Tonight I’m going to sit here and watch an episode of “Friends.” I need a little bit of a break and I’m feeling like some nostalgic TV so that means “Friends” for me. It’s my go-to nostalgia show. I’ve never tried writing about a TV show as I watch it before so this is something new. I guess it’s kind of like people who live Tweet shows but not with the “Live” part. This has been previously recorded.

I watch “Friends” in chronological order so I’m going to have to see what episode I’m up to. I finished watching season ten back in the late winter or early spring so I know I’m back on season one but I have to load up the show to see what episode. I still watch the shows in standard definition off of DVDs because those ones have the extra footage in a lot of the episodes. The streaming and broadcast ones in hi-def are the original broadcast episodes without the extras put back in them. I don’t think I’d like them with some jokes cut out. Of course I might not even miss the jokes but why takes the chance? I’m okay with SD. The blurriness adds to the nostalgia.

It looks like I’m on season one episode 18 “The One With All the Poker.” It was first broadcast on March 2, 1995. I watched it first run and at the time I was 29 years old. I’m checking my calendar for that day and it looks like the only info I have for that day was that I worked down in Manhattan at Marvel. It was my main freelance job all through the 1990s but I wasn’t there every day. Just a lot of them.

Looks like on the day before, according to my calendar notes, I bought some Magic the Gathering Cards at “The Compleat Strategist” in midtown. Boosters and a starter deck. I also got some photos developed at Kam Photo. Cross referencing with my dated photos I can see that sometime in the previous week or two the gang and I were hanging out at Ace Bar and Sophie’s Bar down in Alphabet City. Just setting the scene.

Staring up the episode. Ah, a little bit of a whistle as Rachel sends out her resumes. I think she worked at the coffee shop for about three seasons before she found her career as a fashion executive. And nothing says “Nostalgia” like that theme song. Love it. They always added scenes to the opening as the season went on. I thought that was cool.

Chandler and Ross are actually not on the couch in Central Perk. That’s unusual. Some resume jokes, and chit-chat. Ross is in love with Rachel. Unrequitedly. “What’s Happening” reference! For me season one is fairly basic. It’s good but they hit a lot of the easy and basic stuff. This one is the whole “Girls can’t play poker” thing. A little clichéd but they do some funny stuff with it.

The first poker scene ends with the girls losing all their money and being angry about it. Chandler is in full sarcastic mode during the game. I like him that way. Ross’s “I’m not a nice guy after the cards are dealt” is goofy. Good goofy. I’ve always found Ross’s goofiness endearing.

The next scene takes place in Ross’s first apartment which was very bland. And Marcel the monkey is there. They were really stretching my patience with that monkey. I never appreciated the monkey humor.

Now we go back to the girl’s apartment and Aunt Iris. A one shot character who is there to teach the girls some poker. She’s not much. Just a basic character there for the plot. We also get some jokes establishing Monica to be extra competitive. That was a personality trait that lasted the whole show. I generally found it funny.

Back to Ross’s bland apartment and more monkey humor. I was so glad when they sent Marcel packing. Ross having a pet monkey was way too “Sitcom-y” for me. I know it’s a sitcom but they don’t have to hit me over the head with it. And it’s time for the next poker game but first Chandler makes a “Four out of five dentists prefer Trident gum” joke. I like it but I wonder if anyone born after this episode airs will even get it. Monica is getting competitive! Rachel with the fake shuffle!

The second poker game ended like the first. The girls lost all their money and Ross continues to be a sore winner to Rachel who he has a crush on. Maybe not the best romantic strategy. Here comes Aunt Iris again. They really don’t give her a lot to do besides advance the plot.

Third poker game. Ross is smug. Let’s see if he gets his comeuppance. Ha! He gets called “Monkey boy” by Rachel. That’s how I feel about that monkey too. Interesting little “Waiting for a phone call” plot device that doesn’t exist anymore. Rachel is waiting for a phone call so Joey can’t use the phone to order pizza. It’s before the age of cell phones, of course, but it’s also before call waiting was common. So if the job calls and Joey is on the phone the job’s call just gets a busy signal. They may or may not call back. That’s how things worked in 1995. Nowadays with everyone having a cell phone, everyone having call waiting, and everyone having caller ID, that would never happen. A plot device destroyed by time and technology.

“Your fly is open Gellar” is still a funny line. Chandler’s stupid “Joe-incidence” joke still cracks me up. It’s so dumb but I love it. Rachel is learning to be a sore winner in a comedic way. I like the down shot of the table. There are almost no down shots in “Friends.” At least not that I can recall.

It’s time for the final showdown between Ross and Rachel. She’s gaining confidence but here comes the pivotal phone call. She doesn’t get the job and is crushed. Ross wants nothing more than to cheer her up. The whole mood of the episode changes. We feel her pain. The last hand is drawn out with the girls backing Rachel and the boys backing Ross. And on the last hand Ross has pity on her and unbeknownst to her lets her win a big pot of money. Joey and Chandler realize Ross let her walk away with the pot.

The final scene is them playing Pictionary and is the culmination of all the “Monica is competitive” jokes in the show. It’s a good closer. Over all it was a pretty good episode for season one. It was a little too “Boys vs. Girls” for my taste but they were generally funny about it.

I just checked with the website “Uncut Friends Episodes” and it turns out that second Aunt Iris scene isn’t even in the broadcast and streaming HD episode. A handful or other one and two line jokes were cut too. That’s why I stick with the DVD edition.