Thursday, February 12, 2015

TV on DVD Review: Boy Meet World - Season 1

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of laughs and love as the show beings
Cons: Continuity errors to come (but they are still minor even then)
The Bottom Line:
Growing up sitcom
That is still funny, charming
Great family fun

“Confused, Mr. Matthews?”  “Yes.”  “As It Should Be.”

I didn’t start watching Boy Meets World until season 5.  I enjoyed it, but I never went back to watch the earlier episodes I had missed, and I wasn’t going to buy the DVD’s.  No, really, I wasn’t.  All that changed when I started watching Girl Meets World (which, if you haven’t started watching, you must do immediately).  I gave in after Thanksgiving and bought the DVD’s, so I’ve finally gone back to watch season 1 of Boy Meets World.  I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it.

The Boy of the title is Cory Matthews (Ben Savage).  He’s in sixth grade and lives next door to his teacher, Mr. Feeny (William Daniels).  His life is surrounded by family and friends, including his parents Alan and Amy (William Russ and Betsy Randle), older brother Eric (Will Friedle), and younger sister Morgan (Lily Nicksay).  At school, there’s his best friend Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) and the geeky know it all jerk Stuart Minkus (Lee Norris).  And, while not a regular cast member yet, there’s also the strange New Age girl who often sits in front of Cory, Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel).

If that reads like the set up for many a sitcom, that’s because it is the set up for many a sitcom.  But that’s because this set up works.  And, as I am fond of saying, it’s not the set up or even the outcome that makes or breaks something, it’s how much fun you have along the way.  Over the course of this season, Cory finds out that it can be costly to earn money, he cheats on an intelligence test, takes on teaching his class for a week, and hides Shawn from Shawn’s parents over some petty vandalism.  Also on tap this season, the class puts on a production of Hamlet; Minkus, Topanga, Cory, and Shawn have to be a family for a class project; and Eric and Cory try to get out of a father/son baseball game.  Oh, and there’s the episode where Eric and Cory think that Amy might be cheating on Alan.

And that last episode might just be my favorite in the season.  The laughs are strong and hilarious.  Frankly, that’s the case with most of the episodes here.  I found myself laughing multiple times in all of them, yet they often come together for some well-earned tender moments as well.  Furthermore, the adults are much more intelligent than the kids give them credit for being.  This may be the first season, but most of the characters are already fairly strong.

Now, let’s be honest.  This is a show aimed at families from the 1990’s (these episode ran from 1993-1994).  This will appeal most to those with fond memories of the show or people like me who still enjoy humor aimed at a broad audience.  Even when I started watching its final few seasons in its original run, I was older than the target audience, but that didn’t stop me then, and I’m not letting it stop me now.  My only criteria for liking a show is if I laugh and enjoy myself, and that certainly happens here.

I had heard that the characters did really change as the series went along, and I certainly noticed plenty of things that didn’t fit with the characters I knew from the later seasons.  Cory is pretty sane and normal here (although he can still overreact to things), and it is Topanga who is out there.  She’s a stereotypical new age character, but they do draw plenty of laughs from her.  Eric is another character who changed a lot. He’s fairly girl crazy here (okay, that didn’t necessarily change), but again he’s much smarter and saner than he would be later.  And I’m curious how Shawn’s life changes as the series goes along because his family isn’t presented much like it turned out to be later on.  Heck, even Mr. Feeny doesn’t seem to care for the characters quite as much as he does in later seasons, although that is obviously changing by the final episode.

But all that is worth noting mainly in passing.  Why?  Because the show is fun and funny.  I think I might have mentioned that already, right?

The actors have jumped right in and made their characters come to life.  They inhabit these characters perfectly and make us laugh in every episode.

The first season consisted of 22 episodes, and they are all presented here in full screen and stereo, which is how they originally aired.  The extras consist of three audio commentaries features creator Michael Jacobs and stars Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, and Will Friedle.  These commentaries are equal parts funny and informative as they reminisce about their time on the show, tell a few behind the scenes stories, and lovingly mock continuity errors and the styles they are wearing.  (It was 1993, after all.)  You can tell everyone loved working together and are having fun hanging out again.  Heck, Matthew Lawrence, whose character didn’t show up until the era where I started watching the show, pops by for a commentary.  Finally, there’s a bonus episode from season 4, “Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow,” with another optional commentary featuring the entire gang (including Matthew Lawrence).

Season 1 of Boy Meets World is a funny family sitcom the entire family can watch together.  And since that’s exactly what it set out to be, I’d say it succeeds perfectly.  If you’re looking to relax and laugh, this set is definitely for you.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. On the Fence
3. Father Knows Less
4. Cory’s Alternative Friends
5. Killer Bees
6. Boys II Mensa
7. Grandma Was a Rolling Stone
8. Teacher’s Bet
9. Class Pre-Union
10. Santa’s Little Helper
11. The Father/Son Game
12. Once in Love with Amy
13. She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
14. The B-Team of Life
15. Model Family
16. Risky Business
17. The Fugitive
18. It’s a Wonderful Night
19. Kid Gloves
20. The Play’s the Thing
21. Boy Meets Girl
22. I Dream of Feeny

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