Thursday, September 3, 2015

Episode Reviews: "Girl Meets Sneak Attack" (#1.03) and "Girl Meets Father" (#1.04)

And so, we finish our Anniversary celebration of doing micro-reviews for the first two episodes.

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Sneak Attack" (#1.03)

I had sort of forgotten about Missy Bradford until someone in the comments suggested her as a possible culprit for the person bullying Riley in an upcoming episode that will be about that. It's a good idea. I like Missy in this episode (as a character, not as a person) and her performer, Olivia Stuck, does a good job. Riley's life is generally so blissful, it's nice seeing an antagonist for her and it's probably something she could use in a recurring fashion. I liked Missy too. She is exactly what's missing from this show. Doesn't need to be every episode, but an antagonist is pretty damn important to any story. We had bullies in Boy, but the antagonist in Boy was really "The World," constantly giving Cory a hard time. The World doesn't seem to be giving Riley a very hard time. By all accounts her life is super duper easy. So she needs some other form of antagonist. 

You know who's not good in this episode? Lucas. I recall this being the episode that really cemented my dislike for him, as he spends the entire episode just smiling blandly being clearly fought over like a Ken doll without a care in the world. The whole conflict is around keeping this horrible girl away from Lucas, because it's apparently taken for granted that Lucas is too weak-willed and stupid to make any decisions for himself. Then he finally, pathetically, does speak for himself at the very end. It's all dumb and lame and I hate it and him. This is indeed the episode where we all realized how much of a chore Lucas was going to be. This picture is an accurate summary of his contribution to the episode:
I'm glad he lost to Charlie.

Overall, not a great episode, but possibly the best of the bunch. Or maybe "Boy" is. I dunno.

Other notes:

  • The whole finger-in-nose bit is really weird. First off, it drags on waayyyyyyyy too long. Second of all, it's really weirdly directed. Like, why don't we ever see anyone's finger actually go into anyone's nose? Could they not get the shots, right? Did Disney deem them inappropriate? And you never even SEE Farkle's finger in Maya's nose. You just have to assume... Did Sabrina Carpenter refuse to let anyone's finger in her nose? Super weird. And then Cory just goes right on teaching like a bunch of people aren't standing around with their fingers in each other's noses.
  • Although this was one of Cory's early bad teacher moments, he was generally pretty entertaining in this one. "I saw mashed potatoes not where mashed potatoes are supposed to be!' was fun. Cory was very funny in this one for me. "Don't care, I'm mad with power" is one of my favorite lines from him in GMW. He also handed out detentions like candy. There were shreds of an authority figure in Cory this episode. 
  • Farkle's less obnoxious in this one, I think because he's portrayed as just this weird little flirt, and less specifically Maya/Riley-focused. I liked his interactions with Missy in this one.
  • We're seeing some of the first shades of head in the clouds Riley in the beginning of this one, and it's nice to see. Rowan and Sabrina are both pretty good in this one.
  • Aw, they said "How ya doin'?" a lot! Remember the "How ya doin'?" count, you guys? R.I.P. The How Ya Doin' Count. 
  • I really have no comments on Auggie's whole storyline, except to sigh that it brings us Ava. It's weird how this show wasted absolutely no time. They had no sense of pacing. They brought in Lucas in the first episode, now Ava is in this one. Cory is the Life Lesson Dispenser from the very first scene. Why is everything so frontloaded in this show? 
Episode Grade: C+
Episode MVP: I'll give it to Olivia Stuck because we'll probably never see her again, and she was pretty good. Ben Savage was also in the running. Agreed on both.

Episode Review: "Girl Meets Father" (#1.04)

Hey, uh, commenter who didn't like us swearing? Don't, uh, don't read this one...

