Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Word About Eric Matthews

Let's get one thing straight: I love Eric Matthews. He's my favorite character from Boy Meets World by leaps and bounds, one can not even see second place finisher Cory from Eric's lofty position. Indeed, Eric is probably one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. He's hilarious, touching, and just plain fun to watch at almost every interval. And the thought of more Eric was one of the first things that entered my mind when I heard about Girl Meets World in the first place.

But from everything I've heard or seen about the episode featuring his return, "Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels", I'd sort of rather it didn't happen. I'd take no Eric before I'd welcome that Eric.

My favorite seasons of Boy Meets World are the middle seasons - say, Seasons 3 through 5, with Season 4 representing, for me, the absolute pinnacle of the series. Cory, Shawn, Feeny, Topanga, Alan, it's everyone at their best, it's hilarious, and the cast hasn't been infused with weaker characters like Jack, Rachel, and Angela. And it's in that season that Eric truly shines. He's still hilarious and eccentric and off-kilter, but he's also... a person with struggles. A young man who'd grown up and slid through life doing the bare minimum, getting by with good looks, charms, wit, and the help of friends and family. Suddenly he was thrown into the real world and is forced to sink or swim - learning that no one's going to bail him out and all that 'hidden potential' he'd heard so much about doesn't mean dick if you don't do anything with it. And so, he was forced to pick himself up by his boot straps and make his life be what he wanted it to be. It was a tremendously written arc, made Eric a serious character, and yet... it diminished his hilarity not one bit. This was the season of The Good Lookin' Guy, the season of "Shallow Boy", the season of him wanting to join a cult for the hugs. Eric could be a real person and the show's biggest source of comedy.

And then, of course, well, we know what happened. All of Eric's humanity was stripped away in favor of being a complete and legitimate psychopath. No one like Eric of Season 7 could possibly exist, and if he did, everyone would hate him and have him committed. All serious and emotional arcs got shifted over to Shawn, and Eric was left with nothing. And "Plays With Squirrels" represents this totally. Is it funny? Absolutely. It was a funny way for Eric to have ended up in a FAKE future in ONE episode for ONE scene. Great stuff.

But all indications from the episode title and a recently released cast picture imply that this is the fate that Eric Matthews ACTUALLY ended up with. 150+ episodes of character development, of growing and struggling... and yeah, he's just a hermit who married a moose and hides lollipops in his beard. But nevermind that it's a waste of Eric's potential and hard work, nevermind that Eric only became a hermit because everyone stopped being friends and that future was kept from happening, nevermind that it was a fictional dream sequence anyway that was never meant to be taken as Eric's real fate, nevermind that the original series, for all its flaws, still sent him off into the world as a successful college graduate, moving to New York, free of some of his handicaps like always relying on his dad to bail him out. Nevermind all that.

The real reason for my rage is that I missed Eric. We all missed Eric. It's been Eric the fans of Boy Meets World have been clamoring to get back. We care about HIM, the guy we knew for, like, 70 hours worth of story, not the joke fantasy character he played once for 10 minutes at the end of the show. Should Cory have come back as Cora the sassy waitress? Should Shawn have come back as Strider, his Kid Gets Acquanted With the Universe counterpart? No. We missed Cory and Shawn. Yes, Plays With Squirrels was really funny. But it was funny in context. Not because suddenly that's how we all wanted Eric to be forever.

I had hopes that this show might redeem the travesty that Eric became, but if he really is playing Plays With Squirrels (and they're REALLY making it look like he is) then it's worse than I could have possibly imagined and I legitimately feel betrayed by Michael Jacobs, Will Friedle, and everyone involved. I can't imagine being able to stomach this show further. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this is all a misunderstanding. Subterfuge to mask the real plot. I hope so. But I'm not feeling optimistic.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Impossibly Long Episode Review: "Girl Meets Home for the Holidays"

Episode Title: "Girl Meets Home For The Holidays"
Episode Number: 16
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: Huh. This is more or less original. I guess we do get to see some developments in threads begun in Season 6's "Cutting the Cord" (Alan as an older dad to Josh), Season 5's "A Very Topanga Christmas" (How will Topanga deal with Cory's family's traditions), and Season 7's "It's About Time" (Shawn's feelings about Cory moving on with Topanga)
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: No class again! God bless us, everyone!

Episode Review: 

Well, folks, this is obviously a big episode so it's going to get the royal treatment. The more capsule-sized reviews will remain how things go, mostly, but for Special Episodes like this one, they'll get the MEGA reviews where I walk through it beat by beat. Saddle up.

It's Christmas (like with Halloween, the holiday episode is airing way early in the month) and the Matthews are getting ready. In quick succession, and some mildly funny bits, we learn that Amy, Alan, Maya, and Shawn are all spending Christmas with them and that Amy is expected to be an over-bearing mother-in-law (more on that later) and that Cory is, naturally, over the moon about Shawn's presence. In one bit, he proclaims that the "Cory-and-Shawn-4-evah" ornament will be placed on top of the "Cory and Topanga wedding ornament."

I'm going to pause here. Obviously, anyone with even a passing knowledge of the characters of Boy Meets World knows that Cory and Shawn are heterosexual life partners. They adore each other to a manic degree, sulk like jilted lovers when they're in a fight, and in general participate in activities (including snuggling, having casual conversations under the covers in bed, etc.) that would suggest romantic feelings where none actually exist. And we love it. We adore it. It's great stuff. Cory loves and needs Shawn just as much, if not more, than he needs Topanga, and none of us have a problem with that. And I like to see jokes about it. And some of the jokes in this one to that effect in this are funny.

What I like less though is something Boy Meets World only did occasionally, and this episode does a lot - portraying Cory as not just loving Shawn, but treating everyone else with callous and willful disdain because they are not Shawn. Cory didn't HAVE to cover up Topanga's ornament with Shawn and his, he could have put it elsewhere on the tree, but he made a big show of going like "Hey, fuck off Topanga, you're not as good as Shawn." Later on, he'll make a big show of pointing out how Shawn is his favorite person in the world and not Topanga. When he and Shawn embrace upon Shawn's arrival, he literally almost suffocates his son as a result. Topanga makes references throughout the episode about this bothering her and Cory ignores them. And less you think this is all just for laughs, the serious and main plot of this episode is how Riley feels ignored and ostracized by "Uncle" Shawn who is, legitimately, kind of a dick to her, and Cory is dismissive of Riley's feelings. That's not cute. It just makes Cory a piece of shit.

