Monday, September 29, 2014

Episode 5x20 "Starry Night"

Cory and Topanga get back together and it's dumb, see you Wednesday.

Cory and Shawn are at a park, where everything Cory sees reminds him of Topanga. All he does is whine for two minutes, including about how Topanga rescued him from the monkey bars when they were kids. Shawn is supposed to be our comic relief, but he's got a whole lot to relieve here and it's not working for me. In particular, Cory explains that he was supposed to go to the new Van Gogh exhibit at an art museum with Topanga, but now she's gone with Angela instead.

Jump over to the exhibit with Topangela, and now everything reminds Topanga of Cory. Angela is our comic relief now, and, well, you know how that goes. The Lauren ordeal is brought up again by Topanga, who can't understand how you can kiss someone and have it "not mean anything." I think everyone has abandoned the "she kissed him" thing, since that would make this way too easy to resolve.

That's great and all, except that in "A Kiss is More Than a Kiss" in season 3, Topanga explains that kissing isn't always meaningful. I know it's not the exact same situation, they were broken  up in that episode in season 3, but specifically regarding the "is kissing always meaningful" thing, we're seeing some inconsistency.

And I know that later in season 6, Topanga and Shawn kiss while filming a commercial, and that time Cory is convinced that they must have felt something when they kissed, even after all of this stuff we're seeing now. I would kill for a consistent throughline on any of this. I'm sure I'll bring it up again when we get to that episode.

A guy we're supposed to think is attractive (even though I'd say Shawn, Jack, and Eric are all better looking) comes over to Topangela to try to make some panties drop.

Okay so that was pretty funny.

Our new friend Ricky here apparently remembers Topanga from his childhood, because that's the only romance story these writers know how to tell. Angela leaves them to their business, and Ricky drones on about some Van Gogh stuff and how Starry Night is his favorite painting. Ricky and Topanga talk all day at this exhibit and he asks her out for dinner tomorrow night. So obviously we're trying to draw some parallels between this and The Lauren Event.

In perhaps her most confusing move yet, Topanga insists that she find out what Cory thinks of Starry Night before she goes out with Ricky. So she drags Cory out to the exhibit but he doesn't want to play along.

That's just a polite way of saying "gurl dis some bull shit".

They argue about him kissing Lauren again, it's all the same exact stuff we've heard ten times already, and Topanga eventually just asks him again what he thinks about the painting. I can't adequately explain how uncomfortable this scene is. First of all, they were screaming at each other in an art museum. That's like launching fireworks in a library. And now Cory's interpretation of the painting feels so forced and he's managed to make it all about him and his situation. They bring God into it somehow, even though Van Gogh is quoted as saying "The Starry Night is not a return to the romantic or religious ideas." There are still a lot of experts that think this painting has religious undertones, and hey, art is open to interpretation so whatever, but that doesn't change how absurdly disgustingly forced this dialogue is. The actors don't seem comfortable at all and it's just awkward.

I think this is one of the worst scenes in the series. It's trying so hard to be profound, but the dialogue just ends up being word soup, it's a bunch of nonsense. Cory tells her "You'll know where I'll be" and heads for the exit.

We jump to Topanga on a date with Ricky, and he's talking about how he lived in Paris for a year and all this artsy stuff. He is clearly the perfect match for the version of Topanga that's been fabricated solely for this episode. It's funny, honestly, the writers must have been like "shit, Topanga's such a bland character, how can we write a male-Lauren for her when she's so boring?" So they decided that she would be into art for this episode. I think she shoulda called up Nunzio, at least then we could pretend her "I like dancing" phase was actually a real character trait. That's my new fanfiction. Topanga falls in love with Nunzio after breaking up with Cory and Nunzio goes with her to Yale. Hell, Angela is more interesting than Topanga just because we had to dig through her purse for a while. Whatever, I doubt Topanga will ever talk about art again after this episode. On that note, though, I do like the steps they've taken with Topanga on Girl Meets World.

After Ricky and Topanga kiss. it fades to black. At school the next day, Shawn is pretty angry at Angela for telling Topanga to go out with another guy.

Angela explains that Cory and Topanga are, in fact, broken up. She has the whole practical pragmatic understanding of the situation. This episode is far and away Angela's best showing to date. I'm actually going to say that she's the best character in this one. Funny and clever and reasonable, and Trina McGee is having fun with her lines, it's honestly a joy to watch. How bout that.

Just before Feeny's class begins, Shawn overhears Topanga tell Angela how amazing her date with Ricky was.

