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‘Friends’ gets the last laugh

Viewers expecting surprises, or a well-planned future for Joey and Phoebe, were disappointed in the "Friends" finale. But Rachel and Ross fans can rejoice.
/ Source: The Associated Press

NBC took a break from promoting the “Friends” finale to air it Thursday night.

“Friends” tributes and rehashes will continue in the days ahead, of course. But during a one-hour void between buildup and post-mortems, there was, simply, the last episode.

It couldn’t possibly have lived up to expectations — and didn’t, by a long shot. It fulfilled its frantic mission to tie up the major loose ends, but did so grudgingly, with no surprises. And destiny-wise, it left Phoebe and Joey to fend for themselves.

But at least the world can rest easy knowing Rachel and Ross sealed their heretofore uncertain future as TV’s least-hot couple since, well, Monica and Chandler.

At the last possible moment, Rachel got off her Paris-bound plane, still at the gate, and returned to Ross.

“I do love you,” said Rachel.

“I love you, too, and I’m never letting you go again,” said Ross.

“This is where I want to be,” said Rachel. And hang that glamorous Paris job she was headed for!

The episode began with a birth — the son Monica and Chandler (Courteney Cox Arquette and Matthew Perry) had arranged to adopt.

“That is one disgusting miracle!” stammered Chandler during the delivery. And then, shockingly, a daughter arrived, too. Twins! Who knew? Not even the mother.

Mighty weak brewMeanwhile, it was the morning after Ross (David Schwimmer) had slept with Rachel (Jennifer Aniston).

“It was perfect,” Ross glowed.

“The perfect way to say goodbye,” cooed Rachel, still planning to move to Paris that very night.

Lots of back-and-forth followed with Joey and Phoebe (Matt LeBlanc and Lisa Kudrow) imploring Ross to tell Rachel how he felt, and Ross insisting there was no use trying to change her mind.

But moments after Rachel had gone, Ross finally erupted, “I’m gonna go after her!” The studio audience cheered. And displaying the sort of implausibility reserved for TV sitcoms, Phoebe and Ross tore off to the airport in Phoebe’s cab.

Just as absurdly, new father Chandler — already home with Monica and their infants — concerned himself with rescuing Joey’s baby chick and duck stuck in the foosball table across the hall. Then Monica stepped in to tear the table apart.

“Now, I’ve got to get back to the babies,” she said once the animals were recovered.

The final moments of the show found this sitcom sextet (and the newborn twins) in the empty apartment — Chandler and Monica were moving to the suburbs — as everyone relinquished their door keys.

Lots of group hugs. Lots of tears. Then everyone, including the newborns, were off to the Central Perk for one last coffee.

What this finale served viewers was a mighty weak brew.