God, what a piece of shit. What a total piece of shit this episode was. Everyone's just the goddamn worst in this. WHAT is Maya's problem? She gets an F.... even though she knows ALL the answers.... but she's too, I dunno, insecure to say them? What the fuck ever. That doesn't make any fucking sense. It worked with Shawn with that philosophy paper because it's believable he could understand the concepts but articulate them poorly in a grammatically horrendous essay. This is a fucking quiz. About history. With just clearcut answers. If Maya knows them, then she knows them. What an unbelievable and dumb scenario. That answer Maya read for her quiz was like she had a concussion and was talking in word salads, I don't believe for a second she'd write that.
I walked away from the episode wondering what the fuck her deal was. Like maybe the first draft had her being dyslexic or some other learning disorder? And that just got lost along the way? I can't figure it out. I don't think any of the writers understood what Jacobs wanted from this. I like that you compared it to Shawn in Fraternity Row. That story is so endearing, it's a fantastic episode for his character (which is a shame, since it's one of the worst for Eric and Jack.) But then we have this, Maya's absolute worst episode.

And THEN, when she does get an F, rather than be chill about it like Shawn or like the rebel personality she's supposed to have would suggest, she FREAKS OUT in the most embarassing obnoxious way ever. Storming out of the class, bitching and moaning because how dare Cory give you and F when you GOT ALL THE DAMN QUESTIONS WRONG. What the hell do you expect? Why are you being such an entitled baby? What's even your issue? Either you're mad Cory failed you because you don't think you deserved it or you're too insecure to answer questions correctly. You can't be BOTH. Those two things conflict. I hate Maya in this episode. You're going to fucking drop out of school?! GROW UP! Oh, but because she whines and cries and ditches school, she gets to get a freaking C+ even though she didn't deserve it. I don't care if you knew the answers, next time put them down on the damn test. It's one quiz in 7th grade, you'll still get in to college, take your lumps and deal with it. And then she starts singing her sad song about her dad when that's totally not even what this one's about. You can't use that for everything, moron. Shut up, Maya. Maya gets an F. This episode can't be canon. This Maya is completely different from every other episode. I mean is an F really that different from a D? Riley says Maya is a straight D student. But one F and it's time to quit school? It's just so amazing to me. Did Maya walk out of the quiz, knowing full well that she didn't answer anything correctly, yet still assuming that she wouldn't fail? The whole thing is insane.

Oh, and CORY'S DUMB ASS. Let's have a fucking conversation about CORY GODDAMN MATTHEWS. First of all, Ben Savage just... bombs this episode. He's way saccharine and embarassing and just seems so disingenuous with every line. Nothing about this guy feels like Cory, beyond I guess his chronic issues with change. I just spent this entire episode cringing. He was a total goddamn cringefest. Also, like, whatever, you can ride the Cyclone another day, you really think your daughter should not go to her first dance so you can ride the Cyclone on that particular day? And she wasn't mean about it, why were you being such a baby? It's one thing to be hurt about it, that's fine, but he's legitimately cruel to Riley because of it. SUCK IT UP! Your dad was sad you didn't wanna go to the Father/Son game, but he dealt with it, because he's a FUCKING ADULT. Oh, God, and "What do you know about make-up?" "I know it's what you'll have to do with me!" I'm sorry, are you KIDDING me? You're doing fucking puns right now? What'd you, walk away all smirking to yourself because you're so clever? That was the dumbest part of that whole scene. I didn't even get what he said for a minute because it never popped into my mind he could be attempting to make a goddamn pun right now. It's a shame. After episode three Christian and I agreed that Cory is a good father, but this episode completely destroyed anything he had going for him. How could Michael Jacobs create both this episode AND The Father Son game? They're in two separate GALAXIES. I'm genuinely mad right now. Did Cory learn nothing from his father? Eric at 20 years old was better with Tommy than Cory is with Riley in this episode. It is an absolute disgrace.

Oh and TOPANGA? Yeah, I'm pissed at you too, Topanga. This is like the fourth episode in a row now you've had a hilarious fucking quip about how goddamn unhappy you are being married to Cory. Either shut the fuck up or divorce him. And Cory, knock off the "Teehee, Topanga's my last priority" jokes. Both of you suck. I'm really glad they've knocked this shit off more or less, because it's not endearing seeing the two of them passively-aggressively sniping at each other like it's fucking "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" I would only be repeating what Christian said. 


