Friday, July 17, 2015

Episode Review: "Girl Meets the New Teacher" (#2.10)

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:

1. Eric
2. Cory
3. Shawn
4. Feeny
5. Alan
6. Pangers
7. Turner
8. Amy
9. Morgan
10. Minkus
11. Eli
12. Rachel
13. Angela
14. Jack

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.

49 comments:

  1. This was a great episode. Just because Turner married the nurse in Philladelphia, doesn't mean they couldn't move later. Once someone is certified/qualified as a nurse, I'd imagine it's more like doctors than lawyers. (Lawyers have to pass the state bar, but there isn't a state by state thing for doctors). I want a scene with just Mr. Turner and Shawn, and I want a different scene that's Shawn, Mr. Turner, and Maya.

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  2. While I will comment later on the episode in detail, and on your analysis of it, I want to say right now that this is now my favorite episode of GMW. Previously Pluto was a very close second to Girl meets Father for me, but now this is #1. It was all perfect. This was in fact BMW in 2015 for me. Exactly what I had been waiting for since the series was announced.

    If they can stay at this level, I will be really happy. If hey can get better, they might actually be a sequel that is better than the original. Lets hope so.

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    1. I didn't want to say it until I had marinated on it a while, and maybe until after Christian had written his side, but yeah, I'm very close to saying this is the best episode.

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    2. This episode? Better than PLUTO? Y'all be trippin'.

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    3. Yes, this episode was better than Pluto. Pluto was great until they forced that 45 seconds of Shawn and Maya on Riley's bed into my face. They should have used that time for more Feeny or more of the kids in class or talking about what they were putting into the time capsule. Then Maya putting in a picture that doesn't exist. Shawn and her mother were in front of her and the entire Matthews family was behind them by the couch. Who took that picture? That kind of killed a lot of that feel good episode for me. YMMV.

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    4. I think giving Pluto flack for 45 seconds of a misstep isn't particularly fair, when we had 15 minutes of badly written nonsense before Turner even shows up.

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    5. Finally starting to go through S2 on Netflix, and so far, this and Pluto are my top picks. Pluto had some terrific storytelling and ties to BMW, while New Teacher was just solidly written.

      Despite Christian's comment about the writing being too heavy, it didn't feel that way to me (and I know exactly what he's talking about since GMW goes to that well too often). It was genuinely a lot less over-the-top and unrealistic than the show usually gets in terms of characterization and humor.

      I liked it a lot! And Turner is one of the BMW greats. Glad to see he didn't keel over after that Centre business. God didn't blow off Shawn after all!

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  3. Sean, I don't blame you for your gushing because I'M RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! I loved this episode for a lot of reasons. One of the first reasons is something I can't believe DC did on purpose. The timing. This episode premiered just days shy of the Batman v. Superman trailer dropped from Comic-Con. For those who don't know, that movie is very heavily influenced by Miller's "The Dark Night Rises", the graphic novel in this episode. There was another excellent piece of timing in that Harper Lee's sequel novel to "To Kill A Mockingbird" was released this week. Things lined up in a really spectacular way this episode.

    John Turner's return was awesome! The second he walked back on screen, he was Mr. Turner again. It felt as seamless as when Chet came back. And had almost as much impact. He's a superintendent now, which in a place like NYC is kinda huge, and there's no reason why his wife and him couldn't have moved there when he was offered the job. Now, I do kinda have an issue w/ Cory gaming the hiring process of the new teacher knowing he had the big boss in his pocket, but I think how they ended it still worked. So, its a slight nitpick.

    The principal in this episode was a great foil. Stuart Pankin has been doing TV for years, and he was a recognizable face that brought some serious acting cred to the episode. His face when Riley called Mr. Turner "Uncle John" was great. He knew he was screwed. And I liked that he didn't submit to the "lesson" on screen. He relented off screen, which leads to him coming back as a foil again. Smart writing there.