Okay. Back to the episode. Maya shows up, professing to believe Shawn doesn't even exist just to get Cory riled up, which is funny. Maya's great. And if you need further proof of Cory' dickness, Riley mentions to Maya upon her arrival that she doesn't think Shawn likes her, with Cory standing right there. Cory's response? Saying "Riley!" and then dropping the subject, rather than acting like her fucking father and letting her know that it's not that this beloved family friend doesn't like her, it's that he's a self-absorbed angsty tool who is incapable of controlling his emotions for long enough to be polite to a 13-year-old girl (but more on that later)

Buzzer goes off and Cory thinks it's Shawn, but it's Alan and Amy, Alan getting a funny bit about neither Cory nor Amy understanding that people can hear them when they're using a speaker box that only elicits weak laughter from the audience. Fuck all y'all, studio audience. So, okay, you guys - Alan Matthews rocks. Probably my all time favorite TV father. He's such a great character. He has tons of values and life advice and teaches great lessons like many TV fathers, but he also has dashes of realism and humanity that I think elevate him over a Cliff Huxtable (fallen idol though he now is) or a Danny Tanner or something. He messed up sometimes, struggled with feelings of inadequacy, was sometimes surly and unapproachable, showed accidental favoritism toward his eldest son that he tried to compensate for and adjust once it became clear. And occasionally rather than get all huggy and overly-supportive he gave his kids a (metaphorical) kick in the ass because his sons were both spoiled brats (who are nonetheless two of my favorite TV characters of all time, don't get me wrong) and deserved it. While no man's fool, he didn't have Feeny's intellect and so he lacked the ability to inspire as beautifully through clever lessons and florid speeches. But he showed up, and he worked hard, and he demonstrated what it means to stand up for yourself and those you love and do the right thing. He didn't always have much to do, and he had less and less to do as the show went on, but he always rocked. Amy? She's fine too. But they didn't give her the material they gave Alan.

So, they're in this episode. But they sort of might as well not be. In fact, if you want to see this show's attention to Shawn in lieu of the also present Amy and Alan as a metaphor of what became of Boy Meets World, then it's actually brilliant! I don't resent the show featuring Shawn way more than Amy and Alan. He's Shawn. He is more important than Amy and Alan and, as much as I love them, I obviously care more about Shawn. Still, maybe they could have split the Amy/Alan/Joshua episode with the Shawn episode, to give them both more time. Because Amy and Alan just feel like shadows of themselves, here only to facilitate the introduction of Joshua. Alan's only arc is, I guess, that he's aged from the last time we've seen him? Which... ouch. As for Amy... hey, remember how she was an overbearing has-to-have-everything-be-just-so control freak of a mom and mother-in-law? No? That doesn't sound like her at all? Well, it's how they portray her now. It's like the person who wrote Amy's dialogue never actually saw her in action and only knows that she's Topanga's mother-in-law. Again, Amy was not as well-developed a character as Alan (who, bad material aside, does basically feel like himself in this episode except he should be beating the shit out of Josh more) so maybe it's a by-product of that, but there's still things that do or do not sound like what she'd do. Still, it's nice to see them.

The audience oohs-and-ahhs with delight at the arrival of Joshua even though he's played by someone we've never seen before. I'm glad they didn't forget about him and I'm glad his age seems about right. I guess he would've been a pretty big thing to forget about, but, honestly, there was never any serious point to his existence, he just seemed like something for Amy and Alan to be up to after Cory left for college, so I tended to forget about him too. Cory, Alan, and Josh exposit what the deal is with Josh and why he's so much younger than Cory, and Josh seems to really enjoy (or else is covering his insecurity about) the fact he was an accident because he doesn't stop talking about it all episode and, like, teasing his dad about it which is a weird thing to tease someone about. He basically teases everyone all episode because he's supposed to be totally radical with '90s style 'tude. He's basically the kind of kid who would have been in an Apple Jacks or Cinnamon Toast Crunch commercial in 1997 making fun of his lame parents or lame teachers for not getting why he loves this cereal. I'm surprised he didn't ride in on a skateboard. That's Josh.

And Maya's immediately smitten. Josh, for his part, kind of flirts with her a bit which is sketchy since Maya's 13 and he's at least 16 judging by the fact that he was just outside parking the car. Three years may not seem like a big gap, but I think it is when one of them's 13. Also, like, you're at a family Christmas party, dude, ease up. This is also the first time we've seen Maya be all 'boy crazy' and I'm not into it. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually like her chemistry better with Lucas than Josh, since it feels more organic and not as calculated. I know I'm giving Josh a hard time, but he's not so bad. Regardless of what I said before, as an individual character I still like him better than Lucas. At least he's not bland, and the actor's better.

AND LOOK WHO IT IS NOW OH MY GOD IT'S SHAWN HUNTER. So, yeah, obviously, I'm very excited Shawn's in this episode. I love Shawn. I don't Eric-love him or even Cory-love him, and sometimes he got on my nerves, but I still love him, and it hasn't felt right him not being around yet, so it's very exciting. And, in general, Shawn's handled exactly right. When I first heard about this, I made up in my head where I thought the characters should all be, and Shawn's situation is EXACTLY how I envisioned it. I didn't think he should be married with kids, I didn't want his kid and Cory's kid to be best friends,  I didn't think he should be settled down at all, I certainly didn't want him back together with Angela (both because I don't much care for her but mainly because that would have been cheesy and lame). I thought Shawn should still be out there trying to find what he's looking for. And traveling photojournalist (his future occupation in "Seven The Hard Way") seemed perfect for him - combining the photography interest that came up in Seasons 5 and 6 and I believe was technically his one-timed-mentioned major, along with the writing interest that came up in the poetry episode, all while giving him a professional excuse for not putting down roots. And besides that, he does feel like Shawn - the good and the bad. The writing for him is pretty good, and, unlike Danielle Fishel and even occasionally Ben Savage, Rider Strong simply hasn't missed a beat. This is to be expected as he was always the strongest actor of the trio, and he's worked the most since Boy Meets World ended.

So, Shawn sneaks in and casually takes a seat on the couch, surprising Cory in a bit that I think would have been more effective if they'd let it go on a little longer and if Shawn's line of dialogue alerting Cory to his presence was just casually contributing to the conversation rather than "Thought you'd be more excited to see me!" and drawing attention to himself. But that's nitpicky. It's still fun. Shawn reunites with everyone too (and Josh's Coolness gets name-checked when Shawn tells him he's almost as cool as him thereby telling the audience 'See? Shawn thinks Josh is cool! So, he's cool! Like him!')

Then it's time for Riley and Shawn to say hi. There's tension, but Riley gamely greets him politely and Shawn basically cold shoulders her and goes off with Cory. And that simply is not cool. She's a little girl. Shawn's a grown-ass man. I get why he's acting this way, and I don't blame him for feeling weirded out by how much Cory and he don't have in common anymore and how Riley could represent that for him. But I also don't care. You're not rude and dismissive to a little girl, let alone your best friend's daughter. It bugs me that Shawn would be so self-centered that he'd feel justified to act like that, and it bothers me even more that Cory more or less lets him get away with it. It doesn't ruin the episode or anything, but it certainly casts a pall over it. It's not that the show doesn't treat Shawn's actions as rude, they do, it clearly hurts Riley's feeling and Maya is outraged on her behalf.

So, Cory and Shawn catch up and it's fun and there's a lot of meta stuff - Cory wants Shawn to move into the apartment right above them but Shawn protests this is not a TV show (Missed opportunity, Cory could have responded to Shawn's declaration with: "Trust me, it's the same thing.") and that he's not Cory's wacky neighbor, addressing the kinds of ideas fans seemed to have for Shawn in this show. Cory, on the other hand, lays out what would have been his (and probably the fans') preferred spinoff scenario: a show that's just about Cory and Shawn going on adventures in New York. He and Shawn then improvise a hilarious theme song for such a show, and it's all great. I particularly like the "and nobody talks but them" portion which also draws attention to how no one but main cast members and featured guest stars ever have lines on this show.

