This week’s Sports On TV covers another show people have been requesting since the column’s inception: ‘Boy Meets World,’ the long-running TGIF staple that asked, “if Fred Savage can have a successful television show, shouldn’t his little brother have one as well?”
‘Boy Meets World’ ran for seven seasons from 1993 to 2000 on ABC, and now’s a better time than ever to look back on the show’s 158 episodes. Why? Take it away, Wikipedia!
n November 2012 it was reported that Disney Channel is in the early stages of development of a follow-up series titled ‘Girl Meets World,’ which will center around Cory and Topanga’s 13-year-old daughter. Boy Meets World co-creator Michael Jacobs will develop the series and serve as its executive producer and showrunner. It is yet unknown if any of the original actors will return if the series gets a pilot order or is greenlit as a series, although Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel are in talks to reprise their characters.
If that news excites you or a 12-year old in your household, you’re going to love this column. If you’ve never seen ‘Boy Meets World’ and don’t know what it has to do with sports, what’re you, new? Here’s a sneak preview of what’s inside: Olympic athletes, WWF wrestlers, at least six dozen people you’ll recognize from currently-popular TV shows and at least one insane, weird man dressed as Lance Armstrong. Enjoy.
More Sports On TV: Saved By The Bell | Full House | King Of The Hill | The Wire | The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air | Parks And Recreation | Married… With Children | 30 Rock | The Brady Bunch | The Three Stooges | The Simpsons | Glee | Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers | South Park
Episode: “Pilot” (season 1, episode 1)
What Happens: Cory Matthews is supposed to be learning about Romeo and Juliet, but sneaks a radio into class and instead listens to a Philadelphia Phillies/Atlanta Braves game, which was pretty high-stakes in 1993 (two runners on in the 3rd inning, Darren Daulton up to bat). Omnipresent teaching force Mr. Feeny catches him red-handed, makes up an elaborate description of Daulton hitting a ball to deep center, then turns off the radio and gives Cory detention.
Key line: “There is no greater aspiration than to have love in our lives, Mr. Matthews. Romeo knew it and died for it. Others know it…and prepare salads. And those who don’t know it, will sit in detention for the rest of their lives.”
You can’t begin a ‘Boy Meets World’ sports retrospective without first mentioning Philly sports. The Phillies are EVERYWHERE in the first season of the show, and Cory’s room is full of Phils, 76ers and Flyers logos. He’s got a baseball blanket, too, and one of those weird old framed pictures of baseball diamonds you used to be able to buy and put baseball cards in at the various positions.
Cory’s dream to become a big leagues player dies off pretty quickly in favor of being a Jewish stereotype obsessed with UNDAPANTS and the validity of human love, but season 1 is one of the most sports-heavy ever for a show about people who don’t play sports. He even wears a Phillies jersey to detention as a form of protest.
Also in this episode: Cory’s older brother Eric takes a girl to Veterans Stadium on a date and realizes he should stick to movies, because he’s not clever enough to muster three hours of conversation. Note that even in episode 1, Eric is trying to figure out ways to be stupider. He succeeds. Oh my God, how he succeeds.
Episode: “Grandma was a Rolling Stone” (season 1, episode 7)
What Happens: Cory’s spaced-out Grandmother stops HAULIN’ ASS TO LOLLAPALOOZA for five seconds and visits the family, lavishing them with gifts, including a Cal Ripken Jr. baseball card and the promise of a road trip to Baltimore to get it signed. Cory gets rightfully STOKED, but gets suspiciously distracted by his parents until he learns the truth — his grandmother is a flake, and shows love by promising a bunch of shit she never follows through on. Cory misses out on another would-be ‘Boy Meets World’ sports moment while his grandma’s bailing on him … a fishing trip with his dad. THANKS A LOT, GRANDMA.
Key line: “Cal Ripken Junior. Rookie year. I never thought I’d actually get to hold one of these things.” “My grandma picked it up at the swap meet for seven bucks.” “Seven bucks in dog years. This baby’s worth 150, easy.”
