guess, what most people forget about TV from pre-9/11 was that it was a lot sincerer, and a lot more innocent. And in many ways, it wasn’t the job of TV shows to discuss difficult topics like rape, violence, or terrorism. It was the job of TV shows to make us forget about those things, not face up to them.
But that doesn’t mean Friends ignored the issue completely. After 9/11 numerous characters can be seen wearing FDNY hoodies and jumpers as a tribute to the heroic work of New York firefighters. It’s a little touch that’s impossible to notice without HD television remasters and it goes to show that the people behind Friends didn’t forget.
It’s one of my favourite moments in Friends, and it’s when Mike proposes to Phoebe in s10e05. Phoebe accepts the proposal but before she takes Mike’s engagement ring she quickly pulls off a different ring and throws it away. At the time I’d remembered it only as a hilarious joke that shows off Phoebe’s quirky personality and how much of a wildcard she really is. However, one eagle-eyed viewer noticed that in S08E02 Joey proposed to Phoebe and she took the ring and kept it. Hilariously, it was this ring that she was throwing away, and not just any other.
This is such a brilliant joke, and we loved how it acted as a throwback to one of our favourite moments. Little references like this help give the sense that the characters live real lives and that even the tiniest of plot points continue to have effects for years afterwards.
Good Beer or Great Beer?
In one season five episode Joey, Ross and Chandler spend a few seconds reminiscing about how great a beer from England was (thanks for that guys). The beer they discuss is Boddington’s, a real beverage from the UK. But other than that the beer never shows up again, and is just a throwaway reference to their trip to London from a few episodes before.
However, yet another eagle-eyed viewer noticed that the beer actually shows up in the same episode showing that the guys went out and bought some because they liked it that much! Again, we love little details like this because it gives the sense that the characters live their life independently of the camera, and do things like go out and buy different brands of beer after a quick chat with their friends.
Thanks for All Your Stuff
Who remembers the hilarious moment in Friends when Joey manages to get himself locked into a large cupboard while someone robs their apartment of everything that isn’t nailed down? It’s one of those famous friends moments that everyone remembers, if only because the moment when Joey cries out from the cupboard after Chandler’s return is genuinely hilarious.
However, people are more likely to remember it because it’s such a good character building moment, and helped to grow Chandler and Joey’s friendship into one of the best parts of the whole show. But, at the time it was unlikely anyone noticed that the thief had left a message on the Magna Doodle Board because of the poor quality TVs. What a fun little easter egg, and genuinely takes someone with a very keen eye to catch!
Anyone Remember Marcel?
Does anyone remember Marcel? He was… a really stupid part of the early Friends show. For some reason a show that relied on everyday normal 20-somethings relating to the characters and their onscreen struggles included a monkey as part of the cast. It destroys any relatability to Ross, constantly reminds you just how old the show was (because everything in the nineties had monkeys in it for some reason), and doesn’t produce a single funny joke in the entire time Marcel is on the show.
And yet, Ross having to give up Marcel is still a pretty emotional moment. Maybe it’s because anyone can relate to how sad it is giving a pet up, or maybe it’s because David Schwimmer gives a great performance, but that one episode with Ross giving up Marcel is genuinely good. And it’s even sadder when you realise that Ross is wearing a banana shaped lapel pin when he gives Marcel up. Again, this is something that slipped most people by at the time, but with HD tv we can see little details like Ross’ lapel in much greater detail.