Then, like, the rest of the episode is the show telling us over and over about Riley-and-Maya are the new Cory-and-Shawn and they really beat us over the head with it and I'm having flashbacks to the "It's not my world! It's your world!" crap from the pilot which was bad. We figured out Riley and Maya were the new Cory and Shawn on our own, we didn't need it explained to us. And we don't need it explained to it this often with Shawn and Maya continuously saying the same things as each other or finding out that they have the same interests as each other or the same backstory as each other. C'mon, trust your audience a little bit. There's still some funny bits (Cory trying to make them be able to reach each other's minds and Shawn's insistence that they actually can not do that) but it's too much of this. Better is when Maya calls Shawn out for making Riley feel bad, she's a badass like that. However, in a very TV way, we go to commercial right when that comes out and then we come back to a different scene and it gets resolved later which means Maya said that to Shawn (in front of Cory) and then Shawn and Cory really just let her and Riley walk away without immediately reassuring the poor girl that Shawn doesn't dislike her.

Oh god. And now Josh is hanging ornaments off a sleeping Alan while making fun of him for being tired and old because he's an obnoxious little brat. Auggie's helping, but it really would have been better if it was just Auggie doing it. Because it's the kind of thing that's funny for a mischievous little boy do but is fucking ridiculous for a god-damn 16-year-old to be doing. It doesn't make him look roguish, it makes him look like a tool.  And I hate how de-fanged Alan has to be in order to let Josh get away with acting like that. Can you imagine if Eric or Cory pulled shit like that? In, I think, "Uncle Daddy" Cory got grounded for forgetting to get gas. Alan was worried that when Josh came of age, he was going to be too old to be the kind of father he used to be with him and, you know what, it kind of looks like that's exactly what happened. And that's sad. He's like 60, not 100.

Cory and Shawn, have adorably, also fallen asleep and are doing their yipping thing from... I don't know... the one where they fall asleep together in Turner's class and do the yipping thing. I love it. But then Maya wakes them up and demands answers about Riley. So again, Maya called Shawn out, Shawn and Cory offered no response and instead went to a different room to take a nap. Again, though, Shawn doesn't really properly explain himself so Riley continues to feel bad. All that's offered is that when Riley lists the litany of things Shawn's never bothered to find about her, one of which is her birthday, Cory points out that Shawn does know her birthday. This gets hammered in a few times and is treated like it means something, like how it turned out Feeny knew all this crap about Shawn that he never would have guessed Feeny knew in "City Slackers." Sounds nice right?

Well, it's not. As we'll find out, Shawn does know Riley's birthday, but it's not because he secretly knows Riley well or loves learning about her. He knows it because it was also a significant day for him because that's the day he decided to be a fucking baby and leave town to go sulk for a decade because Cory and Topanga's lives won't revolve around him anymore. And he acts all proud of himself for knowing the time of day and her weight, when Maya doesn't, like 'Congrats, Shawn. You were there and Maya was barely alive.' And it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't know the answers to any of the other questions Riley asked that are more relevant to who she is than her being a Sagittarius. Fuck off, Hunter.

"Don't worry about it, kids. That's just the only way Shawn knows how to leave rooms."
At dinner, we learn about Shawn's job, and Shawn and Maya seem to begin starting to respect each other and realize how alike they are. Riley demands an answer for a third time, and Shawn and Riley thankfully go off and talk. For a second, though, Shawn gets up from the table after being called out and it seems like, in classic Shawn form, he's leaving the room in an angsty huff and I'm furious for a second, but then he calls for Riley. But it's treated like a surprise like "Can you believe it? Shawn's NOT leaving a room in a huff! Isn't that a twist?"

Anyway, at the stupid bakery I wish Topanga didn't own, Shawn explains to Maya and Riley what his
fucking problem is and it's a stupid problem. Again, I don't blame Shawn for how he feels, I think how he feels is perfectly understandable. Shawn needs Cory even more than Cory needs Shawn, and Riley's the physical manifestation of why they can't be as close as they used to be. But I do blame him for not being able to get a grip on these feelings and not making Riley (or ANYONE) feel bad about it. It's total crap and it's probably the most selfish we've ever seen him. Still, he seems to realize how stupid he's been being, and starts to realize that a child of Cory and Topanga is just another person for him to love.

Cory and Shawn, on Riley's command, have a sit down to talk about how they feel, and it's the best scene in the episode so I'm not going to parse it. The chemistry is really nice, the characters bounce off each other well, it's funny and it's heartwarming and it's great. It's interrupted twice, once by Josh and Auggie - Josh refers to them as Two Grown Men In A Girl's Bedroom Window, which is the funniest thing he does, but then he sings a theme song for that theoretical show which is going to that well once too often (Though Auggie does follow it with a hilariously delivered "I would never watch that show.") Shawn points to Josh and mentions how "The cool uncle's already taken."

So. Just the one uncle then, huh? No other uncles we should be mentioning? Nobody conspicuously absent from his family reunion and not even rating a mention by his brother or his parents or anyone? Okay then. Moving along.

Then Farkle comes and Shawn's reaction to him is hilarious, although I really don't think Farkle and the O.G. Minkus look that much alike. Physically I guess they kind of sort of do - scrawny, bowl haircut - but they just dress and comport themselves so differently. Farkle's fucking Justin Bieber compared to Minkus.

Anyway, it turns out Riley has a secret plan to get Shawn and Maya to be the new Cory and Riley which is sweet and a nice turn on the "____ is the new _____"

Then there's a totally too sappy and un-earned scene where Cory professes his love Topanga and waxes poetic about their life together. It just seems to come out of nowhere, there's no reason for it. Is this him making up for how callous he was being towards her with regards to Shawn? If so, it's not made clear enough, and it feels weird. This show really struggles when things get serious, they can't get the tone right. There's a similar problem when Cory says "I had you at your best" to Alan, and then Josh pops up to be like "No, I have him at his best!" Again, I guess he's trying to make up for being a dick and "Aw, they really do love each other." but it just feels off. However, I will give William Russ credit for his reaction to it. It's exactly how Alan used to react whenever one of his sons said something really poignant or touching to him - a combination of surprise that his kid is saying this to him, slight embarrassment at the display of emotion, and genuine delight that feels really real and touching and 'Dad'-ish.

At the end, Shawn tells him that his next gig is in upstate New York next weekend and he invites Cory and family to come with. Shawn seems to be resolving to be around more, and to take an interest in Riley and Maya, which is good, so now I don't have to be mad at Shawn anymore. And thankfully this doesn't seem to be idle talk - while this season's almost over we do have one more Shawn appearance, and it sounds like he's going to be an even bigger part of Season 2 - with Eric returning too (that topic's going to get its own post tomorrow), as well a real Feeny appearance, and more of the parents. This makes me happy, and  iscloser to what I think Girl Meets World needs to be.  It needs to stand on its own, and I know the non-Cory-and-Topanga originals can't be in every episode, or even most of them, but we do need a little more than we've been getting
and Harley and Minkus, I'm sorry, didn't quite cut it. To not focus on the Boy Meets World characters is to defeat the purpose of making this a sequel to it in the first place.