I never liked the resolution of this episode. Cory’s dad explains grandma with a story about how she once forgot to turn in a permission slip for him to go on a field trip to a ‘Man In Space’ exhibit at the science museum, then randomly made it up to him with a SUPER SPECIAL trip to Cape Canaveral to watch a space shuttle launch. The idea is that grandma might’ve ditched Cory on one thing, but still loves him, and will eventually make it up to him in grand fashion. The only problem is that grandma NEVER SHOWS UP AGAIN and Cory is just dicked out of meeting Cal Jr. and has to deal with it. I refuse to believe something magical could’ve happened with grandma off-screen.
Two amazing guest star notes (this will become a thing in almost every entry on this list): Shifty Grandma is played by Rue McClanahan, aka Blanche Devereaux from ‘The Golden Girls,’ aka one of the best sitcom characters in f**king ever. The bad part about that is that she’s dead now, which means grandma can’t even come back to do something special in the ‘Girl Meets World’ sequel.
Guest star note #2: There’s a B-story involving Eric’s infatuation with Mr. Feeny’s foxy niece, played by the best possible 1990s teenager … full-on lion’s mane and mom jeans Keri Russell, aka TV’s ‘Felicity’. Yes, please.
Episode: “The Thrilla’ in Phila'” (season 2, episode 21)
What Happens: Cory is worried about not having any accomplishments listed in the yearbook, so he joins the wrestling team. He’s the lowest possible weight class, so he’s sure he’ll never have to wrestle … until the equally-tiny thug Joey ‘The Rat’ challenges him for his spot on the team. Cory pins Joey in a one-on-one showdown, but Joey won’t accept defeat and keeps badmouthing and re-challenging Cory until the rematch escalates into a ticket event featuring a TRIOS MATCH and the most hilariously random group of guest stars in sitcom history.
Key line: “Feeny, you can’t tell me what to do anymore. I’m not one of your punk students. I’m THE FACE, OF DEATH.” “You were scarier when you had acne.”
The ‘Boy Meets World’ edition of Sports On TV was written almost exclusively so I could talk about the three (!) episodes starring former IWGP, AJPW Triple Crown and WCW Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader. He was in the WWF for a while, too, but his biggest accomplishments there were a Slammy Award for “Crime Of The Century” (whatever that means) and the time he called himself a “big fat piece of shit”.
Vader (playing Vader) has a recurring role as the father of Ethan Suplee’s character Frankie Stechino, and shows up here in full wrestling gear WITH BELT to support his son’s friend and put the fear of God into Cory and Eric Matthews. He gets taken down a peg by Mr. Feeny, who shows a Kofi Kingston-like agility entering the ring and threatens to reveal Vader’s real name (“Leslie,” which is not accurate to real life, but should be considered canon … more on that later). People keep tagging in and out of the Cory/Joey The Rat rematch until it’s effectively a Cory/Eric/Mr. Feeny vs. Joey/Frankie/Vader 3-on-3 trios showdown.
Also appearing in this scene, because I promised you a random group of guest stars: Robert Goulet and Yasmine Bleeth of ‘Baywatch,’ both playing themselves, Adam Scott of ‘Parks & Recreation’ and ‘Party Down’ fame as the school’s Fonzie, Vader, Ethan Suplee … hell, even Joey The Rat is played by Blake Sennett, who went on to form the bands Rilo Kiley and The Elected and sleep with Jenny Lewis for like five years. TOO MUCH HAPPENING AT ONCE.
Episode: “New Friends And Old” (season 3, episode 13)
What Happens: In the second chapter of the epic VADER ON ‘BOY MEETS WORLD’ trilogy, Frankie gets in trouble for helping steal and burn Cory and Shawn’s clothes, forcing them to dress as cheerleaders, and Big Van motherf**king Vader is brought in for a parent/teacher conference. Mr. Feeny recommends that Frankie try hanging out with a new crowd (Cory and Shawn), and Son Of Vader enjoys it until he realizes they only like hanging out with HIM because he’s an “enforcer” and terrifies everyone. Eventually Shawn and Cory realize what they’ve been doing and decide to hang out with him for friendship’s sake, and also assumedly because he is related to goddamn Vader.
Key line: “I tried to get away on my bike but Frankie jogged behind me the entire way. I mean, pound for pound, he is the fastest man on earth.”
