I think it was during my Freshman year of college, with my discovery of daily Disney Channel reruns in the early hours before class, that my true love of BMW solidified. For the first time, I was watching the show having been through the ages the BMW characters were during its prime, and I could finally identify, rather than wonder wistfully at what it would be like to be 17. And suddenly I felt truly connected to these characters. And it was the characters that were the true strength of this show. They somehow took themselves more seriously than most sitcoms of this era, while also simultaneously being more able to laugh at themselves too. And they were just plain funnier than any other TGiF-esque show. Though credit is due to many, many characters on BMW, and special shot-outs are deserved for Amy and Alan (particularly Alan), Topanga, and the inimitable George Feeny, the trifecta of Cory, Eric, and Shawn have always been so perfect and so meaningful to me and all three likely rank in my list of favorite all time characters. They were in many ways archetypal fictional teens, but they also felt real and like they'd never been done in exactly this way ever before. While some argue characterizations changed - backstories got swapped out, IQs raised and lowered - they also felt, probably thanks to impressive performances, like they were always the same person. And they all felt like different sides of me at that age - like Cory I could be wide-eyed and awkward, like Eric I could be cocky and entitled, and like Shawn I was often broken, alone, and covering it with a grin.
When the show ended, there was no reason to clamor for more. It had a long run. Cory grew from a middle schooler to a married adult. It was not unceremoniously canceled, the last episode was written as a series finale and provided emotional catharsis. It was done. The boy had met world. But I wanted more. Shows I ostensibly liked better, when they ended, they felt done. My favorite show of all time is "The West Wing". I care more about it and its characters than all other shows combined. It lasted the same number of seasons of "Boy Meets World" and... I don't need any more. It ended, and it feels done. But "Boy Meets World" always felt like it had more to say. Really, we stopped seeing these characters just at the beginning of their lives. The finale ended with them going off on this exciting journey together (and finally unburdening of themselves of fucking Jack, Angela, and Rachel) and I wanted to go on that journey with them. Would Shawn finally find love and belonging? Would Eric finally reach his potential and prove to the world that he was more than just a screw-up with a pretty face? How the hell is Cory not going to get eaten alive by Manhattan?
I used to nurse this idea of a continuation that would take place in modern times. Topanga would die giving birth to a baby boy (yeah, I know way too dark) and Cory would be left as a depressed, single father alone in New York (Shawn was wandering the world as a journalist aka his ACTUAL FATE, and Eric had returned to Philly years back, and was divorced and without custody of his daughter, and was working a dead-end job as a bartender) and so returns to live with his family at the house. Shawn would have come home after Topanga's death to be there for Cory too. And so the show would focus on Cory as a single father trying to start his life over, Josh as a teen going through Cory issues, Shawn and Eric being Shawn and Eric, and Feeny, Alan, and Amy giving advice to them all! Morgan was gonna have stuff too. And I'd introduce new love interests for Cory and Shawn, and had Eric's story be about winning back his ex-wife and proving he can be a provider and good father. I'd think about that story all the time, muse about writing it as fan-fic but never do it. But all the while knowing it was an impossibility.
And then, one autumn afternoon in 2012, a friend of mine, knowing my love for BMW, posted on my wall an article about Girl Meets World.
I couldn't believe it. I was at work at the time, but I'm sure the rest of my day was spent obsessively Googling. SERIOUSLY? There's no way this could happen. It had been YEARS. Sure, I had trepidations. It was on Disney Channel, not a network show, which meant it might be too childish. The girls would probably have more focus than I want. Only Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel were confirmed, and at the time it sounded like Will Friedle and Rider Strong weren't interested in being part of it at all. Still. It was more Boy Meets World. I'd wondered what happened to Cory, Shawn, Eric, et al, and I was going to find out. For so long, I had identified with them, and I'd kept going, had further struggles, had become more of a person. And now I'd see how they'd fared. It meant more to met than I can say.
And here were stand now, over two years later, with the first season finished. I haven't always been kind to it, though I could have been a lot harsher. But I hope you understand just what this process meant to me. I watched "Full House" as a kid growing up too. Am I going to watch "Fuller House" on Netflix? Yup. Am I going to devote any of my time to developing a blog and writing in-depth reviews of every episode? Absolutely not. Little but "Boy Meets World" could develop that kind of passion for me.