    Just want to say that the girls were great again. Really nailed the comedy, and drama in this one. Farkle was ok, and Lucas trying not to let on he read the comic before was pretty funny. So, he was good too. One quick nitpick here in that there was a lot of meta humor in this one. Yet, here I'm good with it because they let you know from the word go that this episode essentially poking fun at itself, and the fact its a copycat. Loved Topanga bringing up the A- at the end! That would be something she'd never let go. Excellent job!

    My one concern coming out of this episode came at the very end. When Auggie gets done reading his "Archie" comic, he mentions the running story from it about the blonde and brunette who like the same guy and fight about it. The girls sorta brush it off, but I have a bad feeling that they are telling us exactly what's about to happen. And I can't say that I'm gonna be cool with it if/when it happens.

    Oh, and would LOVE a Mr. Turner/Shawn/Maya scene. I think that has the makings of something special. And a I also loved Maya mentioning she might want to be a teacher. Nice touch.

    Episode Grade: A. All in all, I loved this episode. Instantly one of my favs, and I hope Mr. Turner comes back to visit. Soon.

    Episode MVP: Anthony Quinn. He was Mr. Turner from the second he walked in the door. His presence was immediately felt, and I feel it had the same kinda impact as Chet when he came back. Honorable Mentions go to Rowan Blanchard & Sabrina Carpenter. Great job by them in their roles.

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    1. I was thinking about Batman vs Superman when I read a summary of Dark Knight Returns, but I didn't even think of Go Set A Watchman. You're right, that's pretty spectacular timing.

      And you're right about everything else too.

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  4. They could've picked Civil War, in fact I'm surprised they didn't pick at least some Marvel property (Mr. Turner originally did X-Men as Cory pointed out in this very episode, after all). But a few people on IMDb offered a few theories why they actually picked BvS/Frank Miller

    1. Oddly enough Disney Channel might've told them not to do Civil War. Since Civil War is going to be the new Captain America movie they might've wanted to not spoil plot details. I'm not sure this holds any water since the Marvel movies actually only very, very loosely follow their comic book sources anyway in the first place (Age of Ultron is way, way different than the comic book storyline was in just about every way imaginable while still keeping the same characters) and it'd be perfect to get the kids hyped up for a movie that's coming in "only" a year. But on a related note, I can actually see Disney telling Jacobs not to do X-Men actually since that movie license is owned by a rival studio now and Disney/Marvel are trying to downplay X-Men as much as possible until the movie license reverts back to them.

    2. BvS has much more of a cultural and critical impact than Civil War or almost any other Marvel property actually did. Christopher Nolan himself says it's one of the models he used for The Dark Knight trilogy. It's going to be a much more recognizable name and really it's going to fit better with what the episode is trying to accomplish than Civil War without resorting to a title that's less family-friendly (like Watchmen, though anything by Frank Miller period isn't exactly family-friendly BvS included). I have to give Disney Channel and Jacobs credit for placing the artistic needs of the episode over having to indirectly promote a property and movie owned by a rival company and studio.

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  5. Civil War wouldn't work at all in any way shape or form. Alright, it has superheroes vs superheroes, but Dark Knight Returns is one of the most important comics and as Harper said had an impact on it's medium and on pop culture, into actual literature. It's like saying if you can't use Watchmen just use Spider-man: One More Day.

    Anyway, I liked the episode enough. Mr. Turner always being over at the house is kinda funny and I think it'd be nice for Cory to have an adult to play off of.

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    1. Damn, y'all be hatin' on Civil War. Civil War was a big deal too! I dunno. I'm just a Marvel guy. And I kind of find Batman overrated just, like, in general. *dodges tomatoes*

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    2. We all have our faults, Christian, :P. I'm a pretty bigger hater on Civil War and you're are right it was a big deal a big deal in it's time period, but even in the mid-2000's, it was really a copy of DC's major event, Identity Crisis. Similar themes of conspiracy amongst superheroes, superheroes against each other. Before I get accused of being a DC fanboy, Identity Crisis was absolutely terrible, probably worse than even Civil War in it's character assassination. They both come from the comics industry as a whole going "we're not just for kids" and falling completely flat.