Vader bookends the episode, first showing up in a suit to bark in the face of Mr. Feeny, and again at the end in a masterfully executed scene where Shawn asks what time Vader’s match is, and Vader just BURSTS into Cory’s family’s kitchen unannounced (through the back door … in full wrestling gear) to yell VADER TIMEEEE. With more on that, here’s a piece of “trivia” from the episode’s TV.com page:
At the end of the episode, Frankie’s Dad enters Cory’s house through the back door. As he is not a frequent guest of the family, he should be knocking at the front door.
Rewatching the episode, I think my favorite part is right before Shawn asks what time the match is, when he says he’s excited to see Frankie’s father “work”. Shawn Hunter knows his insider terminology, he’s been reading the DIRT SHEETS.
Episode: “Sixteen Candles and Four-Hundred-Pound Men” (season 4, episode 9)
What Happens: In what might as well be Return Of The King, the Vader trilogy ends with Cory watching an episode of ‘The Flintstones’ and trying to be in two places at one time: Topanga’s Sweet 16 party, and a WWF house show where Frankie Stechino needs Cory and Shawn’s wrestling tips to win his father’s love/help his father earn a WWF Championship match by pinning Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. Cory almost pulls it off (even remembering to remove his souvenir Vader mask — pictured — before making excuses to his girlfriend), but apparently someone at this hippie 16-year old’s birthday party was watching a live feed from CoreStates Spectrum, and Topanga sees the boys celebrating in the ring. Cory makes it up to her by getting Frankie to sneak them into the Spectrum (and into the ring, which nobody has taken down) for a Sweet 16 dance.
Key line: “You and that poetry. You coulda been somebody! You coulda been a sumo!”
This is the episode where Cory and Shawn officially accompany Vader to the ring for a match, establishing that Vader is in-canon WWF TV wrestler Vader, and that the ‘Boy Meets World’ universe is by proxy a part of the WWE Universe. In theory, Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel should have to walk around in character as Cory and Topanga at all times, and/or that I would have a shot at running into Minkus at WrestleCon.
Cory’s tips for Vader are great, and actually pretty helpful — he tells him he’s setting up his signature Vader Bomb too slowly (he is … he just climbs the ropes and bounces up and down forever instead of falling off backwards and crushing dudes with his giant sausage body) and lets him know when Jake The Snake is signaling for the DDT so he can counter. Vader uses the tips to beat Jake and earn a “title shot at Madison Square Garden”. This episode aired two days before a WWF show at Madison Square Garden (Survivor Series ’96), but Vader didn’t wrestle for the title … Sycho Sid wrestled for it (and won it), and Vader wrestled in an undercard elimination match that ended in a DQ. Politics. I wonder what Shawn Hunter thought about Vader getting buried?
This episode also has the undisputed king of ‘Boy Meets World’ post-credit wrap-ups: Vader declares his love for Frankie and shows off his new move (the “Vadersault,” which he’d been doing for like 10 years), a top rope moonsault that would’ve crushed Cory and Topanga if Cory hadn’t noticed him doing it at the last second. Vader just lies there, posing on his belly until the credits are over. GLORIOUS.
Episode: “The B-Team of Life” (season 1, episode 14)
What Happens: Cory tries out for basketball and only makes the B-team, meaning he’ll never get to play in games and must ride the bench alongside losers like Minkus. If you don’t know who Minkus is, picture a white Urkel with no romantic ties or marketable skills. Anyway, Cory begins to think he’s on his family’s B-team as well, a feeling proved wrong when his mom, dad, brother and original sister drive an hour to see him sit on the bench at an away game. When three A-teamers get injured, Cory gets to play the final minute and scores six points. Also, Cory suddenly gets a black friend in this episode, because “basketball”.
Key line: “Look, Mr. Feeny. I know you think Minkus is like, the next Alvin Einstein; but if he’s so smart why doesn’t he know second string is for losers.”
For a basketball episode, there is astonishingly little basketball featured, and the only time we ever hear what happens is when characters walk into a cafeteria or living room and are all WOW WHAT A BASKETBALL GAME, LET’S RECAP EACH OTHER. So little basketball, in fact, that I almost took it off the list in favor of “Eric Matthews holds a basketball briefly” in the episode “And Then There Was Shawn,” the horror-themed Scream parody episode featuring Jennifer Love Hewitt. It’s the guest appearance somebody used to make that Jennifer Love Hewitt GIF. You know the one.