So, how did Season 1 fare in my eyes? So-so. Hits and misses. And ultimately about what I expected. I had worst scenario fears, but I never thought it would quite meet them. Ultimately, it was the same creator, so it could only be so bad. Some episodes were truly terrible, but many others were good, and I guess the good episodes outweighed the bad enough for me to ultimately think of this as a positive experience.
I have a lot more to say, and I want to get into subjects like selecting the best and worst episodes of the season (and (dis)/honorable mentions), as well as selecting a cast MVP and a LVP. But first I want to give Sean a chance to weigh in on his BMW backstory and experience of GMW. Sean, if you can, I'd also like you to select a favorite and least favorite episode and performer/character too. S'il-vous plait!
That's a fantastic story. I only saw a few episodes of The West Wing, when we watched it in AP Gov class. I'll have to give it the full treatment. Also I binged through Friends recently. Phoebe best character?
I had enjoyed Full House on Nick at Nite, so when I found it on ABC Family during the afternoon one summer I decided to sit through it for an hour. Laziness kept me through Family Matters for another hour, and then, what's this? Boy Meets World... I've heard of it, but... OKAY THIS SHOW IS AMAZING. I wish I could remember what the first episode of BMW that I saw was. I desperately wish I knew, then I could see specifically what made me fall in love so quickly.
I was a Cory, as a kid, very safe, very boring, and trying desperately to hide those qualities. And so as Shawn had an effect on Cory, he also had an effect on me. I had an astonishing fascination with Shawn Hunter. My best friend as a kid was a lot like Shawn, he took too many risks and had a broken home life, but he didn't really have many of Shawn's redeeming qualities, so we stopped being friends a couple years before I found the show. Even so, that friendship lent itself to my identification with Cory, and my interest in Shawn as a character. It was nice to see Shawn's redemption arc when I knew that my old friend would never have one.
So that was the summer after my sophomore year of high school, '07 I believe. The next year I met my own Mister Feeny, my physics teacher (and I'm pretty sure Feeny taught physics in one scene in season 7). So it was at that point that I realized how unbelievably fantastic Eric's Journey To College was. A lot of that stuff still hits me right in the gut.
I don't know if I really wanted more. Maybe just because the last two seasons left a sour taste in my mouth. Maybe because I knew that nothing could live up to the stories we all made up about the characters as the years went by. I too was turned off by the initial air of "Rider and Will don't want to do this," so I have to wonder why that changed. Bills to pay? I don't know. Regardless, I knew that no matter how terrible Girl Meets World turned out to be I'd still watch every single episode. And it turned out pretty okay.
Favorite episode is gonna be episode 12, Girl Meets The Forgotten. The script was written by Jeff Menell, who was responsible for several fantastic BMW episodes. I think Michael Jacobs knew this story was a winner, and chose Menell in particular to write the script. It's the best example of the characters learning a lesson ON THEIR OWN through THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE rather than having Cory spell it out in giant letters for them at the end of the episode. It's tempting to pick a Shawn episode, but that's basically cheating. Girl Meets Maya's Mother was also very strong, but more emotional than life lessony, and I've always been a sucker for those lessons. Worst episode? Eh take your pick.1961 probably. The image of beatnick Farkle will forever be burned into my memory.
Favorite character? Easy.
But he doesn't really count, unfortunately. Everybody in the world says Maya is the best, so my natural instinct is to avoid saying Maya, but it's really hard to argue for anyone else. I'd love to say Cory, but a lot of the time he's either inept, preachy, or both. I'd love to say Topanga, but she was reduced to dealing with god damned Ava too often. I'd love to say The Son of Minkus, but he very rarely hit the right notes (the Belgium bit, for example, which is STILL hilarious to me). Maya is well written, well acted, and her presence in the stories is perfectly executed. It's no contest.
Worst character? I was going to say Ava as a joke answer, but Lucas might be even worse. His flaws have been beaten to death, so I'll just say that the writers are certainly aware of it and we can probably look forward to a better showing from him in the future.
Let's hear your rankings, Christian.
