Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Leon "Big Van Vader" White, Dead at 63

Former WWE superstar Vader aka Leon White has died at age 63 from heart complications.

All of us likely know him best (or, I don't know, maybe you guys like wrestling more than I) from the three episodes he appeared in  of Boy Meets World. It was an interesting situation where he was playing himself, Vader. Except Vader wasn't named Leon White, he was named Francis Stecchino Sr. (or Leslie, depending on the episode) and he lived in a trailer park in suburban Philly (despite... being a famous professional wrestler) and was Frankie Stecchino's father. 

He was a hoot in all three of his episodes, but is likely best remembered for his final episode, "Sixteen Candles and a 400 Pound Man" which focused on his strained relationship with Frankie. Here's an interesting interview with Michael Jacobs, focusing on his appearance. 

 I couldn't find a good clip of that on YouTube, so here's him in his second most memorable episode, "The Thrilla in Phila". Rest In Peace, Vader!

Monday, January 29, 2018

How Many Posts Are Each Character Mentioned In

This blog has 168 posts in it. Here's how many posts each character (and Sean and me!) has been directly mentioned in. The results may surprise you!

This is not scientific, this comes from just searching for the words. Ava is artificially high because the letters 'a-v-a' appear in that order in not just Ava's name, but also in words like 'aggravating' or 'lava'. As in, "Ava is very aggravating and we should throw her in the lava." But this could be all over the place. For instance, if we ever referred to "America" that's one more reference for Eric. 

Cory: 125
Shawn: 110
Topanga: 109
Riley: 102
Maya: 102
Eric: 99
Farkle: 95
Lucas: 89
Christian (Referred to By Name): 87 (It's possible some of these may be references to the religion)
Ava: 76 (Almost certainly not accurate, as 'a-v-a' could appear in any number of words)
Sean (Referred to By Name): 72
Feeny: 63

Auggie: 58
Alan: 55
Jack: 54
Zay: 47
Minkus: 42 (some references to 'Minkus' may refer to Farkle Minkus though)
Harley: 42
Angela: 41
Turner: 39
Amy: 37
Josh: 33
Chet: 33
Katy: 31

Smackle: 23
Morgan: 20
Rachel: 19
Charlie: 17
Lauren: 17
Yogi: 16
Sarah: 12
Jason: 11
Frankie: 11
Joey: 9
Virna: 9
Jennifer: 8
Griff: 8
Mrs. Svorski: 6

Random thoughts:

  • How could we possibly have over 40 posts that don't mention Cory? Over 60 without Maya and Riley? My guess is a lot of those were during the Character Tournament that were just head-to-head polls.
  • Shawn beats Maya and Riley despite only appearing in a fraction of the episodes. Eric is beaten by only 3. Just goes to show you how much we talk about those too. Surprised that Topanga beat them though. 
  • Katy at only 31, behind people like Amy, Josh, Harley and Chet surprises me. I can't believe how high Harley is in general. He ties Minkus and is almost at Zay levels. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

For Auld Lang Syne, my dear

So, we're going to try to keep this Special Event posting going. Christmas is certainly the big one, but we have New Year's, Valentine's, Halloween and Thanksgiving. We're also probably gonna do all of the birthday ones on one of our birthdays (I'm January 29th, Sean's February 22nd, so either way you don't have long to wait) and then all of the Anniversaries episodes (and I'm talkin' all of them, "Cyrano" for Alan and Amy in the background, "Chasing Angela" for Cory and Topanga's anniversary that turned out to be the first time they went to that restaurant)

Sadly, there is NO Fourth of July episode of Boy Meets World or Girl Meets World, so we won't get to do that. I can't really think of whatever holidays are worth one of these, but maybe you know of some and have other themes in mind. Let us know in the comments! We reserve the right to decide if it's worth doing one over, but we're doing NYE today, and there's only two, so.... we're probably pretty easy. 

Train of Fools (BMW #3.10): "Cory, New Year's Eve, I got us a limousine." "A limousine?" "Yeah, that's short for limo." Aw, it's early days. In early days, Shawn's an idiot. Let us never forget, for all his soulful angsty poetry, there's a big part of Shawn that's straight-up stupid. And not Eric "he's-got-potential" stupid. Just bone stupid. 

Feeny shows up, in a panic, because his cab to the airport is waiting and all he has is traveler's checks. This is weird. I don't know anything about traveler's checks -- because it's my understanding that they're an antiquated way of using money overseas that more or less has become irrelevant in the days of credit and debit cards -- but it strikes me as remarkable that a man of Feeny's intellect would have straight-up converted all his money into that before even leaving for his trip. You don't have ANY American money? Like, okay, we're still in the days of checks... where's, like, your regular old checkbook? Maybe you wouldn't bring it to the Bahamas, but you're still at your fucking house right now. 

And even though credit/debit cards hadn't surpassed cash and checks as the main way of doing business yet, like, credit cards were absolutely around in the 1990s. They'd been around for decades. But maybe cabs didn't accept them then, I don't know. But the other points stand. This throwaway plot is for no reason and just makes Feeny look like an idiot. What's even the point of him going to the Bahamas? To establish why he's not around for the episode? We know why he's not in the episode, it's New Year's Eve (in winter break) and obviously Feeny is not hanging out with his students, that's why. 

You know what else doesn't make any sense? Eric's whole supermodel date thing (and I had to look it up to make sure Rebecca Alexa was not actually some supermodel in the '90s). She's Jason's second cousin, in from out-of-town and needs a date? That's... thin. This successful super model is, what, just unexpectedly in Philadelphia for New Year's Eve? Why? Why is she not spending NYE wherever she wants to? What's bringing her to Philadelphia on NYE? It's not like she has work, she's free to hang out with whomever her second cousin can scrounge up for her on New Year's. 