Cory is convinced that things are still going to work out. On the other side of the hall is the Topanga Dramatica Show. It's very long winded and it's supposed to get the viewer riled up, but the gist of it is that she felt nothing when she kissed Ricky, which made her realize that she's actually truly in love with Cory. The idea is that if she couldn't feel something for someone as "perfect" as Ricky, then she must truly love Cory. I didn't know that was ever even in question. Recall near the beginning when Topanga claims that you can't kiss someone and have it not mean anything, and now she has clearly seen that that can happen. That would make sense as a legitimate conclusion if they even bothered to mention it. But they didn't.

Like, how does this work? "I still love Cory, thus all the problems I had are null." When did she ever stop loving Cory? I just don't get it.

Topanga finds Cory at those same monkey bars he talked about at the beginning. Some nonsense happens, and she explains now that she understands kissing someone without feeling anything. Okay, so they did bring that up, that's good at least. Cory and Topanga kiss, and agree to "start over". If anyone out there is satisfied by all of this, then good for you, I'm glad this episode reached someone, but absolutely none of this means anything to me.

Plot: 0.25 - They tried to give Topanga a Lauren-story, and that sounds good in theory, but they had to invent a new personality for Topanga to do it, and that just immediately stops you from being interested at all.

Character Development: 0.25 - Cory and Topanga are back together. That dictates pretty much the rest of the series, so it's gotta be worth some points.

Humor: 0.25 - Angela and the brief interaction between Shawn and Cory.

Life Lesson:

0.75 out of 4.0. Definitely one of the lowest scores I've given. I hate this episode. None of the dialogue makes sense, Topanga is entirely fabricated, there's no Eric to make me laugh, and the resolution almost completely ignores all of the problems that led us here in the first place. It's garbage, but the writers were surely aware that they dug themselves into a hole with this story arc, and rather than having their main love interest split up, they decided to just shoehorn it back together and hope nobody asked too many questions.

Thanks for reading, see you Wednesday.

All images used under Fair Use.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Episode 5x19 "Eric Hollywood"

We're making up for the complete lack of Eric in the previous episode. Thank goodness.

Eric's working construction for Pennbrook's drama department. He's just built a balcony for their production of Romeo and Juliet, but when the guy playing Romeo tests it out, it breaks apart and he literally dies. He is actually dead. Some guys carry him off on a stretcher. That's a refreshingly dark sense of humor. I like it. And you know, this is no one's fault except the people who hired Eric. So how can we fix this problem?

Eric does a few lines from the play with a surprising level of skill. Apparently he's picked up the entire play word for word in the time he's been working here. Yeah well your little brother peed on a cop car last episode, Eric, so maybe you're spending too much time here. Anyway we skip ahead to the production of R+J, it's the scene were Romeo confronts Tybalt after he killed Mercutio. Jack is playing Tybalt because they didn't want to pay any more actors for this episode. So yeah Eric gets through the whole thing without screwing up. I almost don't believe it.

The next morning, Eric finds his parents and little sister looking at all the great reviews of his performance in various newspapers. And Eric's head grew three sizes that day.

Meanwhile, at The Apartment, Topanga shows up to make sure she and Shawn are still on good terms, now that she's broken up with Cory. Shawn insists that they are, which is very mature, but this is all just a setup for the side story. Topanga notices that Jack has chicken pox, and soon finds them on Shawn as well. We can look back at two other Eric-centric episodes, "By Hook or By Crook" in season 2, in which Cory has contracted mono, and "Singled Out" in season 4, when Cory had to have his tonsils taken out. And now chicken pox on the Hunter boys. Why do people start having medical problems whenever Eric gets a story?

Eric wraps up another performance, to the praise of his parents and Feeny. I think it's adorable that Mister Feeny came to see Eric in the play. Some other folks are here to see Eric as well. One from Juilliard, one from the Royal Shakespeare Company, aaaaaaaand one from ABC. Naturally, Eric wants to be on TV, so he chooses the third option.

There's a little montage of Feeny and Eric driving a golf cart around some Hollywood lots, and finally we arrive at the set of Kid Gets Acquainted With The Universe. Yes, it's time for Boy Meets World to parody itself. The first example is Lindsay Ridgeway, the actress who plays Morgan, driving up in her golf cart and being very rude and abrasive and anti-Morgan. This is actually some of her best delivery we've ever seen.