Other thoughts:

  • Wow, they really did start that Lucaya stuff early. They were CLEARLY flirting even this early on. That was like the one good bit of this whole episode. 
  • Oh, "Super Spy" was cute. I liked that too. 
  • My god, I sure hope someone lost their job over that roller coaster video. Not exactly living up to that "Wheels" standard of creating old home videos, is it? Let's examine all the issues
    • One home video switches seamlessly from being video-taped by someone on the ground looking up at the rollercoaster, to being video-taped by the people in the rollercoaster. I'm pretty sure they just played the theme song to "Step by Step" and took whatever scenes they could from that.
    • When it's someone looking up at the rollercoaster, you can easily hear Riley and Cory's voices on the roller coaster even though they're supposed to be, I don't know, A THOUSAND FEET AWAY?!
    • Who lets someone bring a goddamn camcorder on rollercoaster?!
Episode Rating: D+ (I know I'm ripping it to shreds probably more than any other episode, but there's not NO merit, it's just really really clumsily executed, they're trying for too many Boy Meets World touchstones here and it's not executed well, and I get how early it is)
Episode MVP: Fuck it. Peyton Meyer. He was barely in it, but that bit with Maya was the best part of the episode. And I like when people espouse the very reasonable philosophy that there's nothing about the theory of evolution (which, let's face it, is fact) that precludes intelligent design. That's some Clarence Darrow shit right there. I still think teachers should keep their personal opinions to themselves, but it's probably the most secular thing Disney Channel has ever aired, so that's nice.

So, I wanted to look up who wrote this travesty. Her name's Randi Barnes. Her other episodes: "Girl Meets Brother" (a decent episode, but she co-wrote it with THREE other people), "Girl Meets Game Night" (not great, also co-written), "Girl Meets Gravity" (awful), "Girl Meets Rules (awfuller). Let's, uh, let's maybe have less episodes from Randi Barnes if that's cool. I officially have a least favorite BMW writer, I think. I'm not going to count Michael Jacobs' son who co-wrote "Fish" with him because, like, yeah, okay, whatever, Michael Jacobs' son wrote an episode. Cute. 


  1. Augh. My computer reloaded and I lost all my stuff.

    Oh, well.

    I'll write a new comment proper tomorrow, but first:

    I completely agree about Missy. Sure she wasn't great, but a Mean Girl would have fleshed out the show dramatically. Give Riley an antagonist and for reasons other than a love triangle. Missy's apparently very popular, or at least affluent--keeping her around would have reinforced the idea that Riley isn't popular that the writers tried to keep up for the first half of the season.

  2. In a nutshell, this show stumbled out of the gates, and it showed through the 1st half of the season. Riley and Maya were the best things about the show this early on, even when you take away Maya's piss poor attitude from "Meets Father". Cory was just the biggest joke of a father in that episode too. He took it so personally, that it was disgusting. You are a 30+ year old, father of 2, and that's how you act?! Like a petulant child?! Yeah, you guys hit all the nails on the head. Well done.

  3. I stumbled into GMW in Season 2, into Pluto to be exact, and circled back to Season 1 later. Already knowing the show had Pluto in it made my experience of the early episodes very different.

    In any event, much of the stuff you guys inveigh against so entertainingly I usually accept as the price of admission for watching a Disney kids’ show.

    The finger-in-nose stuff was appalling though.

    I was more or less okay with Ava the first time she appeared. But the show seemed to think she was a problem, and then decided to solve that problem by having her sing her name, loudly.

    From what I have seen of other teenage boys on Disney shows (a very small sample size admittedly), and a character who is fourth on the depth chart to boot, I think Lucas still exceeds expectations.