*I did not.
Episode: “Class Pre-Union” (season 1, episode 9)
What Happens: Mr. Feeny asks his class to do a report about their 10 year high school reunion … who they’ll be, what they’ll be doing, how they’ll be getting by. Minkus dresses up as Bill Gates and Topanga dresses up as the first female President Of The United States, and Feeny’s fine with that, but when Cory says he’ll be the center fielder for the Phillies, Feeny gives him shit about the particulars of money management and purposefully crushes his dreams. To stave off depression, Cory’s dad calls in all of his favors and gets New York Yankees pitcher Jim Abbott, the man who pitched a no-hitter despite being born with only one hand, to stop by and run damage control. Jim helps Cory BELIEVE IN HIS DREAMS, all the while awkwardly trying to cover his little baby hand.
Key line: “Well the future’s always incomplete, Cory. When it’s complete we tend to call it the past.”
And here I thought Jim Abbott’s only Sports On TV appearance was gonna be a badly-researched inspirational one-liner on ‘Glee’. I made a joke about it in the What Happens section, but watching Jim Abbott sit on a couch and try to simultaneously cover up his nub and not make a big deal out of it is adorable.
While I’m thinking about it, Mr. Feeny can situationally stick up for Cory and pretend to be inspirational all he wants, he’s still a vindictive a-hole. Why does he change jobs every time Cory is out of his sight? I refuse to believe his career trajectory was a coincidence. At least the non-Cory parts of the pre-union assignment are pretty enjoyable. Like when Minkus tries to go Full Urkel and gets brutally shut down by Topanga, whose plan for a peaceful world involves men being herded underground.
Mr. Feeny: “Well, just a few moments ago Mr. Minkus mentioned that you were his lovely wife.”
Topanga: “Stuart and I do not see eye-to-eye on our futures.”
Minkus: “We’re married!”
Topanga: “You’re breeding stock!”
If I haven’t mentioned it yet, Topanga was pretty awesome.
Episode: “The Father/Son Game” (season 1, episode 11)
What Happens: Alan Matthews is looking forward to the annual father/son baseball game alongside his sons, but baseball is boring as hell so they try to back out of it. Eventually Alan tells them the game is canceled to spare them the experience, but when Cory and Eric find out the game happened without them, they’re overtaken with guilt. They try to secretly make it up to him with a terrible cook-out with quartered heads of lettuce subbing for salad, but quickly realize that the only way to make it right is to schedule another game. Their opponents for both games: hippies from Topanga’s dad’s bookstore, because this is season one when Cory thought Topanga was weird, not the later seasons where they’re supposed to have been soulmates since birth.
Key line: “These guys are much too Zen for baseball. I mean, these guys are people with inner peace and spiritual tranquility. Let’s kill ’em!”
I like that the plot of the episode is that Alan is all gung-ho about playing baseball but his sons think it’s boring, and then when THEY get gung-ho about it, Alan’s too tired and doesn’t want to play. That’s the most dad thing ever. “I want you to respect and love the stuff I respected and loved growing up, whoops, gotta take a nap, that’s more important than your hopes and dreams, peace out.”
I wish later seasons Topanga would’ve maintained more of her first season vibe. Here, she’s got an amazing head of hair, her dad runs a zen bookshop and wears lace dresses and chokers. By season 7 she’s got Beyonce’s hair and Joey Potter’s wardrobe and is just The Girl Corey. That’s kinda depressing, but at least five seasons later she’s still good at baseball.
Episode: “Starry Night” (season 5, episode 20)
What Happens: In the king of all “Corey and Topanga bring up for some reason” episodes, Topanga goes to a Vincent Van Gogh exhibit, meets a sensitive boy named Ricky Ferris who has EMOTIONS because of Starry Night, then brings Corey to the same exhibit and starts doubting their relationship because he doesn’t have the same reaction. The reason for Ricky’s initial attraction to Topanga (besides her epic thickness) is your sports moment: when they were six years old, Topanga hit him in the ass with a fastball and ended his Little League career, forcing him to get into art.
Key line: “This city is a cultural vacuum, my friend.” “That’s why my people settled here.”