As for this episode? I was rough on it, but it was ultimately good. It's not the best episode of the series (that's still "Girl Meets Maya's Mother") but it was the episode that made me happiest. Plus, two weeks in a row with no awful school scenes, no Cory The Shitty Teacher, only minimal Farkle, and no Lucas whatsoever? It really is Christmas!

Episode Rating: B+
Episode MVP: Rider Strong, of course.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Brother"

So, I think the solution to the problem of my lack of interest is just to do shorter/less intense episode reviews. Not an episode-by-episode walkthrough requiring me to re-watch it all and take notes as I go, but just a general summation.

Episode Title: "Girl Meets Brother"
Episode Number: 15
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: There are a few episodes in BMW that deal with one of the Matthews brothers feeling jilted by the other, but I actually think the closest analogue is actually "Brotherly Shove" way out near the end of the series. Despite the differences in Cory and Eric's stage of life then vs. Riley and Auggie's stage of life now, Auggie still plays the role Eric did - jealous of their sibling rather than spending time with their friends than him, especially in an activity that was supposed to be just the two of them. 
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: None! No class! Yay! 

Episode Review: This was a pretty good episode, one that restored a modicum of faith in me after the one-two punch of train wrecks, in my opinion, that were "Girl Meets Flaws" and "Girl Meets Friendship". Maybe I'll get around to doing mini-reviews of them (I probably should) but if I don't, suffice to say they were both bad. "Girl Meets Flaws" took an insultingly simplistic look at the very real problem of bullying that helps absolutely no one and in no way reflects real life (it's subplot of Riley wanting an award for being special and ending up getting the bestest award of all at the ceremony was equally insulting) and "Girl Meets Friendship" was just a horrendously written clusterfuck. 

But this episode? Not bad. Not bad at all. Not perfect by any means, but a lot of this worked. Cory and Topanga felt like themselves, were pretty well written and funny, and felt like pivotal parts of the show. It focused on the Matthews family (+Maya, which is fine) and that's a FAR stronger part of this series than the school stuff and class stuff is. The school scenes are just so badly written, and they move Cory rather abruptly from the best part about the show into one of the worst parts, and the friendship dynamic still doesn't work either. Maya and Riley's friendship individually works, and in fact works probably better than Cory and Shawn's did 15 episodes into Boy Meets World when Shawn still felt undefined and part of a vague "Cory's gang", but Lucas and Farkle's inclusion into a foursome isn't getting any better. 

In fact, the complete lack of Lucas (and the only minimal inclusion of Farkle, which was just enough of him) was probably part of what made this episode so strong. Riley really shines when he's not around to be an albatross around her neck. I like her much better as goofy, awkward, and painfully square but Lucas in Riley's orbit turns her into a boring generic Disney girl. As discussed, he works a lot better with Maya, but I still think he works best just... not there.

Some negatives? Well, Auggie felt off sometimes. He kept saying like... aggressively sweet and endearing things, and while he does that sometimes, it's not usually as in your face as this ("Riley makes me smiley!") It made him feel a bit less real. 

Oh, and that whole Herbie Hancock thing was lame as all celebrity guests on these shows are when the shows make a big deal about him. Did you instantly recognize him as Herbie Hancock? I didn't. I consider myself at least slightly more with-it about older music than today's preteens, and I couldn't have picked Herbie Hancock out of a line-up if my life depended on it. And yet the audience all clapped and recognized him instantly, and the show played up the wink/wink/nudge/nudge of "Hey, you should play music for a living!" This may have worked if it was, like... I don't know... Elton John or Stevie Wonder or someone more instantly recognizable. But it just felt really forced and uncomfortable and embarassing for everyone. Obviously, Girl Meets World is not going to be get big-name celebrity guests. Just like Boy Meets World, whatever celebrities it gets are going to be random and C-list and not worth the "WOOOs!" we're forced to endure for them. Just don't do it.

I also think we're going to the flashback well a little often. We're half a season in and I think we've now seen that "Cory and Topanga's first kiss" flashback twice, yeah? Drop it. We know what their first kiss looked like. Earn your moments on your own merits. 

Episode Review: A- (I'm trying to keep in mind... the series, for BMW this wouldn't have been an A- episode. But I actually think this was probably the second-best episode of the series after "Girl Meets Maya's Mother")
Episode MVP: I'm going to give it to Rowan Blanchard, but Ben and Danielle were both strong candidates too. 

Oh my god, you guys. Next week? I can't even handle it. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Idefinite Hiatus

How ya doin'?

Just a quick to note that for the time being, I'm going to be taking a hiatus from this. I just... don't enjoy the show. And after tonight's just utter unwatcheable nonsensical garbage episode full of garbage, I just can't reasonably make myself devote enough time to write episode reviews to a show that I just am not enjoying.

I'll still watch. Hopefully it picks up - if it does, maybe this'll change. I'm sure I'll want to review the Shawn episodes.

But yeah, this episode sucked. A couple nice moments with Cory and Topanga, I guess, but in general just godawful. Remember when the 'rebel' kid popped up in the end scene for no reason? Who are you? We don't know you. Since when is providing helpful information to people and seconding Farkle's nomination just to be a pal 'rebellious'? Was he in a story that was cut for time or something? Why the hell is he there? Things just sort of... happened... all episode. No cohesion. No chemistry between anyone. And it felt like four different writers were telling it campfire style bouncing from one to the next and they each had their own story they were telling and it ended up a complete mess.

And then they rode away on a horse.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Episode Review: "Girl Meets The Forgotten"

Episode Title: "Girl Meets the Forgotten"
Episode Number: 12
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: Take the B-plot of Season 4's "Fishing for Virna" with the under-appreciated cafeteria worker with her mashed potatoes (and how that translates to not appreciating your mom) and smash it together with Season 4's "Janitor Dad" about how there's nothing wrong being a janitor, and there you go.
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: The Great Depression, it's okay. I just recently watched a Ken Burns documentary on the Depression and these "Forgotten" never came up. I mean, by name. I mean, is that a real term for a sect of people during that? 

Episode Review: Sorry this took so long, guys. Been very busy. I'm going to try to just power through this one so that I can get to the next one right away and not fall behind.

It's 'Electives Day' at JQA, and electives, in this context, apparently just means one volunteer class you take for a week that you have to come early to sign up for. I feel like this isn't really an 'elective' as I understood them all throughout my educational career, but whatever. Riley's in usual self-absorbed brat mode complaining that Topanga didn't try to wake her up enough, complaining about having to do these electives, complaining about having to go to school and work at the same time which Cory acts like he does too (with a hearty 'How ya doin'?) except... going to school is his work, it's not like he's also got classes to take on top of his job)

Anyway, this whole scene felt very real and definitely harkened back to arguments I would have with my own parents. They were often very dismissive of my complaints when I felt exhausted and overworked because it pales in comparison to how exhausted and overworked they would be, but as a kid of course I couldn't see anything out of my own situation. I make fun of Riley and Maya for being narcissists (and... they are) but in some situations all 12-year-olds are narcissists, and this is one. What I don't believe is later on when Topanga requests Maya and Riley simply bring in groceries and they just refuse and very rudely. No parent would put up with that. 

Also, Danielle Fishel is slowly getting a little better and acting like she's trying. Really, everyone's getting stronger on this show. 