Yes, I heartily recommend The West Wing. It's glorious. It's all on Netflix. And, yes, Phoebe is absolutely the best character on Friends, though I have an attachment to early-days Chandler before he got lame, and later-days Ross once he became he hilarious.
I'm very jealous that you had a real Mr. Feeny in your life. While I loved him as a character, I often dismissed him as not realistic because it just didn't echo any relationship I had with teachers. Sure, I had many I liked, got along with it, learned a lot from, but none that ever truly took me under their wing and seemed truly invested in my future. And with the Shawn best friend too, you really were quite the Cory Matthews! I'd never have thunk it.
As for what changed with Rider and Will, first off, I don't think Will was ever as adament foot-down "I shall not do this." as Rider was at first, whenever he was asked he was like "Yeah, maybe. We'll see." So I imagine it was just negotiations, plus maybe finding the time since Will's got a very prolific voice acting career these days. Rider actually has commented, though, what changed for him and basically it was that he got over himself. He had all these hang-ups about him going back to what made him famous and not what he's passionate about and not growing as an artist and so forth at first. But he eventually realized that A) No one but him gave a shit about these hang-ups or would be judging him for doing it. and B) Doing the occasional guest spot is such a minimal time commitment that it would be almost selfish not to. So, he made the deal with Michael Jacobs where he can direct, like, a lot and in return he'd be up for popping up every now and then. I'm glad he did, and I think he's right. This is a serious career investment and commitment for Michael, Ben, and Danielle. It decidedly is not for Will and Rider.
Really, Girl Meets the Forgotten as best episode? Huh. I actually found that to be a rather forgettable one, and looking back in my reviews I see I gave it a B, which is fine, but doesn't put it in the upper echelon for me. I remember being really disappointed with this being the introduction of Harley in this episode, because it barely establishes who he is, and his role is fairly forgettable. It's because, as it turns out, Girl Meets Flaws, where he's more Harleyish and you find out his deal, was intended to be his first episode but they aired them out of order.
I have to say, by and large, I wasn't very impressed with Harley's two episodes and find his return the most superfluous of them all. Harley was a character I didn't really need to see back, and I think Danny McNulty's acting skills have atrophied badly. That, plus how much he's aged compared to the rest of them who all look about the same, made it all seem a little sad to me. I think he's supposed to pop up again in Season 2 and I don't really quite get why. I almost wonder if maybe, like his character, Danny McNulty had fallen on hard times and begged Michael Jacobs for a job.
And, I don't care if it's cheating, the best episode this season was Girl Meets Master Plan. Yes, it has Shawn, but it's not only because it has Shawn, the Maya/Katy stuff is great too. Girl Meets Home for the Holidays is the one that relies entirely on the cavalcade of guest stars, and isn't actually that strong of an episode on its own. But Master Plan I think is legitimately the best. Runner-Up for me is Maya's Mother, but I guess I prefer the more emotional/story arc-ish episodes to one-off life lesson ones.
Worst episode is easily, easily, easily Girl Meets Friendship. I could compose an epic poem about how bad that episode is. The thing that contrasts it with an episode like 1961, which is also horrible and certainly a valid pick, is that 1961 is just a bad idea to begin with. Sure, it's also not written or done particularly well, but the problem is just inherently in the idea. It's stupid to go back and time and see them as their own grandparents. But Girl Meets Friendship is more insidious than that. Its premise is perfectly fine. A class election makes friends turn against each other, especially after they start making outrageous campaign promises? That gave us the very good "I Am Not a Crook" on Boy Meets World. But the execution is just so outrageously horrid, that no amount of decent premise can save it. I encourage you to watch that episode again if you can to try to appreciate the badness. Remember "The Rebel" kid?! What the fuck was that?!
|Who is this boy? Where did he come from? Where did he go? Did he have an actual first name? What does he find so rebellious about appearing out of nowhere to explain the purpose of a Secretary of State on the Presidential cabinet?|
Yeah, I'll give it to Maya for best character too for the obvious reason. She's really sort of the soul of the show and Sabrina Carpenter is very talented. Though I do think Rowan Blanchard's better than I think you give her credit for, and I do enjoy Riley very much. As for Cory, while he is a strong runner-up for best character because he's just such a familiar, fun character and often makes even the lamest Disneyish things still come off Boy Meets World-y he does have that huge problem of only being an effective character in half his scenes - he makes a great Dad, but a lousy teacher. Eric was always the one I thought should become a teacher, not Cory. Even Shawn seems more right than Cory. But really, that's not the problem, Cory could be a teacher but they just make him so toothless and write the scenes so badly. It's one of this show's two biggest problems.
