Friends – “The One with the Sonogram at The End” (season 1, episode 2; aired originally on September 29th, 1994)
Overall, Friends is a pretty perfect television sitcom. It has its highs and lows like any other show. “The One with the Sonogram at The End,” the second episode of the entire series, unfortunately sets up the tallies for the lower parts of the series.
After an extremely strong start with a funny and informative cold open, the episode loses itself by forgetting about the rest of the cast somewhere in the middle. Rachel is off trying to return her engagement ring to Barry, and Ross is off with Carol waiting for the doctor to arrive in order to give the episode its title. At this point in the series, with its second episode, it’s hard to really care so much about Ross and Rachel separately, especially when neither story is that entertaining. Each plot drags its feet very slowly and never recovers even when the episode has ended.
The problem lies in the pacing and editing. Earlier in the episode, Monica had a story that introduced her parents for the first time (both Elliot Gould and Christina Pickles will return often throughout the series, frequently as the best parts of any given episode) that dealt with her mother not being very proud of her daughter. This story-line brought in a lot of information for both Monica and Ross as it showed them dealing with their frustrating parents and even went as far as fleshing out the two siblings into how we should look at them.
It all works because we’re seeing two of our main characters hanging out with two actual interesting characters; characters they can bounce off of as well. So when this story is finished by the mid-point, and Ross and Rachel’s individual stories begin, the drop off in entertainment is felt dramatically.
It’s not that Carol and Susan (Ross’ ex-wife and her lesbian lover, respectively) are boring characters, it’s the fact that it’s a very boring situation. The three of them are stuck in a hospital room and Ross wants to wedge himself in his future baby’s future life. Both Carol and Susan aren’t really budging and neither is Ross until the end where the doctor comes in and all three of them see the sonogram. Instantly, no more fighting.
A cute way to end the episode, yes, although it doesn’t save Rachel’s very bland story-line with her almost ex-husband Barry. She visits him at the dentist to give back his ring. For some reason this simple gesture lasts longer than it should because the two end up talking about the honeymoon Barry decided to go on with Rachel’s Maid of Honor Mindy. Oh, bummer…
Although, maybe that plot was supposed to feel bland because Barry is a bland kind of guy. I mean, that’s why Rachel ran away from him at the alter, right? “The One with the Sonogram at The End” tries to be a memorable heart touching episode, and fails in its second half.
- Even though this episode was a damper in the storytelling department, it did have a lot of laughs. For one, that cold open with the Pink Floyd/sex talk? Classic.
- Chandler on Three’s Company: “Oh I think this is the episode of Three’s Company where there’s some kind of misunderstanding.” Phoebe: “Then I’ve already seen this one!”
- Chandler makes an observation: “You don’t get a lot of ‘doy’ these days.” I’m going to change that in 2013.
- “I know I had it when I was in the kitchen with…” “Dina?”
- Phoebe is a vegetarian yet she willingly digs through a lasagna with her hands. Phony.
- This is Anita Barone’s first and only appearance as Carol. After this, she’s played by Jane Sibbett for the rest of the series.