Meanwhile in Chickenpoxville, Jack is delirious. In his delirium the thought-to-speech filter is completely turned off. He explains in his loopy-voice that Shawn doesn't want Topanga here since she broke up with Cory, which must mean that Shawn and Topanga were never actually friends. From my perspective, that's true, and is an interesting plot point to explore. Shawn and Topanga would never hang out without Cory. On the other hand, at the beginning of 5x16, Shawn says, and I quote, "You're my friend Topanga. You're one of the two best people I know." He had an agenda when he said that though, so I'm going to conclude that he was lying. Also Shawn's wearing that one shirt that someone pointed out at the beginning of the season, they called it an "ohm shirt", and we were gonna keep track. It's the first time I've seen it since then.

Time to kick the meta jokes into high gear back in Hollywood. Eric meets the rest of the cast of this show, where he'll be playing the "long lost brother". It's the same cast as Boy Meets World, and each of the actors is being the opposite of their Boy Meets World character. Ben Savage is Ben Sandwich, brother of Bread Sandwich from "that show", since his real brother, Fred Savage, was of course famous for The Wonder Years. Ben Sandwich is very aggressive and angry, literally every line he says is hysterical.

It's hard to say whether that's a jab at the fact that Eric is historically a more interesting character than Cory, but I like to think that it is. Funny either way. Ben's entire demeanor and attitude is just amazing, he's so good at this tongue-in-cheek stuff.

Rider Strong is Schneider, a very shy, awkward, anti-Shawn guy, and honestly, this one kinda misses the mark for me. The audience is much more entertained by it than I am. We don't get a name for Danielle Fischel's character, but it follows the same trend. She's ditzy and flirty and handsy, and... yeah you know what I'm getting at. This one works much better than Schneider. It's actually a lot of fun to see Fischel doing something other than Topanga's boringness.

Time for Matthew Lawrence. I put him at second place on the hilarity-meter, behind Ben. His gag is that he doesn't understand why they would want Eric on the show when they already have him. This is a reversal of Jack's introduction when there didn't really seem to be a reason for him. That's something that I and most of the commenters talked about at length, so it really is fantastic here that they're making fun of it. I genuinely appreciate this joke in every way.

Then we go over to Mister Feeny (the real Mister Feeny) wondering why the classroom set only has nine desks. The director, whose name is Matt Fraser, assures Feeny that camera angles will be used to make the classroom appear to have many more students. So, again, just another example of the show picking fun at itself. I don't know if the director's name is supposed to be a joke, it doesn't sounds like "Michael Jacobs", and I can't find any prominent employees at ABC with that name, so I dunno.

It's time to read some lines, and Ben's giving Schneider a hard time. "I am so sick and tired of carrying this show," the audience doesn't laugh at that, but it cracks me up. This might be the funniest I have ever seen Ben Savage. I love every single line, the audience isn't laughing nearly as much as they should be. The scene they're reading for has Schneider's character, Shane, trying to convince Ben's character, Rory, to steal his dad's car keys and credit card. Immediately, Ben yells at the director for giving them a story they've already done a hundred thousand times. "We're doing this story again?!" It really is one of the best jokes in the series, because it's perfectly self aware. You can absolutely imagine the actors having that reaction in real life, and we've certainly had that reaction as viewers.

Best line in the series? Quite possibly. Ben Sandwich continues his tirade by yelling at the writing staff, who are a bunch of really young kids. These child actors don't know how to say their lines, making it tough to watch, but Ben continues to be hilarious. These kids are all the children of writers and producers of Boy Meets World, so, yeah, nepotism at its finest. The original Morgan was less annoying.

Anyway it's time for Eric to read some lines as Rory's brother Derek. Eric only knows how to do Shakespeare though, and then gets upset at how different Ben Sandwich is on camera, so the whole thing falls apart and Eric gets fired. Feeny gives him a quick lesson about how extremely difficult it is to make it in the acting business, that you'll get ten thousand rejections before a "yes", which is certainly a valuable lesson for aspiring actors, and artists in general.

Back in Philly, Topanga returns and her and Shawn make up and are friends again. But that's really not even remotely interesting. During the credits, we see Eric looking for his lucky tube socks, and Cory admits that he shrunk them in the wash, saying "I don't think they're so lucky anymore." But that wasn't in the script, so Will Friedle "breaks character" and flips out at Ben Savage for improvising, and then storms off. It's supposed to be the same kind of behind-the-scenes joke that we saw at the set of Kid Gets Acquainted With The Universe, except this time it's the actual Boy Meets World characters and actors. It's pretty damn amazing.