    What I took the strongest exception to was the “guiding hand” genuflection almost immediately upon the mention of evolution. But, that would be the mother of all rabbit holes to enter.

    They gave us an advanced airing of “I Am Farkle,” up here, part of the roll out this week of our Disney Channel. Just watched it. I will need to watch it again.

    1. Personally, I'm surprised that Charles Darwin would warrant a quiz of his own in a seventh grade history course. Science, sure. But history? Maybe in a unit on explorers--Columbus, Cortes, Stellar, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, John Palliser, Charles Darwin.

      I have two thoughts on Ava. One: The storyline would not have been green-lit at all if the roles were reversed, if Riley had a little sister who had a little "boyfriend" who didn't treat her nicely. Two: Ava monopolizes Topanga's airtime--why not have Riley fill the role from time to time? It'd flesh out Riley's character as a protective older sister.

    2. I believe they joked about Auggie's storylines being entirely Topanga's "thing" in the second season 2 episode. It's true, though. having Riley be the protective older sister would add to her character. i'm starting to miss that elder brother that we never got to meet.

    3. Auggie is okay in small doses, and without Ava. Morgan never had subplots, I don't see why Auggie has to have subplots. I would love to see more interaction between Auggie and Riley. I would like to see a Topanga plotline that isn't about Auggie and Ava.

    4. Kit, Morgan did have a few subplots, but not many. The reason Auggie gets so many is that we have no Eric equivalent in this show. Eric got the majority of B plotlines in BMW. We do get a lot of just Riley and Maya plots though, so it wouldn't kill the writers to give us some Farkle/Lucas plots independent of the girls to flesh out those characters and cut down on the kiddies. Maybe next year when Josh is in NYC in college, he'll get some stories to cut down on Auggie as well.

      I do find Auggie and Ava pretty cute though. In small doses.

    5. Another reason for so many Auggie subplots is that he tends to be "something for Topanga to do" as she's often pretty isolated from the main story by virtue of not being at JQA. This has been lessened in Season 2 since the introduction of Topanga's, which allows Topanga to be around, in conjunction with how BMW vet-focused this season's been, which allows Topanga to do that kind of stuff. And thus I think Auggie's screentime has gone way down this season.

      But, yeah, Morgan did have some subplots. And honestly the degree to which she was utilized in BMW is a mark against the show. They shouldn't have ignored Eric and Cory's sister as a character so much.

    6. I agree with Corey. I think having the older brother Elliot would have strengthened the show. At least initially.

      Have older brother? Hello Big Brother Instincts and good-bye to Love Interest being Riley's entire bloody arc for the first season. Have older brother? Hello person who Auggie idolizes and good bye to Ava taking up all of Mommy Topanga's storylines. Big Brother Elliot can have the role instead. Have older brother?

      I agree with your point about so-little-Morgan being a mark against the show, Christian. To compare to 7th Heaven, which had Ruthie and then the twins, sure the storylines were awful but at least nobody familiar with the show ever forgot they were there.

      A casual fan of Boy Meets World could legitimately have no idea that Morgan even existed.

    7. Cryptid456-

      You just made the strongest case for Elliot's existence that I have ever read. I love all of these ideas. I'll add some of my own. It's not original, but Riley feels neglected because Elliot and Corey are off doing guy things, and Topanga is helping Auggie with little kid things, like a school play. Also, battle of the sexes (Riley and Maya vs. Elliot and Auggie) in an epic kid prank war could have been fun. I wonder how many years older Elliot was supposed to be. If it's only a year, he'd still be in school with them, but if he was two years older, he'd be in a different school.

      I disagree about Morgan. They thought a little sister would be cute, then she aged out of cute, and they had no idea what to do with her. They had other characters they wanted to focus on, and storylines to explore. Morgan didn't fit into that.

