See... there's really not a whole that matters in these short lives of ours. But one thing that does matter is being happy. And so everything that Christian or I can write about this episode is entirely secondary to the fact that watching it made me uncontrollably happy.
LOOKATTHAT! Never thought I'd get to see that again, Turner calling on Cory in a classroom. "Cory, you were listening!" I really wish you were all here for a big group hug after that classroom scene, it was so wonderful.
Right away this episode was launching great joke after great joke. It was this genuine, clever wit that the show's been missing with its more predictable humor. I knew immediately that this was different for some reason, so I eagerly searched for who wrote the script. It was Michael Jacobs himself! His only writing credit from Boy was the pilot, and he had a few earlier in Girl, but it's still a treat.
So the humor was A+ from start to finish. What about the plot? I can't claim to be very happy with how often we're blatantly recycling from Boy Meets World. Generally you would want to introduce a similar situation and then draw parallels to Turner's first day as a teacher, but this isn't just similar, it's the exact same setup. Why did it have to be leather jacket, motorcycle, comic books, cool new teacher vs the principal? It still worked and I still loved it, but in the future I'd like to see less recycling.
They missed an opportunity to have a neat shot there where the characters lined up with the words "good" and "evil" on the chalkboard. Somebody needs to step up their cinematography. The last negative things are that it didn't have Shawn and there's no good reason in the universe for Turner to be living in New York, especially since he married a nurse working at a hospital in Philly.
But that's it, just a few nitpicky negativities. I'm trying to think of insightful commentary, but I'm really caught up in the euphoria of seeing Turner again.
Let's see.... "Everyone in this room knows that someone with real power doesn't need to hit a kid with a ruler to get the kid to want to learn." That sentence has too many prepositions, but WOAH, that's the Michael Jacobs I know! As usual with this show, they have to tell us the lesson explicitly, to our faces. I think we would have gotten it on our own, but that's not a big deal.
"Finding the desire to learn" and "understanding why learning is more than memorizing text books" are two of Jacobs's favorite themes, and are the driving force behind most of BMW's best episodes. Turner's relationship with Shawn and Cory was always an excellent vehicle for arriving at those themes, (I would direct you to Me And Mr. Joad and Pop Quiz, especially) and I'm incredibly happy that we got to take another ride in this episode. This was the perfect way to use Turner. We were reminded of everything his character did so well, and reminded as well of his fantastic chemistry with Cory.
The final scene at the Matthews' dinner table was flawless. I was still on the fence about Shawn being a guiding role model for Maya, but now that we've seen Maya and Turner talking about Shawn I am 100% on board. I'm pretty sure Jacobs had been writing this scene in his head for years. It's too perfect. I am begging for at least one scene with Turner, Shawn, and Maya together.
Was that even a review or was I just gushing? I can't tell. Hopefully Christian can say something more coherent.
"My father was the one who gave me my love of books. It's why he named me Harper." Uh oh. Stay tuned for Harper's next (probably unauthorized) episode in 50 years which won't be as good and will risk tarnishing her legacy forever!
Also, kudos for Disney not intervening and being like "The Dark Knight Returns? We hype Marvel Comics in this company." Although Civil War could've worked just as well.
Anyway, I think this is a first and may prove interesting. We categorically disagree on the quality of this episode. I didn't like it. I liked seeing Turner again, I liked getting information about what happened to him, I liked little moments like "Nice sensible sedan. What, you buy that from Feeny?" But other than that, I did not think this episode was good at all.
From top to bottom this one was just SUPER on the nose and obvious and cheesy and cringe-y. It suffered from a frequent Season 1 problem of almost every line (especially in the second half) being IMPORTANT and MEANINGFUL. It felt like they weren't so much people as they were... characters in a fable, and like they were expecting us to go "Aww..." or else, I dunno, cheer after, like, half the things that got said. The way they dragged out the reveal that Turner kept Harper on as English teacher (like anyone had been concerned about that since the moment Turner walked in, or even before that) to the way they beat us over the head with how cool she was. It was all just too much. It was all just bad writing, with all the nuance of a sledgehammer.
And really I found Harper pretty obnoxious as a character idea, a complete Mary Sue. "Hey! I'm your new teacher! I'm young and hip! Call me by my first name! I ride a motorcycle and wear a leather jacket just like Mr. Turner did! Also, I'm super good at my job, better than Cory! I'm oppressed by the establishment but I play by my own rules so read this comic book anyway! Hey Maya, I can tell you're secretly smart, because I get you! In fact, I get all of you, I know all of your names already! I'm the best, you guys! Can't you tell that I'm the best?! Aren't I a superawesomecool addition to this show? Am I your favorite character yet?!"Ugh.