Which brings us to the show's other big problem...
Sure, Ava sucks, but we don't see her all the time, she's never a huge part of the episode when we do, and she's supposed to be awful. But Lucas is just a problem. An outright flat-out problem. And it's one I think there's no solution for but to show him the door. There's really nothing to say here that hasn't been said a million times by a million people, but he's so blank and generic, his positive attributes so told-not-shown, and his chemistry with Riley so non-existent, that I don't get how he's on this show. Michael Jacobs excelled with unique, quirky characters. Teen sitcoms generally don't have main characters like Cory and don't take the time to flesh out and establish characters like Shawn . And no show in the history of time has ever had someone quite like Eric. Later characters like Jack and Rachel were pretty generic and boring, but they were relatively minor characters, and I figure by that point MJ had probably taken a backseat in the actual showrunning of Boy Meets World as show runners often do late in the run, which is probably why the final season fell to hell. But he's clearly hands-on now, and he somehow decided that the leading teen male should be like this. I don't get it. Was he a Disney demand? It eludes me. His one saving grace is his chemistry with Maya, but I don't believe they're going to go there.
But like you said, that horse has been beaten to death. I guess I just needed to beat it one more time to make sure Lucas doesn't fucking take Riley and ride off on it.
Runner-up for worst character for me, though, is Farkle. As the only other teen guy, he comes off well by comparison to Lucas, but he's no great shakes either. They've struggled to pin down exactly his personality, and way too often veer into the larvae stage of a sexual predator which I'm not enjoying in the slightest.
What say you, Sean? Any replies/final thoughts? You haven't touched on our heroine much!
I'm glad you said that because I thought I was taking crazy pills when I started enjoying Ross in the later seasons.
I forgot that Girl Meets Friendship even existed. I think I turned it off when they started playing the video from Lucas's friends near the end because I couldn't stand it anymore. Now that I'm looking at the list of episodes, Girl Meets Flaws was pretty despicable too. You're probably right that that was a better episode for Harley, but man, I still cannot believe the solution to Riley's I WANT AN AWARRRRDDD problem was just... giving her an award. It looks like you may have skipped that one? I don't see a review for it. Oh that was also the one where Farkle gets bullied. Okay that actually did have a good scene where Maya and Riley praise Farkle for embracing his weirdness. It was very Tyrion Lannister "Wear it like amor and it cannot be used to hurt you," and I liked it a lot.
One quick thing about Maya that I meant to say last time, when did she stop being an artist? I was enjoying that development, and her portrait of Riley is still one of my favorite things in the series.
So I hope they do more with that in season 2, rather than letting it go the way of Topanga's interest in dancing or Shawn's poetry, or a million other things.
Riley Riley Riley. What is Riley's narrative? A narrative needs conflict, and I cannot for the life of me tell you what Riley's conflicts and struggles are. She's not bullied, she has great friends, a great home life, she's smart and good looking, and now she's dating the best looking guy in school. She never really even gets in trouble. What part of that am I supposed to be invested in? I'm not saying she's a bad character by any means, just... neutral. She engages in dialogue and moves the story to its resolution. Maybe there are some self esteem issues once in a while, but they're always quickly resolved by the greatest support system on earth, consisting of her parents+Maya+a billionaire. What am I supposed to look forward to with Riley? She doesn't have a story. Hell, she doesn't even have hobbies. The only appreciable development is that she got a date with Lucas. The most positive thing I can say about that is "thank goodness they didn't draw that out any longer."
And then you look at Maya, who has twenty over-arcing stories going on. I don't know, I just wish Riley would get in trouble or something. MAKE A MISTAKE. Even when she wastes her mother's $500 emergency fund, Crazy Hat shows up to save the day and Riley faces no consequences. Can you imagine Alan's reaction if Cory wasted money like that? I agree that Cory is a good father, but he'll never be able to bring down The Wrath of God as a father like Alan. And maybe that lack of an authority figure is why they can't have Riley doing anything crazy.
