Friday, June 10, 2016

Episode Review: "Girl Meets High School, Part 2" (#3.02)

Sorry for the delay on this. A lot of the reason was that I just didn't have much new to say about this one, so expect this to be short, especially so we can get to the third episode.

My most immediate thought is that I think, with some ingenuity, this could have (and should have) just been a single episode. This didn't need to be a two-parter. Lucas, Farkle, and co. all seem to decide pretty quickly that they have no real reason to be mad at Riley (which is probably true) and so that conflict goes nowhere. They treat it as revelatory that the Seniors are actually trying to help, and that Thor and the Valkyries (TM Sean) are meant to represent an older Lucas, Riley, and Maya.... which I thought was pretty clear already and didn't need to be spelled out. And, seriously, two episodes worth of run time just for Riley and the gang to get the courage to... walk around the hallways of their high school? C'mon, guys.

If they need some advice on where they could have made cuts in order to get this down to one episode? I may suggest... the scene in which Farkle and Smackle encounter clones and androids. Just, y'know, if you're looking for suggestions. You could maybe not have a scene that has clones and androids. That would be my pick. The football stuff wasn't that much better... also, is Zay an athlete? Or even someone who wants to be an athlete? Because that's... news to me. And he sure as shit doesn't have the build for a football player. They should have given him his own thing. He seems to be regarded as having the silver tongue of the group, maybe he tries to join the... debate team? Or the... drama club? I dunno. I don't see him as a jock.

As predicted, the stuff with Marley questioning Cory's teaching methods really didn't go anywhere. She just learned that Cory is the best teacher of all time, despite all evidence to the contrary. Don't even bother bringing up your own writing flaws if you're still just going to ignore them. You can't convince us you guys are good writers with your own writing. Your own writing is the problem! God, Matthew Nelson wrote this. He's responsible for so many great episodes of Boy Meets World!* What happened, Matt? I think maybe the issue is that all these writers let their skills atrophy. Matthew Nelson really didn't do a goddamn thing between the end of BMW and beginning of GMW according to IMDb. Neither did Jacobs himself, or the other big BMW writer, Jeff Mennell. Literally all they did was work on a short-lived sitcom Jacobs created in 2003 called "Lost at Home" that got cancelled**

Anyway, yeah, this episode just really served as one looooooong ass final act to Part 1. It's also much more poorly written than Part 1 (Jacobs himself wrote the first one, which might explain the discrepancy there). That's about all I got.

Episode Rating: C- (It not being a good episode is one thing, but the real problem is that this should have just been the final act of Part 1 and in no way deserves to be an episode on its own. Still nothing outrageously offensive, androids aside)
Episode MVP: Ben Savage (I didn't like Cory not having to actually deal with being a bad teacher, but I did enjoy his performance and maybe they caught me in a good mood but the references to Feeny made me feel something)


*In the spirit of full disclosure, he also wrote "For Love and Apartments" which is probably my least favorite episode of BMW as well. 
** Huh, the plot of this "Lost at Home" actually sounds interesting. It's a sitcom about a family (natch), but the marriage is on the rocks, and the pilot starts with the wife telling the husband she's called a lawyer and is strongly considering leaving him if he doesn't start valuing his family more and including them in his busy Ad-Man life. Shades of Mad Men, obviously, but I just think it's interesting the notion of a family sitcom where we begin with a marriage falling apart. Usually the parents are either rock-solid or long divorced. 

I don't know if Nelson completely bombed here. I'm definitely seeing the remnants of his ability to write banter. I enjoyed Maya grabbing snacks real quick in the first minute, and them watching the girl with the cheetah print shoes, and then a few minutes later "I lost my friends and you're a mobster." So for a guy who got handed this paper and Jacobs said "Maya and Riley are in like this hole in a school, behind bars, and Riley's unrealistically upset about it, good luck," you know, he did better than I would have, to say the least.
Auggie has an imaginary dog, but I don't care. Who is this for? 

And here, Lucas's "You need some intellectual inferiors?" That he just immediately knows is funny. I think Nelson's doing great with the dialogue. So the four auxiliary characters are here at Topanga's feeling bad about stuff they shouldn't feel bad about, but that's Jacobs's fault, not Nelson's. 

UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I'm feeling physical pain at this, it's the same thing every single episode. Why do they have to look at each other during every single lesson? Why do they have to look around and make the Lesson Faces at each other? I just... It doesn't make sense. They're all complaining that the school doesn't revolve around them anymore BUT IT CLEARLY STILL DOES. At least Riley is venting inside the context of the lesson, rather than just directly talking to her friends in class, which is an improvement over Part 1. So Nelson got that right.
NO ONE IS TAKING NOTES!