It's just a horrible way to introduce a new character. The worst way. Let's compare it to the episode where Turner arrives. Yeah, they show off his positive traits, but like... he was actually not that big a part of the episode, so he didn't feel shoved down my throat. Hell, his first scene wasn't even really about him so much, it was just Cory mistaking him for Harley. (I do wanna see a scene between Turner and Harley, where they're talking about something else, and then at the end Harley's like "Could I take you yet?" and Turner's still like "Nah.") They showed us he was cool throughout the episode (teaching X-Men, standing up for Cory against Harley) but other stuff was going on and they were much more casual about it, so it didn't feel like a fucking PR blitzkrieg for the guy.
Also, I don't know, maybe I'm getting old? But I was kind of on that principal's side a little bit. Should she be allowed to teach a high quality comic book? Absolutely. Should she have been summarily fired like that? Absolutely not. Should Cory's job ever have been in jeopardy at all? Absolutely not. But she also flagrantly disobeyed a direct order on her first day because she decided she knew better. I wouldn't want an employee like that either. On your first day if your boss wants you to teach To Kill a Mockingbird, then you teach fucking To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a good book! It's perfectly valid to teach! You acknowledged that yourself! So prove yourself to him a little bit and then maybe he'll give you some leeway.
Also, another thing that made Turner work was that he worked to change Feeny's mind on things, and often it worked. (And sometimes, Feeny turned out to be right, not Turner, which was nice.) On the other hand, Harper (who couldn't have been doing a shittier job at saving herself) was only saved due to Deus Ex Machina. If Turner hadn't happened to be the superintendent, she'd have been gone. It may have gone a longer way toward proving what a good teacher Harper is (instead of simply having her students tell us over and over) if we saw her teaching something new to even a stubborn old coot like the principal and not needing Turner to pull her ass out of the fire.
I don't know. I wish I had more positive things to say. I did like seeing Mr. Turner again, absolutely. And there were some fun moments sprinkled throughout. But I thought this was a bad episode.
Oh! I do also want to say, that while I'm not on record about it or anything, I totally called Turner being the superintendent. I always thought that was the perfect role for him - a role in education to explain what he's doing there, position of authority so it feels like he's accomplished stuff in the last 20 years, but he's not right to be principal because I feel like we'd need to see him more. Superintendent is the perfect role for an occasionally recurring Turner.
Also, how about that bit with Auggie and the Archie Comics. "The blonde girl and the dark-haired girl both like the same boy but they stayed best friends. Could that really happen?" And Riley's firm no and Maya's more ambivalent response? You think it's foreshadowing or just acknowledging that they're aware of the Maya/Lucas shippers. Also, is Maya and Lucas' shipping name "Mucus"? 'Cause I almost don't see how it can't be. Oh, right, I remembered it's "Lucaya" as I was typing this. I guess that's probably a better choice than Mucus.
Going through your post to see if there's any other things I should directly respond to... Oh, I actually totally buy Turner living in New York. Dude's got a New York accent. He's clearly got ties to the city. He probably lived there before moving to Philly and then maybe moved back after his accident? We know he's from Connecticut originally, which is right next-door to New York City, and a lot of people who work in Manhattan commute from there. But yeah, he's the New Yorkiest seeming character in this franchise, he can live there.
I do like the little updates we got about his life, though, a lot. I like that they referenced the accident (I honestly didn't expect they would) and I like that we heard he got married in the interim. I've mentioned in the past not liking Shawn still being hung up on Angela because it feels too much like they put him in a time capsule in 2000 and just took him out now. Turner didn't feel that way, I believe he's been living his life this whole time, and that's nice.
And, like you, I think it's kind of crazy to have Turner in an episode and not have Shawn there too. We got Shawn references, which is good. But come on! I believe Turner's supposed to be in more episodes, so hopefully that will be rectified. I also liked the dinner table scene (though, I don't know, the "Topanga can't handle an A-" joke felt a little phoned in. How many times can they do that same joke?) and enjoyed Turner and Maya's interactions even if it lacked the perfection that Shawn's presence would have added. I didn't like the part where they said Turner had dinner at their house like, once a week. That felt like too much. If he was that omnipresent in their lives, it wouldn't have felt so "Everyone's seeing him for the first time in a while." Turner would know about Cory's car, Auggie wouldn't need to be told Turner used to be Copanga's teacher, Maya would probably know who he is, etc.
Oh and speaking of "How many times can they do that same joke?" This has got to be like the third or fourth joke they've made about how Feeny was always their teacher. I like they get meta about that (although nothing will ever top BMW's "You got Feeny this year?" "Yeah, you?" "Yeah. What class?" "All of 'em." "Yeah, me too.") but they don't have to keep doing it. Though I will say the bit with Auggie "He was your principal and your teacher? That would never happen now, would it?" "We'll see!" was good.