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  6. Well the back and forth seems to be over now, so I'll chime in with my full comments.

    Not sure why Christian disliked this episode so much. I mean I did read his arguments, but I really find it all hard to believe. We had everything most of us seemed to want, a former BMW cast member showing up, the kids learning stuff and having more and meaningful dialogue than they had last week.

    Using Dark Knight as opposed to Civil War made total sense. Dark Knight and Watchmen are the seminal graphic novels of the 80's, a time when this type of presentation was not as common as it is today. It was important and it is classic. Civil War was important at the time, but not nearly so ground breaking.

    As far as Harper doing what she wanted as opposed to doing what she was told, didn't Turner do exactly the same thing in "Wake Up Little Cory" when Feeny told him it was a bad idea and he would rather they did not do it? I do agree that they wrote Harper more in your face than they did Turner, but Turner was a regular cast member so they had a lot of time to give us his character, while at best our new English teacher is a recurring character so we need to be force fed more of her at a time when she is here.

    As for Harper only being saved because of Turner, well isn't it obvious that Cory helped hire her BECAUSE he knew that if things went sideways he had Turner in his pocket? While the principal wasn't completely wrong (the first name thing is unacceptable for instance), but it wouldn't have killed him to let her try things her way for a few days before he kicked her to the curb.

    The bit with Auggie and the girls was gold. Whether or not they were foreshadowing upcoming events or trolling all the shippers on the net, it was still funny. The bit with Auggie and Cory about being the principal was also great. We'll see if moving Yancy gives Cory an excuse to be involved in the kids’ education in future seasons. (Yancy wouldn't have been fired; he was only doing his job, but had to be reassigned to save face for all).

    Finally the closing scene at the Matthews' house was exceptional. Topanga's complaining about her grade was par for the course for her. Turner's interaction with Auggie and Topanga was just so funny. The look on Auggie's face at the end of that when he understands what they are saying is priceless.

    The entire cast was great, including Peyton, who had been on a downward spiral the past few episodes. Also I'm shouting out to wardrobe who actually had Riley and Maya wearing the friendship rings for the first time when they weren't a plot device. Though last week I complained that we need more kid’s time and less adults, this week the adults were not the most important point of the episode. The kids learned several lessons and the adults (both regulars and guests) while they had a lot of screen time, were not really advancing any story lines for themselves, and we have had too much of that so far this season.

    Continuing my own post to finish

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    1. My issues: not many.

      I did have an issue with Riley saying that Uncle Jon comes over their house all the time. I'm sure that was only to get under Yancy's collar, otherwise Maya would have known Turner a long time ago as you guys pointed out. It could have been better handled to show that it was only a joke.

      Another issue is that to folks that have not seen "Back 2 School", they made it seem like Turner had taught that X-Men comic because he planned it and not just because he took Cory's copy then applied it to his lesson.

      I also had issue with Topanga correcting Turner when he was telling Auggie (and Riley and Maya) that Cory was a good student. I do get that this is a comedy and that they were playing it for laughs, but if you are fortunate enough, as I am, to have children of your own, you know that while they are growing up you teach and tell them what they need to know, not necessarily what the truth is until they are old enough to understand it. Telling the kids that being a bad student isn't an impediment to having a happy successful life, isn't something you really want to do until you are sure that they are old enough to hear the bad parts of their parents lives and realize that raising them right is more important than filling them in on the rough parts of your past.

      My Grade A+ - the best episode of the series so far. The stuff was so great and the issues were too small to take away from all the good. MVP: Anthony Tyler Quinn - it was awesome to see him again. This might not be popular, but I thought Auggie was a close second. His deliver was excellent and his facial expressions are right on. He is getting better with time and really growing into the part.

      Hopefully, after Girl Meets Fish, we will see if the writers have hit their stride or if the last New Teacher and Hurricane were aberrations. I'm cautiously optimistic.

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    2. Agreed on most points, the pace, the comedy, the chemistry and the parallels between Dark Knight and the fight between Harper and Yancy were all great.