I still can't stand Marley. Has a character ever been so obnoxious? Maybe if the delivery was a little more dry, I don't know. She's just way too proud of herself.

I am so not prepared for a life lesson from these seniors. This is an After School Special. I feel like they're about to tell Riley and Maya to stay away from drugs and that sex before marriage is a sin. Who would ever do this? Don't worry if you get bullied at school kids, 'cause they'll show up in your BEDROOM and tell you about FRIENDSHIP.

I'll be completely honest, and I hope at least one person agrees with me, "We're gonna get massacred no matter what we do" feels like classic Boy Meets World. Things are gonna suck. We're gonna have to deal with it. It feels right. I am not happy that the message was handed down from Valhalla, though. I can imagine Cory or Shawn stumbling into that line all on their own, without the help of seniors in their bedroom. That's always been a problem on GMW, that the lessons are spoon fed, but whatever. Again, Jacobs's fault, not Nelson's.
I would have liked to have this reveal in a more powerful situation, but the writers probably thought this WAS a powerful situation. Either way, it's nice to know that line stuck with Cory through the years. There was no doubt, obviously, but it's nice to see it.

They missed an opportunity here though. "Yogi, what do you know?" "There are people here slaying more puss than me." "What are you gonna do about it?" I'm glad Cory still doesn't give a shit about any of the other students, wouldn't want that to change.

I hope we see an Eskimo style lesson for Maya in the future. She says she'll always follow Riley, but one of the most important things Cory learned was that he had to get out of Shawn's way when it really mattered. 

Well like Christian said, it was too little content for a 2 parter, should have been one. Otherwise I thought the dialogue was a dramatic improvement over part 1. 

If we ever see the seniors or Marley again I will riot.

"We're gonna get massacred no matter what." Yeah that's not bad at all. The vehicle for delivering that message was atrocious, lots of wasted time, but as far as Girl Meets World lessons go, this one is absolutely working for me. They WON'T get massacred, obviously, because their lives are perfect, but still.

Gonna get started on Jexica now. 

*EDIT* Looked through the comments and not one person mentioned "We're gonna get massacred no matter what." Shame on all of you. Every one of you needs to go back and re-read Boy Meets World Reviewed and remember why we're here.

49 comments:

  1. I don't think Cory has earned the right to use Feeny's last words.

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    1. It's way too early for Cory to be using the last word's in Feeny's classroom.

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    2. Kit - maybe you didn't notice, but those words were in the back of Cory's classroom in "Girl Meets Boy", episode 2 of the entire series. It was there for a part of season 1 until they started changing the classroom look as the school year moved on.

      Now it looks like it will actually stick around forever since they put it in a part of the classroom that has no need to change it's look. It was the final lesson Feeny taught them and I have no problem with Cory taking it to heart and ensuring that he passes it on to all of his students, not just the stars of the show as Feeny did in BMW.

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  2. Pretty much my thoughts, Christian. Though I do think the opening scene, with Maya going to the vending machine for a snack while Riley went off on a tangent was probably the closest we've ever seen them act Cory and Shawn, and I enjoyed it immensely.

    While it was fun to see Lucas the Cocky get the stuffing beaten out of him--it actually made me think of "Texas 2" and Maya claiming she makes fun of Lucas to knock him down a peg--I don't think the Farkle and Isadora scene was necessary.

    While the android was kind of stupid, I didn't mind the clone bit very much (Remember, Shipping and I are twins and to this day, it can still take months for new people to tell us apart). So I just took the clone as a twin brother in on the joke.

    More to the point, post-Yearbook, Farkle rarely took over the class, outside of his two focal episodes, and even then, he contributed perfectly good answers to Cory's questions at the beginning of "Money," even alluding to the Gold Standard. And in "STEM," he firmly stated that he valued scientists on the merit of their work. His expecting to just be allowed in to the club because of Farkle Time, rather than being a certified genius was just, eh.

    I think I would have preferred to see Isadora try to make amends with Riley and Maya by herself. While Lucas has long been established to be allergic to difficult conversations (for all our talk about Lucas not getting to voice his opinions in the Triangle, he hasn't exactly made any effort on his end, whether now or in Season One, when it was apparent for quite a while he didn't return Riley's feelings), Riley and Maya were friendly to Isadora even before Farkle was.