And, seriously, that's what a super model  has to do? Ask her second cousin, a high school senior, if he has any high school senior friends she can go on a date with? Don't get me wrong, Eric's a Good-Lookin' Guy, but he's straight-up 17 years old in this episode (we're 2 months out from Stormy Weather) this just wouldn't happen. I feel like, even if Rebecca Alexa got herself into this situation, she'd sooner spend NYE dateless than go on a date with a random minor. 

It's also worthy of note that Jason is Eric's connection to this supermodel, and yet Jason's not even in this episode. So, Jason's worth hitting up for random dates and yet not worth hanging out with on New Year's Eve? It's not like Jason's got better plans. I love the guy, but Jason has no plans ever but being the LeFou to Eric's Gaston. Also, Jason doesn't even appear in the episode, because Jason hasn't appeared since Season 2 and never will again - Jason Marsden left his recurring role on BMW after Season 2 because he became a main character on Step by Step and that woulda been weird.  I hadn't realized they kept mentioning him as Eric's best friend, though. Also, the coolest thing about Jason Marsden continues to be that they just straight up named his Boy Meets World character after him. 

Eric asking for someone to catch him and no one doing it is funny, I suppose.

Alan hassles Amy to hurry up because it's New Year's Eve and they gotta go! Amy yells she's still shaving her legs. Alan talks to Eric for 20 seconds and then Amy comes downstairs all dressed and made up. So.... Amy shaved showered, dressed, did her make up, and decided "What the hell, why I don't shave my legs?" I feel like all I'll do in this episode is point out shit that makes no sense. I'm 3 minutes in. 

Cory's dressed really weird for NYE. I thought Eric was dressed too '90s cool' but Cory's REALLY dressed too. '90s cool, I guess?'. They do a joke where Amy says "New Year's Eve brings out all the crazies" and Shawn shows up. That feels like a rough draft of the joke they do in Season 6 where it's the middle of the night and "only freaks and weirdos are up right now" and Shawn and then Eric and then Feeny show up in succession everytime people say it. (The great thing about this show is that you can say "Only freaks and weirdos are up right now" and then anybody but, like, Amy can show up and you're like "Yeah, alright.") Also, Eric has a car he affectionately names "Lucille" that's a piece of shit but his piece of shit. Somewhere along the way I think Season 3 has become the season I've seen the least of, but I'm confident we've never heard of Lucille before and will never hear of her again. Maybe Lucille's the car Eric's driving in the Season 4 theme song.

I'm straight up not going to talk about Turner and Eli's story. Basically, two of Turner's recent flings show up to spend NYE with him, despite him not making plans withe either of them, which isn't a thing that happens. The basic premise is that girls are annoying cling-y bitches and men are awesome cool guys. It's bad and doesn't belong on this show and a waste of time (which is saying something considering how bad the A-Story of this episode is.) This Turner/Eli story is clearly an example of their trying to make this show hipper and more adult in Season 3 and it not working. I will say that Turner's ex Janine is pretty foxy. (P.S. CHECK THAT! Three of Turner's exes show up, the last one he only dated once. Such is the power of Turner's magnetism.)

Hmm. This is the first early years episode we've done lately that features Topanga in a major way and she is... not good. She's always been weaker than Ben, Rider and Will (a testament, I'm sure, to her being the youngest and the one consistently given the least to do) but she pops up with this "Gee guys..." line in her first scene that is not good. That said, we can go ahead and call Danielle Fishel god-damn Meryl Streep compared to the actress playing Rebeca Alexa. She towers over Eric, has a stilted unnatural delivery (perhaps owing to her performer, Angela Visser, being a native of Denmark) and has very few credits after this episode, and none post 2002. She did, however, appear in 95 episodes of USA High in the 1990s. You remember USA High. It's that show you've never heard of or seen. 

This episode has the same problem of "Santa's Little Helper" of having a lot of important scenes taking place offscreen. "Cory, if stupidity were in the Olympics you'd win the Nobel Prize" got almost no laughs, and though it's a line I distinctly remembered, I still say... good, because it's not very funny. This episode in general, by the way? Not very funny. I did enjoy Topanga's "Hey! Light bulb! Why don't we have our own little party right here? It will be so much fun making popcorn and--" being cut off with Eric's "Cory, make it stop." It is a little obnoxious that Rebecca Alexa (I call her by her full name because Eric consistently does) suggests taking the subway to get to their party as a joke and it's seen as repulsive. I can't speak to Philly's transit system, but I take Chicago's all the time, and was just in DC for the holidays and did the same, and it was fine. Rebecca Alexa sucks, but I also don't know why she hangs out with them all for as long as she did. She does eventually leave once Cory outs Eric as being a superficial jerk (which has been evident since jump, but okay) but it takes way too long and I still don't get what she's doing there in the first place. 

Hey, it's the origin of the Feeny-Poster-in-a-Subway gag which is used again in GMW. Also, here's my prediction right now. Eric's line of "He said 'Cory broke the train'", halfway through, will be the funniest of the episode. I do like that Topanga says "Buck up, buckers..." and is constantly trying to cheer them up and when Cory calls her on it she's like "You try being the positive one all the time and using words like 'buckers.'" Yeah, Cory. You jerk. YOU'VE KILLED HER SPIRIT. 

The gang then befriends their first black friend. WOW, way to forget about the guy from the beginning of season 1 who I don't think has a name. Please don't whitewash history on our blog. He is, I believe, unnamed and there's a lot of jokes like him saying "partay" and everyone's like "What is this word?" and he's like "party" and they're like "Oh." He's played by Wesley Jonathan, who I know from the TNBC sitcom City Guys. He was, like, the main City Guy. I actually already knew him from that show by the time I first saw this episode and thought for a while this was a Boy Meets World/City Guys crossover episode. It's not.

Shawn is enjoyable throughout this entire episode, blithely coming in and out of train cars to report on shenanigans happening in other car. He's eating crab cakes, he's dragooning pizza delivery boys to deliver babies (Why is the pizza delivery boy taking the subway to deliver his pizza? I feel like he's supposed to be taking a car, but he takes the subway to save money on gas, and he's been getting away with it, but because the subway broke down he's finally going to be outted and lose his job. That's my backstory for him.)

