Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 Pilot Preview: "Girl Meets World"

“If this is my world, then the first person I want in it with me is you.”
- Riley Matthews

You may have heard that Disney Channel has been developing a spin-off of “Boy Meets World” since last year. Well it is finally (almost) upon us. I was a big fan of BMW and have decided to do a complete series rewatch over the summer. But the more important point is I was really stoked for this new project. With every casting announcement about who was coming back, it just really brought back the nostalgia. So without further ado, let’s gets get to the recap!

We enter upon thirteen-year-old Riley Matthews and her best friend Maya. They are going to sneak out of the house and take the subway to school which is really not cool with Riley’s parents, Cory and Topanga. In fact, just as the girls crawl out the window, they find Cory waiting for them on the fire escape. He tells Riley that when she makes the world hers, she can take the subway but that he and Topanga will always be there for her. The girls’ ride to school is eventful, as Riley tries to flirt with a cute boy (including tumbling into his lap and then the older woman who makes Riley give up her seat). Very amusing. The woman probably won’t be seen again after this episode but I thought she provided some comic relief.

At school, we learn that Cory has become a history teacher and of course, the girls are in his class. And they’re late! No sooner do they take their seats than hot guy from the subway, Lucas, appears. Cue the swooning preteen girls! Now some people have accused the episode of being too preachy and trying to force life lessons down the viewers’ throats. However, I think they handle it pretty well. Cory wants the kids to write a 3-page essay about something they believe in so strongly they’d fight for it (vaguely tying it into the lesson on the Civil War). Maya, being the rebel that she is, refuses to do the homework and walks out of class. Riley, thinking she wants to be just like Maya, follows suit. The theme of this episode is really about being yourself and we see that father and daughter are a lot more alike than Riley wants to admit. Maya lands herself in detention the next day by setting off the sprinkler system with a sparkler. Maya thinks that Cory wants her and Riley to not be friends anymore after he gives her a big speech in the hallway about her taking things too far. But I’m pretty sure that’s not what he wants. And Riley refuses to let that be what happens. She refuses to “break up” with Maya on the subway and the woman from the morning the other day is cheering them on. Ultimately, Riley decides to be herself because she now gets that she and Maya are supposed to be different. And so, Cory and Topanga let the girls ride the subway and go wherever they want. At the very end, as everyone is happily heading home, we get a glimpse of the always loved Mr. Feeny. It’s unclear if he was real or not but I appreciated the little cameo.

Now we do meet Riley’s little brother, Auggie who is kind of cute but doesn’t have much to do in the episode. And we are also introduced to Farkle, the sort of Minkus character. I have to say I am not a fan of Farkle. I don’t have very strong memories of Minkus right now but Farkle is just annoying and I don’t quite understand why Cory lets the kid take over class. But I guess you do kind of need that awkward sort-of friend in the mix as well. I did think the writers did a remarkable job mirroring some of the relationships, especially with Riley and Maya being a female version of Cory and Shawn.

I went back and rewatched the pilot of “Boy Meets World” to get a better comparison of how the two shows hold up next to one another. I have to say I think they did a really good job evoking a lot of the feeling of the pilot episode. Some of the dialog presentation, especially between Cory and Shawn was mirrored in Maya and Riley. And they both learned life lessons. Sure Cory was learning about the importance of love and family and Riley was learning about being herself but they are both important lessons to be learned. I had to say I did laugh a little more at some of the comedic bits in Boy Meets World but that may just be because they were aimed at my generation when they were written. And I think a lot of it too was the delivery by William Daniels (Feeny). I do miss the dynamic between Cory and Eric though. Having only a younger sibling is a much different beast and we really didn’t get to see Riley and Auggie interact enough to see what kind of relationship they really have. We got a very clear picture of how Morgan and Cory interacted in the pilot.

Overall, I am looking forward to spending my summer with the Matthews family, both past and present. Some people may complain since Disney tends to water down their shows but I’m willing to get them the benefit of the doubt. The one thing I do sort of hope is that they incorporate some more modern things into the show. For instance, maybe having some LGBT characters or relationships since that is part of growing up in today’s society. Whatever they do, I fully expect the show will be a fun romp and since the writers know that they are likely to pull in a lot of people in my generation, they are going to strive to find a balance that keeps the target audience engaged but also has enough little Easter eggs for the rest of us to keep us coming back for more.

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