So, in class, they're talking about the Great Depression, which Riley thinks is the same thing as the Grand Canyon which isn't initially funny but becomes funny later on in the lesson when, after Cory describes what it is, she earnests asks "But, that could never happen to anyone in the Grand Canyon today, could it?". So is Riley's thing about her being smart and studious from the beginning of the series just done now? Because she's routinely portrayed as being the least intelligent of the four. Cory tries to get Riley to see that maybe there's someone in her life she hasn't been appreciating but of course Riley cares about nothing in this world that isn't her or Maya so she assumes he's talking about Maya and Cory gets humorously fed up and leaves. Worst class in the world.

There's a surly heavyset cafeteria worker. They don't get along with her and they make fun of her food and they want ANY elective but Cafeteria duty! Farkle and Lucas make the hugest most impossible mashed potato volcano in the world that actually spews geysers and geysers of gravy lava. It creates a big mess and because for the purpose of this episode Lucas is an asshole, he doesn't think he should have to clean it up and thinks someone should do it for him. Enter Janitor Harley.

So. Harley Keiner. We all remember him, recurring bullying presence from Season 2  (and one episode of Season 3) of Boy Meets World, he of the '50s greaser aesthetic and florid Godfather-esque speech. He's back as the Janitor. During the ramp up to this series, obviously, a big concern was on which Boy Meets World characters would be returning, with the big requests obviously focused on Shawn, Eric, and Feeny, and secondarily people like Alan, Amy, Angela, etc. Some of those people will be coming on, which is great. Harley was not someone I think anyone cared about coming back. He wasn't someone I ever expected Cory to really interact with outside of school, nor someone whose story I necessarily needed finished. The last episode we saw him felt like it wrapped him up well enough. Still, sometimes life does work this way. Someone unexpected from your past, who you didn't even like, ends up becoming a more recurring aspect of your life than some close friends or even family. You never know. So, that's fine. 

My problem is that the show doesn't even treat him like a returning character. There's no cue that the audience remembers him, there's nothing in the dialogue that suggests Harley. Take away the one token use of 'Baboon' at the end of the episode, and this janitor character could have been someone else entirely. Now, if Harley has been working there a while, I suppose it is more realistic that Cory and Harley wouldn't be making a big deal about their high school past and catching up because they'd have already covered that, and their relationship is now defined by their current situation. But, they're still TV characters, and I think if you're going to have Harley in a recurring capacity as a janitor, we should have started off with the episode where Harley is hired at JQA to reintroduce us to him and introduce the new people to him entirely. And that could have been a great story! 

How about this: Maybe Harley's fallen on hard times (as one may have predicted he might), and is applying for this janitor position as kind of the last stop on a series of downward turns his life's taken. Cory runs into him in the principal's office and, elated that the shoe's on the other foot now, delights in telling the principal what a bully and creep Harley was and how thoroughly he doesn't recommend him, taking some revenge for all the crap Harley put him through. Harley doesn't get the job. You can juxtapose this with some kid story about giving people another chance too, and Cory could realize it was wrong and childish for him to ruin Harley's life over petty resentment about something from 20 years ago and everyone deserves a second chance, and he goes back to the principal to fight to get Harley hired after all. I think something like that would have been the perfect way to introduce him. Or at least something.

Because as it stands, Harley didn't work for me. He didn't really sound or act like Harley, and because Danny McNulty has aged so much (understandable as he was probably like 30 during Boy Meets World) it was sort of hard to recognize him. I honestly believe if Harley's return hadn't been hyped and if they hadn't referred to the character by name, much of the audience wouldn't have even picked up who he is. And for a character return, that's a problem. I think he's in next week's episode, we'll see if that gets better. There's nothing else interesting about the Harley/Farkle/Lucas story, it's just a mini-version of the Riley/Maya/Lunchlady story, so I'm probably all done talking about it.

The Riley/Maya/Lunchlady story is fun enough. Full of not bad bits of her being surly, and Miley being oblivious. Stand-outs include Riley, who frequently gives Maya silent unprompted adjustments to her look, slowly and scarily walks over the frightening lunch lady to adjust her hat. It lasts like 30 seconds and the audience howls and it is legitimately funny. The point is that the lunch lady is actually hard-working and knows her students' very well (even understanding Maya's financial situation), despite how little they appreciate her. Very much similar to "Fishing for Virna" - hope this one doesn't die on us! Cafeteria duty proves hard (and oddly potato-focused considering their must be other food that also needs preparation) and it's like all that happens all episode and Maya and Riley learn a valuable lesson about appreciating what other people do for them. And now the lunch lady is part of their obnoxious "Stop it!" routine.

Episode Rating: Like a 'B' - it was so-so. Kinda funny, kind of a good lesson, but not great.
Episode MVP: Sabrina Carpenter, I'd say. Rowan Blanchard was great too. The episode belonged to them.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Episode Review: "Girl Meets World: of Terror"

Episode Title: "Girl Meets World: of Terror"
Episode Number: 11 
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: I suppose the closest comparison would be Season 2's "Who's Afraid of Cory Wolf?" which is a Halloween episode also presented as kind of a gothic spooky anthology type situation, with a narrator and everything. It's also cheesy and awful.
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: Y'know, I don't think we saw him teach a lesson in class.

Episode Review: So, I'm trying to bear in mind, for this one, that it's a Halloween episode and Halloween episodes on these kinds of shows are always cheesy and lame. Boy Meets World had two Halloween episodes, "Who's Afraid of Cory Wolf?" and "The Witches of Pennbrook" and neither, particularly "Wolf", was very good  (before you say it, "And Then There Was Shawn" which aired in February, was not a Halloween episode, it just happened to be horror themed - so maybe the key to making a good Halloween episodes is for Halloween not to factor in) So, as much as I didn't enjoy this one, I have to judge it based on what it's *trying* to be. So, let's see how it goes.

So, the premise of this is like an old-timey horror anthology show that used to be popular in the '50s and '60s. The Simpsons does a similar thing every year. It's not one story, it's sort of three separate stories dealing with Farkle's fear, Riley's fear, and Auggie's fear  (though they all have the same continuity and are canonical) with Auggie acting as a host. Though they sort of treat it like he's breaking the fourth wall, we see he's not, he's just talking to a wall hosting a make-believe TV show.

Anyway, Auggie's hosting is kinda cute because he's a little kid and all, but mainly it's cringey and embarassing and the audience is laughing at crap that is painfully not funny. Like, they're all howling at poorly-delivered jokes such as  "My name is Auggie and I'll be your  ghost for this evening." I refuse to believe any of this laughter. And it's a shame I ditched the "How Ya Doin'?" count, because we get this series' most epic one when Auggie forces Topanga to say hi to the audience and she says it right to the camera TWICE. What a fitting bon voyage to the "How Ya Doin'?" count. What's with them and this line though? Seriously. It was said in Boy Meets World, but not to this degree.

So, it's Halloween at school. The Fab Four are dressed up like... Final... Fantasy... characters? People from some sort of dystopian steampunk anime maybe? I have no idea. But it's definitely a theme, and it's strange and fits none of them except maybe Farkle. Speaking of Farkle, he's afraid of gym class and the possibility of getting hit by a softball. Because they're all playing softball... in doors... in their Halloween costumes. The in-doors things is at least justified because it's raining outside (though one would think that, for one day, they'd switch to an in-door activity like basketball) but why aren't these kids in gym clothes? They're going to get their costumes all sweaty! And I would think many would be in costumes that make playing softball very cumbersome.

