James Burrows is the name on everyone’s lips these days, after being honored on Sunday with a special television event on NBC that brought together many members of the casts of some of his most iconic TV shows.
People described James Burrows as a prolific TV director, one who is credited as being responsible for some of everyone’s favourite on-screen couples’ – like Sam and Diane, or Ross and Rachel – most iconic moments.
James Burrows, now 75, started out in the television industry with The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but didn’t rise to TV fame until he co-created Cheers, and went on to direct 237 episodes of its 275 episode run.
James Burrows then went on to work on the Cheers spin-off, Frasier, directing 32 episodes of the hit TV show. Arguably everyone’s favourite James Burrows show – Friends– also benefited from the iconic director’s guidance, with James Burrows directing 15 episodes. He also was heavily involved in Will & Grace, directing all 188 episodes run of the show. More recently, he has worked on Mike & Molly, Dharma & Greg, Two and a Half Men, and The Big Bang Theory.
The reason for the tribute television special is that James Burrows recently passed an amazing milestone: having directed 1,000 episodes of television. The milestone episode was a recent episode of Crowded on the NBC network in November, 2015.
During the course of his long and illustrious career, James Burrows has been nominated for an Emmy 41 times, and has won the award 10 times.
Just days before reaching his 1,000 episode milestone, James Burrows spoke with USA Today, and was asked some of the most classic moments from the iconic television shows he’s worked on throughout his career.
James Burrows described an episode very early on in the first season of Friends. In the seventh episode of Season 1, aired in 1994, Ross (played by David Schwimmer) is busy working up the courage to finally ask Rachel (played by Jennifer Aniston) to go out with him. The episode, entitled “The One with the Blackout,” shows a very nervous Ross working his way around to asking Rachel out in a conversation on the balcony, while Phoebe, Joey, and Monica (played by Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and Courteney Cox, respectively) are inside having a singalong while waiting out a New York blackout.
Just in the moment before Ross gets the courage to finally ask Rachel the big question, a cat jumps on him and tries to attack him. While Ross and Rachel are busy fending off the crazy cat, Phoebe, Joey, and Monica are inside obliviously singing along “Top of the World.”
James Burrows described the scene with the threesome inside, singing away, and the image of Ross and Rachel outside trying to control this attacking cat. James Burrows described it as “a classic moment.”
The Independent reports that James Burrows finally answered the question that had been on everyone’s lips: why did Ross and Rachel have such a hard time keeping their relationship together? Chandler and Monica, by comparison, had a much easier relationship. Once they got together during the London episodes, they stayed together until the end of the 10th season, and any arguments that they had were comical in nature and were always resolved by the end of each episode.
Ross and Rachel, on the other hand, started their “relationship” in the very first episode of Season 1, and throughout the 10 years of Friends, James Burrows notes that they were dating and then apart several times, had a Las Vegas wedding followed by a divorce, an unintended baby while they were not dating, and finally only got back together in the very last episode of the final season, Season 10.
When asked about why Ross and Rachel had to endure such a turbulent on-again, off-again relationship, his answer was that the show would have been a lot less interesting if Ross and Rachel had had their happily ever after from the beginning.
“It’s the same as Sam and Diane [from Cheers]. They flirted for a lot longer, but you have to shake it up… If you don’t fight, and if you don’t get angry, you have no place to go.”
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