The best part of Topanga falling for a boy who gets cry-faced about art (other than it meaning I would totally have a chance to get with Topanga) is that she doesn’t realize what she’s doing until he kisses her. THAT’s when she realizes she loves Cory. Because I guess everyone should pull a Forgetting Sarah Marshall and get half of a blowjob before their ethics kick in.
For another perspective, With Leather reader BookSavvy helped me out with season 5 and 6 screencaps and editorialized as she went along. This was her only comment for “Starry Night”:
Really Topanga? Lucky Spencer from General Hospital?
Episode: “The Last Temptation Of Cory” (season 3, episode 9)
What Happens: And now we enter the “Eric Matthews is out of his goddamn mind” portion of the column. The B-story to an episode about Cory unwittingly going to a make-out party follows the increasingly-losing-it Eric as he drops 200 dollars on a signed portrait of Teddy “Beanbag” Bagwell. The rub is that Bags is about to break the all-time Hit By Pitch record, and when he does, the autograph will be worth a fortune. Bagwell gets dragged to the plate with his eyes swollen shut and takes a record-tying HBP and Eric sees dollar signs, but Beanbag requests a microphone while being carted away on a stretcher and announces his retirement, effective immediately.
Key line: “Today I consider myself, the stupidest man on the face of the Earth. I quit baseball.”
Your brain may have tricked you into thinking Cory, Topanga and Shawn were the central protagonists of ‘Boy Meets World,’ but nope, it’s best viewed as a show about a handsome, together teenager having so much bad luck it caused him to lose his f**king marbles and coast through college and life as an abrasive, confrontationally stupid Young Adult Forrest Gump. I have no way to explain it. I don’t know if Will Friedle pulled a Comedian from Watchmen and figured out his show was a joke or what, but the metamorphosis from Everyteen to the f**king Cesar Romero Joker must be glorified and appreciated.
I also love that Craig Biggio more or less recreated this episode shot for shot in real life and retired from baseball only two HBP away from breaking the Major League record. I really hope there’s a real-life Eric Matthews somewhere in Houston.
Episode: “Wrong Side of the Tracks” (season 2, episode 19)
What Happens: In a super serious episode about Shawn becoming convinced that his poor upbringing means he’s stuck as a hopeless, angry drifter for life, Eric tries to impress a girl who ice skates by saying he ice skates, but he DOESN’T ICE SKATE. HIGH DRAMA. His friend Jason (played by D.J. Tanner’s rich boyfriend Nelson from ‘Full House’) comes up with a plan: he’ll re-dub motivational weight loss cassettes with ice skating terms and let Eric listen to it while he sleeps. It works and Eric becomes a skating master (because of course he does), but he also becomes deathly afraid of food. Again, this is an episode about Shawn losing faith in the world.
Key line: “Jason, I don’t skate. At all.” “Come on, Canadians skate. How hard could it be?”
Eric listens to the tapes in his sleep and imagines a fantasy winter wonderland where U.S. Olympic figure skating silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan teaches him to literally believe in his dreams. I had an inspirational dream like that once, only it didn’t involve Nancy Kerrigan, it was me and Katarina Witt, and it wasn’t about ice skating, it was about … not ice skating.
If this dream had happened five seasons later, they would’ve been ice skating on a lake of fire and Tonya Harding would’ve shown up dressed like Rambo. Nancy Kerrigan should be thankful that she got out of Eric Matthews’ mind while the getting was good.
In a related note, I love that this episode ends with Jason f**king Eric over and winning the affections of the beautiful ice skater by offering her a hot dog, because if it’s one thing ice skaters love, it’s hot dogs.
Episode: “City Slackers” (season 3, episode 11)
What Happens: I love the ‘Boy Meets World’ one-two punch of Cory and his friends being SERIOUS BUSINESS and screaming at each other about friendship and love and Eric being off somewhere acting ridiculous. In an episode about Cory and Shawn sneaking off to a cabin and reading wistful stories about Mr. Feeny’s dead wife, Eric tries to impress Julie Benz by saying he’s a billiards Grand Master. You see, he was once injured in a dangerous game of pool down in Mexico. Eric starts to show off his skills just as Joey The Rat and Frankie return to the table, which leads to a brief argument and the arrangement of a game. The only problem: everyone involved is terrible at pool, so they play for hours and hours until everyone — including the girl Eric was trying to impress in the first place — leaves. It was probably for the best, Eric, she would’ve bitten and killed you anyway.