    I really didn't like the Seniors, but I especially minded them specifically stating they wanted to help the Freshmen to their faces. I'm not completely adverse to the idea of a helpful bully, but I'd rather it'd be a "that which doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" and only discussed amongst themselves, rather than to their "victims."

    Grade: C
    While it certainly isn't as bad as "Gravity," and there are some bits of genuine brilliance here, especially in the opening, I can't say I enjoyed it.

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    1. Oh, you know, what, yeah. I did like Riley and Maya with the vending machines and Maya's surprise that they weren't out of grape.

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    2. Oh, you know, what, yeah. I did like Riley and Maya with the vending machines and Maya's surprise that they weren't out of grape.

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    3. Wait.....you and shipping are twins? I'm sorry for being weird but I (reading this blog and its comments) found it being a revelation when I saw you were friends/knew each other from outside the Internet and now I'm like BANG YOU'RE TWINS?! But, yeah, I'm just half blown away haha

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    4. I meant to say this but yeah; the clone thing wasn't an issue to me. I knew two sets of twins growing up; and though there were differences, they were very subtle if you didn't know them. To the point that with the ones I knew in high school, the only way I could tell the difference is that only one wore glasses. The... android/robot thing I'm putting down to Smackle freaking out.

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    5. Yeah we're twins, Anonymous. I can tell you right now that Cryptid needs to make his bed. It's always been fun to reveal that tidbit.

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  3. I wrote a longer and angrier review, but you're definitely right. Part two was just a much worse version of part one, and in all honesty, it was a waste to make this two parts.

    Good news is, tonight's episode was much better.

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  4. If nothing else, it let us know, in the locker room scene, what a Disney Channel reboot of Friday Night Lights would look like.

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    1. Never saw that one. Was Friday Night Lights any good?

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    2. I thought quite highly of it, and it received a fair bit of critical acclaim.

      A post or two back, you mentioned that you regarded Alan Matthews as the best TV of all time. I thought you might be right, because I couldn't come up with an alternative, perhaps because I was thinking sitcoms and went further back. I might have offered Eric Taylor for consideration. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton might have given my favourite performances as parents in a TV show. At least of the top of my head.

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    3. "TV dad" I was probably trying to say.

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    4. Huh. I will put it on the list.

      While Alan could fight any sitcom father to a standstill, I hadn't given much thought to dramas.

      Shipping is a die-hard fan of the show Parenthood...you ever see that one?

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    5. Cryptid, I’ve never seen Parenthood. A few friends had recommended it. You add Shipping to that and I guess I will have put it on my list.

      About this episode, I thought it was not so bad the first time I watched. After a second viewing, I assumed I wasn’t paying close enough attention the first time. There were some good bits, especially, as you noted, the opening, but they were overwhelmed by everything else.

      I agree there is much in Part 2 that could have been readily dispensed with to get it down to one episode. It might have been hard to fit the remainder into Part 1, which seemed very busy already. The Flow My Tears scene (which still worked on me) all but had jump cuts in it.

      Who would have guessed that, of the first three episodes, the one with the most Yogi and least Smackle would be the best, and by a very wide margin?

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  5. Part 2 was boring. Just....really boring. No stakes. Friends make up. Blah blah blah. I did like seeing Farkle/Smackle interact and Lucas/Zay...but it really didn't need to be two episodes. I also liked Riley's whining at the beginning because it was used for humor rather than trying to make us feel for the sake of feeling.

    Grade: C-
    MVP: Blah, I don't care. Danielle Fishel. Now I'll be back for the next review right after I give Danielle my phone number.

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  6. I thought the first few scenes were really funny. The rest was PURE SHIT.

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  7. Some of "Lost at Home" is on Youtube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehcLS-2m1dw

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  8. Well, I agree that this episode didn't need to be 2 parts and also needed to be better.

    Pretty much the only things I liked in the episode were the callback of "You did this!" (2 episodes last year) and a prop. The drama club is putting on "My Town". Cory's favorite play - also Jacobs' favorite, which is why it is Cory's. You can see the sign in the hallway.

    Grade: C- Nothing more to add. It just wasn't very good.

    MVP: Ben Savage This was tough because no one stood out to me.

    I look forward to the next review.

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    2. I meant "Our Town" - damm typos

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  9. I think Zay looks like an athlete considering they are freshmen in high school.

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    1. He's just seemed to express no interest in it before, and he's been pretty vocal about how physically weak he is in the past.

