Monday, April 20, 2015

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Demolition" (#1.21)

Hey all, sorry to you all (and co-writer, Sean) for the delay in getting this recap going. I had a pretty busy and unpleasant weekend. Before we start, I've seen a lot of back and forth among boards and other places about the specific classification of this episode. Is it in Season 1? Is it in Season 2? Does it exist in some seasonal vacuum altogether? And what's it called? "Girl Meets Demolition"? "Girl Meets What the What?"

For our purposes, I'm referring to it as the last episode in Season 1 and calling it "Girl Meets Demolition." Demolition was clearly the intended title and the one the writers (and my TV used), the "What the What" aspect was just for this promotional thing Disney was doing at the time. And it's a dumb name that makes no sense for this episode. And since this had the Season 1 opening, and Season 2 is clearly advertised as premiering in May, I'm calling this Season 1. This is the 21st episode, and Season 1 was always supposed to have twenty-one episodes so there you go. I hope this works for everyone. Some people seem to be REALLY passionate about not making this be part of Season 1, I'm not sure I understand why. It's not like "First Date" ended on some cliffhanger, the next episode would have to pick up on. 

Anyway, as to the episode itself. I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to. No classrooms, no Lucas, no Farkle, and almost no Auggie are all generally moves that are going to lead to better scenes and episodes. This was just about Maya, Riley, Cory and Topanga (well, and Aubrey) and that's when this show's strongest. And I think it was funny. The girls were funny, Cory was funny, Topanga was even funny. This was probably her best episode all season, and one in which she really got to shine and utilize one of her few enduing character strengths from Boy Meets World - her general competence. And we got to see that while Riley mainly takes after Cory, and inherited both his impulsivity and wide-eyed optimism and naivete, she also got some of Topanga's brains with her cunning little semi-long con. Sure, you saw it coming a mile away, and I'm not sure I really buy her being that crafty, but it worked. And Riley's still fresh enough that they can introduce big traits to her. 

Some complained about Cory, a grown man, being this much of a sucker. But to them I say - have you met Cory? Guy always means well, but he's a weak-willed fool. He gets by in life because he has savvy people around him who bail him out of jams because he's so gosh-darned lovable. His strengths are in interpersonal relationships not business dealings. I'm certain Topanga does the negotiating in any financial decision they've ever made and usually leaves Cory at home to color with the kids. So I was absolutely fine with his behavior and, in fact, enjoyed it. 

Hell, I enjoyed the episode, some good lines and bits throughout. Still not wild about Maya and Riley having this eccentric billionaire friend they can call to get them out of jams, but we haven't seen much of her. So, I guess, whatever. As for Debby Ryan herself as Aubrey? She was fine. Strong for a young guest star. I don't watch Jessie (and have seen enough to know it's horrid) so I didn't care about her any more than, like, a Smackle but she's fine. Perhaps we got a little more resolution on her than we needed, considering she's not, like, becoming a character. I'd have just stopped with her comeuppence. Maybe even include the bit at the end implying she may change. Homegirl didn't have to stop by the Matthews' to become part of the family.

Sean - what say you?

It's interesting that the season classification is so divisive. I would actually call it season 2 because it was filmed with the season 2 episodes, which explains why the first thing I noticed is how different Rowan Blanchard looks. On the other hand, her acting hasn't really improved at all. It's always been fine, I just hoped she might have cleared out her sinuses by now. 

I don't know who the guest actress is. I have a sneaking suspicion that the audience recognizes her, though. A quick investigation reveals that they must recognize her from the straight to DVD movie "Barney: Let's Go To The Firehouse." A classic.

I got a strong whiff of that Disney influence when Topanga started asking Aubrey about "good influences." I was immediately terrified of the episode ending with a trademark change-of-heart, and indeed it did. This is the problem with these one-off episodes. Everybody loves a good redemption arc, but it's absolutely insane to make it happen in thirty seconds. Imagine if Harley changed his ways at the end of the season 2 BMW opener after that confrontation with Turner. Or, perhaps a better comparison, the angry students in Life Lessons later in season 2.  