Key line: “Just like Mexico.”
The confusing thing about the marathon billiards game isn’t that they can’t sink any balls, or that the rules of pool physics stop applying and balls start exploding and bouncing back out of pockets … it’s that Eric claims to be a pool master, spends almost an entire day being terrible at pool, then sinks EVERY BALL with ONE SHOT the second nobody is watching. He wanted to hook up with the girl by showing off his “jock” skills, so why didn’t he? Why did he f**k around the entire time?
Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Episode: “No Such Thing As A Sure Thing” (season 7, episode 4)
What Happens: The winner for most bizarre ‘Boy Meets World’ sports episode goes to season 7’s “No Such Thing As A Sure Thing,” a story that includes the following: Pennbrook University holding a prep rally for their Big Game against “The Amish” (who you think are a college with a team called the Amish, like Notre Dame being the Fighting Irish, but nope, they are straight-up Amish dudes), a member of The Amish infiltrating Pennbrook in disguise as Pengy The Pennbrook Penguin, Eric chasing down/punching out that mascot, Cory deciding to BECOME the mascot because he’s breaking up with Topanga and has nothing left, Cory discovering that college girls will sleep with you if you’re a penguin mascot, a subplot about whether or not Mr. Feeny will pass a stupid star player who is failing history, Eric and Lawrence Brother Jack using insider information to get into hot water with a bookie and at least one instance of Eric Matthews dressing up as Lance Armstrong for no reason. ‘Boy Meets World’s’ season 7 arc: EVERYBODY’S WEIRD, LET’S DO IT
Key line: “Okay, turns out the penguin was an Amish infiltrator. He had our team’s playbook in his britches. How’d I get it out? Don’t really want to talk about it.”
The absurdity continues all the way through until the end, where Jack and Eric escape the bookie’s thugs (and having their thumbs cut off and put into jars) by hiding out in Amish country. They ruin that, too, and Eric’s desire to hook up with Amish girls (“Anna Neuindike! I wish to make out with thee!”) gets them pitchforked and run out of town.
On top of all that, the true highlight from this episode is gorgeous, 8-foot tall redhead Rachel as Pennbroke’s head cheerleader. At least, I’m assuming she was the head cheerleader, she was the only one who said anything besides “woo”. Why wasn’t Maitland Ward a bigger star? She was beautiful and had a name like a drug store.
Episode: “For Love And Apartments” (season 7, episode 2)
What Happens: It might not be the most bizarre, but “For Love And Apartments” has the best-ever juxtaposition between Cory and Eric stories: Topanga stops believing in love when her parents separate, so Cory and Shawn drive to Pittsburgh to try and convince the Lawrences to love each other again. Mrs. Lawrence reveals that they didn’t just fall out of love, her husband left her for another woman, and everyone gets lonely and sad. MEANWHILE, Eric and Jack get into an argument with the girls about who should decorate their apartment, so they have a 3-on-2 intergender handicap tag team match officiated by WWF Superstar Mankind. This is an actual A and B story of the same episode of ‘Boy Meets World’.
Key line: “No, no don’t tag me. Don’t tag me. Don’t tag me.”
Want to see what the inside of my brain looks like? It looks like this.
Hello Foley notwithstanding, this has got to be the least fair wrestling match I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen all of them). Mankind is sorta summoned from the ether — Eric and Jack say they can’t wrestle without a referee, so suddenly Mick Foley kicks down their door, stands there confused for a few seconds and asks, “Where am I?” — and makes up all sorts of crazy stipulations, like the boys not being allowed to touch the girls above the waist and that HIM KNEEING ERIC IN THE STOMACH REPEATEDLY is part of the match. He ends up Khali-choking Eric and tossing him through a staircase bannister. Jack gets his head smashed into a random plate of sandwiches. I thought Foley was more compassionate than this. It was already unfair when the girls’ team got Rachel. She wins with a camel clutch (kind of) and doesn’t even have to use her specials, which I’m assuming are a big boot and a chokeslam.
I’d explain the ending of the episode to you (and the MONSTER STUDIO AUDIENCE POP Mankind gets when he mentions Mr. Socko), but who could I do that? Here’s Foley’s entire appearance, errant sandwiches and all.
