The One With the Mixed Reviews

The early reviews for the year’s most hyped special are friendly and, well, less-than-friendly.

Deadline Hollywood said Friends: The Reunion (TVNZ 2, 7.02 tonight) was a “filler-packed special … for hardcore fans only” while Variety thought it a “glossy, poignant, careful trip down Memory Lane”.

The New York Times called it “the superexpressway of memory lanes, an hour and three-quarters that stitch together several formats: a talk-show-style interview with James Corden; a celebrity-packed tribute; a collection of behind-the-scenes clips; and a revisiting and re-creation of classic scenes” …

The best thing about the reunion is what it isn’t: The cast and creators are adamant about never making a where-are-they-now revival episode. (“I don’t want anybody’s happy ending unraveled,” Lisa Kudrow says, and thank God.) Instead, they recreate the experience of the series with set pieces, like a reprise of the boys-vs.-girls trivia game from “The One With the Embryos,” and, especially, the table reads.

Here’s the skinny from Deadline: “If you are one of the millions of Friends fans out there, then the Friends: The Reunion special debuting is exactly the fix you have been craving since the NBC sitcom went off the air in 2004.

“However, if you don’t have a standing order at Central Perk, you’ll probably want to skip the much-hyped, almost two-hour-long shindig that is way more filler than killer, to put it kindly …

“Aside from the assiduous Schwimmer, the rest of the well-compensated cast appear to be on cruise control down self-congratulatory memory lane.

“Additionally, unlike the felicitous Friends itself, the special steps all over a lot of its cues and beats.

“Proving that brevity is indeed the soul of wit, the sprawling show is often hackneyed where you’d expect spontaneity and slipshod where you’d expect slick.”

Here’s a two-minute preview of what to expect.

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