'Friends' fans dodge Rachel-Joey bullet

Thursday, October 16, 2003

That whooshing noise you heard last Thursday wasn't a hurricane. It was the collective sigh of relief from millions of "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC) fans who won't have to sit through the contrived romance between Joey and Rachel. Thank goodness that's over. It was beginning to seem as unreal and annoying as, well, the contrived romance between Monica and Chandler.

In tonight's episode, Rachel throws a birthday party for baby Emma after all but ignoring her for the first year of her life.

Look for the spotlight to return to caveman-like Rupert on "Survivor: Pearl Islands" (7 p.m., CBS). After winning their first-ever immunity challenge last week, the Morgan tribe also got to "borrow" the hirsute strongman from the dominant Drakes.

Tonight's other highlights

Late night

Dustin Hoffman appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Courteney Cox on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

David Arquette chats on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Charlie Sheen visits "The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn" (11:37 p.m., CBS).