This, to me, is where the plots became more dopey, the characters became more cartoonish and annoying, and at this point in the series' run, it's pretty clear the actors were growing tired of doing it. They just don't have the energy or enthusiasm they had during the prior six seasons. This is where, for me, Ross's buffoonery finally crossed the line from amusing to just-plain-annoying ("Whatever dude, you kissed a guy!" - ugh!). Joey's stupidity and perversion were as annoying as ever. Phoebe was a mean bitch for the most part. And so on.
To be fair, though, I can't lay the blame entirely on the actors or writers for this. There were alot of internal problems going on when this season began (hence, the fact that it didn't begin until mid-October of 2000, whereas every other season began in late-September). Matthew Perry had gotten really sick over the summer and was battling drug addiction once more, Courtney Cox's relationship with David Arquette was in pretty bad shape, Aniston married Brad Pitt, and most significantly, NBC spent a ridiculous amount of money renewing the cast for two more seasons ($750,000 per episode!).
Plus, unlike every other season, the writers didn't have a cliffhanger to work with. So they obviously struggled with finding ways to really get this season off the ground. Hence how bad the first batch of episodes were (in fact, I'd go as far as to say TOW Monica's Thunder is the worst episode ever).
Mention must also be made of Matthew Perry, particularly at the beginning of this season. You can tell his personal problems were really affecting his performance, as he just doesn't sound or act like his usual self. He seems very distracted and uninvested for the most part. And he looks REALLY old at the beginning of the season. Fortunately, however, he starts to get some of that spark back towards the end. But it's really hard not to notice how disinterested he seems during probably the first 3/4 of the season.
IMO, this is a pretty lousy season throughout. But it does have a few gems. TOW The Holiday Armadillo has to be my favorite Christmas episode (and one of the funniest episodes, period). I also like TOW They All Turn 30, TOW They're Up All Night (despite the poor set design for the roof), TOW Joey's New Brain, and of course TOW Monica And Chandler's Wedding. Sadly, however, the remain episodes are average at best (TOW All The Cheesecakes) and horrendous at worst (TOW The Engagement Picture). And, overall, this is my least favorite season of the series.
Edited by MartyD82, Dec 23, 2011 @ 7:49 AM.