      I do disagree on a few points. I don't see anything wrong with a teacher allowing students to call him/her by their first name. It's all about establishing a good dynamic with them and earning their respect and admiration. Some of the best teachers I ever had, and learned the most from, let us call them by their first name and established a relationship with students outside the classroom, even becoming friends after we left their class. Also I don't think the Uncle John thing is a one time joke, later on Riley refers to him like that again when she tells Maya about him and Shawn, so I think she did have a bond with him, she just apparently never heard stories about him being her parents' cool teacher and her dad's boss. Which is weird and most likely a continuity error, but I'm willing to let that slide
      As for Fish, I wouldn't judge if the writing have improved based on that episode, since it was done as a season 1 episode and is airing late for Disney reasons. I expect it to have some of the problems the show had earlier on. We'll have to wait until whatever comes after that to know if this is the quality we can expect from them on a regular basis.

      Agree on the A+, new favourite episode so far, and MVP clearly Anthony Tyler Quinn, he was fantastic, he hasn't missed a beat as Mr Turner.

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    3. Man, I just do *not* get the gushing about this episode. I honestly thought the writing and storytelling was some of the worst this show's ever had.

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  7. I dunno, I'm going to have to join the group of people that's praising this episode as the best thing since sliced bread. Really, my only two complaints about it are that one line about Turner coming over to their house regularly which raises some questions and the Principal's entire character. From the actor, to the line delivery, towards his role in the story, he was written as just this cliche "villain" principal out to ruin everybody's day. I would tend to expect a higher level of sophistication from a show like this; they could have very easily written him as the antagonist of the episode in a way that still gave him legitimate points and didn't portray his whole character as a cartoon.

    Everything else was gold, though. I think everybody was on their acting A-Game this episode; there were very few overly corny or cheesy lines, all the dialogue was spot-on and comedic timing was the best it's been since, well, pretty much ever. The three scenes at the Matthews home were some of my favorites in the entire series thus far. Everybody was in-character, the comedy and self aware humor was real, and Cory and Topanga actually felt like themselves instead of the shells they have sometimes been in this show. Also, I felt that Ben and Danielle initially had a hard time stepping back into acting in these roles and it showed (even Rider had a bit of a rough time); it's really elevated this season that Will and Anthony haven't missed a beat and are just as good now as when BMW was on-air. Hell, even Lucas got a funny line this episode!

    I also appreciate that they didn't go the cliche route of Mr. Turner intimidating the Principal into backing down by sole virtue of Cory's influence, but he actually did follow up with his concerns and supervise Harper's class. Sure, they may have dragged out the "reveal" that he wasn't going to fire her for a little too long but I think that particular plot direction makes up for the cartoonish writing of the Principal a little bit.

    As for Harper herself, eh... I suppose I can understand the concerns about her being written as a Mary Sue, but I didn't really get that vibe when I watched the episode. The Turner parallels were mainly there to make Turner parallels, which we later learned was because of Cory's influence in hiring her, trying to make lightning strike twice and whatnot. I was able to look past that to the point where it didn't really bother me.

    My MVP for the episode, surprisingly, goes to Ben Savage. Anthony was great as was expected but Cory had some pretty fantastic lines this episode.

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  8. I loved seeing Turner again. The cast on this show is great. But this week's conflict was so silly and one-sided: Turner is obviously not going to allow Harper to be fired, so what exactly is at stake? Yancy becomes a buffoon with no rationale or reason to his arguments.

    I thought the writing was very clever in many parts, from indicating that Turner had recovered to the dinner conversation when Turner is first mentioned. The script very smartly doesn't use Turner's name when Cory and Topanga first mention their cool teacher. This allows the dialogue to re-introduce Turner without declaring that Riley and Maya have never met him, allowing Riley to address him as "Uncle Jon" later. Cory and Topanga talk about "a teacher," they never directly say it was Jon Turner who comes over all the time. Auggie seems surprised that Mr. Feeney taught every class; clearly, the parents are doling out high school anecdotes in bits and pieces.

