Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Episode 1x02 "On The Fence"

*Preface* In an effort to transition from "general synopsis" to "review", I'm introducing an evaluation system out of four points. There is one point available for plot, humor, character development, and a sparkling Boy Meets World life lesson. If an episode earns a full point in a category, it will also receive a shiny Badge, all of which are pictured below. I made them in like 3 minutes in Paint, give me a break. There are also possibilities for bonus Badges, which will be defined as their circumstances arise. This is a test run and thus subject to great change and tweaking. *End Preface*

This episode opens in the cafeteria again and Bad-Hair from the Pilot has been replaced by Black-Hair. There's much discussion to be had about super heroes as parents (Cory wants Superman) and water guns. Good-Hair points out that the show's nerd character, Stuart Minkus (it's fascinating that Minkus is named before ever appearing on camera, and yet Good-Hair still has not been called by name), is seated nearby, and is subjected to water gun based bullying from Good-Hair.

 The viewer's first reaction is to roll their eyes, "Ugh, typical nerds-being-bullied cheap laughs". But this is somewhere that Boy Meets World truly distinguishes itself from other series. Minkus responds by busting out his own water gun, a far more imposing model than Good-Hair's, forcing Good-Hair to back off. You see, Minkus is a strong nerd. He is often the butt of jokes and insults, but he retaliates! His strengths are emphasized just as often as his weaknesses. I'll be pointing these moments out as we go through the series because he's really the best nerd character I've ever seen on television. If even ONE of the male characters on Big Bang Theory were written as well as Minkus, I wouldn't hate it quite so much. So right away Minkus earns this episode the Character Development Badge. In addition, the whole scene is pretty funny, so we're well on our way to the Humor Badge as well.

We're at the Matthews House next, and Cory attempts to convince his parents to buy him an expensive water gun. The writers definitely went for quantity over quality on jokes for about seven straight minutes here. I laughed a few times, but the laugh track played much more frequently, which is annoying. Even more annoying is Cory's dumb sister Morgan whose every sentence is received with laughter. Fortunately, Cory is as annoyed by her as I am and parries her unfunnyness with semi-funny harshness.
We're at about the 10 minute mark now, and the only real plot so far is that Cory wants a water gun for the "Water War", because no pre-teen wants to miss out on an alliterated event. That's just a fact.  Anyway, Cory goes to Mr. Feeny, who you'll recall is his neighbor, and offers to work for money. Mr. Feeny is funny, cancelling out Morgan from earlier. Cory paints Feeny's window shutters and does a great job of it, entirely contrary to what you would expect from a sitcom. I think that earns a bonus badge of "Not Being a Predictable, Shitty Sitcom". Cory isn't quite in the clear though, somehow he got paint on his fence which quite frankly I don't understand. How did he mess up the entire fence without noticing? Any hope of the plot badge is now dead.
Cory must now paint his fence before he can go to the Water War. He recruits his friends with some of the money he got from Feeny. Minkus makes a brilliant Tom Sawyer reference, which makes everyone else look like an idiot for not understanding it. Rock on, Minkus. The scene is written so that Minkus looks smart for having read Tom Sawyer, and everyone else looks like an idiot! He's cool for being smart! It's just so unheard of in television. Seriously guys, I love Minkus. 
Cory's friends abandon him, he has a funny exchange with Feeny, and then Mr. Matthews shows up and relieves Cory from painting. "Your responsibility is to stay eleven years old, for as long as you can." Cory runs off to the Water War. When he gets home, he discovers that his dad is painting the rest of the fence for him, even after tirelessly working all day. Cory's older brother Eric comments that he doesn't know how their father can work so hard every day. Cory grins, saying "It's like he's Superman. Superman's my dad," and some touching clarinet music plays. It ties a nice sentiment into the super hero conversation from the opening segment, and the part about Cory appreciating his youth is always valid, so I'm gonna go ahead and throw down a Life Lesson Badge for this episode. The episode ends with some funny water gun antics at the dinner table, but also a lot of unfunnyness from Morgan, so no Humor Badge today.

So we still don't know Good-Hair's name, we probably won't see Black-Hair again, Minkus is awesome, and Pavlov would be interested in how the "studio audience" reacts to Morgan's lines.
0 points for plot, 0.5 points for humor, 1 point for character development, and 1 point for the life lesson. That's 2.5/4 with the Character Development and Life Lesson Badges, as well as the Not Being a Predictable, Shitty Sitcom Bonus Badge. 

