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. 


  1. I feel like the writers start out with the best of intentions, but it might be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen -- throw in a gag here, do a round of stunt casting there, and the scenes all have this disjointed quality that makes it seem like the episode doesn't actually teach anything, and Cory doesn't actually do any of the supposed teaching, when maybe the episode actually did start out with a coherent lesson and it got lost.

    I enjoyed the B story too, but I feel like it would have been really easy to insert Topanga into the A story--maybe she could have offered to help Riley bake, but gets shot down by Farkle, and ends up helping Maya bake her muffins, instead of Lucas's mom. *shrug* Doesn't have to be that, but it would be nice if she felt like an actual presence in her daughter's life more than once every few episodes. I feel like I want a Matthews family dinner once per episode. Otherwise if you saw this episode as your introduction to the show, you wouldn't even know Topanga was Riley's mom or Cory's wife.

    Agree on the Belgium thing, too. In the entire history of the Industrial Revolution, they couldn't find a history topic that fit better?

  2. Every show has throwaway episodes, but this one could have been so much better and still be a throwaway. The episode should have have been about basing your opinion of someone based on how they look, but they kinda did that in the debate episode. Maybe actually base it around mass production if you're going to start of with any point during the Industrial era and still want to do the whole "class business" model. The shows writers are on Twitter, and there are like 6-7 of them if not more. Michael needs to take control of the writer's room and at least try to make things more coherent, even if its a throw away episode.

    I like your MVP, simply because it needed to go to someone different. I am of the opinion that a case can be made for either Rowan (Riley) or Sabrina (Maya) to win every week because they give a solid performance week in and week out. Even in the weaker episodes. Danielle was funny, and the B-plot was really good.