Yeah, so, the whole scene takes forever and basically the point is Farkle's afraid to be at bat, Maya intimidates him, Lucas hits him with a softball on purpose so he realizes it'll barely hurt even if he does get hit, and Farkle can play softball now. A third of the episode is basically spent on this scene. It's not good, although Riley has funny moments, as she often does when she's on the sidelines of things and doesn't drive story. But otherwise? No good. Although, at least Cory wasn't the gym teacher. At the end, pretty-boy teenager Lucas gives Farkle some finger guns and goes "Trick-or-treat tonight?" and Farkle agrees. These kids are still trick-or-treating? Lame. 

Riley's next up. Auggie's introduces this next segment with Alfred Hitchcock reference which I'm sure their target demo wouldn't get. So, in the halls after gym class, Riley and Maya are planning their Halloween night and Maya wants to host their annual sleepover at her place, rather than at Riley's, but apparently Riley's deathly afraid of Maya's apartment and apparently every time she tries to sleepover she ends up secretly calling Cory in the middle of the night to pick her up.  "I wake up every morning and you're not there," Maya says. "It makes me feel bad." Yeah, but you still see her. Sounds like I could start getting away with the ol' "Sorry, baby, I had to take off because your room is scary!" routine. Thanks, Riles! Gal after my own heart. Hard to believe she's Cory and Topanga's daughter with Shawn Hunter moves like that.

It takes a while for them to get to the reason for Riley's fear of Maya's place (since the episode spends a lot of times with silly things like weird shadows on the wall or Farkle-in-a-mask being what's scaring Riley) but they eventually seem to elude to the fact that it's this part of town, and Maya's comparative poverty, that freaks out Riley. But they tip-toe around the issue and I wish they'd confronted that head on. I also wish they hadn't used a stock image of Union Square as representing where Maya's apartment is as well.

So, it's bed time at Maya's place but Riley's all scared. First she's scared of the shadows on the wall that show a bunny, then a larger bunny, then some sort of gargantuan monster mutant bunny. But Maya shows her how it's just the shadow from the sign of the new bunny store across the street. Silly Riley! Use your head! Of course, it's just one of those creepy signs from those bunny stores you see all the time. Also, a bunny store in the shady part of New York?  With a sign that shows a normal bunny turning into a fuck-up bunny? Yeah, that place is a front for smack for sure.

So, the next thing that frightens Riley is the arrival of Maya's ancient grandmother, Grammy Hart. Okay. HOLD THE PHONE! We just did an ancestry episode. And with Maya, her mom's side of the family is the only one she'd be able to get info on since her dad's out of the picture. So  if Grammy Hart is Katy's mom that would mean she'd be born after 1961, and this woman is clearly at least 80, so nope. I suppose "Grammy" could just be a vague term, and she's actually Maya's great-grandmother. And the one on the 'Hart' side and not the 'Clutterbucket' side. Well.... okay then. I suppose I'll let that slide. Considering Grammy Hart looks about 50 years older than Katy, her being her mom would be a stretch anyway.

The third thing that frightens Riley (AND Maya) this time is two monsters outside the window. Sounds reasonable. But it's just Farkle and Lucas on their way home. They thankfully explain why Flucas are still trick-or-treating while Miley are going to bed - it's only like 7:30 and Maya was trying to get this night over with but there's still the problem of how the hell Riley (who's shocked at the time) could be so off about what time it is. And were Lucas and Farkle they trick-or-treating in the slums? Neither strikes me as living along here. Don't kids in Manhattan typically trick-or-treat in their and possibly neighboring apartment buildings? I really think this show would be better served if this took place in a small New York suburb rather than actually Manhattan. They could still hop on a train and be in New York whenever they needed to be. But JQA doesn't feel like a Manhattan school, and it's highly unlikely that millionaire Farkle, upper-middle-class  Riley, and working-class Maya would even be at the same school outside a small suburb where the public schools may be top-notch and still available to all.

Anyway, Riley decides Maya's neighborhood isn't so bad once you 'take its mask off' and they even come to the conclusion that it's pretty once you really look at it. It's a nice little moment the two share at the window together with Riley coming to appreciate the charm and beauty in some less fancier neighborhoods in the city, and Maya feeling some pride that Riley thinks where she comes from is alright. I really wish this had just been the plot of an episode, not hampered by the Halloween gimmick. It's still the highlight of the episode.

Oh, and then Auggie has some stupid quick story where the monster under his bed is a little-kid-monster like him, and now that Auggie's no longer afraid of him, the little kid has to go elsewhere. The little monster is not so good at enunciation. It's a dumb story, but August Maturo does his best, and there's moments I like such as Mr. Googly returning, and a small dichotomy in parenting styles we see where Topanga's a little more "Auggie. Go to bed." while Cory humors him a bit more when he says there's monsters and stuff and tucks him in. I like seeing that, and it fits their respective personalities.

Episode Verdict: Not a good episode. Not even close. But, then, I tend to hate this kind of stuff. For being what it was, meh, I'll say C-. Seriously, though, let's get a good one, guys. Three duds in a row. And why's the Halloween episode so early?
Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard did the best job between how funny she was in Farkle's story and the way she sold the ending of her story, but credit where credit is due for August Maturo who had a lot of material and did pretty well for his age.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Crazy Hat" (#1.10)

Some new formatting. I'm ditching the "How Ya Doin'?" count for a couple reasons:

  1. Joke's been made. They say it a lot. I'll move on.
  2. They're not saying it as often as they used to.
  3. For episodes I dislike (like this one) I don't want to have to do a rewatch just to make sure I get the count right.
Also, I'm moving Episode MVP to the end, because often I discover it is as I go along.

Episode Title: "Girl Meets Crazy Hat"
Episode Number: 10 
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: Season 1's "Risky Business" and Season 5's "How to Succeed in Business" involved similar class projects, but I guess the moral is more in line with Season 7's "You Light Up My Union" with Jack being such a cold-hearted businessman being frowned upon and Eric's generosity being praised.
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: Man, this episode didn't even try.  Cory started talking about Belgium in 1831 (which, Google tells me, was the time of the Belgian Revolution), and then when it became clear the kids didn't care, he just up and changed his lesson plan (and school subject) to, I guess, economics and business ethics. 

P.S. I'd like to take a look at Cory's lesson plan. There's not much... flow to the order in which he seems to be teaching subjects. He's gone from the Civil War to Darwin to Ancient Greece and Rome to '60s counterculture to nineteenth century Belgium. And, based on next week's episode preview, we're only in October of this school year! 

Episode Review:
So, this one's bad too. We start off in the subway station with the return of Jackee Harry as newly-named Crazy Hat. I remember during all the ramp-up for GMW when there was all the buzz on casting, how Jackee's name was one of the first thrown in, and I guess some people were into it because of her similar '90s teen sitcom credentials, but I can't for the life of me figure out why they felt the need to bring her back and never expected they would. She was fine (and funny) in the pilot, as just a random woman commenting on events on the subway. But I don't think what this show was suffering from was a deficiency in wacky middle-aged strange street women for Maya and Riley to befriend. And considering how long it's been since the pilot (I think people who didn't already know Jackee Harry could have easily forgotten who this character was) and how little Jackee's character here has in common with her character then, they really could have even made someone new. But whatever. Continuity, I guess.