      In terms of athletics, I could see him playing baseball or running track, but football requires some mass. I'd need to look at them side by side, but I think he's skinnier than Farkle is.

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    2. I'm inclined to agree with Christian, but I can see both sides.

      Speaking from personal experience, the prep school Shipping and I went to...was on the small side. Put it plainly, there wasn't much room for cutting people. I knew a kid with Zay's build on the football team. Hell, there was a kid with YOGI'S BUILD on the football team, even if he didn't start.

      But on the whole, I agree with Christian. In-universe, Zay's never struck me as the one who'd go out for the football team, unless we're talking special teams, and kicking field goals.

      That being said, Zay's been stated to practice ballet, which is something many football players do, in order to maintain agility and nimbleness. So, hypothetically, it'd be hilarious to see Zay use his ballet skills to avoid getting tackled, while Lucas the Brick Wall is squashed like a bug.

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    3. For me, it's not so much his build (though his reactions to Lucas whacking him fairly lightly don't help), but he's just never expressed an interest in sport. He used to rely on Lucas to stop him being beaten up in Texas. I think he's actually as much of a geek as Riley at least. Not a 'super-intelligent genius' type of geek; but a geek nonetheless.

      But hey, as long as this wasn't just for this episode, I'm fine if they say he's into football now. I'm not going to be as fine if references are made to Lucas playing football, but it seems as though Zay hasn't been even trying out. For me, the only thing worse than a retcon, is a retcon that they do for the purposes of a single episode only.

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    4. Ya i get your point about him not expressing interest in sports before but for some reason i just assumed he should be into sports because he is Lucas' close friend and that is usually because of similar interests. Also, I'm someone who has played and been dedicated to sports all my life so I think i just naturally want characters to be into sports and i have seen from experience that kids can develop a lot. The way girl meets world portrays zay and lucas just trying to walk right into a spot on the varsity roster is stupid. He would have to start out on the freshman team obviously.

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  10. Yeah, this was just a mess that started from an iffy place. This could have functioned on it's own just fine, but of course, they had to make it a two parter. The best things really were the beginning with Riley and Maya in the hole, and as a fan of Billy Gardell, I liked the locker room scene. Outside of that, just garbage. Oh, and that part where Cory said that "Dream Try Do Good" will always be his lesson plan....yeah, I just gave up in that minute of his teaching ever changing.

    High School Pt. 1 Grade: C+
    MVP: Peyton Meyer

    High School Pt. 2 Grade: D
    MVP: Sabrina Carpenter (I'll admit that I'm giving it to her because I can at least rely on finding something she does funny and entertaining)

    Cumulative Grade: C- This episode was all sorts of meh, sprinkled with some decent acting and scenes. Too bad the writing is what it is.

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  11. I've only watched Part Two once (five days ago) and have yet to see tonight's episode, but my main takeaway from 3x02 was that post-opening credits scene (I believe that is where it was positioned) with Riley and Maya in the hole.

    It was fun, the jokes were crisp, felt a tad (just a tad) more mature than seasons past and it advanced plot at that point in the episode in what I thought to be a pretty organic way. I hope it's the spirit of that specific scene that is tapped into as we go along here.

    Also, sidebar, I am a writer for WWE.com and recently got to speak with M. Jacobs about Vader's time on BMW. MJ could not have been more generous with his time or responses, had such a genuine enthusiasm while discussing the show and was just a real sweetheart the whole way through. He also dropped some seriously cool insight on what it was like having Vader on the team and gets into pretty neat detail about "Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound-Men," which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

    Link is below if any of y'all wanna check it out:

    http://www.wwe.com/article/vader-boy-meets-world

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    1. Well, as the resident fan of professional wrestling, thank you for posting that article. The Vader episodes were some of my favorites as a kid, simply because of Vader.

      I personally would love to see a cameo of either Vader or Mick Foley, who also guest starred on BMW, on GMW. But if Jacobs wanted to use a female wrestler, the obvious choice is Bayley.

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    2. This is awesome, dude. Great interview

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    3. I really enjoyed it--I also remember reading somewhere that Vader is one of the sweetest professional wrestlers in the field.

      I don't know if I want to see more pro wrestling, but I'd like to see Frankie again. People change people after all, and Cory and Shawn's friendship with Frankie definitely changed him. Next to Chet, Frankie's probably my favorite recurring character who isn't in the main cast.