Maybe what I'm trying to say is that Riley's life is just too easy.
Girl Meets Flaws is one I skipped originally but have since gone back and reviewed. It was actually pretty recently. I gave it a C and wasn't a big fan of it - it was a better episode for Harley but certainly worse than Forgotten overall. While, yes, the award thing was stupid, it was such a minor subplot for the episode that I'm not even sure it rated mention in the review. But yes, it is lame that it just all works out. This reminds me of a plot in the One Saturday Morning cartoon "The Weekenders" where Tino is the only one of his friends not winning a class superlative award. The plot is thus about him changing his whole identity to various things to be the best at something. In the end, he does get an award too, but that's only because his friends (and only his friends) write-in vote him for something, making him technically win that. So, while it works out, it works out in a way where it's like "Who cares if I didn't win some award, I'm still a good guy and I have great friends." A better message. Also, "The Weekenders" was fantastic, and who should play Tino but your ol' pal Jason Marsden.
|You know what episode was cool about "The Weekenders"? The characters changed clothes every day. They had, like, a wardrobe. Not just one signature outfit!|
Also, I think that was the first time Farkle Minkus was ever compared to Jon Snow, even indirectly.
As for Riley, I guess I'm not too concerned about how easy her life is. For one, Maya's is often so difficult that it can be nice to have relatively drama-free low-maintenance Riley in comparison. For another, Cory's life was usually exceptionally easy on Boy Meets World too. Great support system, teachers who went above and beyond for him, a loyal girlfriend who was (frankly) out of his league, a best friend he's closer with than any other two best friends in the world. His life's great, everything's great. His biggest problems are the prospect of the perfection that is his life possibly changing in anyway. Sure, that's more Season 4 on Cory, but don't we look back on seasons like 4 and 5 with more fondness than we do Seasons 1 and 2? I certainly do.
That doesn't mean there's room for improvement. Even though life went pretty well for Cory, he did still have the occasional problems. And some of the best episodes are when things didn't work out for Cory, but he remembered what he did have and decided that's okay. I think of the Turnabout episode of Season 2, where there's moment after moment after moment of it looking like it's all going to come together at the last minute for Cory to have an amazing dance and look cool only to find out... nope. Yay, he transforms Ingrid into a hot girl! Noooo, she ditches him. Yay, an even HOTTER girl wants to go with? Noooo, she's just using him for a ride. Yay, Ingrid realized beauty's only skin deep after all! Noooo, she changed her mind when a hot guy asks her out. And Cory's ultimately left alone at a table with Eric and Shawn, but then seems to decide "What the hell? I'll just have a blast with my brother and friend." And those are lessons kids need to learn in high school. Things won't always work out amazingly, not everything's a dream come true, but take stock of what you do have, because it may show you life isn't as bad as you think. I know I could have stood to understand that better in high school. But then, by the time I was in high school, I'd seen like all of Boy Meets World, so I guess nothing's going to teach kids that but life.
I got on a tangent there. My point ultimately is though, while yes, I think Riley needs to struggle more, needs to get away from Lucas, and has her own hopes and dreams and failures. We're told she's insecure, and we do see evidence of it a lot, but... why would she be insecure? Everything works out for her just the way she is. Ultimately I don't think we need that much of it, or that she doesn't work until she gets it. She's a relatively simple character. Sometimes it seems like her goals are just to look at shiny objects. You often made the point on your blog that the show was usually better when Shawn had the serious storyline, and Cory was his comic relief side-kick. I agree (although I think sometimes it could work just as well when vice-versa) and think this corresponds to their female mini-mes too. Riley's been most effective as a goofy little weirdo who's benignly manipulative and meddlesome on other people's behalf. When given more serious material, Rowan struggles because she's very young (considerably younger than Sabrina, Peyton, and Corey too, I believe). For now, I think she's actually being utilized perfectly though. I think she's by far the funniest of the four kids.