Once midnight hits, Eric randomly kisses a... french maid (who's way hotter than Rebecca Alexa, I'll mention, because she's played by freaking Charisma Carpenter) which, like, you shouldn't do. I guess Eric's okay because she seems to be into it, but this is imparting a bad lesson like.... that any strange woman on a train would appreciate you doing that. 

Feeny doesn't have any money AGAIN? What the fuck, dude? I feel like this is just a scam now. He probably didn't even go to the Bahamas. Except he's tan and Alan says "Well, George Hamilton Feeny" a reference to famously tan actor George Hamilton which, for some godforsaken reason the internet community has globbed on to as his middle name even though it's clearly not. To this day, the characters page for Boy Meets World on Wikipedia says his full name is George Hamilton Feeny, as do Boy Meets World Wiki and Girl Meets World Wiki. Years ago I tried in vain to remove the Hamilton from Wikipedia because it's obviously not his middle name, and it always gets changed back, so I had to give up. I'll try it onnnnneeee moooooore tiiiiime, see if it sticks.

Episode Rating: C-. If you can't tell, this episode sucks. It's got some saving graces in Eric and Cory's interaction at the end and Shawn being funny, but all in all, not good at all. 
Episode MVP: Rider Strong. Will is also a good candidate (and is runner-up) because he's given more to do than Rider is, and has some moments where he's serious, but he's pretty annoying and unremarkable in the first half. Shawn is great throughout, even in the dumb Feeny scenes. 
New Year's Rating: 4 Glasses of Champagne (A lot of New Year's things going on and an obsession with having an awesome NYE, something all of us go through, but a lot of it hinged on Eric being sad he was stuck on a train and missing his date, which could have happened at any time, so it loses a glass of champagne)

BMW: I appreciate Shawn welcoming Feeny to rock bottom and giving him a little karmic payback. You know Christian, you may be rewriting history slightly. Eric is REALLY dumb in the early seasons too, and not "he has potential" dumb, just bone dumb. He thanks Alan for giving birth to him at the beginning here. We probably ought to do a deep dive on who's really the dumbest of the boys over the first three seasons. I'm game for this. Still, I think Eric comes off smarter in this episode at least. Not smart, but smarter than Shawn. He has the occasional dumb joke (and, hell, Cory gets them from time to time too in this era, although not nearly as frequently) but his general demeanor and attitude feels smarter than Shawn. He seems to have more cognizance about the situation. He's more douchebag than he is idiot.

I agree completely with Christian's assessment of the Turner and Eli story. Honestly here, honestly you guys, just kill me. Absolutely kill me. I'll take Cult Fiction every day, gimme the speech from Cult Fiction, I don't wanna watch this.

See this is something that seems very 90's, is caring about super models, or even knowing who super models are, or like, swimsuit models. I can name zero models. As soon as I hit puberty, I already had access to infinite porn on the internet, so this is just completely foreign to me. Movie stars, TV stars, those I understand. But it seems like by about 2005 teenage boys were pretty much done with this. Also she's a bad actress.  Yeah, I can only name the models that have transcended modeling into more - Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Brooklyn Decker, Kate Upton, etc. And, hell, Klum and Banks likely haven't been primarily models since the '90s, they're both better known as TV hosts now. 

The subway poster is legendary and actually almost validates the whole episode. I wish they'd drawn a parallel between Shawn admitting to be at rock bottom earlier and his ability to turn this subway into a party. What really makes this for me is how casual Shawn is about it. He didn't plant a flag and say "I'm going to make the most of this!" He just... does it, he accidentally has a bunch of fun on a broken down subway, because that's who he is. It's nice. Big surprise, here I am talking about Shawn while Christian focused on Eric. Same old party lines. Haha, as soon as you started talking about wanting to see a correlation between Shawn's rock bottom comment and the subway thing I was like "Okay, we get it, you like Shawn, but this isn't his episode, we don't need him to have an arc..."

Eli's gettin laid tonight. Aw, no he's not. Honestly, they seem to be treating him more as one of the girls. I feel like he's thinks this is where he's heading and he's sadly mistaken. 

The "paaartay" thing is the worst joke in the season. Come on, Jacobs. Also, why is everyone thanking Cory? I feel like Shawn is responsible for most of this, but whatever, it happened offscreen. I appreciate Christian's analysis of "George Hamilton" Feeny. Now I know, and I'm better for it. Update: So far so good on Wikipedia not reverting my change! 

GMW: Feels like I'm watching Big Bang Theory or something at the start here, the audience is laughing just from seein the girls eat god damn cereal. All I wanted was for this episode to get off to a good start and I'd have the energy to get to the end. Ah Christ, yeah, this is the Triangle arc. I appreciate Maya's disgust at Riley putting ketchup on her mac and cheese though. 

It's this "Life wants to know, Maya" crap, the constant personification of life and thinking that it gives a shit about them, I can't stand it. Life doesn't want to know, Riley, because life doesn't care, that's Boy Meets World 101. Intro to Meeting Worlds, first lecture with Professor Sean. This show sucks. I forget their English teacher's name, but who cares because Maya's being obnoxious. Does Maya have a crush on Lucas? Almost definitely. Is she in love with him? Absolutely not! Why did we just raise the stakes so much here? Why is love suddenly in the conversation? And just as an aside, whoever made the decision (probably the network) to not have Lucas kiss Maya at that campfire should be crucified. Topanga kissed Cory in episode four, up against some lockers, and it has been universally praised for almost 25 years. The campfire was perfect, and a kiss would have made some of this drama actually compelling. I hate this so much.

WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST DO IT? WHY DIDN'T THEY JUST PAIR RILEY WITH CHARLIE AND BE DONE FOR A MINUTE? He's great, and Riley obviously has the hots for him, what's the big deal? That's the question that defines my perception of Girl Meets World as a series. Why is all of this shit such a big deal, all the time? Can't people calm down for 20 stupid minutes? 
In history class, Cory teaches a bunch of stuff that is not history. Riley is wearing some killer boots to her party, that's cool. And like, again, they're treating a kiss at midnight like it's a marriage proposal. We were fine, Farkle! Why do you have to come in and tell the audience that kissing someone at midnight is suuuuuuuuuuuch a big deal! Oh my god you guys it's suuuuuuuuuuuuch a big deal. Real big. Thank you, Girl Meets World, for explaining to me out loud why you think I should be invested.

Smackle hits on Lucas which is dumb. Lucas instantly ruins the party by sitting next to Maya and acting awkward instead of acting like a human being. Then Riley does the same thing by sitting next to Lucas. They obviously care so much about each other that they can't even talk. 

Topanga and Cory step outside of the series for a minute and have a little moment for the veteran fans like us. It's not very well written to be honest, but the heart of it is more important, and the heart of it makes me happy. 

Lucas eating the game card made me laugh pretty hard. Didn't see that coming. Riley and Charlie got a good question, asking the other's favorite movie theatre snack, which gave us some fun character flavor for everyone, and I was really hoping for more of that, but the show decides to go up its own ass instead. Farkle, buddy, you're supposed to be the smart one. You cannot possibly think this shit is that important. It's, what, 8th grade? IT DOESN'T MATTER. NONE OF IT MATTERS. And yes, I know it mimics real life because 8th graders think it matters, but that makes for a god awful show that I don't want to watch. There's no perspective. Boy Meets World almost always tries to include the perspective of someone who isn't a stupid kid. That ought to be Cory in this series, but instead he always validates the kids' problems by devoting entire lessons to it or making some big speech. He's saying boy, you kids sure have stumbled into something meaningful here. How wise and enlightened you kids must be, to be having these problems. I get it if you want to fabricate some drama with this love triangle because you're on Disney Channel. But can we please stop having Cory validate this stuff? Can Cory pass on any of the advice he got from his own father? 

Riley rejects Charlie like a big dumb idiot, and Charlie continues to be the best character by chilling out with Auggie even though he just had his heart broken. I can't believe they wrote him out of the show just like that. What a waste.

This episode is bad and the show is bad.

Man, this episode sucks. I invite you all to check out our original review, because everything stands. I'm so annoyed I don't even want to write about this episode, so I will leave you with some choice excerpts of mine, in lieu of me reviewing it.

And, like, I don't know. I don't agree with the premise here. And I don't agree with how black and white this show tends to be on how life should be lived. Harper asks what's more important, Sense or Sensibility. Lucas answers "It depends on the situation." Harper says that's wrong, they're always just as important as each other and you need both. Shut up. Lucas isn't wrong. There's no wrong answer to a question like that. The way you see life isn't the way everybody should see life, and that's not what you're here to teach. And, yeah, I think sometimes it does depend on the situation, lady. Often you need both, but sometimes one is more important than the other. In certain situations it's more much more valuable to act based on instinct and your heart. In other situations, it's more much valuable to have rational thought. Lucas gave an entirely fair answer. For her to just be like "Nope. Anyone else?" is ridiculous.
Still, it was better than Cory's dumb class. "Will this be on the test, sir?" "It will." "When is the test, sir?" "Every day." God. I can hear them high-fiving each other in the writer's room over that self-important bullshit from here.  Can we get an episode without some trite "Aren't I the wisest little dickens?" line from Cory. It's like there's an implied "Eh? EH? How 'bout THAT, huh?" after every other line he says.  
You know who pissed me the fuck off in this episode? Farkle. This is none of your damn business Farkle. Get a fucking life and let these people live theirs. You think Riley's doing the wrong thing and want to tell her so? Fine. But it is so not his place to intervene on this, I can't even believe him. What a fucking prick. He was obsessed. You fucking loser, Farkle. Fuck off.

Some other thoughts. This has been the first episode with Peyton Meyer I've seen in a WHILE, because Lucas isn't in either of the GMW Christmas episodes. And you know what? I don't know. It helps this is post-Season 1, but he's really not terrible in this. Like, Lucas isn't a great character, but Peyton Meyer does fine. And it helps that Farkle is so infuriating, because Lucas is made better by comparison. It really is a marvel that by the final season of this show I definitely liked Lucas better than Farkle. Sure, neither mattered to me, and had been eclipsed by people like Zay, Charlie, and even Josh as better young male characters, but I grew to loathe Farkle while Lucas was just whatever. Lucas had some funny moments in this -- his befuddlement by Charlie, his wondering why the class didn't continue the "Why?" thing, his eating the card in The Couples Game (though, I reiterate my concern in the original review, it was funny when Lucas did it, it was not funny when Maya did it too ten seconds later)

I just looked up the kids to see who's been doing stuff post-GMW. I mentioned, Rowan Blanchard is currently on The Goldbergs, I believe as a love interest to.... one of the Goldbergs? Tanner Buchanan's been doing a lot. I just recently saw him as a recurring character on the newest season of Fuller House, and he also plays Kiefer Sutherland's son on 24 Designated Survivor. Corey Fogelmanis has been active, Peyton Meyer much less so, Amir Mitchell-Townes has done hardly anything. The interesting one to me is Sabrina Carpenter though - she's mainly done voice work post GMW. Is she the Will Friedle of the show? I actually kind of see it, Maya did do a lot of funny voices and Sabrina does have a good voice 

I love that in the original review we somehow managed to never bring up Auggie dressed up as Baby New Year. You know who you do bring up a lot? Sarah. This was in your "obsessed with Sarah" phase. I thought it was funny. A friend of mine told me his favorite parts of BMWR were when I talked about weird stuff in the background.