You might think I'm harping on that issue too hard, but that issue is the episode. "How do you deal with a bad person when your parents can't help you." 

Well gee that's easy. You just get your eccentric billionaire friend with too much free time to show up and dispense valuable life wisdom.

What's that?  You don't have one of those? What do you mean you don't have one?

It's such a shame, because the buildup was good! I was interested! How do Riley and Maya deal with a bad person when Cory and Topanga can't help? That's a great concept for a story. But they blew it.

That's all I have to say.

Well, there you have it folks! Not too much to say about this one, but it was pretty darn filler. Still, I enjoyed it more than Sean did, and I think if we were Siskel and Ebert, this may be a thumbs up/thumbs down scenario. I actually kind of liked it. I recognize all of Sean's complaints and think them valid but, maybe the bar's been set low, but the schmaltziness and needless redemption of Aubrey just didn't bother me too much. And I thought, for GMW, the humor was pretty on point.

Episode Grade: B+
Episode MVP: I'll give this to Danielle Fishel. 

And so ends Season 1 of Girl Meets World! It lasted from June until April which is a pretty epically long season. But with many interminable gaps. Season 2 begins on May 11th, which five episodes in one week which'll be... just... loads of fun over here. Those five episodes are pretty big though - Shawn's in one, Eric's in another, and Feeny's in a whopping two of them. One of which is the one Shawn's in, which means Shawn/Feeny interaction. So, we got all that coming up.

In the interim though, we have two weekends. And those weekends shall not be idle. Starting this Friday (and much more promptly, I promise) we're going to have a look back in Season 1. Sean and I will share our thoughts about what worked, what didn't, maybe some thoughts about best and worst episodes, and what we think of all these new folks. 

The next weekend, will be a look ahead at Season 2. What we think based on the (myriad) of information released about it so far, including the first look at characters like Eric and Angela on GMW. Also what we're hopeful for, what we're afraid of, and what we expect.

Look forward to all that!


  1. First it's pretty sad that the network can't decide what the actual episode title is or even what season it belongs to. I'm with you, it's Season 1, it replaces Girl Meets Fish which will now be Season 2 and incredibly awkward, but it's not the first time the show has had awkward moments because of scheduling.

    You alluded to it, but on various boards the episode seems very divisive. A lot of people say it was very good, a lot of people say it was utter trash, and a lot of people say it was a very average, very ok episode. A lot of people say Ben, Danielle, Debby and Jackee were good, and a lot of people say they were horrible. I'm not even sure where I fall in myself, I guess I'm with the "just ok" people. It also didn't advance the storyline along like Meets Master Plan or Meets Home for the Holidays.

    Well, there's one exception. The only reason why they had Homegirl come visit the Matthews is because it's very clear they want Debby back for future episodes. It's the only way it makes this ending make sense. It's so painfully obvious they're setting it up for her to be back. Then again, if Debby never came back to the show ever, I'm absolutely certain nobody's going to notice, either.

  2. Call it what you will, Season 1 or Season 2, I don't care. I am relatively certain that this episode will have no bearing on any episodes down the line. Now, I could be surprised and they invite Debby back, and won't be shocked if she does because she has stated multiple times about how much she loves Rowan & Sabrina. Her part was fine, and the ending was weird, but it doesn't require any followup. The writers called this a "bridge" to season 2, and that's how I'll treat it. A means to an end.

    Now, that doesn't mean I didn't like it, cause it was a good episode. We saw bits of Topanga come out in Riley, who has very much proven to be her father's daughter. So, to begin to show some balance as a character can only help her develop and be better in the future. Sabrina was pretty much herself, and was good at it. Topanga was at her best, and Cory was great in comedic timing. So, it all worked.

    I'll refrain comment on the astronaut and the horse thing. Want to see your guys comments on that.