This was another joke episode, so there's no point in scoring it, but it definitely deserves a full score, A+, ten out of ten. This is absolutely one of the funniest and most fun episodes of the series. If not top 5, certainly top 10. I laughed from beginning to end. Love it. Granted, you do have to be pretty familiar with the show to get all of the meta humor, but if that's the case (as it is for all of us) then it's a fantastic ride. You can't miss this one.

As I've written this blog over the last year, there have been many times where I wanted to criticize this show for something obvious, but I didn't. What stopped me was this episode. This episode shows us that they're very well aware of the silly things they do on the show, especially that "and still be so stupid?!" part. Every time I've thought about criticizing that, I remember this episode. So not only is this episode hilarious, but the peek behind the curtain is also very important in the grand scheme of appreciating this show.

Thanks for reading, see you Monday for a garbage episode that I hate.

All images used under Fair Use.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Episode 5x18 "If You Can't Be With The One You Love..."

Then grow the fuck up cuz you can't always have what you want.

*Edit* Thanks to the anonymous commenter, I now know that today is the 21st anniversary of the premiere of Boy Meets World! The series is 21 years old on the day I review the episode about drinking. What the hell are the odds? That is just fantastic.

Shawn and Cory emerge from Feeny's classroom after a lesson on feudalism, and for some reason it's made Shawn very angry. I dunno, I think feudalism is kinda cool. As Topanga passes by, Cory wishes her a good weekend, and she returns the gesture, but she's clearly not suffering the way that Cory is. Shawn explains that she's handling the breakup "with dignity", and then adopts this grizzled accent to say "while you, Norton, are a train wreck." Google has given me no aid in deciphering this message. It must be a quote since he put on that accent, but I can't figure out where it's from. The audience laughs, it must mean something. Help me out.

See, Cory's being a real Debbie Downer after this breakup. Almost everyone has been invited to Kimberly Sussman's "new nose" party tonight, but not Cory, as Shawn points out. He's just too depressing to be around, and even Shawn is getting sick of it. For the record, that sounds ridiculous, but I actually did know a girl in college who threw a "new nose party". They do exist, I'm afraid.

That's pretty harsh. Just before we cut to commercial, Cory comments that he doesn't like himself either, and that "I'm done with me."

We cut to Kimberly's party, where the hostess herself asks Angela if she can dance with Shawn. Angela tells Kimberly she can do whatever she wants, "but he'll be going home with me~." WooOOooo sounds like Shawn might be dying in a horror movie pretty soon! Angela actually looks fantastic in this scene, I don't know why her hairstyles are so hit or miss.

And now Cory Matthews crashes the party. He's oozing with confidence and doesn't even flinch when Kimberly namedrops Topanga, so she invites him in. We fade over to Cory regaling the partygoers with the story of First Girlfriends Club, which, let's be honest, is the perfect story to tell at a party. Topanga shows up and Cory doesn't give a shit. Clearly something drastic has taken place. As soon as she sees Cory having a good time as the life of the party, Topanga bails. It... grrrr, it makes my blood boil. What the fuck is her problem. A song starts playing that I recognize from another episode, it took me a minute but it's the song that plays at The Boom Boom Room near the end of Last Tango in Philly.

Well we didn't have to wait long to solve the mystery. We now see Cory taking a swig of whiskey in the bathroom. Shawn comes a-knockin, apparently Cory's been in there a while, and Cory invites his best friend to have a drink with him.

You know why anti drug and alcohol programs don't work? Because the message is always "it's terrible, you'll hate it and regret it and suffer the consequences." And then people try it and think "Wow, this is great, I feel awesome, those programs were lying to me." So what's Boy Meets World doing right? It's starting off by showing us the allure, it's not some popular kids pressuring a high horse protagonist (see: Full House and every other 90s sitcom), it's Cory fuckin Matthews offering a drink to his best buddy. It's liquid confidence! Cory is relaxed and confident and he left his broken heart at the door, all thanks to a little whiskey. So now it's a question of whether the bad outweighs the good, which is exactly the direction that I think school programs should be taking. Scare tactics do not work and Michael Jacobs evidently knows that.

UNFORTUNATELY, we'll never see anything like this with Girl Meets World, since Disney Channel banned this episode from being shown on their network. And that's ultimately why I think Girl is doomed, but we'll just have to see.

Shawn and Cory continue taking swigs of whiskey, with their own little sound effects after each gulp. Very funny. Very relatable.

