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Our guide to top ''Friends'' eps from season 4

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Our guide to top ”Friends” eps from season 4

PLOT Fun in the sun proves elusive for the gang as they wind up their summer in Montauk. Ross dumps bald Bonnie after a passionate canoodle with Rachel, who later hands him an 18-page letter he falls asleep reading. The next morning she asks him simply, ”Does it?” He takes a chance, saying it does… then finds that ”it does” means he’s agreed to take responsibility for everything that went wrong with their relationship. Chandler provides some highly unconventional first aid to Monica’s jellyfish sting… he pees on it. Phoebe learns that she was the product of a ménage à trois. CRITIQUE A solid, if not spectacular, beginning to what may be the series’ strongest season. With Chandler’s medicinal golden shower, the show once again mines body-based shame for big laughs. A-

PLOT As punishment for betraying Joey (and inspired by Joey’s entertainment-center imprisonment a few episodes prior), Chandler spends Thanksgiving in a carton in Monica’s living room. Monica injures her eye poking around in the freezer and winds up consulting — and briefly dating — Richard’s doctor son. HISTORIC MOMENT Monica wears an eye patch. CREATIVE CASTING ”Alias”’ Michael Vartan as Dr. Burke. BEST LINE ”You can’t tell, but I’m trying to break the tension by mooning you guys.” (A box-bound Chandler) CRITIQUE The sitcom bucks its tradition of offering subpar Turkey Day episodes. Great performances all around, though Perry, despite spending most of the episode inside a box with only his fingers visible, steals the show. A

PLOT Joey’s observation that laundry day means Monica is wearing old-lady undies sets off a who-knows-who-better battle between the boys and girls. If the girls win, the boys get rid of the chick and duck; if the boys win, they get Mon’s big purple apartment. Phoebe undergoes implantation of Alice’s embryos. HISTORIC MOMENTS Chandler and Joey win the girls’ pad; by way of Ross’ high-stakes trivia questions, we learn scads of arcane information about the Friends. BEST LINE ”He’s a transponster!” (Rachel, wildly — and incorrectly — guessing the answer to the trivia question ”What is Chandler Bing’s job?”) CRITIQUE Thanks to the trivia contest alone, ”Embryos” is quite possibly ”Friends”’ finest moment. A+

PLOT The gang — minus a pregnant Phoebe and a heartbroken Rachel — head across the pond for Ross and Emily’s ”I do”s. HISTORIC MOMENT Aside from the obvious, there’s Chandler and Monica’s wedding’s-eve hookup, a sweet narrative bookend to the flirty sparring and therapeutic peeing they shared in the season opener. CREATIVE CASTING This Anglopalooza of stunt casting boasts a slew of cheeky cameos (Richard Branson, Hugh Laurie, June Whitfield, Olivia Williams, Fergie) as well as two howling turns from Tom Conti and ”Absolutely Fabulous”’ Jennifer Saunders as Emily’s parents, the Walthams. CRITIQUE Aching and sidesplitting, ”Wedding” is a near-perfect finale that finds everyone at the top of their game (ironically, Kudrow’s best work of the season is phoned in, literally, with Phoebe trying to get word to her pals that Rachel’s en route to the nuptials). It’s also got primo guest stars, a tantalizing cliff-hanger, and, in Chandler and Monica, a relationship that will have reverberations for seasons to come. A