    I also loved Maya's line: "I just haven't spoken yet." I love the meta-humour on the show. I just wish the stories were as strong as the original BMW.

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    1. While I stand in the "loved it" camp, I agree the conflict was one-sided. There was no moment where anyone could believe that Cory or Harper's job was actually in danger. And I think they wasted the principal character. If we're going to be at this school for two and a half more years, I would hope to have a legitimate character as the principal.

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    2. They are in middle school, so they will be done at JQA at the end of 9th grade. While Cory's job was never in real danger (teacher's unions are pretty strong), Harper was on her first 2 days on the job. She could have realistically been let go (from Yancy's point of view) if Cory didn't have such a good relationship with Turner. She did do 2 things that were against school policy and certainly did the exact opposite of what her principal told her to do.

      Early in the episode, we had no knowledge that Turner was Yancy's boss, so it was possible that she could lose her job. However, with how these Disney shows are written, that would be the exception, not the rule.

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    3. I guess I miss how BOY MEETS WORLD had a stronger sense of peril and ambiguity. The writing was more skillful -- although the problem may that GMW labours under a different set of studio and network mandates. For example, there was a neat BMW episode where Turner declared that the students wouldn't have to take a test, Feeny demanded that they be tested, Cory and Shawn staged a protest -- and there were a lot of interesting arguments on all sides.

      In this episode, Yancy was such a clown that it was impossible to take him seriously as anything and it was pretty clear that Turner would take Harper's side from the moment he stepped into the room.

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    4. 1960s - while, sure, Turner technically *could* have fired Harper, there was just no earthly way he was going to. She's a carbon copy of him. She espouses his entire teaching philosophy. Why would he fire her? The moment he walked in, we knew she was safe, and yet they went through 15 minutes of rigamarole of trying to make us think she was still in jeopardy... including that last scene where they dragged it out foreeeeeever and even had Turner say something like "Clearly, someone had to go." when... no one went. So that was just.... a lie. I thought it was going to be that Yancy was going to be fired (which seemed harsh too) but... nope. Just... was nonsense. Went nowhere.

      I dunno, guys. I think you guys are blinded by Turner-love. I think if you rewatched this one, the cracks would start to show.

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    5. Even the IMDB reviews have it at 9.7 out of 10. Pluto is sitting at a 9.1.

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    6. Pshh. I hardly look to IMDb's user ratings as a barometer for quality. (But, seriously, the newer something is the more likely it is to be artificially higher ranked on IMDb. At one point in 2008 'The Dark Knight' was #1 on their Top 250 Movies list. Which is lunacy.)

      Anyway, I'm alarmed here, do you *really* think this is better than Pluto? You said yourself that you just kind of didn't really pay attention to or care about the stuff that wasn't Turner-focused. You seem to acknowledge that there's some across-the-board problems with the Harper stuff.

      Meanwhile, Pluto was *perfect.* Pluto was just non-stop smiles throughout. And, sure, great, it's cool to see Turner. Is it better to see Turner than to see Shawn and Feeny and Feeny's backyard? And Lauren's letter? And all that shovels business? C'mon!

      I can accept people just... liking this one. But to think it's flat-out the best? Come on. Seriously? That's just... what? Come on!

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  9. I agree with the side that's saying this may be one of the best episodes yet! Though I do wish they'd stop recycling so much from Boy.

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    1. Also omg the throwing of Zay out of the apartment NEEDS TO HAPPEN NOW. But somehow I see Topanga as more likely to do that than Cory. :P

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    2. It's not much of a side anymore. Just everyone on earth vs Christian.

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  10. I was a little surprised to see so much gushing over this episode although I didn't hate it quite as much as Christian did, I think I fall somewhere between both arguments. Of course I loved everything with turner coming back, as I do with every bmw appearance and overall I was pretty happy watching this. However there was still something wrong with the episode and I think Christian pretty much summed it up:
    "Hey! 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?!"