Episode Rating: My original review was C, and while it's baffling for an episode this infuriating to get a stronger rating than a Boy Meets World episode that was bad but harmless, I actually do think this is probably a stronger episode of the two. It had less important things take place offstage, it's premise was less stupid, and I actually think it features better performances. What was bad about it was often, like, an ethical revulsion to the moves they make and a feeling they were compounding issues we already had with the show. As an individual episode unto itself, it is better than Train of Fools. 
Episode MVP: I gave Tanner Buchanan MVP in this one, and I think maybe that was subconsciously a consolation prize because I suspected it was his last episode (and it proved to be). He's a lot of fun in this, but he doesn't do too much. This is Rowan and Sabrina's episode, I'd give it to Sabrina in retrospect. 
New Year's Rating: 3 Glasses of Champagne There's a New Year's Eve party and some talk about maybe kissing at midnight, but really this is just about the relationships and this party could have been anything. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Cheer

Hello all, and happy holidays. Christian suggested we write something about the Christmas episodes this year and I think that's a great idea. I just finished watching them all in one sitting, including Turnaround and Meets Home for the Holidays, and I thought I'd get the ball rolling with some general thoughts on each and a tentative, not at all final, personal ranking.

Santa's Little Helper (S1): The opening of this episode is a mess, it's almost like they switched writers after a few minutes. But once you make it past that switch, the humor improves and we end up with a strong look at Shawn's hatred of receiving charity. They manage to draw a clear line between giving gifts in the hope of being thanked, and doing it out of love, as well as Shawn's different reactions to the two. The fact that this part of Shawn's character stays consistent for the rest of the series makes me enjoy this one a lot more, right, it gains enormous value after seeing the whole series. The sincerity with which Amy is able to laugh at Morgan is equaled only by how sincerely Minkus doesn't understand why Shawn hasn't given him five dollars. I love that Minkus doesn't understand. As book smart as he is, he's still just a kid. It's incredible that they got this one so right in their first season.

Apologies if I go a little long on these, it's my first chance to review them! I'm doing my usual Episode Rating and MVP giving, but I'm also adding a Christmas Rating. This measures how much of a Christmas episode it is and I'll try to give that some consideration when trying to choose a best Christmas episode. The scale goes thusly:

5 Golden Rings - Super Christmas-y
4 Calling Birds - Mainly about Christmas, but there's at least some plotline where it doesn't really matter that it's Christmas.
3 French Hens 50/50 split on Christmas and non-Christmas content. 
2 Turtle Doves - Not really all that much about Christmas, but it does take place at Christmas and there's some Christmas stuff going on, at least a Christmas subplot or something. 
1 Partridge - Might as well not even be Christmas for all the Christmas-y it is. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Top 4

Hey guys, sorry it took us so long to post this. Didn't mean to leave you guys in suspense, but we wanted to give the write-ups justice but as our interest in the blog waned it became readily apparent we didn't have the gumption to write character postings for these four the way they deserved to be written. But, here's the ranking nonetheless. We'll say a little something about them.

Sean - write the Shawn and Feeny ones!

1. Cory Matthews

It really surprised me how many people seemed to think anyone else would be Number 1. Yes, Sean's favorite character is Shawn, and yes mine's Eric, but this is clearly Cory's franchise. We found it difficult whittling down Shawn and Eric to a handful of Signature Episodes, with Cory it's literally impossible. Shawn and Eric almost always have fun stuff to do, but the episodes that truly examine them, where they're the ones driving the story... you're probably looking at 20 or so for Shawn, and maybe 10-15 for Eric. And the remaining 100+? Basically all Cory. We take him for granted, and he's few people's favorite character, but Cory's the wheel that keeps this all turning. All the characters have distinct, important relationships with him (well, besides, like... Rachel.) and most of them exist solely as different kinds of foils to Cory. Feeny's old and wise to show that Cory is young and naive, Shawn is edgy and abandoned to show that Cory is safe and beloved, Eric is charming and fun to show that Cory is geeky and awkward. It's all about Cory.

If that's not enough, he also a main character on an entirely different shows. Seriously, even if I could understand someone not thinking Cory would beat Shawn, Eric, and Feeny just ranking BMW characters, how could any of them beat him when you combine them both? Cory's an important part of Girl Meets World - combining the roles of Feeny and Alan in the story (while retaining his own unique personality) to really become a co-lead along with Riley and Maya. Meanwhile, the other three appeared in only like a handful of episodes each. How could they beat Cory? They couldn't.

Also, Cory's a great character. I'm going to hustle past this part, but he's really a lot of fun. If you boil them down to their main role, a lot of shows have characters like Shawn, Feeny, and even Eric. Few shows have someone exactly like Cory. People like Cory are usually fun supporting characters, not male leads. To go through such a traditional boy turning into a man story with such a flawed, neurotic, emotional little weirdo was a real treat.

2. Shawn Hunter

When I think of Shawn, I like to think of episodes like The Eskimo, B&B, Graduation, Turkey Day, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, right, where we've got this guy who, most of the time, genuinely believes he's worthless trailer trash, but occasionally finds the strength in himself to rise above it, or is finally willing to lean on his friends enough to have them raise him above it. That's the Shawn I love. Especially, regarding the latter part of that, it's not so much that he lets Cory raise him up, but more that he trusts his best friend so much that he's willing to believe in the version of himself that Cory sees. And that's why City Slackers is so great, and why his relationship with Turner is so great, because he also learns to trust Feeny and Turner (and Alan, in those rare magical moments) enough to believe them when they say he can rise above his station. It doesn't matter when Chet tries to give Shawn a pep talk, because Shawn knows better than anyone that Chet's words aren't worth shit. So yeah, it's really the trust Shawn builds for his non-blood family and subsequently trusting their faith in him, that's where the money is. And then it's that exact dynamic that gets spun around when he gets to know Maya. It's that exact thing, where she learns to trust Shawn enough to believe in his vision of her. It's just god damn fantastic, it really is. And there are all these other themes, right, further exploration of family, charity and his pride, poverty, womanizing, I'm just realizing this now but did Shawn get the full course of the deadly sins over the series? I don't think I can place gluttony, but the other six definitely gave Shawn at least one awesome episode each. But I digress.

