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 café 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. 

8 comments:

  1. It's been pointed out to me that there actually is a problem with Rosie McGee - Topanga's aunt, Prudence Curtis. She's firmly stated to be Rhiannon's sister, not Jedediah's, and while it's never said firmly that she's the older sibling, Olivia Hussey is 11 years older than Marcia Cross (and, even a year older than Annette O'Toole) In all likelihood, Prudence needs to be already born by 1961, or needs to be the first born, giving her the 1962 birth, pushing Rhiannon to 1963 or 1964, at which point it starts to unravel.

    Can we fanwank explanations? Sure. Maybe Prudence is Rhiannon's half-sister (might help explain how different they look and act, and why Prudence has some sort of accent), already born by 1961 to Rhiannon's father and another mother, who then split. Rhiannon's father than meets Rosie, they hook up, have Rhiannon.

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    1. Or, of course, maybe Pru is just the younger sister and doesn't look it.

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  2. I just wanted to hop on here and say that I've really enjoyed all your reviews. I think this show is doing the best it can to live up to its iconic predecessor, and I hope that the show continues to get better. While I haven't loved every episode, I have come away really pleased with the product.

    Also, I think you are being just a tad critical of Lucas. I think him as a character will be a lot better fleshed out as the season goes on.

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  3. This is really nitpicking and not important at all but just something I observed

    iirc Maya says something along the lines of "who cares about the 60's"

    I can remember Maya on at least one occasion wearing a classic rock band t-shirt like the stones or ac/dc etc.

    Her costume on Halloween even resembled Slash with the tall hat.

    idk maybe maya's just a poser either way u got a great blog running here my friend keep it up. :)

    I mainly watch gmw out of my unhealthy obession with bmw and all its unforgettable characters but every now then gmw will do something that makes me smile :P

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    1. And I realize that these bands came far later than 1961 but still...

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  4. literally will friedleOctober 10, 2016 at 12:46 PM

    What a garbage episode. although if that was actually sabrina carpenter singing then she's pretty decent although she's doing the like breathy-jazzy kind of thing that i've heard from like a million girls (mostly on youtube actually)

    also we've found something lucas is shit at: singing. and his grandpa or whatever should have had a mustache

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    1. a mustache would have drastically improved the entire tone of the episode. I missed you.

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    2. literally will friedleOctober 13, 2016 at 12:48 AM

      :D

      Actually just thinking about it, didn't they give Cory and Shawn mustaches when they became old (incredibly Jewish) men in Season...2(?)? (Who?! What?! They want you to take the rolls!) They should've followed the precedent.

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