    But then that's kind of a fundamental problem to the show which has been struggling with subtlety from the get go. Also there was really no stakes at all I never for a second thought that teacher would get fired and I don't think any kids watching this would really be fooled either. I could've told you the entire plot of this episode just from watching the preview and one thing I loved about boy meets world was its ability to completely turn its plot upside down halfway through an episode. It kind of prided itself on not going the predictable or cliche route.

    So for plot I give this episode pretty much an F. BUT that doesn't mean I hated the episode at all, because the actors were all on their a games and I totally enjoyed the humor in this episode. Riley and maya as a duet is always funny and I just love that dynamic:

    Riley: I learn something valuable everyday
    Maya: I come here because my apartment leaks

    The humor really does get an A+ for this episode

    Another thing this episode did right was the life lesson. Although I haven't seen a lot about it in the comments so maybe everyone else won't really agree with that.

    "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. "

    I thought this was fantastic for a few reasons. One: it was set up perfectly with a one off joke about their cranky old teacher missing the days when they could physically discipline children. I really didn't think they were gonna mention it again until Riley brought it up and it was the one time I was surprised for this whole episode. Two: turner then piled on by adding that you can hit a kid with a ruler in 19 states- a fact I personally wasn't aware of. That almost turned this life lesson into real social commentary. This is a kids show and it is good to see the show trying to inform them about issues like this that can and will directly affect them in the most subtle way I've seen the show handle a life lesson yet. It didn't need the be a very special episode for the writers to comment on something relevant to today's kids and their education. Sean is right that it's another example of Jacobs driving home that idea of children wanting to learn rather than being forced to.

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  11. Watching last week's episode made me wonder -- is it possible that Eric become a psychotic manchild in Season 7 of BMW from the trauma of giving up Tommy? Is that why he mentally degenerated in Season 7 into a buffoon? And now that Tommy has returned to his life, can Eric return to being a more nuanced character?

    **

    I really agree with our reviewers pointing out how GMW's scripts are ham-fisted and overly obvious in delivering their lessons. It's weird. GMW has the same writers as BMW. But BMW was joyful, skillful, thought-provoking and often had meaningful things to say about class division, responsibility, problem solving, sacrifice and cults. GMW's lessons are so devoid of any genuine meaning beyond trite, simplistic platitudes hammered into the audience without the slightest subtlety.

    I think the problem may be that BMW was on the ABC network and treated as a semi-adult dramedy. GMW is on the Disney Channel and treated as a child's show with Disney's view that all children are barely literate morons who can't understand a story without every single point of significance signposted and overemphasized.

    ABC had some interest in reaching both old and young audiences; wanting to widen ever more is why Anthony Quinn was hired. I wonder if ABC gave Jacobs and friends some space to appeal to both adults and kids while Disney has a far dimmer view of their audience?

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  12. I think that I have to agree with Christian on this one, this episode actually frustrated me. It was just so dumbed down when compared to BMW. Harper was absolutely terrible. She walks in bragging about her motorcycle and acting all tough. That was not Mr. Turner. Turner was a responsible guy and a good teacher who happened to drive a motor cycle. Also, he did not just teach a comic book like Harper. He was teaching the Odyssey when Cory says "ya who would want to read that." Turner then used the copy of XMen to relate to the lesson, he did not blatantly disregard the curriculum but rather helped the kids relate to it.
    Another problem I had was how they make everything one sided. The principal was the bad guy, the politician was evil. BMW was all about how not everything is black and white. This is seen with the Feeny and Turner conflicts. They have different teaching styles but you can understand both sides. GMW just feels dumbed down in this sense that it is very frustrating.
    Other than that, Turner was awesome and the humor was ok. I just thought the plot and the New Teacher (which was the focus of the episode) were terrible.

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    1. I really agree. BMW wasn't an arcane cryptogram, but it was aware that the world wasn't an easy place to figure out. GMW offers asinine tripe like Topanga saying, "To be a good lawyer, you have to be a good person" as though every thing in life is clear, the good guys are always in the right and the bad guys are always easily trounced morons. BMW was so *skillful*. So stylish. So clever. So self-aware. GMW so isn't -- aside from the meta jokes now and then. The cast is really better than the material they're getting.

