Friends Countdown: What’s Wrong With Friends in Syndication

By
NUP_100143_0006 Photo: NBC/Getty Images

There are few things about which I am a purist. Diet Coke. Use of the word unique. Slightly higher-end bobby pins. (They just work better, hand to God.) But last year, after watching a bunch of Friends episodes on DVD, you can add one more thing to the list: I can't watch the sped-up, syndicated versions anymore. It just sounds too wrong. The pacing, the timbre — it's wonky and jarring.

Lots of shows get sped up for syndication, and there's no one station that's the biggest perpetrator. It's known as an episode being "time-compressed," and it happens all the darn time. Here's an example of why Seinfeld episodes just seem to fly by:

This fan-made clip series bounces between sped-up and regular-speed episodes. Listen for how different Ross sounds in the first two clips:

It's not egregious, it's not unwatchable, it's just … not right. In isolation it's less noticeable, but when contrasted with the correct speed, suddenly it seems really off. It's the Diet Pepsi of rewatching things.