    8. Kit,
      Those are great ideas. Those are really, really great ideas.

      As I recall, Elliot was supposed to be a year older--though when the pilot was filmed, the actor Teo Halm (Earth to Echo) was a lot taller than Rowan, so I don't blame you for thinking two years--and his most defining characteristic was "Use Riley as favorite wrestling dummy." There was potential there. It's something I've noticed; with the exception of the sets of twins, Disney siblings usually only barely tolerate each other, unless the younger brothers are manipulating the dim-witted older brothers.

      Auggie wasn't part of the show yet either. YMMV about Ava, but I like the Riley-Auggie scenes. There was also talk about Cousin Troy Mathews, until fans cried foul about lack of Eric.

    9. Thank you (blushes). I think Riley and Auggie are super cute together, it's Eva and Auggie that I don't like. I think Eva is a little too close to a stereotype for comfort, aside from the fact that I find her annoying.

      Maybe they wanted Josh to fill the older brother role, which wouldn't work if she already had an older brother. It's the best reason I can come up with.

  4. While I wasn't a big fan of Sneak Attack, Missy was a good character and it would be interesting to bring her back as a recurring character to be a nemesis to Riley. Sadly the actress is a regular on Kirby Buckets and probably doesn't have time for that. Farkle was also pretty good here. This is the first time we see that he'll do anything to keep Maya and Riley happy, even if it means sacrificing his own happiness.

    I agree with the grade and the MVP.

    As for Meets Father. Wow, it seems like you two didn't go into this looking for any positives at all. You did however find every thing you could to rip it up. I'm not saying it was as good as it could have been, but wow, I have to ask myself after reading that review why you kept watching the show at all? I will come out and say although I don't think it was the best season 1 episode, it is my favorite, flaws and all.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume neither of you have children yet. I can tell you from personal experience that it really sucks when you go from the kids being excited to see you when you get home from work to they aren't even here and you are lucky to get a hello from them. Add on to that the fact that Cory is very young to be in this situation and he is a neurotic mess when it comes to change anyway, and you have a reasonable explanation for why he acts that way. The fact that he grows and accepts that is part of his journey, which isn't over just because its Riley's show.

    I did have a little issue with Maya telling the Matthews clan that her dad doesn't live with her and her mom. Maya is over their place all the time, and I can't believe that has never come up before. Also we know from Master Plan that Cory and Topanga know where Katy works and that Cory really likes Katy. I gave all that a pass because while Maya was trying to explain her situation to the Matthews (who already knew) the writers needed to get that across to the audience, who didn't know. That was information we needed to appreciate Maya the character, and I guess they didn't have a better way to tell us. That is a much worse situation that Shawn had early on, as he had both parents until the very end of season 2.

    I had to give Meets Father a B.

    Oh - that 9th grade girl - the writers tweeted that she was a continuity error they made, the ones they don't really care about. No 9th graders in JQA - that is why they are graduating this year and not next.

    1. I don't find the question "I take it you two don't have kids?" particularly fair. Yes, obviously, no, neither of us has kids. That does not mean we fail to understand the nuances of father/son relationships and the bittersweet nature of children growing up and needing/valuing you less. I get it. And I'm fine with that, and I'm fine with stories about that. Boy Meets World did an EXCELLENT job with those kinds of stories - I cited The Father/Son Game, and Wheels is another one. Alan's reaction was very realistic, and showed me shades of things I then recognized I'd seen in my own father as I grew up, and it was poignant. In the case of Wheels, in particular, Alan's feelings were hurt and he even was kind of frosty with Cory as a result. I'm fine with all of that.

      But it's how they executed it that was an absolute nightmare. Cory wasn't stoically and quietly pained like Alan was, like my own father was, like most fathers I think are in the situation. No, instead he THREW A FIT. He demanded his daughter not go to the dance, sniped at her when she tried to explain herself and express herself honestly, then was openly hostile to her in class in front of all her friends. He pouted and whined and sulked and handled the whole situation like a brat.

    2. Yes, but this was Cory and not Alan. If Cory had reacted exactly like Alan that would have been shit writing because Cory isn't like Alan at all except maybe his morals. Cory throws a fit about any change and has been for years. Why should this episode be any different? I'm surprised you didn't see that.

