Lots happened behind the scenes between seasons and early on in the seventh year of "Friends", leaving audiences speculating this might be the last. Matthew Perry became seriously ill again, and returned looking more emaciated than ever. Courtney Cox regained weight, but despite finishing "Scream 3" happily, things were already rocky with David Arquette. Much was made in the press about Aniston marrying Brad Pitt, of course, but the real news (allaying fans' fears) was NBC's expensive renewal of the cast for two years at $750,000 per episode each (more than six times their previous increase). On-screen, at least there was Chandler and Monica's engagement lasting the whole year, despite predictable ups and downs (e.g., "The One with the Truth About London" revealing that Monica fancied Joey). By the time we finally get to "The One with Chandler's Dad" (Kathleen Turner!), it seems inevitable that the two-part finale will be an insane mess--but with a happy-ish ending. Sure enough, "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding" features Gary Oldman joining in the chaos as Chandler repeatedly goes missing.
Other star turns in the year were "Seinfeld"'s Jason Alexander as a suicidal office manager, Susan Sarandon as soap queen bitch Jessica Lockhart, Denise Richards as one of Ross and Monica's endless number of cousins, and Winona Ryder as a surprise old friend, prompting "The One with Rachel's Big Kiss." But perhaps the most telling installment of this weirdly atmospheric year was "The One Where They All Turn Thirty." It suggested that maybe the Friends were all getting too old to carry on living their frivolous lives the same way after all. "--Paul Tonks"