So, who is Crazy Hat? She's a woman who wears a crazy hat and whom Miley (I'm sorry, but that really is the organic combo name for our heroines) are always seeing sitting in the same spot in the subway station. And, of course, because as established Miley know that they are the two Best Girls In The World, they treat her with patronizing friendship as is there way. They ostensibly like her - but they also call her names to her face and treat her with pity and disdain since they think she's possibly homeless despite her (occasionally wild) claims to the contrary. 

Crazy Hat tells the girls to come sit by her and she'll teach them about life. She does no such thing, although I'm not quite sure if the show realizes this or if they just go off track in this scene. Instead she asks for one of their ponchos, tells the girls that she's observed they're good friends, and then sends them on their way. There's also the start of a gag where people keep thinking Riley in her poncho is actually garbage and insist on throwing her away despite her vocal protestations. It's funny.  There are some funny bits in this scene, and Sabrina and Rowan are very charming (I particularly liked both of their interactions with the cop) but it was also pretty random and all over the place. It felt like a scene that kept having jokes tossed into it after the fact until the premise got lost. That's actually a regular issue with this show.

So, in the next scene, as Cory starts to try to teach about Belgium, but Riley insists the class discuss her problems instead. And it's not even in the, like, metaphorical way I usually mean when I say this. She literally screams "NO!" and demands Cory change the subject to 'what is Riley's thing'. Rowan's delivery is cute, but Riley's still a narcissistic little monster. To Cory's credit, he actually tries for a second to get them back to Belgium, but he, of course, caves. After a dumb bit about how Farkle's, I guess, polylingual but can't control it, he gets the line of the series:

"My education should not be based on your 

daughter's moods."

He's, of course, quite right - though, since Farkle's also been guilty of aiding and abetting Miley's hijacking of the class, I really wish it had been someone else in class, an extra, who got to deliver that line. Still, nice to see the writers are at least aware of this.

So, anyway, Cory completely abandons his prepared lesson plan that he probably is required by the administration to teach, to turn into an economics teacher and split the class into two businesses. And by split the class? I mean split Maya, Riley, Farkle, and Lucas into two businesses, because, of course, they're the only ones allowed to do or learn anything. The rest of the class will be their "employees", he says, but we never see any evidence of this unless by "employees" he means "customers." It's not that I blame the show for not focusing on the education of random extras, but I just wish they'd give, at least, the impression that they were doing stuff to and were present in the class for any reason than to be Miley's audience. Sure, if the class split into team projects on Boy Meets World then invariably Cory was going to be paired with either Shawn or Topanga, but it seemed like the rest of the kids were doing the project too, we just didn't see that part. Conversations they had in class were generally whispered to each other from their seats in the back rather than the front of class, and Feeny and Turner would often interrupt them and tell them to pay attention. But I (and everyone) have complained about how school works ad nauseum so I'll drop it for now. 
So, Riley and Farkle are one team, Maya and Lucas another. Farkle's suddenly soulless and all about making money in this episode, while Lucas is all Dudley Do-Right about everything.

Whew. I'm like a quarter of the way through this episode and I've already written a ton. I'm... gonna speed this up. There's a cute B-story here with Topanga and Auggie where Auggie wants money and Topanga thinks it's to buy her a birthday present, and it's really to buy his girlfriend Ava a present, and Ava shows up and is horrible. Danielle Fishel's actually the best she's been on this show in this episode, I think. She's a bit more present and actually seems to act, and it helps that the material's not too meaty or serious or cringey. Good for her. Not much to say about this story, but it's the best part of the episode. Kinda done with Ava though.

So, Farkle/Matthews is successful while Friar/Hart is not, because Farkle makes his pure sugar while Riley's is organic. The students buying these muffins are led by a girl who seems to be approximately 37 and possibly has an Australian accent? I don't know what they were thinking casting her. I'm going to assume she's Ben Savage's girlfriend. Also, once again the show seems to abandon pairing Lucas with Riley in favor of Lucas and Maya, who's like all he talks to who anymore.  Anyway, Friar/Hart gets bought out and Farkle fires Riley and so Maya quits. Corey Fogelmanis isn't great in this episode, he's way too over-act-y and campy. I don't like Farkle when he's like this. There may also be a degree to which I'm Farkle'd out. He can be a little exhausting.

So, Riley and Maya... storm out of school as a result of being fired, for which I expect they will reap no consequences, and go to the subway and talk to Crazy Hat about their problems, who continues to claim she's very successful - owns her own building and company, addresses the United Nations, and Miley continue to pity her and don't take her career advice seriously. OH MAN, YOU GUYS. IT WOULD BE QUITE A TWIST IF IT TURNED OUT CRAZY HAT REALLY IS AS RICH AND SUCCESSFUL AS SHE APPEARED AND MILEY ALSO LEARN A VALUABLE LESSON ABOUT PREJUDGING PEOPLE. 

Yup. She is. Shocking. Crazy Hat is Evelyn Rand, CEO of "Rand Industries" and owner of the "Rand Building". And, like many eccentric CEOs, she has all the time in the world to spend all day in the subway station and show up at the history class of preteen brats she barely knows. Riley and Maya are going to found an umbrella-sharing nonprofit we'll never hear about after this episode, and she's going to be their investor. At the end of this scene, Cory gets a very much unearned Moment of Sincerity where Evelyn and Cory (who just met) talk about what a difference he's making in their lives (which, like, in this episode, he didn't do anything of note, so... okay)

Oh, and then in the final scene we discover Miley's Umbrella Company fixed New York and created world peace via a montage. Everyone's happy and smiling and best friends as they hand each other umbrellas. Because absolutely no one would just steal the umbrellas. Bad episode.

Episode Verdict: D+ (Strictly in terms of writing it's probably even worse than '1961' but since I don't resent the very notion of this episode like I did '1961', it gets to be only the second-worst episode)
Episode MVP: Let's say Danielle Fishel. She's not won this before, and she was actually pretty fun in this one, and no one involved in the school storyline deserves it. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Episode Review: "Girl Meets 1961" (#1.09)

Episode Title: "Girl Meets 1961"
Episode Number: 9
Boy Meets World Episodes Borrowed From: Oh, any of the time travel ones. I suppose Season 2's "I Was a Teenage Spy" is the closest chronologically, while Season 5's "No Guts, No Cory"had a similar way of doing time travel where no one specific character actually time traveled, we just saw the characters as they'd be back then. 
Cory's History Lesson and Relevance: Cory's teaching them about the '60s and they time traveled to the '60s, so, sure, very relevant.
"How Ya Doin'?" Count: I don't know, and don't want to rewatch this one to count.
Episode MVP: Sabrina Carpenter... but.... faint praise.

