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, 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.