I don't know, in terms of the stuff I didn't like, are we just on completely different sides of this? I notice the stuff I condemned was generally not the stuff you were praising. Like you weren't even really talking about Harper or the principal or any of that storyline, your praises seemed to be directed to Turner, and I had no issues with what they did with Turner. It was the other stuff I didn't like. I do agree, that life is short, and it's a treat to see these old friends, but maybe it's because Turner was never a character I was all that into (I liked him and everything, but meh) but I just couldn't look past all the stuff I thought was shitty in this episode. I also don't think it was quite as funny as you seemed to, I'd say most of the episodes this season have been funnier.
Sounds like we're focused on different things. It's "The Turner Episode," why would I care about anybody else? Harper was a plot device. I don't think we're actually supposed to be invested in her. She's gotta be a one-off, not this show's version of Turner. But if it turns out that she's recurring then you're absolutely right, her presentation was way too in-your-face. One point I do agree with is that line about Turner eating dinner with them so often. That's dumb and breaks the plot points like you said. That was a mistake.
I like what you're saying about Turner not being in a time capsule. The way he's woven so easily into the story versus Angela's nonsense episode is solid proof that he's a much better character than she is. I never thought to compare Angela (or Jack or Rachel) to Turner in the character rankings, but I'd put him ahead of all three. I suspect you will too, even though you erroneously think he is "meh."
"We'll see!" is the hardest I've laughed at Cory in this series. Complaining about multiple jokes on Topanga's perfection or Feeny's omniteacherness is like complaining about multiple jokes on Riley's airheadedness (there's been like fifty). But you've only done half of that, so I don't know if that's fair.
Well, shit, man, we better see Harper again, otherwise why the hell was I forced to endure so much of her? I don't like her at all, but I'm really not going to like her if all of that was for absolutely no reason than to just have Turner come on in an episode with a Turner-esque character. I certainly don't expect to see her as often as we saw Turner, but I did expect she'd recur sometimes, like Harley. Pop up whenever they need a more English-y lesson or just.... need another teacher for some reason. It honestly never occurred to me that she'd be a one-and-done.
While I agree, it's "The Turner Episode" he also didn't even show up until halfway through, so I'm a little bit more forced to focus on story than I am in, say, an Eric episode, where it's like "Yeah, here's a sprinkling of plot, but really, Will just.... do you thing and we'll point a camera at you." Yeah, the Turner portions were largely good. But I strongly disliked the rest of it, and I do think there was more "rest of it." I will also agree, that while Hurricane was a better episode than New Teacher (for non-Angela reasons) that Turner's return was much handled better than Angela's.
And of course, I certainly like Turner more than Angela (who I didn't find particularly likable) and Jack and Rachel (who were pointless.) He'd rank higher. In fact, I'm going to rank every main character from Boy Meets World right now because I like to rank:
I forget anyone? So, yeah, Jonathan ends up in the upper half. I never disliked him, he just wasn't someone I, like, tuned in for. It's really just those top 5 I'm revved up about.
"We'll see" was great. I think I enjoyed his "SHOVELS!" schtick the most. That or when he was so aggressively insulting toward Topanga's chicken way back in Season 1. That said, I don't agree about your point about making jokes about Topanga's perfectionism being analagous to jokes about Riley's an airhead. I don't have issue with them making jokes about how Topanga's a perfectionist. It's just we've done the "THAT'S NOT AN A+! CHANGE IT!" joke a lot with her. It's that specific joke, not the genre of joke. Like, I enjoy when they get meta. But if every meta joke was "Bad news, guys. I blew up another mail box!" by the third or fourth time I'd be like "Well, okay, be meta about something else." But actually, Danielle Fishel is my choice for runner-up MVP in this episode, I actually enjoyed her throughout the episode. "Why would you lie to my kid?" was good.
Oh, I guess, I should do that.
Episode Rating: C (The non-Turner stuff was mainly garbage, but the Turner stuff was mainly good, so it balances out to this)
Episode MVP: Anthony Tyler Quinn, for sure.
Hey, wanna hear something slightly off-topic and crazy? So, Amir Mitchell-Townes, who plays Zay. Know who his dad is? Freaking DJ Jazzy Jeff! Best known to you non-'90s rap fans as Will Smith's best friend Jazz from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I wanna see Cory bodily throw Zay out of his house.
Guess there's not much more to say. That's fucking insane that Zay is Jazzy Jeff's kid. I declare that BMW and Fresh Prince exist in the same continuity. They can all hang out in Philly some time.
And you really do love rankings, don't you. But that's okay, so do I. You forgot Chet. He's hard to place, but definitely above the bottom three.
I didn't count Chet because he was never a main cast member, but he'd go after Alan, probably. He's high up there for me, I dig him a lot.
Alright, there you have it folks. Sorry, I couldn't enjoy this one as much as many of you did. Next week, it's an episode filmed during Season 1 that they've held off on showing until now. It appears to mainly involve Auggie and Ava dressed up like detectives trying to solve a crime and demanding confessions from characters. So, uh, gear up. I bet all the kids are going to look crazy-young and it'll throw off continuity.
You ranked Eli who has 16 episodes, and Chet has 12, so it seems fair to me.