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    2. I actually completely agree with you, Mark. But that's EVERY episode of Girl Meets World. We were coming into this knowing it would be dumbed down black and white good vs evil because that's what every episode is like. So we evaluate it from that perspective. It's not fair to call this a bad episode over a problem that the entire series has had.

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    3. Except, Sean, that this season had been seeing a lot of improvement on that front and this felt like a step backwards. Maybe it's simply because we've had less lesson-focused episodes and more character-focused ones, which tend to be stronger. But whatever the reason, this one jumped out at me as a throwback to Season 1 heavy handedness.

      I have to say, I know he's the creator of all these characters, and essentially is a middle-aged version of Cory in real life, but MJ doesn't actually strike me as the ideal writer of these episodes. He gets the characters right but his way of delivering a lesson is actually a little too much in most of his episodes. While he's got some good GMW episodes to his name, I think he has even more bad ones.

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    5. Michael Jacobs' name (or any writer's name) may be on the scripts, but any onscreen product is rarely if ever the product of a single voice. All studios and networks have the option of contributing or requiring revisions, changes or lay down rules that are to be followed. Some showrunners defy the studio or network; some would like to are in a situation where going against mandates would mean nothing would get made, and some choose not to.

      The massive gulf in quality between GMW and BMW from the *same* writers suggests that they are subject to outside influences. BMW aired on ABC. It was a fall premiering series that aired in prime time. As a family drama, it was meant for both children and adults. The Disney Channel aims its programming at ages 6 - 14 and GMW starts in the summers: it's aiming for a much narrower audience -- and from what I'm seeing, Disney doesn't think highly of the intelligence of that audience.

      I've read a lot of Michael Jacobs' interviews and I've followed his work. His writing on BMW seemed touched with uncommon wisdom and openmindedness. BMW was careful not to declare any particular message to be the one, true way, partially because it was meant for audiences of all mindsets and partially because, as a network drama, it couldn't be too controversial.

      Within these limitations, Jacobs showed incredible skill in getting edgy material past the censors. Shawn's nightmarish homelife, for example, is something most family shows would fail to convey; Jacobs achieved it through hints and well-considered dialogue.

      I prefer to think that Jacobs is, in many ways, defeated by the Disney Channel's mandates. They're not going to let him dress Sabrina Carpenter in ragged, ill-fitting clothes. They're not going to let lessons go without being repeated 3 - 5 times an episode. They're not going to want the antagonists to have any reasonable arguments.

      I cannot believe that the excellent producer of BMW's many seasons would produce such crashingly unsubtle scripts without being forced into it. I wonder what GMW would be like if it aired on ABC.

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    6. You are right Sean, I guess some of the problems I have are actually with the show as a whole. One of the main reasons this one frustrated me was because they were almost rewriting how I saw Mr. Turner's appearance in Boy Meets World. What Harper did was completely different from what Mr. Turner did. It was just annoying to see how they were only able to justify Harper's decision by making the principle really stupid. But you are right that this is more of an issue with the whole show, but since they were comparing it to a BMW episode it stood out more to me.

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    7. You are right Sean, I guess some of the problems I have are actually with the show as a whole. One of the main reasons this one frustrated me was because they were almost rewriting how I saw Mr. Turner's appearance in Boy Meets World. What Harper did was completely different from what Mr. Turner did. It was just annoying to see how they were only able to justify Harper's decision by making the principle really stupid. But you are right that this is more of an issue with the whole show, but since they were comparing it to a BMW episode it stood out more to me.

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    8. @ireactons- Not to say that what you wrote isn't 100% accurate, yet I find it a little funny that this is something that apparently surprises you. Look, from the second the 1st press release about this franchise coming back on Disney Channel, all of our expectations should have been drastically lowered. They have a set of standards & practices that is comically out of touch, in my opinion. They want to be the "wholesome" network, and while that has worked for them, it doesn't work in a "real world" sense when it comes to their material. I've said from Day 1 that I think this show would be better served on ABC Family. Alas, its not, and this is what we have to work with. For the good, and the bad.