The problem is, I have this little demon living on my shoulder about Shawn. It's disingenuous to talk about his amazing stories without admitting that The Fugitive happened. Cult Fiction happened, Ode to Holden Caulfield happened, Family Trees happened where he was an alcoholic for all of 20 minutes, his mostly uninspired arc with Angela happened, and his relationship with Jack was never worth more than their scenes with Chet. He worked for the mob for an episode! There is some seriously ridiculous, whiny crap mixed in with the magic, and it's frustrating, especially because I think that's what Rider Strong remembers the most. And I can't really blame him either. It's probably a lot harder to forget Cult Fiction when you actually had to act it out.

I guess the core question is this. Does the fact that Shawn is an unrealistically tortured mess automatically neuter his development arcs? Sure he complains all the time, but incredibly awful shit is constantly happening to him. So maybe it depends how far your suspension of disbelief can go. I honestly don't know. Maybe I just have to watch the series a few more times.

There was some debate about Shawn's placement in the ranking early on, but Girl Meets World pretty much dissolves any chance of debating this placement. After his growth as an adult, his continued relationship with Cory, his new relationships with Maya and (in particular) Katy, on top of everything from Boy Meets World, he is unambiguously in the top two.

3. George Feeny

Copying from a comment I wrote earlier, for Feeny I wanted to talk about his running theme of love, in particular when he lectures Cory in the pilot, "You SHREWD little observer of the human condition, having lived SO little, have already figured out the greatest mystery in the universe?" Or something like that, that's from memory. And in City Slackers his romantic diary helps Shawn finally relate to him, Eric consistently relates to him in romantic matters, it goes on and on. It's not his most important character trait, but it doesn't get the recognition it deserves so I wanted to shine some light on it. This short paragraph is obviously still not the recognition it deserves, but hopefully you'll keep an eye open for it the next time you watch the show.

We all know why Feeny is great. He's a legend. People who barely watch this show know who he is and they love him. More importantly, they love what he represents. And if absolutely nothing else, this show managed to convince people of the importance of great teachers. Girl Meets World tried to do that and mostly failed, so let's not make the mistake of thinking it's a minor accomplishment. 

I keep thinking that I should start this epic description of Feeny being this teacher who's stern but fair but wise but kind and so on, but you guys know all that already. This isn't baby's first Feeny discussion, and the real heart of the truth is that he means something special to all of us. I'm not going to tell you what makes him special because you already know. Even if it's different from what makes him special to me. 

As far as the rankings go, like Christian says in the Eric section, his influence reaches far and wide. To everyone. Except Amy. He is a relentless force for good and wisdom for seven straight seasons, and that kind of consistency should honestly be impossible. Ultimately, he's behind Shawn and Cory because he's never really the focus. The show isn't about Feeny. He does still meet the world on occasion, thanks to the other fellows on this list, but not enough to be placed above Cory or Shawn. 

4. Eric Matthews

With the possible exception of Will Friedle, there is no one who likes Eric Matthews more than I do. But Eric had to be fourth. Is he the funniest character on this, a comedy show? Absolutely. Without question. But while he's always funny, and usually hilarious, the facts are that the truly great Eric existed in only two seasons: Season 4 and 5. Season 1 is basically a different guy, Season 2 and 3 feel like beta-versions, Season 6 started to go downhill, and Season 7 hit the bottom of the hill and crashed and burned. The Eric we got in GMW was sort of a grab-bag of the different kinds of Eric, but ultimately more latter days Eric than anything else.

Shawn wasn't always consistently written either, but he usually was, and he did feel like he had one long arc - even if that arc involved him having to re-learn lessons a lot, and even if that arc involved him being awfully annoying at times. Eric's Season 3 to 4 arc is, in my opinion, better told than Shawn's was on his best day. But it lacked the consistency, the longevity, the overall impact, and the legacy of Shawn's arc. 

Plus day-to-day, Shawn was usually just more important. The strength of Eric is how he could be used in any situation and bounce off any character and be fun. So, they often have him bounce off people in B stories, because usually Cory and Shawn are leading the A story. So he just feels less focused on. It's mainly a show about Cory going to school, and half the time Cory and Eric weren't in the same school. That's gonna mean less Eric.

Eric and Feeny was closer, but ultimately the show's focus on the importance of teachers and mentors (embodied by Feeny) the way he ultimately has become kind of a pop culture teacher icon, and his lasting legacy of the same on GMW pushed him over the edge. Plus, really, I think Feeny winds up with more significant well-developed relationships on BMW than Eric does. Eric barely interacts with half the cast. Feeny interacts with everyone.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sean's Shameless Self Promotion

Hey everyone, I know you're still waiting for the top 4, but in the meantime I've been very active on youtube the last couple months. So if you like the Kingdom Hearts series and/or profanity and/or me, definitely check out my channel

There aren't actually any animations, sadly, but still. At least subscribe to make me feel good about myself. You all are an awesome and dedicated audience, and I'd hate to lose you.

That's all for now, have a great summer!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sean!

Who's a birthday boy? Who's a big birthday boy? It's Sean! He's turning.... jesus, 25? Is that really right? He's only 25. Fuck, that guy. Also, did you know he just got into DARTMOUTH for grad school? Talk about a big grown-up birthday boy!

In celebration of Sean, I was going to suggest you watch a Shawn Hunter birthday episode! But... I don't actually think there is one, is there? He's like the only character who doesn't get one.

So instead watch Cory's birthday episodes, "Kid Gloves" and "Wheels"
Topanga's birthday episode, "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred Pound Men."
Eric's birthday episode, "Stormy Weather"
Alan's birthday episode, "Family Trees"
Amy's birthday episode, "City Slackers" (Fittingly for our Amy, this episode has nothing to do with the fact that it's her birthday, but it actually does take place on Amy's birthday)
Maya's birthday episode, "Girl Meets Master Plan"

Did I miss any others? And yeah, yeah, I know. Characters 1-4. 