Episode: “The Eskimo” (season 5, episode 13)
What Happens: Machiavellian piece of shit Mr. Feeny gets bent out of shape about something and says he’ll flunk the kids if they don’t come through with a bunch of ridiculous tasks: Topanga can’t butt in on other peoples’ lives for a week, Shawn has to come up with Super Bowl tickets in a matter of days, and if either of them fails, so does Cory. At some point they really should’ve just told Feeny to go f**k himself and changed classes. Mr. Feeny ends up passing them anyway because of some general life lesson, which I guess is BE STRESSED AND TERRIFIED ABOUT EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOU’RE PROBABLY A FAILURE. No wonder Eric went mad, Cory became a neurotic basketcase, Topanga lost her identity and basic reasoning skills and Shawn couldn’t go 15 minutes without losing faith in himself.
Key line: “That’s it. I don’t even like football, I like billboards. And you’ve ruined this for me.”
This episode features Shawn vs. an eskimo in a “who can sit on a billboard the longest” radio contest and ends with him at the Super Bowl with a big HEY FEENY, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE sign, but “The Eskimo” is all about the Soup Or Bowl joke. Jump to the 5:50 mark of this video, which was made un-embeddable by someone who totally probably owns the rights to ‘Boy Meets World’.
Episode: “Father Knows Less” (season 1, episode 3)
What Happens: Cory’s dad lets him stay up past midnight to watch a (fictional) Philadelphia Phillies no-hitter. Cory fails a test the next morning, and, feeling guilty, Alan goes to Feeny and asks if Cory can take a make-up later in the week. Feeny refuses, because Feeny is a colossal dickbag, and also because he’s heard every excuse and can’t give anyone an undeserved pass. Feeny understands the value of what Alan did, but doesn’t condone it. Alan understand’s Feeny’s position on the make-up test, but doesn’t agree with it. Meanwhile, somewhere around their waists, Cory Matthews is secretly wishing he was Kevin Arnold and could be off somewhere getting elbow-deep in Winnie Cooper in a stranger’s barn.
Key line: “Feeny’s a butt!”
Alan Matthews has a history of bad decision-making. He’s one of the least effective TV fathers ever, wandering in and out of his home, squinting through vague generalizations about “manliness” like the lowest-rent Tim “The Toolman” Taylor. He never develops beyond what we see in the first few episodes of the show, lets his children do God knows what (drive to Pittsburgh to meddle in others peoples’ marriages) with God knows who (Mankind) and at one point SWITCHES OUT HIS DAUGHTER FOR A DIFFERENT ONE*. A terrible, terrible father.
The closest thing I could find to a no-hitter from the Phillies in 1993 was Tommy Greene’s effort against the Expos in ’91. Too bad Cory Matthews didn’t grow up during the Roy Halladay era.
*Fun fact, Original Morgan (Lily Nicksay) is now super cute. Let her on the sequel, Disney!
Episode: “Raging Cory” (season 5, episode 12)
What Happens: Speaking of Alan Matthews being a terrible father, here’s an episode where he withholds from his children until they snap at him. He only has talks with Cory, and never has fun with him. He only has fun with Eric, and never talks to him. At different points in the episode they shove him on his ass, and he deserves it. Somewhere in the middle they go skydiving, because there is always a skydiving episode.
Key line: “You jumped out of a moving plane rather than talk to me.” “You’re exaggerating. The air sucked me out, like a vacuum.” “You hit the ground and started running!”
The episode ends with one of the best and most poignant things ‘Boy Meets World’ ever did — Alan goes to an art museum with Cory and Eric to talk to them about art, thinks Eric is a dumb idiot who can’t understand anything and gets figuratively knocked on his ass a third time when Eric turns out to be an art aficionado. That’s what you get for never paying attention to your children, Alan.
It’s nice, and is then almost immediately ruined by the post-credit scene, where Alan has a quick talk with Fake Morgan and laughs about how he “should’ve had all girls,” because he wouldn’t have had to put any effort into loving ANYONE.