      Yes, Jacobs and team are obviously being asking to work under a fairly tight set of constraints. And you know what, he knew that going in. There is no way he could have reasonably thought he'd be able to do the same style of writing and material he did in the 90s-early 00's on this network. And if he did, then he's a damn fool. Also, if he had any issues with those constraints then I'd like to believe he wouldn't have brought it back. But that's probably slightly unrealistic considering he wasn't exactly doing a lot of work before GMW, and working checks are better than residual checks.

      I agree this cast is extremely talented, and I'm honestly shocked Jacobs has been allowed to do some of the things he's done. It hasn't all been a shitshow of writing. Yet, we have been told from the beginning that this would be a different show for a different audience. And that has remained true. So, while you may prefer to lay this at the feet of DC and their well known constraints, I believe that is misguided frustration. If you really want to blame a party in this, blame Michael Jacobs. He knew what he would be in for, and if he didn't, well that's on him.

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    9. I see where you're coming from as I've seen a lot of people complain about the show not already covering racy and controversial topics which is not fair to expect from a Disney channel show.

      But the difference with our complaints this week is that we aren't asking for an episode like wake up little Cory and its mature approach to talking about sex or underage drinking. We just have a problem with the delivery of a good concept for an episode.

      I can't imagine Disney has a policy against clever writing and a little subtlety, so it's not that fair to blame them for this. I know that most of their shows follow a certain in-your-face formula but Jacobs said that he wouldn't have done the sequel on this network if he didn't know that they were looking to grow and be more open minded.

      Our complaints are just to remind the writers that what made the original show great was its refusal to talk down to its audience. And Jacobs has given us every indication that he reads, listens To, and appreciates this criticism. While he may make a few too many meta jokes an episode they're just the writers way of saying, " we hear you and we are trying to fix it". And the show has grown a lot as a result. Look how far they've come in season 2.

      I think a piece of it might just be that the writers that we know are great are still a little rusty. Just like we had to give Danielle and Ben a chance to readjust to acting in these roles again the writers needed some time to remember what they did so well in the ninetys. A little criticism will help them get there faster.

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    10. > I can't imagine Disney has a policy
      > against clever writing and a little
      > subtlety, so it's not that fair to blame
      > them for this.

      I don't think it's that they're against quality. My theory is that they don't think their audience will understand the material unless every point is emphasized and over-emphasized and over-repeated. "Life is about the long game."

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  13. > If you really want to blame a
    > party in this, blame Michael Jacobs.
    > He knew what he would be in for, and
    > if he didn't, well that's on him.

    I'd argue that nobody can ever expect any job to offer perfect working conditions. Every TV show is subject to the preferences of the studio financing it and the network airing it. You never really know how it'll all shake out until the show is airing. Hopefully, GMW will rise to the level of the talent behind it.

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    1. Completely agree, but those factors aren't really hidden knowledge when it comes to DC. They have a format and formula, and while they'll let you create your own elbow room, they won't let you break out of the box and do something that goes against what they're known to do. And that's just the reality of it.

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  14. Yeah I'm going to wait several weeks to post a reply now.

    But anyway, one thing that I haven't mentioned before or at least talked about much is that I'm actually an English teacher myself, and I probably liked this episode because it really resonated with me (and, well, Johnathan Turner but yeah). I've been wanting to teach material that students would find more relevant today, but the prevailing attitude still in academia is that "legitimate" literature has been rarely produced since the beginning of the 20th century. it's an inertial attitude that's very hard to fight against and very frustrating, so I completely side with Harper on this one. In fact this episode's pretty realistic and really does show the frustration many teachers have to put up with.

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  16. "I think it's kind of crazy to have Turner in an episode and not have Shawn there too." No. Turner is the superintendent of the school. Shawn has no place in this story-line. It makes perfect sense for Shawn to not be there.

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