It's me. I'm a big grown up birthday boy. 

Do any of those listed episodes tell us about Shawn's attitude toward birthdays? I think we can all predict his edgy dismissal of celebrating, but it would be nice to know for sure.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

20 Greatest Meets World Characters: #5. Alan Matthews

#5. Alan Matthews

Played By: William Russ (1993-2000, 2014, 2017)
Episode Count:  132 (130- BMW, 2- GMW)
Role: Matthews family patriarch
Signature Episodes: On the Fence, Father Knows Less, The Father/Son Game, Kid Gloves, Career Day, Stormy Weather, You Can Go Home Again, I Ain't Gonna Spray Lettuce No More, Wheels, Security Guy, Raging Cory, Better than the Average Cory, Cutting the Cord, The Honeymoon is Over, Pickett Fences, I'm Gonna Be Like You Dad

Where to even start? Genius though my other posts undoubtedly were, I must confess I never really gave them all that much though. We gave the rankings themselves plenty of thought, and ample discussion, so I basically just kind of restated my explanations and reasonings and could crack them out in 10-15 minutes. But now we're looking at the Big Five, not just the greatest five characters in the Meets World universe, but also the five who mean the most to me. They're great for so many reasons, with so many examples I could share, that I confess I'm a little intimidated for the three it's my responsibility to write about. Especially since, as in the case of Alan, I'm also tasked with explaining why I didn't rank him higher.

Sean and I have both waxed endlessly about how Alan is the perfect TV dad. He existed in the age of '90s sitcom dads in which all fathers were some degree of oafish. Benign idiots (usually fat, but with far hotter wives) who were prone to laziness, comical pratfalls and bad, out-of-touch advice. If there's any competent help or advice to come from the parents in these shows, it generally comes from the mother. I've read articles on this phenomenon in the past, and most sources seem to point to Homer Simpson as who really popularized this trope, but from Al Bundy to Danny Tanner to Tim Taylor to Carl Winslow it really affects just about everyone. It didn't use to be the way the world worked, TV fathers of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s were often almost preternaturally wise, and it's thought that the instinct to avert that trope caused another one to come to light.

Whatever the genesis of it, Alan Matthews isn't having any of that. Alan feels like a real dad, he works hard, he gives great advice, he cares deeply for his children, and he scares the shit out of them when they're in trouble. He's not perfect, by any means. He makes mistakes and his first instinct isn't always correct. Sometimes he even mistreats his children and needs to be told by Amy or even them that he's doing so. But he always means well, and if he does screw up, he corrects it right away. Sure, he's sometimes a little oafish, and sometimes a little out-of-touch. Dads are like that sometimes. But I don't know any fathers who are defined by that. Mine certainly wasn't. My father (and I think most) chart a course like Alan does: day-to-day he's less likely to nag you about little things like picking up your room or doing your homework, but if you really get in trouble, he's who you have to deal with, and you're not going to like it. That was exactly the dynamic Alan had with Eric and Cory, and it really felt true. Sean's fond of Eric's quote from "Uncle Daddy": "You think he likes yelling at us all the time? He doesn't. He hates it." and it is a good one. But another part I like from that episode is the little B-Story he has with Cory, because it feels really real. Cory gets in trouble for Alan running out of gas because he didn't fill up the tank. Later, the reverse happens, Alan forgot to fill up the gas tank and Cory ran out of gas. When Cory complains about the hypocrisy (a valid complaint) is Alan embarrassed? Contrite? Does he resolve never to punish Cory like that again like Danny Tanner probably would have? No. He gives a mocking apology and eventually gets annoyed that Cory's even complaining about this. And that also feels like a real dad thing to do, even if it's annoying. By show of hands, how many of you ever  tried to point out how it's unfair that your parent doesn't get in trouble for something you get in trouble for? And how many ever got anywhere with that argument?

And because William Russ is a trained actor, not a stand-up comedian turned actor like most TV sitcom dads of the era, he feels that much more like a real guy. There's a salt-of-the-earth nature to his performance, where I just really believe this is a real guy, more than perhaps everyone else. For a sitcom dad (particularly on a sitcom that focused primarily on the children, as opposed to something like Home Improvement or Everybody Loves Raymond that focused more on the adults) he has a remarkably rich backstory. He grew up poor and was in trouble a lot, much like Shawn, and given the time period never wound up going to college, instead going to the Navy where he was an amateur boxer. After he got out of the navy, he had big dreams, but wound up starting a family fairly young, taking a job at a grocery store to make ends meet, and somehow time got away from him and it took him until his 40s to figure out what those dreams were. It's a beautifully real backstory, and helps us truly feel like I know him. 

And because we know him so well, it breaks our heart in episodes where unthinkingly selfish Cory and Eric do things that make him feel like he's not good enough. When I see him watch home videos of Cory after they've fought, or when Cory tells his father he's not special because of him, or when they blow off the baseball game he's all excited for, I absolutely ache for him. Especially for him. When Cory or Eric get upset, they're going to cry and moan and tell you how upset they are. But Alan's a grown-up from a different generation, and he doesn't get to do it. Instead he suffers silently and stoically, and it's so compelling because of William Russ. Conversely, when he tells Eric and Cory that he's proud of them, it feels so real that, by God, you feel like you you did something. I feel, without a doubt, he's the best actor on this show - and this is a show with William Daniels on it. 

