Nine years is a long time for any group of Friends to stick so closely together, but somehow the gang are still as daftly charming as ever. After the birth of Emma, Rachel comes to terms with being a mother surprisingly well. It's how everyone else deals with it that makes things interesting. Joey's accidental proposal creates weird friction between him and Ross, who breaks his finger throwing the show's first ever punch. Monica becomes desperately broody and attempts all manner of convoluted ways of persuading Chandler to father a child (unfortunately he inadvertently bankrupts them in a move to Tulsa!). Phoebe, on the other hand, occupies herself in the dating game, holding on to Mike (Paul Rudd) in the longest guest-star relationship anyone's ever had. Other surprise guests this year include Freddie Prinze Jr as an overly sensitive nanny (in the 200th episode), Christina Applegate as another of Rachel's sisters and Jeff Goldblum playing himself on the set of another movie on which Joey is trying to get a break.
As always the sparks occasionally fly between Rachel and Ross, while the others manage to strain their own relationships to the max. The real reason for watching now is the one-off kooky scenarios in which they--or rather Joey--get into. His endless dating finally sees him stuck for remembering if he's already slept with a girl; he botches an attempt at eyebrow waxing; and he manages to make Chandler think Monica's after a breast enhancement! A 10th series and potential movie spin-off were announced well before the year was over, meaning six very rich actors will be supplying the fun for some time yet to come. --Paul Tonks