The party's over after the commercial break, as Cory and Shawn wander down some street in a drunken stupor, discussing how they peed on the roof of cop car number 72. Public urination is a common joke on tv when it comes to drunkenness, but like, I've been pretty damn smashed in my days and yet I have never had the urge to whip my dick out and let loose outside of a bathroom. I'll never understand that one. Anyway, the boys offer some cash to some random guy to buy them beer, and he does, but shortly after that cop car 72 pulls up with lights flashing to arrest the boys.

Not much else comes out of that scene, except that Cory does some emotional-drunk talk about how Shawn is more important than Topanga. Alcohol is basically truth serum, so I'm going to go ahead and declare that this is the canonical answer. Cory loves Shawn more than Topanga. Done. It's done.

We're at home after the commercial, and Alan is pissed. He claims that "the charges" have been dropped since they're minors with no priors, but I'm not sure what the charges were exactly. I guess the cop saw them peeing on his car earlier? Maybe open container laws? Whatever, the point is that Alan is being a typical parent right now, thinking that his child can do no wrong. He's convinced that bad bad Shawn convinced sweet sweet Cory to steal his whiskey and drink it. That's real as hell, so many parents are like that, refusing to see their child's mistakes. We're pulling out all the stops in this episode.

Shawn decides to play along with Alan's accusations, just as a favor to his best friend, so Alan keeps saying some pretty hurtful shit. Amy doesn't want to jump to conclusions though, and pulls her husband into the other room. Shawn explains that it's just easier this way since everyone expects the worst out of him, but once Amy and Alan return, Cory comes clean anyway. Alan gives Shawn a serious apology for what he said, and it's honestly really moving. At the end of the scene, Cory and Shawn agree not to drink anymore, but there's still eight minutes left so that's probably not gonna work out.

Indeed it did not work out, as Shawn has a full blown outburst in Feeny's class, evidently the result of drinking. They still managed to make it funny though. Ultimately, Feeny kicks Shawn out of class and excuses Cory to go make sure he's okay. Cory follows the drunk Shawn back to The Apartment, where Shawn grabs another beer from the fridge. Jack comes home and we learn that old Chet Hunter was a pretty abusive drunk. Further, that's actually the reason Jack's mother left Chet in the first place.

This got weird really quick. Like, we were on a nice sightseeing tour and then drove straight off a cliff. Somehow we got to Shawn activating his alcoholism genes. I'll go on record here saying that the first thirteen minutes were great, ending with the agreement not to drink anymore. What I do like about this scene though is when Cory says "I thought we agreed to stop drinking." It's not a fear thing, it's not "remember what my dad said", they made the decision themselves. That's good stuff.

Anyway, back on track, Shawn isn't happy about Jack insulting their father.

The events escalate, Topanga and Angela show up, Angela doesn't want Shawn to drink anymore, and so he shoves her into the door, a callback to Chet being an abusive drunk. Holy shit dude. Realistic or not, it convinces Shawn to stop drinking. He apologizes to Alan, then to Feeny and Topanga, and finally to Angela.

And that's... how it ends... The credits are just some guitar music over the show's logo.


Plot: 1.0 - The first thirteen minutes were a compelling look at a relatable high school student getting drunk at a party. The main characters, high school students, made the choice on their own to get drunk. That shit never happens on TV. Never. Where does it happen? In real god damn life, that's where. It was as not-preachy as a show can possibly be while still maintaining the message. I'm impressed. And then that last eight minutes, I don't even know what that was. The writers clearly just threw it together after using all their good ideas in the first part.

Character Development: 1.0 - Cory was actually interesting in this episode, very real. And I guess Shawn dealing with his family's alcoholism is meaningful.

Humor: 0.75 - It's hard to get that full point without Eric, but it was still pretty funny.

Life Lesson: 0.5 - Drink responsibly.

3.25 out of 4.0. It's actually pretty good. MUCH better than I remember. I've said most of what I want to say already, I just want to reiterate how strange that last eight minutes is. Like why did they even bother doing the "Cory is the bad one this time" thing if Shawn was gonna jump off the deep end for no reason?

Thanks for reading, see you Friday for an episode we're all excited about.

All images used under Fair Use.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Episode 5x17 "And Then There Was Shawn"

So I'm watching this HBO show called Deadwood, right, and who do I find but William Russ himself. He looks so cartoonishly evil with that mustache. 

I've got a crazy fan theory for Girl Meets World. Like how Cory's name is actually Cornelius, I bet Auggie's real name is something like that too. My guess is "Augustus". I want to say that Riley's is like that too, since all three names end in the "ee" sound, but I have no idea what it could be.

