Friends S2:E3 – Hey there, Friendsters. Hope everyone’s week (and month, for that matter) is off to a fantastic start. As excited as I am to keep my streak of approaching this column with a positive attitude in tact, I must admit that I caught a case of The Mundays this morning. I rolled out of bed like, “Could today be any more Monday? Nevertheless, I fought through it and I’m here at my computer charged up and ready to serve you (the reader) another piping hot batch of fresh Friends takes. So lets get right into it, shall we? Throughout the series run and after Friends first went off of the air and into the rerun vortex, I always had it in my head that Mr. Heckles was a very frequent supporting character on the show. It just seemed as if he were a mainstay that was around for a good portion of the series run. However, in researching this blog post, he actually only appears in five episodes of the show according to the character’s IMDb page. Sure enough, here we are for only the third episode of Season Two and Mr. Heckles is already being killed off by the writers in only his fourth appearance (the character returns in October 1996 [S3:E6] for his fifth appearance during a flashback sequence). I don’t know why I always thought that Mr. Heckles had a much bigger presence the show. I guess it is a testament to Larry Hanklin’s acting for giving such a memorable performance during his limited appearances. If Mr. Heckles were sill with us today, he might say, “I could have a prominent recurring role on Friends.”
Today’s episode is also noteworthy because of the unusual vulnerability that we see out of Chandler as he struggles with the prospect of ending up like Mr. Heckles; alone and jaded. The Chan Man, who usually uses humor as a defense mechanism to keep people at a distance and avoid soul crushing introspection, is genuinely affected by the similarities between him and Heckles and solicits advice from several of his friends to help talk himself out of the fixation that he will end up turning into a crazy old hermit that keeps pet snakes and scares neighborhood children. He even does the unthinkable and calls Janice in an attempt to start something back up with a women that he has already broken up with multiple times. This vulnerability is an interesting side to Chandler, one that we hadn’t often seen from him during the sarcastic, quip-filled performance Mathew Perry gave in Season One. It seems the Friends writers are making a conscious effort here to add some depth to the Chandler Muriel Bing character. I remember hearing the showrunners say during a DVD commentary that in original conception for the show, the Phoebe and Chandler characters were intended to be supporting characters whose main role was to provide comic relief to the story lines involving Rachel, Ross, Monica, and Joey. Obviously, that original conception for the show was quickly abandoned with the realization that Mathew Perry and Lisa Kudrow’s characters required equal footing in the ensemble cast. The vulnerable, introspective side of Chandler that the writers show the audience in The One Where Heckles Dies appears to be a purposeful attempt to add some depth to everybody’s favorite sarcastic funny man. All that being said, Chandler’s rant about turning into Crazy Snake Man is one of the funniest moments that we’ve seen on the show through these first 27 episodes. So run, run on to the recap and I’ll holler at you kids next week. Don’t forget to stay off my lawn.
Recap in the Key of Phoebe – This is the one where Mr. Heckles dies and Chandler fears he will end up alone after going through Mr. Heckles stuff and discovering how much they have in common, Monica and Rachel fight over Rachel’s desire to put Mr. Heckles’ lamp in their shared living space, Ross and Phoebe debate the merits of of evolutionary science, Joey commits to let future hermit Chandler come over and watch the Super Bowl every year, and Chandler attempts to get past the fact that Allison has a big head and date her anyway so that he doesn’t end up becoming Crazy Snake Man.
Gandalf Gaffes – None. Flawless episode!
Chan Man Quip of the Week – [The Setup] The gang is eating dinner at Monica and Rachel’s apartment. Ross and Phoebe are continuing their ongoing debate about the merits of evolutionary science. After Ross gives an impassioned case to convince Phoebe to believe in evolution, Phoebe exclaims, “Yeah, I just don’t buy it.” A visibly frustrated Ross continues, “Uh, excuse me. Evolution is not for you to buy, Phoebe. Evolution is scientific fact, like, like, like the air we breathe, like gravity.” Continuing to needle him, Phoebe remarks, “Ok, don’t get me started on gravity.” Flabbergasted, Ross asks, “You uh, you don’t believe in gravity?” In a matter of fact tone, Phoebe answers, “Well, it’s not so much that you know, like I don’t believe in it, you know, it’s just…I don’t know, lately I get the feeling that I’m not so much being pulled down as I am being pushed.” Immediately after Phoebe’s response, there is a knock at the door. [The Knockout] Chandler interjects, “Uh-Oh. It’s Isaac Newton, and he’s pissed.”
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