What I find just as compelling is the wonderful specificity of his relationships with his very different sons. Most TV fathers treat all their children the same, and treating children equally is generally seen as the "right" thing to do. But parents are human, and can't do that. And, anyway, Eric and Cory (and I know Alan has two other children, but obviously his relationships with them were far less focused on) are very different and act differently. He's more of a buddy to Eric, who like him is a bit more outdoorsy than Cory and is also, let's face it, more fun, and thus they're generally closer. But he also has trouble taking Eric seriously and can't quite shake the perception that he can't take care of himself and needs Alan to take care of things for him. His relationship with Cory is very different, maybe because he was older and more grown up when he was born. They're also close but he's Cory's father first and his buddy second. And because Cory is a bit more independent than Eric, and more introspective and questioning about things, he also feels more comfortable challenging him and fighting with him if he needs to. This naturally lead to one son who took far too long to grow up and another who grew up maybe even too fast. The complexity of this dynamic, and the way Alan comes to terms with it, is fascinating. This is in stark contrast to Amy, who's generally just.... nice, happy, wise mom to everyone and in equal measures (well, until she starts despising Eric, but let's ignore that...)

I don't know, I could go on, but I don't think I need to. Alan is a really, really great character, and an amazingly real look at your average middle-class father. So, why isn't Alan higher? The obvious reasons, I guess. I mean, if you look at the predictions everyone made for Alan in the top 5, pretty much everyone had him last too. He's just not as important as the other four. He's got a lot a wealth of great episodes that I listed as his signatures, but in most of the rest he generally isn't given all that much to do. He's amazingly impactful to Cory and Eric (and Shawn, who I realize I didn't talk as much about, but their relationship, the level of inherent understanding between them, and the fierceness with which Alan comes to Shawn's defense when need be is fantastic) but Feeny has just as much of an impact on Cory, arguably even more on Eric and Shawn, and also inspires every other character on the show too, including Alan himself. And while he grows and changes a lot more than a lot of other characters in the show (particularly among the adults) he just.... obviously doesn't as much as Cory, Eric, and Shawn do. They're who the show's about. 

And then there's Girl Meets World where he's barely seen and contributes absolutely nothing of value. So, it kind of becomes a no-brainer. But considering how poorly he's utilized in GMW (far less than randoms like Minkus and Harley, which is really pretty unconscionable) , it just goes to show you what a momentous force he is in the original series.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

20 Greatest Meets World Characters: #6. Riley Matthews

#6. Riley Matthews

Played By: Rowan Blanchard (2014-2017)
Episode Count:  72
Role: Titular 'Girl', Cory and Topanga's daughter
Signature Episodes: Girl Meets World, Girl Meets First Date, Girl Meets the New World, Girl Meets Yearbook, Girl Meets Semi-Formal, Girl Meets Rileytown, Girl Meets Rah Rah, Girl Meets New Year, Girl Meets Jexica, Girl Meets the Real World

Riley is by no means a perfect character. It seems like a lot of you guys thought she might be lower ranked than this, and in particular, most seemed to think Maya would be ranked higher. I definitely don't think this should be, and it's for a few reasons. One, importance. There's a whole show about her. Maybe it wasn't always successful in the way she's depicted, but she's still focused on so much that by default she winds up mattering a great deal, and at the end of the day, she's become the new character on GMW that I care the most about. 

Another is individuality, while Maya is essentially a Shawn a clone, Riley is really her own thing. She has some traits she inherited from both her parents, but her core identity - the optimism, the cheeriness, the sunshine-and-rainbows goofiness is unique to every character in the Meets World universe besides one-shot Corinna like Sean mentioned. In the comments, it was mentioned that she was meant to be the Cory, and I agree she was probably meant to be that, but on the strength of Rowan's performance it became something new.  Cory's nothing like Riley. Eric's more like Riley than Cory is, as Sean and I have mentioned a lot. Cory's signature trait is neuroses, he's always freaking out because he thinks the world's falling apart, he's upset and anxious about everything. This is the exact opposite of Riley. But she did inherit the trend to micro-manage her friend's lives to keep everything perfect from him. And she inherited a tendency to work really hard in school and dominate her problems with sheer personality from Topanga. But in someways she's her own beast. And I really like that about her. I like that we're seeing someone new tackle these problems. In the first episodes, she is written a bit more like a girl Cory, but I think the writers learned quickly what Rowan's strengths were as an actress, and that they were different from Ben Savage's. Rowan's funniest when she's happy, Ben's funniest when he's not. And they worked with it and built a character it was great to spend time with.

Her strength as a comedian brings me to her last trait. Pound for pound, Riley is the funniest character in Girl Meets World, and this is a sitcom. Eric is her only competition, in that he's got the best humor-per-line rate, but he doesn't have a lot of lines. Maya's funny too, but Sabrina's main gifts were in dramatic stuff. Farkle and Lucas are rarely funny. Zay's great, and funny too, but no way he did he make me laugh anywhere near as often. Riley is legitimately hilarious a lot, and I'm sure if the MVP awards are totaled (and they will be) that Rowan has the most handily. She's just good, a lot. Her development isn't always great, but she's almost always enjoyable anyways and, unlike Maya, she doesn't just feel like she's doing a not-as-compelling version of someone else's story. 

There, of course, things to quibble about with her. I would have liked to explore her interests more, and they dropped the ball with her and romance entirely. But all in all Riley anchors this show, and for the most part, as an anchor, she works. And that was a tall order, and one I was skeptical about. Riley proved me wrong. She's getting a lot of leeway here for being the only central character of a show in the franchise besides Cory, and while great, she's not exceptional in a way that would allow her to pass up the epic supporting characters who will rank ahead of her, but all in all Riley works and of all the problems GMW had, Riley being who they had to center their show around was never one of them. 

I'd like to add on that one of my biggest early problems with Riley was that she wouldn't be able to function without Maya. Like her day to day life would completely fall apart if Maya weren't supporting her and giving her an outlet for her endless energy. World of Terror 3 is a standout episode for me because it proved that wrong. Riley turned out to be headstrong and confident and independent all on her own, and that really made me think about her differently.

5 characters left. THE TOP 5! Look, you know who they are, we know who they are. It's Alan, Cory, Eric, Feeny, Shawn (listed here in alphabetical order)... but what will the order be? FINAL PREDICTIONS PEOPLE!