Everybody's being real dramatic in Feeny's class this morning. A few episodes ago, I likened our heroes' outbursts in class to those in Girl Meets World, saying yeah, it's annoying in GMW, but they did it here too. Well today that's very different. The Feenster is getting fed up with The Breakup being the center of attention in his classroom. The whole thing was sparked by some new guy named Kenny asking Topanga to borrow a pencil, and they're really making it seem like we should know who this guy is. He looks and sounds like Jack. But that's not important.

Yeah, take a note here Cory. You're gonna need to do this in a couple decades.

They don't let up though, and Feeny threatens to give them all detention in the event of "one more interruption". Just then, a ghastly ghoul of a janitor bursts into the classroom, and then slowly backs out again. There's a history of bad janitors at this school. Anyway Feeny decides that this creepy custodian satisfies the requirement of "one more interruption" (a dick move, by the way) and gives the Cory Crew detention, and Kenny too.

At detention, the jarring janitor appears on the other side of the door's glass pane. Feeny locked the students in the room before he left, so Shawn pleads with the curious curator to unlock the door. He doesn't, though, and the map on the blackboard rolls up to show a threatening message written in blood.

So yeah, as we all know, this episode is a dream sequence that parodies some classic horror films. Sad to say, I know dick-all about horror movies. It's not that I dislike them, I just... don't understand them..? I don't know. Either way, I am not going to be able to point out the references, and I apologize for that shortcoming.

Shawn thinks Feeny is setting up an elaborate lesson to teach them something, and uses his vast knowledge of cheap horror films to predict the upcoming events. Reminds me of 4x22, where Shawn had a dream foretelling their visit to the sorority. Anyway, Shawn predicts that something horrible is about to walk through the door, and it turns out to be Jack and Eric. Eric does an impression of Mr. Hankey from South Park going "Howdy Ho," and... it's... just so out of place. The first season of South Park premiered in August 1997, and this episode aired in February 1998, so I guess it was still sort of timely. Our two new arrivals explain that they saw the scary... scustodian... out in the hall, emptying the trash cans.

The jokes keep rolling. There's this awkward pause after Shawn says "This is straight out of that horror film classic, Blood In The Showers," where I guess they forgot to edit in the laughtrack? I laughed, I don't know what the audience is doing. Shawn predicts that Kenny is going to die first, which is exactly what happens after a gloved hand turns the lights off. He's been stabbed through the brain with a very large pencil. Naturally, Eric responds with "Oh my gosh, they killed Kenny," (not "Oh my god", mind you, this is ABC after all). Is that the entire reason he was in this episode? His 8 minute lifespan had the sole purpose of setting up a South Park reference? I looked up the actor, Richard Lee Jackson, and he's not a horror film veteran or anything like that, but it still feels like I'm missing something

Everyone runs screaming into the hallway and some sort of eerie song starts playing over the loudspeakers, which must be a reference. Shawn makes a few more predictions which all start coming true, ultimately leading them to find a dead Feeny.

The gang retreat back to the classroom, where Angela then wonders if any of them is safe. Shawn explains that virgins never die in horror films, to which Eric and Jack reply that they're both going to die, which is pretty funny. Shawn comments that he'll get "as sick as you can get without actually dying," and Jack gives him a pat on the back like "hey, that's okay buddy." It's hysterical, it's such a guy moment, having this conversation in the face of impending death, and of course Cory thanks Topanga for keeping him alive. It's an extremely funny little bit that presumes a level of maturity in the audience (one of this show's trademarks), and also crosses "sex stuff" off the horror-movie-trope checklist. Well played. But wait... Feeny died... so that means...

Hmmm... Jack's just kinda standing there lookin awkward... You know what this needs?!

Much better. That might be my masterpiece.

The heroes hear the spooky... sp... spatula... okay I ran out of janitor alliterations. The heroes hear the scary janitor out in the hallway, but find that he's already dead. Eric accidentally volunteers himself to keep watch while everyone else hides in the classroom. He's ambushed by a girl named Jennifer Love Fefferman, played of course by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Friedle and Hewitt were dating at this point in time, and they also did an extremely shitty teenage-guy-needs-to-get-laid movie together called The Trojan War around this time. The film was produced for $15 million, and made, this is not a typo, $309 in ticket sales because it was played in only one theatre and they stopped showing it after a week. I kinda need to see it now. I'm trying to think of how we could organize a community viewing of this terrible movie.

Anyway Eric and "Feffy" start vigorously making out in the hallway. I don't know why. Maybe she was just on set that day and they decided to give her some lines. She contributes nothing to the story. It's weird.

