103. Friends

Tapehead no 103

Having never watched Friends before, it didn’t take Tapehead long to realise why it’s called that.

Joey, Phoebe, Rachel, Ross, Monica, and Chandler are friends. They don’t have any others and are clearly never going to. It’s no wonder they cling to each other so tightly.

There they are in every scene – joined at the hip, crammed in to the shot like a family photo, looking like some sort of grinning all-American six-headed monster. 

In this Superbowl Special, our bunch of everyday, middle-class, young Americans, the friends get out go on dates with Brooke Shields, Chris Isaak, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Julia Roberts. How cool is that ? Not very, but then they thought going to a Hootie And The Blowfish gig was cool. 

As for the acting and writing, this episode makes early morning pap like Hangin’ with Mr Cooper look challenging. Most of the jokes are so obvious you can see them coming from so far away, you wonder if they were written by sky-writers. The scenes of Lisa Kudrow’s funny kids lyrics are just excruciating. The one moment of quality comic acting is from Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) and let’s face it, we don’t really WANT to see him. 

Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox are so generic as to be totally indifferent and David Schwimmer is a compete dodo. As for Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc over-acting furiously, Tapehead says: bring back Diff’rent Strokes.

War Cries look at another group of people with no friends: Leeds United fans. (Nowadays, the combination of Howard Wilkinson, Lee Sharpe and various old age pensioners means even Leeds fans don’t like Leeds.)

One of those almost home-made public access programmes about English football fans abroad, War Cries makes you appreciate the fact that most TV is made by writes/directors who have received some training. 

Bona-fide fans describe how they were beaten up, banged up and, to the presenter’s horror, not even allowed to go the toilet. (This is nothing to the punishment Leeds inflicts on its own fans every week.)

It’s all been said before. So clubs like Chelsea and Man Utd care more about money than their own supporters ? 

Never ! (Don’t they all ?) The Dutch and Turkish police are really horrible? You don’t say.

Thank God for Cutting Edge which looks at sextuplets, and the sponsorship deals and media attention that invariably accompany them.

The firs to these was the Waltons who somehow resisted the temptation to name their six kids, John Boy, Jim Bob, Jason, Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, and er, Grandma.

Sextuplets that followed became progressively less newsworthy. The Colemans got free baby clothes for a year, but after that, nothing. (And why should they ?) Proud father, Arthur can’t even remember them all: “That’s Gary, Hannah, Nicola, James, Stuart and, er, the last one.”

Well done Gary for coming so close. 

The tabloids seized on the Vince family after they discovered the mother’s “ex-father-in-law was a murderer”. (They did let her give her side of the story. They just never printed it.)

Jane Underhill’s six babies only weighed a total of nine pounds, but, amazingly, survived an anxious first few weeks in intensive care. 

Hell, not happiness was round the corner though. Today, Charlotte, the smallest, who weighed just one pound, four ounces, is a sweet-looking kid with poor sight and a terrible stammer who spends much of her time looking though photo albums recording the births, and, sadly, the deaths.

One by one, the others died – five funerals with in nine months, until every morning, her mother was frightened of going into Charlotte’s room in case she had joined them.

This is one programme that presumably Mandy Allwood will be watching.


Cutting Edge: Mon, 9pm, C4

War Cries – Grandad Is A Football Hooligan: Tues, 8pm, C4

Friends: Fri, 9.30pm, C4