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    4. THAT'S SO COOL! I have no interest in professional wrestling, but that is absolutely awesome man, thanks for sharing.

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    5. Thanks, everyone, it really was a blast to put together and glad you all dug it.

      And, not that this should, or would, impact anyone's view on reviewing GMW, but Michael truly did come across as the nicest and kindest man you could ever hope to meet or have a 15-minute phone interview with. A true class act, was beyond cool to be able to speak with him and uncover some new tidbits about the golden years of the show.

      Thanks again, guys -- I'm beyond glad it was able to reach some true BMW-heads.

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  12. More episodes like three, please. I beg

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  13. Zay has never come across like an athlete to me. Even in this very episode every time Lucas touched him he claimed it hurt. He's not an athlete into physical contact sports, in my opinion.

    I didn't -hate- the episode. Liked Billy Gardell. I would like to know how Thor and his... friends found Riley's home. Did they follow her home? And what, Cory trusts that some -seniors- are friends with his daughter? Doesn't he remember high school? Seniors aren't friends with lower years.

    But yeah, probably could have been one episode.

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  14. I really love this show. I like how it is smart about teaching life lessons and the problems encountered not only by teenagers but also by adults. I am a university students and watch this show to help me be a better person and learn a thing or two from the characters. Love the reviews, so sincere. The show gives me inspiration to write about life topics over at lifeisfulloflessons.blogspot.com.

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  15. I really wished the Valkyries had said they resolved their triangle with Thor by deciding not to risk their friendship on a romantic relationship which may or may not have worked, and decided to stay friends. Riley or Maya could ask "do you think that was the right decision", and one of the Valkyries could say, "who knows?"

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  16. "We're going to get massacred no matter what". I personally didn't talk about that line, because it was surrounded by shit. They tried to tie it into the Alamo, which I thought was so heavy handed to get to the intended lesson of "we have to stick together". I just thought is was too much.

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    1. pwfan - I agree. Even if there was an important line in there it was surrounded by so much garbage it was easy to dismiss as just more of the same. While Sean might be correct that it was meaningful, sometimes if you cover a treasure in mud, it seems just like more mud. While I'd like to think I take enough time to dissect these episodes before I comment, there is a tendency to get caught in a cycle of bad writing and miss a nugget of wisdom.

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    2. Yeah, I like the notion of "We're going to get massacred no matter what." But the lesson of the Alamo juxtapositioned with what the kids were going through felt a lot more of a stretch than usual.

      It didn't help matters that Cory compared Abigail Adams and the Revolutionary War Patriots to the fighters at the Alamo. The differences between those conflicts are such that if I had the mind to, I'd be here until July 2 (the real anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence) explaining the historical context and why the comparisons don't really work.

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  17. He's probably too busy for a Disney Channel show, but Batista could be Yogi's dad.

    Billy Gardell was the football coach, credited as football coach. Don't know him? He was Melissa McCarthy's costar on their sitcom that ended this past spring. It's in syndication now and thanks to her name it'll stick around so he's in for some sweet syndication money for a few years. But now he's back where he started, guest star on sitcoms.

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    1. I knew I had seen him before! For some reason, I thought he was the guy from "King of Queens."

      How ya doin' anyhow Mr. Sandwich? It's been a while.

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    2. Yeah, with no new posts, I didn't have much to say. But I did read the comments in Christian's post once and a while. It doesn't help that none of the news was all that interesting.

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  18. I agree about the "We're gonna get massacred no matter what". Actually, I think, though it's clear Cory's teaching method isn't going to change, that his lesson seemed to be more geared to the entire class than it was in seasons 1 and 2. I also like his usage of Feeny's words. It's not about 'having the right' to use them. Feeny told them to take those words and run with them. I feel that was more about respecting that request more than anything. Showing he will always remember.

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  20. Marley I could take or leave, but I would like to see the seniors as recurring characters. It doesn't seem likely they're coming back though.

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  21. One of my favourite episodes to date. Dream, try, do good - will always have a place in my heart.

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  22. literally will friedleNovember 16, 2016 at 11:07 AM

    Zay is kind of a scrawny guy, but he could be like a wide receiver, a defensive back or like a special teams guy (kick/punt returner). Those guys focus a lot more on speed/agility than they do raw strength (I'M ASSUMING YOU GUYS DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT FOOTBALL, WHICH IS AN INCREDIBLY STUPID SPORT).

    And I was glad that Yogi was nowhere to be seen until the end of this review. You've shown me that we lost a tremendous opportunity, Sean.

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