Angela's been doing these really loud, campy screams the whole episode, so when Feffy does her own high pitched shriek, Angela gets sassy like "uh uh, I'm the one who does the screaming." Angela being funny is like a unicorn, so I was compelled to mention it. The heroes flee to the school's library, the same library pictured in this blog's banner, which we saw in 4x11. I'm surprised we don't see this place more often if they've just got it on hand like that. The masked killer shows up and starts killing, down to just Cory, Topanga, and Shawn. Then he puts Cory and Topanga's hands together, like they're holding hands, which I don't understand. Shawn pulls off the mask and we discover that the killer is... Shawn.


Without any further comment, Shawn wakes up from his dream. He's in detention, and Kenny is there, so I guess everything in that first scene before detention was real. Somehow, this dream has given Shawn the revelation he needed to resolve the situation. He begins, "You two have been together since before I even knew you." I had to look back at that bullshit flashback at the zoo from 5x03 to be sure, and this is indeed consistent with that retcon. He explains further, that if Cory and Topanga aren't together, then he has nothing he can depend on, which is a little insulting to the Angela seated directly in front of him. So this lack of dependability is making Shawn feel bad, and then Mister Feeny lets them all go home.

Hm? What's that? You thought there was more? Nah that's it. It makes zero fucking sense. Zero. How does that explain the metaphor of killing everybody? It's a half-assed attempt at pulling something out of nothing. It was perfectly fine as a one-off joke episode, there was no need to try to make something meaningful out of it here at the end. I appreciate the effort, but the execution was absolutely dreadful. They would have been way better off without it.

During the credits, it's time for Feeny's dream sequence, where he asks Topanga a question she can't answer, and Shawn and Cory are smart.

FUN FACT. There's an episode in season six where Cory dreams about killing everybody, and that's also the only other episode we have left where (an imaginary) Lauren makes an appearance. And of course, Lauren is the cause of Shawn's grief here in this episode. FULL CIRCLE BABY.


Plot: Fuck it. There's no reason to use my stupid scoring system on this episode. It's a joke episode. We all already know it's amazing, and we love it and it's a classic. The whole thing is hilarious. Start to finish. Except the South Park jokes, but they were probably funny in 1998. If we evaluate this joke episode as a joke episode, it passes with flying colors. Ultimately though, it's meaningless. Not much else to say. I probably could have written a better review if I were more familiar with the films they're referencing. Oops. Sorry if you expected better of me.

Thanks for reading, see you Wednesday.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Episode 5x16 "Torn Between Two Lovers (Feeling Like a Fool)"

The beginning is basically just Cory and Shawn recapping everything from the Lauren arc so far. What's new, though, is that Cory has taken the position that he's done nothing wrong, that he "sat on a couch and talked to a girl", which I agree with. It's unfortunate that he lacked that presence of mind back in 5x14 when this all started. It's honestly an improvement though, he's usually a huge mess whenever something goes wrong with Topanga, but today he's standing his ground, showing a little backbone. As always, they've pulled Shawn's personality out of a hat.

Yes, today Shawn will possibly want to be like Cory and Topanga. Sometimes he absolutely does, sometimes he wants to start his own thing with Angela, it's hard to keep track.

So Shawn clearly wants to reunite Cory and Topanga. He schemes to get both of them to Chubbie's after school, telling them both individually how perfect the other person is. Topanga takes slightly more convincing than Cory, though.


Abbott and Costello? Right? Anyway...

In theory, this is a sweet gesture, relinquishing the role of Cory's most-important-person, but we the analytical viewers know that it is simply not true. It works, though, and she agrees to meet Cory at Chubbie's.

Our heroes are now waiting for Topanga to arrive for this meeting, but Lauren shows up instead. The uninitiated may question her ability to find Cory here, but we know that this is literally the only place he could be. I'm sure their all-night conversation in 5x14 included something like "Yeah, it's called Chubbie's, it's the only place I've been in the last four years. If you need to randomly show up, that's the place to do it."

Cory tries to politely get rid of Lauren before Topanga arrives, but this is Chubbie's! Everyone always arrives! Toblahblah is ready to storm out after seeing Lauren. She tells Cory to take some time and figure out if he wants Lauren or not. Let me be clear. Cory doesn't want to, it's not his idea, Topanga is insisting that he stay and talk things through with Lauren.

In The Backyard, we learn that Feeny has a scheduling conflict with his "citizenship class", where immigrants are studying to gain their citizenship. He asks Eric to simply proctor their practice exams, handing out the tests and pencils, and collecting them afterward.