      And truly I do think it is a fair question. Remember when Cory told Shawn that his life began when Riley was born? That really resonates with me. I was also on the child end of the parent/child relationship, but until you are the parent, nothing you see or read about can truly prepare you for how disappointing that feeling is when you are the parent and this happens. Cory here is feeling exactly what all parents go through, though he reacts as Cory would, not a typical parent.

      While in a perfect world I don't disagree that Cory should have behaved better, this is a TV show and some characters are flawed. Even Cory states in Sneak Attack "how can he be an adult, I'm not an adult yet", and we see that exactly here in Meets Father.

    3. No, Cory isn't Alan, and he shouldn't be. But that doesn't mean he has to be THE WORST either. I'm fine with Cory being like Cory, and being high-strung and afraid of change but I'm not okay with him being shitty to his daughter. This was just too much. I found it exceedingly off-putting, he behaved contemptuously in this whole episode until the end when he magically wised up.

      And, no, I don't think it's a fair question, because there's an overwhelming implication that the problem is just that we don't 'get it'. And we do get it. We also got it in Wheels and Father/Son Game, both of which were episodes where I ached for Alan. It was never the plot of this episode I had issue with, it's the execution. The execution was terrible. This was a terribly written episode.

    4. I appreciate your appeal to "Cory hates change," 1960, since that didn't actually come to mind while I was watching it and that's a good point. But Cory isn't a shitty person. He would whine and complain to Topanga about not riding the Cyclone, that's fine. I could enjoy him sobbing and eating ice cream with a giant spoon or something, because you're right, he hates change. But he's explicitly MEAN to his daughter. He's not sad and anxious about it, he's a jerk to his child.

    5. *Grabs sword and rushes to defend 1960poster*

      Sean, Cory wouldn't be eating ice cream with a giant spoon. He'd either be eating a big bowl of Coco Puffs with chocolate milk or a big slab of chocolate cake and whipped cream.

      I wanted to bring this up in my large comment that got lost when my computer reloaded. Long story short, I think the episode said that the park on Coney Island was about to close for the season. So it's a bit more than just missing out on an outing--it's the family event of the year. It really is a tradition. That being said, these classroom scenes were pretty painful. Cory's out-of-line here, no question. And I agree, Cory is not Alan. Alan is Superman, remember?

      However, I think the episode's saving grace is in the final scene, when Cory initiates the Father-Daughter dance. I am a complete and utter sap--I am an admitted Hufflepuff; I love these types of moments. Maya is stunned to see Cory reach out for her in this way. So I love the ending. I really love the ending.

      Grade: B

      MVP: I actually think i want to give it to Rowan, to be honest. She seemed to be more earnest here, a glimpse of the people-pleaser Riley becomes to a degree in Season 2.

  5. I agree that maya was a brat in this episode and cory was completely cringe-worthy so I'm not gonna elaborate any more on all the reasons season 1 and this episode suck. But in defense of just one positive for Girl Meets Father I actually liked the little moment at the end with the dance as Riley stepped aside so Cory could dance with Maya. It was sweet and i like the idea of Cory kind of taking Maya under his wing in season 1 before they introduced the Maya Shawn dynamic. It was kind of a follow up to how he gave her the new phone in Girl Meets Boy.

  6. Fun fact: Olivia Stuck is a regular (the title character's sister, in fact) in Kirby Buckets on XD, a show that apparently is so under-appreciated it got its page on TVTropes deleted.

  7. Funny in an early review (I think it was Girl Meets Truth) Christian said that of the first four episodes Girl Meets Father was his favorite. Guess that's not the case anymore!

  8. can i just say, and please comment if u agree, the whole thing of WHO is gonna date Lucas and who loves who like a brother, then back to no she's really in love with him too blah blah blah is getting SO OLD.. PICK ONE OR MOVE ON.. It was interesting for a little while but it's been drug on too long..