    1. The horse and astronaut were a bit too close to the horse from Meets Friendship for comfort.

  3. For those who don't recognize who Debby Ryan is, she stars on the current Disney Channel show "Jessie". Before that, she was a series regular on the DC show "Suite Life of Zack & Cody" So, she's been around a minute. As far s the "redemption" theme goes, well, that's just how Disney operates. This was a one off, most likely, and they weren't going to let Debby's character go away on a sour note. That's just how they are. You learn to get used to their style of writing after awhile. I agree that I would have liked to see Maya and Riley deal with somebody that wasn't easily redeemable, but that's never been how the network operates. Oh well.

    You mentioned how different Rowan Blanchard looked, and I noticed it too. In fact, it was very noticeable. She had a whole 3 inches on Sabrina, and Rowan is already in the throws of puberty. Little Riley isn't going to look 13-14 for too much longer, and it will be interesting to see how they work around that.

    The horse and the astronaut. The writers had to go on Twitter and explain the symbolism of this analogy. And anytime you have to explain what you meant outside the context of the episode, you have failed as writers. That goes for TV, movies, music, pro wrestling, it doesn't matter. The second you have to explain yourself, you've lost the power of what you were trying to accomplish.

    1. "Okay, guys, it's like this: An astronaut is a friend who floats away. A horse keeps you grounded. Riley and Maya are an astronaut on a horse"

      That sounds like something some freshman hipster would come up with in Creative Writing 101, and then get shot down by the professor.

    2. Yeah I know who she is, I was just trying to be a jokester :(

      And yeah, that ending was ROUGH. "it's one of kind, but so are you" into the floating and grounding, oof. OOOOOOOF. not easy to watch.

    3. Wow. I was not looking for ANY deeper symbolism in the astronaut and the horse and I'm horrified to discover there is one. That's dumb. That's senior year AP English everyone-is-a-Christ-metaphor dumb.

      "Little Riley isn't going to look 13-14 for too much longer, and it will be interesting to see how they work around that." She's the least of their issues. Lucas and Maya both look about 16-17. Riley's tall, but she looks like a tall 14 year old. And she's not, like, Rachel tall. She's just taller than her co-stars. I think she's still shorter than Cory, and Ben Savage is only like 5'10". (I mean no disparagement, I'm 5'10", but it ain't tall) And by this age girls actually tend to stop growing. It's guys who might shoot up later generally.

      Anyway, I didn't notice the change in Riley's looks. I have noticed it when they show earlier episodes and she looks younger, but I guess not vice-versa. Honestly, I think I'm just ready for them to be like 15-16 and hit their BMW in Season 3/4 time period.

    4. You should see some of the other comments the GMW writers have posted on Twitter, especially regarding this specific episode. I know you've been following some of the stuff I and ferris1-b1 have been saying on the show's IMDb board (I'll post the Twitter comments there, since there's dozens), and I don't know if you necessarily agree with all of it but it's very clear the show's writers/runners are very set in taking the show into a specific direction, and it's towards the hyper-idealized, the entire world-is-happy-go-lucky view that ferris1-b1 has been complaining about. We can see that in this very episode. All you have to do to turn a dishonest salesgirl into a good one is to call your eccentric billionaire friend (of course you have one of those!) and have her compliment the salesgirl's looks and singing voice and give her a Farkle speech, and this salesgirl will instantly become lifelong besties with your mom and be invited into your apartment. But this only works if this salesgirl happens to be a pretty actress who happens to be insanely popular with the network she's on. Both you and Sean have complained about the quick resolution and redemption at the conclusion of this episode, but it was inevitable, even down to Homegirl stopping by the Matthews to become part of the family. It was inevitable because of one very specific reason: because the actress playing Aubrey the crooked salesgirl is Debby Ryan. And Debby is too much of a Disney icon, and especially too nice of a girl in real life, and the GMW staff loves her too much (maybe even literally, hence my poor taste casting couch joke on the IMDb board) to leave her character hanging irredeemed at the end of the episode to never appear ever again in the series. I think they love her too much to keep her limited to this one single appearance, hence why they had her come back at the very end of the episode. Hell they might love her so much they wanted her a part of the Matthews family, at least symbolically at the end. If you wanted to avoid such a sappy, hyper-idealized ending in the first place then you have to avoid casting Debby Ryan for the part. But that part was inevitable too, because casting other Disney Channel stars was the whole point of the theme weekend this episode belongs to, and it was inevitable that Debby would be assigned to GMW because she's the highest profile and most popular actress on the network right now (well not quite, that's Dove Cameron but close enough) being on the highest profile and most popular show on the network right now (well not quite, KC Undercover's ratings blow GMW's ratings out of the water but GMW certainly has a bigger profile and more media hype surrounding it). I wouldn't be surprised if a part of it was a bit of an ego thing for Debby, since now she can have a part not only on the only show on the network with a higher profile than her own show, but now she can have a part in the Boy Meets World legacy too.


