The one person nobody would be curious about at a Friends reunion is Joey, our columnist writes.


FRIENDS FOREVER: Last week, Jennifer Aniston told a British talk show that, despite her insistence just a month earlier that she had no intention of returning to TV, she’d entertain the idea of a Friends reunion show. “The only thing I can think of doing is maybe for fun doing a Thanksgiving episode,” Aniston said on a Channel Four chat show. “Our Thanksgiving episodes were really fun.”

And now, Oakland Tribune TV critic Susan Young reports on her Unscripted blog that Courtney Cox-Arquette said she’d be happy to furrow her brow and look startled as Monica Geller again. “I haven’t gotten a call,” she told Young while promoting Dirt, a new FX series about the tabloid newspaper business. “But I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.”

This is what desperation — and the longing for a really, really fat pay day — smells like, people. Of course, there’s no way that a Friends reunion show wouldn’t pull in big ratings, even in a hotly contested sweeps period, and while there are millions of people out there who are dying to find out if Rachel blew off Ross again, if Chandler and Monica have put on a collective 50 or so “parent pounds,” or if Phoebe the baby machine has popped out a massive brood of dirty hippie children.

The one thing nobody’s probably too curious about is Joey, whose post-Friends half-life decayed faster than a hamburger in a bucket of worms. If this putative Friends reunion actually materializes, the producers might want to save some money, and take their cue from the Mary Tyler Moore Show episode where everyone waits around in a blackout at one of Mary’s dismal parties for Johnny Carson to show up.

The gag, of course, was that you never saw Johnny; there must be an hour or so of sound outtakes of Matt LeBlanc saying his trademark “How you doin’?” that could be dubbed into the blacked out credit sequence, arriving after the rest of the cast has dispersed back to their lives, tired of waiting for Joey’s plane from L.A.

Doing the whole episode in the dark would, of course, be a stroke of evil genius, a cruel taunt to every network executive who’d rather revive a dead sitcom than try and put together a good new one.

NOT FUNNY: Ricky Gervais, creator and star of the original British version of The Office and Extras, has told the U.K. Sun tabloid that the second season of Extras will be the last comedy he’ll write with his partner Stephen Merchant. “We’d like to do something with more weight,” Gervais said, “like The Sopranos maybe — not necessarily crime but something meaty. Revenge is the best theme.”

Readers will join me, I think, in the eager hope that this is a set-up for a comic enterprise so sly and subversive that it will change the way we look at comedy itself. Because if he’s being serious, it’s about time we pulled the plug on the set and pulled out the old Archie comics.

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