Episode Review:
As predicted, this was a bad episode. The time travel episodes from Boy Meets World almost never worked, and even still this episode was worse than them. Because in addition to being a stupid time travel episode, it also came about way too early. “I Was a Teenage Spy”, the first time travel BMW episode, came about midway through Season 3. The other time travel episodes, “No Guts, No Cory” and “As Time Goes By” were in Seasons 5 and 7, respectively. By then, the show and characters were well established, so you can at least understand the thought process that it might be fun and interesting to explore them in a different time period. It largely wasn’t (especially in “I Was a Teenage Spy” which just isn’t very funny, and “As Time Goes By” which is sheer pointless
nonsense, like many episodes in Season 7) but there were at least elements in “No Guts, No Cory” (the strongest of the time travel episodes, in my opinion, which isn’t saying much) where I did kind of think it was funny to see those characters in that situation.

The problem is, we’re on only the ninth episode of Girl Meets World. We barely know these characters as they are, it’s way too soon for an alternate universe version of them. Their relationships don’t mean too much to me (well, maybe Maya and Riley’s does, but certainly not them as a foursome), so I don’t find anything heartwarming about the fact that their great-grandparents all met once at a cafĂ© in 1961. I don’t care about their great-grandparents when I barely care about them.

Speaking of great-grandparents, let’s deal with the existence of Rosie McGee. I imagine many, like myself, had the knee-jerk feeling that Rosie McGee probably doesn’t make any sense with the established chronology. Let’s examine it, shall we? First off, we must acknowledge that Rosie McGee is from the Lawrence branch of Riley’s family tree, and few sitcom families are more rife with continuity issues than the Lawrences of Boy Meets World, so if Rosie McGee DOESN’T fit with what we’ve already seen, she’d be carrying on the one family tradition they have.

But, okay. So Rosie McGee is Topanga’s maternal grandmother – i.e. the mother of Rhiannon (Chloe) Lawrence. If she had to be Riley’s great-grandmother this is probably the best possible option. Her being a Matthews would have been an immediate problem – we’ve met both of Cory’s grandmothers, and they weren’t Rosie, and Amy and Alan both were absolutely already born in 1961, both based on the ages we’ve heard Alan refer to himself as in the show, and the fact that by 1978 Eric would be born, and Alan and Amy were not teenage parents.

Now, while Amy and Alan absolutely have to have been already alive in 1961, I suppose that’s not necessarily the case for Jedediah and Rhiannon. Let’s say one or the other was born just one year later in 1962 – this would make them 31 in 1993 when Boy Meets World began, and 38 by the final season, which is when they were the most central to the storyline. Topanga, in the final season,  should have been roughly 20. This all remains technically possible. We have heard that Topanga’s parents got married very young – and with Nebula long erased from existence, Topanga is now their first child.  Hell, maybe Rhiannon was pregnant with her and that’s why they got into their ultimately doomed marriage in the first place? Now, can you buy Peter Tork, Michael McKean, or Mark Harelik (the three Jedediahs) as being only in their 30s when we saw them on Boy Meets World? I can’t, particularly Tork and McKean. So, thankfully, GMW made the wise decision of not making Rosie be his mother either.

She’s Rhiannon’s mom, and while I couldn’t buy Annette O’Toole (lovely as she is) as being a thirtysomething in her episode, it’s Marcia Cross that I suppose we should take as the currently canon mother of Topanga, because she’s the one we saw last. And Marcia Cross is significantly younger than all the other parents Topanga’s had and, in fact was born…. In 1962. Though Jed and Rhiannon got married young, if we imagine Rhiannon was also even younger than Jed at the time, and maybe Rhiannon was 18 when Topanga was born, and Jed was maybe…. 21 or 22? That makes her 38 in Season 7, him 42-ish, and I can buy Mark Harelik’s Jed at that age.

Any other problems? Well, we did hear that Topanga’s grandfather proposed to her grandmother on Pearl Harbor Day in “No Guts, No Cory” and this was back in 1941 – a whopping 20 years before the events of this episode. But, we don’t know exactly which grandparents they were. If this was Grandpa and Grandma Lawrence, Jedediah’s parents, we’re still fine. Jedediah could be a late-in-life kid for them, the youngest of 10 for all we know.

 So, no, there’s not technically a continuity issue here. It feels off. But it’s all possible. A problem lies in the fact, I think, that they had to make these characters be the great-grandparents of Riley and gang in order to make it work, because of the fact that Riley’s grandparents are all people we definitely know. But, someone Riley’s age is highly unlikely to have great-grandparents who were roughly 20 in 1961. It would make her great-grandparents in their early 70s now, and it’s unusual for anyone to have great-grandparents that young, especially someone from her (forgive me) social class. And it’s not just her, it’s all four of them! They were all great-grandparents. You’d think at least some of them would have been regular grandparents.  Riley, Maya, and Farkle all have young parents who had to be in their very early 20s when they had them, but there’s no reason, at the moment, why Lucas’ parents couldn’t be a more standard fortysomething, with grandparents in their early 70s. As it stands, it just is kind of a stretch that all four of these roughly 20-year-olds in 1961 would wind up with great-grandchildren

Frankly, what I think they should have done, is have made Rosie actually be Rhiannon, and make this episode take place in the early ‘70s instead. There’s no reason it couldn’t have been about the ‘70s and not the ‘60s. Furthermore, flower children like Clutterbucket weren’t really very common in 1961 (which was still a lot more like the 1950s than what is commonly thought of as the 1960s) while they were still going strong in the 1970s. It also makes the Topanga Canyon thing more poignant, since it would be Topanga’s own mother hearing the name for the first time and loving it which would mean more (because Rosie ultimately does not name her daughter Topanga, she apparently just… tells Rhiannon she likes the name)

But actually what they should have done is not make this episode. Because it’s garbage. As I said, they attempted something like this way too early, before we care enough about them, and even if this was later on, time travel episodes are hokey and lame. Too much of the episode had to be carried by the main foursome, as Cory and Topanga weren’t in it much, and Auggie wasn’t there at all. It also wasn’t very funny or well-written, and involved a lot of questionable characterization – like Riley, Farkle, and Lucas all being anti-History Class. Which doesn’t sound like them. Also, having these 12-year-old bop around like hippies and beatniks looked stupid. And was. Only Sabrina Carpenter really sold it, which is why she’s the episode MVP, but I still wish this hadn’t happened. Also, wasn't it really cool how, despite apparently being given a guitar for the first time, Maya randomly already knew how to play it? The answer is, no, it was not. 

Really, this episode felt to me like a worst case scenario version of what Girl Meets World could be. A show that screws with the continuity of BMW, barely features the characters I like, and centers all around characters I don’t care about while expecting me to care about them very much. And not funny. It’s a terrible, terrible episode (as evidenced by the fact that I chose to make most of my review an analysis of if there’s a continuity error in Rosie McGee’s story than actually tackle the episode head on.)

It’s not good. Don’t watch it. And poor Rider Strong, given such a shitty episode to direct.

Episode Rating: D

P.S. I will say, that Maya and Lucas continue to have better and better chemistry. It was like this week, they didn't even try to have Lucas and Riley interact, and all the good conversation was between them. I still don't like Lucas, but interacting with Maya is the only place he's any fun. They need to get on that stat. And I think that might be a good story, Riley maybe realizing Maya and Lucas are developing feelings for each other and her being torn between her own feelings and wanting her friends to be happy.