    5. Back to the writers themselves, the people who were hoping that this show will deal with topics in the same manner as Boy Meets World are going to be disappointed. The only episode that's going to come close to that is Meets Maya's Mother, and the only reason why that episode ended the way it did was 1.) to set up Meets Master Plan and 2.) to show that Maya doesn't need her stinkin' mother anyway, because she has Riley, who is even better (which is exactly the type of lesson GMW can teach anyway, but as I said, it's the only time the show has done it). I know everybody likes to pick on Jessie, but I've been following the show since the first episode and at least it (used to, before GMW's time) dealt with ugly break-ups, personal failure and awkward life moments in ways that didn't always end with such a clean resolution as demonstrated in Meets Demolition, Meets Flaws or Meets Crazy Hat. Liv and Maddie and Good Luck Charlie did even better jobs.

      Based on the Twitter comments on the writers, if you liked Meets Demolition, you'll probably like Season 2. If you hated Meets Demolition, you'll probably hate Season 2. They've said Meets Demolition is very indicative of the type of thing we can expect from the rest of Season 2.

      Also, it's pretty sad that they can't tell the difference between the Twitter account of one of the most prominent actors on the network (well, sister network) and a fan account.

    6. I think we all need to remember that this is still Season 1, and the kids are still quite young. Even "First Date" touched a little on lessons in heartbreak with Josh and Maya. But the 'weighty' stuff BMW dealt with generally wasn't dealt with when the kids were 13. They waited until they were older and it felt more natural. Sure, we can compare that Maya's strife doesn't come close to Shawn's. But it sure as heck beats Season 1 paper airplane-throwing Shawn.

      Also, BMW's track record of dealing with Important Topics is... mediocre at best. Episodes like Cult Fiction, If You Can't Be With The One You Love, and Easy Street attempted to handle Real Issues and they did so clumsily at best. Boy Meets World was at its best when it was handling less... exotic problems teens go through - popularity, dating, trying to get out of trouble, and finding yourself and where you belong in the world. I do think that's the kind of stuff GMW will focus on, they already have been. They just could focus on it better.

      And I admit, I'm having trouble caring about them not knowing about whatever Disney actor you're talking about's Twitter. That doesn't bother me. They just need to make good episodes and I'm a happy guy!

    7. I just threw that in as a shot towards the writers and how they should be more observant. I'm just kind of wondering how much of Meets Demolition was written by the show's needs vs. network politics.

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  4. "Yeah I know who she is, I was just trying to be a jokester :("

    Sorry, my bad.

    "Lucas and Maya both look about 16-17."

    Probably because Peyton is 16, and Sabrina will be turning 16 next month. So yeah, that will be a problem as time goes on.

    I guess my final question will be is how much can we expect from this show? I like it, and I expected it not to be a fully realized spinoff of BMW. Yet, its clear Michael Jacobs has been given his parameters based off of what the writers have said on Twitter.

    Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard
    Episode Rating: C+

  5. Yo guys, love the reviews but Sean's orange text on the white background is REALLY rough to read.

    1. Yeah, I think you're right. I'm going in to do my final thoughts, so I'm going to change it to green. Sean, feel free to use whatever darker color you want though. Like, maybe you're a blue guy.

    2. Actually, I think just switching to more of dark gold helped.

  6. Also, did you bother to watch I Didn't Do It with Cory Forgelmanis in it?

    1. Can't say that I did. Maybe if it had been Ben, Danielle, Rowan or Sabrina. I don't care for the other two.

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