As for Cory as dad, you're right that he'll never be the strong authority figure that Alan was, and that may ultimately become a weakness of his as a dad. Sometimes kids simply do need discipline. Still, I don't think it's a storyline weakness, because Alan and Cory are simply different. Cory's just not capable of being that kind of a disciplinarian and if he was written as being good at that it would ring false. He's just not intimidating to anybody anywhere ever. And some dads are like that, and often it falls on the moms to do it instead. While my family was more like the original Matthews with a stern hard-assed Dad and more of a "You wait until your father comes home, young man!" Mom, I had plenty of friends who had hard-ass Moms and kind of shruggy "Can I just go back to the game?" Dads. And that could be this one. Cory doesn't have it in him to be an Alan, but Topanga probably does. And the most recent episode, "Girl Meets Demolition", does seem to imply they're the same, with everyone afraid of Topanga's reaction to the credit card mess. But we don't actually see her effectiveness in play. Actually come to think of it, since I complained in that review that it's probably a little unbelievable that little Riley was crafty enough to come up with that scheme, it may have been better if Topanga had did it instead. Show her using her sly lawyer skills, and she could have just had a colleague at her firm (like Willie Garson's character!) play the role, rather than Riley needing a billionaire friend to help her out.
And yeah, the billionaire's lame. But she's not showing up in every episode, she's only been in three (and only two as a confirmed billionaire) so... I guess at least they're not going to that well once an episode.
Alright, we should probably wrap this one up because we've got our look ahead to Season 2 this weekend, though I do warn you I'll barely have a minute to sleep this weekend. (I'm in a show opening up at The Second City tonight! Wish me luck!) so this will definitely taper into the next week.
Christian's Pick for Seasonal MVP: Sabrina Carpenter (Maya Hart)
Sean's Pick for Seasonal MVP: Sabrina Carpenter (Maya Hart)
Christian's Pick for Seasonal LVP: Peyton Meyer (Lucas Friar)
Sean's Pick for Seasonal LVP: Peyton Meyer (Lucas Friar)
Christian's Pick for Best Episode of Season 1: "Girl Meets Master Plan"
Sean's Pick for Best Episode of Season 1: "Girl Meets the Forgotten"
Christian's Pick for Worst Episode of Season 1: "Girl Meets Friendship"
Sean's Pick for Worst Episode of Season 1: "Girl Meets 1961"
I said a lot of stuff, so feel free to respond to any points and close it up!
I wrote a lot of stuff but it's just gonna go back and forth for years, so I'll just say that my bottom line is that, so far, Riley isn't interesting enough nor real enough to serve as a main character. "Cutely awkward" is an archetype, not a character. She needs more than that, in my opinion. JUST ONE HOBBY. I'd settle for ONE hobby. If you were her age, would you want to hang out with Riley? Why? What could you possibly do or talk about? On the other hand, we could easily hang out with Maya or season one Cory.
And I suppose it is time to look ahead to season 2. The 11th through 15th have an episode a night. That'll be rough, but at least it ends with Girl Meets Mister Squirrels. Wow, it just hit me like a TRAIN that I'm two weeks away from seeing Eric Matthews again. That is completely surreal, I can't handle it.
And last, that's awesome that you're in a production! Break a leg. P.S I thought you were a writer.
Writer and actor, my friend, but writing's the only thing I get paid for. Speaking of which, visit groupon.com for all the latest deals! :)
I admit, I would want to hang out with Riley. I kind of think she's a hoot. I wouldn't even talk to her, I'd just sit there and watch her be a weirdo.
So... we didn't talk about Auggie at all we discovered. Whoops. He's fine. Yeah, he's an annoying too-cutesy little kid played by an actor as green as freshly-watered grass, but so what? He doesn't add much, but he's not really a problem either. His storylines that are annoying are the Ava stuff, but Ava's the problem there, not Auggie himself. And, at the very least, he could not have another line of dialogue ever again and he'd still have added more to his show than Morgan did to Boy Meets World. Good, now he beats Rachel. Shit, now they're tied. Auggie.
And, oh man. Eric Matthews. Eric fucking Matthews.
You don't even need to watch more than a couple seconds of that. I just wanted to find one of the instances where he says that line that way.
Guess who's going to be mentioned the most in our look ahead to Season 2. Go ahead and guess.