Episode: “Heartbreak Cory” (season 5, episode 14)
What Happens: Later seasons of ‘Boy Meets World’ are built around the idea that Cory and Topanga were born to be together and are FOREVER SOULMATES, having the only for-real and lasting love in the world and the determination to be there for each other and make it through anything. The funny thing about that is that their relationship is tested every single time a decent looking boy or girl encounters them, and they go too far with it and have to grovel backwards for the other’s approval. In “Heartbreak Cory,” Cory sprains his ankle on the senior ski-trip and ends up falling for his caretaker, a pre-‘Freaks and Geeks’ Linda Cardellini, who is so fantastic.
Key line: “Ski injury. I hit a little ice patch on Devil’s Run.” “Devil’s Run is closed this weekend.” “Then what I did was insane.”
Also, this exchange, featuring All Times Troll George Feeny:
Lauren: “Those slopes are treacherous.”
Mr. Feeny: “He fell getting off the bus.”
Here’s a pitch-perfect, unedited episode review from TV.com:
So I would have to say I hated this episode because I hated that itch Lauren for making a move on Corey even though it was clear that he was with Topanga and Corey pissed me off because clearly he let Lauren lure her in her lutty ways. This is why I don’t respect some guys and why I hate cheaters. I felt so bad for Topanga and clearly she didn’t deserve none of this crap because I thought Lauren was an ugly piece of crap compared to Topanga. OK OK maybe she isn’t ugly but I still hated this storyline!
That Lauren. What a unt!
Episode: “Kid Gloves” (season 1, episode 19)
What Happens: Before he was an aging, self-loathing grocery store manager, Alan Matthews was a boxer in the Navy and was good enough to earn “Silver Gloves” for being the second best fighter in his weight class. He gives them to Cory as a gift, but Cory mistakes them for silver mittens, doesn’t give a shit about them and loses them on his first day in SCUBA class. When he finds out what they meant to his dad, he breaks into the gymnasium to swim around and find them, but gets cut off at the balls by Feeny. Feeny drives Cory home, but ultimately reveals that he found the silver gloves in the pool’s filter.
Key line: “Can anyone tell me what the acronym ‘SCUBA’ is? Mr. Matthews?” “Dooba?” “Scuba Dooba? Mr. Matthews, I have obviously failed you on so many levels.”
One of the weirdest parts of this episode is when the kids get all Moonrise Kingdom and start taking off their clothes for SCUBA class. Topanga takes off her robe to reveal a bathing suit, and Cory and Shawn go ape over it because they are 12, but the studio audience ALSO starts whistling and wooing like Kelly Bundy just bounced into the room. Now, I’m not above objectifying Topanga, because YO, but not when she’s TWELVE. Who knew they let the moderators from Anonib into ‘Boy Meets World’ tapings?
I know we’ve made a lot of wrestling jokes in this column already, but I’m pretty sure WWE learned how to treat women by listening to tween Shawn Hunter: “She’s just a girl in a bathing suit. Insult her!”
Also important: SCUBA MINKUS.
Episode: “The Play’s The Thing” (season 1, episode 20)
What Happens: The Matthews Family usually goes on vacation and stages an annual Cory and Alan versus Eric and Amy miniature golf game, but OBAMA got re-elected (or whatever) and Alan gets a 5% pay-cut, so the vacation gets canceled. He goes to his bosses to STAND UP FOR HIS RIGHTS, but it accomplishes nothing (neither a cancelation of the pay-cut nor a firing) so … uh, the family builds a ridiculous miniature golf course in their backyard to keep the tradition of “what to do when you’re at the beach, but don’t want to be on the beach” going. Oh, and it turns out that Alan rigged one of the holes to benefit his team and teaches Cory how to cheat, because OF COURSE HE DID AND DOES.
Key line: “Did you get my five percent back?” “No, Eric. I didn’t.” “I’m gonna go cancel five percent of my dates.”
This is also an episode about the school putting on a production of Hamlet and pulling a total ‘Saved By The Bell’ move where all of the important parts go to ‘Boy Meets World’ cast members. Cory gets to be Hamlet, Topanga gets to be Ophelia, and so on. When Cory drops out (because he doesn’t want to wear tights, because his dad raised him to be a prick about everything and his “mentor” psychologically abuses him), Minkus gets the role. If Minkus had dropped out, I’m guessing they would’ve brought in Mr. Turner to play Hamlet. Or Vader.