friends countdown

Friends Countdown: What’s Wrong With Friends in Syndication

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.

What’s Wrong With Friends in Syndication