It's been far too long, Feenric. It's good to be home :')

We cut to the class and Eric immediately has all the students rip up their practice exams. The scene fades out on what appears to be Eric starting to do card tricks. Is Eric back to his old screw-uppy ways!? Probably not, but we can still enjoy the ride.

At home, Cory, his parents, and Shawn are all talking about the Lauren situation in the kitchen. Amy and Alan believe that Cory owes it to everyone involved to see Lauren again. Especially since Topanga's okay with it. Amy and Alan have a great showing here, which is always a treat. Lauren arrives to pick up Cory for their date, and she handles the situation with mastery. You would expect some awkwardness here, but she defuses it entirely. Further evidence of how cool she is.

The moment in that gif has really stuck with me over the years. I'm not sure why, it's just... wow, this show is real as hell.

We jump over to Cory and Lauren having a picnic on a pile of dirt that we're supposed to think is a park. As always, the chemistry is blatant, they're having a great time and so am I. It starts raining, though, so Lauren tucks Cory into her jacket.

The whole scene is overwhelmingly adorable, and leaves us with a feeling that this could actually turn into something.

Cory shows up at The Apartment, announcing that he had a good time with Lauren. Shawn decides to weigh both girls against each other to see which one Cory likes more. When it comes to honesty, Cory claims that Topanga is the most honest person he knows, which is not true, she has a history of fibs on this show. Besides, Mister Feeny is the most honest person he knows. The next question is essentially about sex appeal, boobs and butts and curvity curves, in as explicit detail as the censor would allow. It's hysterical, and in my mind one of those classic moments. At the end of the day, you gotta love Cory and Shawn.

At the end of Cory's day, though, he loves Topanga. Not Lauren.

And I guess that's really what it boils down to. As much as we think Lauren is the better catch, would you really leave someone you love with all your heart for a girl you've had two dates with who doesn't even live near you? They still could have made that story work though, if Topanga had just felt too betrayed and ended the relationship, and then just write her out of the show. Oh well. Shawn looks pretty pleased with Cory's decision.

Back at the citizenship class, Eric seems to have spun things out of control, and Mister Feeny arrives on the scene.

Turns out, Eric actually did a great job teaching the material to the class, albeit with unorthodox methods. It's hard to explain, you have to just see it, but it's really sweet and genuine (and hilarious). Feeny and Eric, back together. Never fails!

At Chubbie's (of course) Cory tells Topanga what he's learned from his date with Lauren. Direct quote here, "I don't have to be afraid of what I feel about anybody else because I know  that it could never take away from loving you." Obviously we all like Lauren, but if we accept the notion that Cory is in love with Topanga, which we should at this point, then this is a satisfying conclusion for him to reach. If they'd done some kind of "I didn't feel anything for her!" thing, it would have been disingenuous, so I really like the way they've written this.

Doesn't matter though! Topanga wants to break up. "I forgive you for lying at the lodge, I forgive you for kissing her, and I forgive you for the letter. ... But that you needed to see her to test how you felt about me, I don't forgive you for that."

That's a really memorable moment right there, very emotional stuff from Ben Savage. Which is why I said to remember earlier, when Topanga insists that he goes out with Lauren when he didn't really want to. Topanga's only response now is "And you listened," and then she walks out. That is a LOAD of bull shit. I have always hated this part, I just can't justify Topanga's behavior at all. I recognize how hard it must have been to forgive Cory for all that stuff, so brownie points there, but the rest of this just makes no sense. She told him to go. He wasn't testing his feelings for Topanga, he was testing his feelings for Lauren, exactly what Topanga told him to do. I don't like it.

During the credits, we see the citizenship class all passing their exam and becoming citizens while Eric and Feeny look on from the sidelines.


Plot: 1.0 - Eric had his first experience as a teacher with Feeny bearing witness. Perfect.

Character Development: 1.0 - Eric.

Humor: 1.0 - Eric and Feeny.

Life Lesson: 1.0 - Feeny and Eric.

4.0 out of 4.0, if we're looking solely at Eric's story. Absolutely perfect. If we throw in the rest of the episode, ehh it's like a 3, but who cares. It's like Whose Line. The points don't matter. Lauren is gone, and Topanga broke up with Cory for some weird reasons. The thing is, she had a few good reasons to break up with him, but we got this instead. I honestly don't care at all because of how good this Eric ending was.

Thanks for reading, see you Monday.

All images used under Fair Use.