Thanks for reading, see you Friday. #MinkusLyfe

Monday, October 28, 2013

Episode 1x01 "Pilot"

*Edit* This review is not representative of the others. The quality improves drastically.

The series opens with some sort of pre-school gathering in the cafeteria and almost immediately we're treated to witty banter between the hero Cory Matthews and his teacher Mr. Feeny, which establishes their archetypes of not-so-serious student and oh-so-serious teacher. Cory sits with his two yet unnamed pals, and as such I will refer to them as Good-Hair and Bad-Hair.
Good-Hair spies Feeny in the company of a blonde female faculty member. They do a slightly-too-long bit wherein they describe how late they stayed up the night before by referencing progressively later segments of a talk-show. Bad-Hair emerges victorious and the title sequence rolls.

Now we're in Feeny's classroom where we see Bad-Hair and a female student acting out the suicide scene from Romeo and Juliet with a plastic dagger, which seems a little heavy for 11 year old students. Cory is listening to the Phillies game via an extremely high tech pocket radio and earbud, and giving the play-by-play to Good-Hair. Shockingly, Cory is caught by Mr. Feeny while a student behind him looks offstage to make eye contact with his mom. "This is my big break", he tells himself.

Cory gets detention. Back at home, we're introduced to the ladies-man incarnation of Cory's older brother Eric. Unfortunately, Eric has decided to take a girl to the next Phillies game instead of Cory. Cory complains to his parents about it, they side with Eric, Cory is sad, and his little sister Morgan "The Punchline Dispenser" Matthews dispenses a punchline. 
We jump ahead to lunch at school the next day where Cory and the two Hairs make some jokes. Cory tries to persuade Feeny to let him out of detention, but Feeny tells him to back that shit up outta here because he wants to have lunch with his booty call (the blonde teacher he ate with previously). 

Later that night, Cory has moved into his treehouse, Morgan "The Punchline Dispenser" Matthews dispenses a punchline, and Cory is privy to Mr. Feeny (who lives next door) eating a dinner for two by himself after receiving a phone call; sad music plays. 
Now Cory is in detention. Cory and Feeny banter. The destructive effects of love presented so far- namely Romeo and Juliet, Eric ditching Cory, and Feeny eating alone- come together as Feeny explains that love isn't actually the pile of bull shit that Cory thinks it is. This lesson might actually be the primary cause of Cory's warped and unhealthy view of love as he gets older. Thanks, Feeny. Side note, that typing diagram on the wall is super badass.

Back at home, Cory reconciles with his parents, Morgan "The Punchline Dispenser" Matthews dispenses a punchline, and then Cory plays video games in a pink three-quarters shirt and boxers. I cannot explain this to you. I do not know why Ben Savage agreed to wear this, I do not know why ABC agreed to air this on television, but it happened and we have to accept it.

Eric laments his awkwardness on the date, Cory explains what he's learned about love, and they're bros again. Cory and Morgan "The Punchline Dispenser" Matthews have imaginary tea together, punchlines are dispensed, and Cory tells his mom that he'll put his little sister to bed. Mrs. Matthews asks her son why he would volunteer to do something that no 11 year old boy has ever done in the history of Western civilization, and he responds with the entire basis of this series. "Because I don't understand anything about my entire life." 

The during-the-credits outro bit starts with Cory and the two Hairs (that needs to be a band name) eavesdropping on Mr. Feeny asking the same blonde teacher from before on a date, to which she readily agrees. Wouldn't you? It turns out that it was Feeny's sister who cancelled dinner with him the other night. The pilot ends with an exchange which presents another important theme of this show. 
"Confused, Mr. Matthews?"
"Yes I am, sir."
"....As it should be."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blog meets internet.

I've been inspired by the other 90's sitcom review blogs, fullhousereviewed in particular. The glaring difference is that billysuperstar (justifiably) despises Full House, while I will love Boy Meets World until the day they bury me in the ground. Or burn me to ash. I haven't decided yet.

Either way, I'll be reviewing the episodes in chronological order starting tomorrow, and updating every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Hooray, or something.