I honestly cannot remember the first time I saw an episode of Boy Meets World. I feel like I've always known of it and it's always been in my life. I started my strong teen idol crush years in 1994 around the time of Man of the House with Jonathan Taylor Thomas. So I'll say I started regularly watching Boy Meets World in 1994. They were kids in school going through the joys and challenge you experience as a child and I could certainly relate to that feeling. But I can't say I cut my hair to prove I wasn't vain about my appearance! (shoutout to Topanga circa late-90s)
I grew up with that show. By the time it ended, I was still in high school but they certainly filled me with expectations I would never be able to fulfill because how perfect were Cory and Topanga? How could you ever find a buddy like Shawn or a brother like Eric? I wanted to be their friend and it felt like I was. I knew their lives, I knew what they had gone through, and I really was there every step of the way.
I didn't really know what to expect from Girl Meets World. I was unsure about the decision to take a beloved show and give those characters new lives. It's been done and it's been done successfully. The recent successful reboot of Dallas is an example of that. But, admittedly, it's a different world. Boy Meets World was filmed as a sitcom during the age of sitcoms. You watch television and it was littered with sitcoms and laugh tracks -- over-the-top reactions captured from a microphone above your head. It was the norm. Today's television sitcom gravitates toward the more of the single-cam perspective rather than multi-camera. The most popular sitcoms of the modern era are your Modern Familys and documentary-style shows like The Office.
That's not to say that television doesn't stop trying to continue the legacy of the multi-camera sitcom through shows like Girl Meets World.
After waiting in line, we're escorted into the building that looks like any other television show created for an audience -- there were three main sets configured for tonight's taping: Riley's (Cory and Topanga's daughter) bedroom on the far left, the Matthews living room/kitchen area in the center, and the classroom set-up on the far right (not used tonight or anywhere throughout the episode).
The audience was mainly comprised of mostly kids and young teens. The only adults found were in the VIP area and adults escorting their kids. I certainly felt a wee bit out of place as a 28-year-old Boy Meets World fan who grew up in the 90s. I was seated in the third row with a great vantage point of the stage.
Before filming began, we were lucky enough to view the pilot. It's been my experience with new shows (as a regular attendee to I Hate My Teenage Daughter, I saw the pilot EVERY SHOW) that they often show the pilot episode so you have a feel for the show and its characters.
The pilot was fantastic. I can completely believe Cory as a History teacher at his daughter's school. I admit, it threw me for a loop. Even now, I'm only used to seeing Cory in the classroom being taught by Mr. Feeny with Shawn behind him and Topanga seated in front. My brain was trying to adjust to seeing him from an adult's perspective. It's a new Cory Matthews. It's the story of a boy who grew up, met the world, and was now living in it. Not that the Cory Matthews we knew and loved is gone but the story is no longer his -- it's his daughter's. He's merely a player and she takes center stage.
I won't give away the pilot but I will say it's not a Hannah Montana. She's not a secret superstar parading around as a "normal" teenager. What's different about our generation and the new are television shows geared to make kids appear more mature than they are. In my shows, kids were kids. They did stupid goofy things that made absolutely no sense. As they grew, that's when they involved themselves in deeper, darker topics like sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. And watching the pilot episode, I'd say that it was geared for this new generation that deals with a completely different set of rules from the ones I grew up with.
But the pilot was only one episode and I continued to have an open mind to see what tonight's episode held.
Michael Jacobs, creator of the show (CREATOR OF MY CHILDHOOD), introduced the cast. He introduced every cast member and then surprised the hell out of me when he introduced Rider Strong and Will Friedle. Though they lined up with the rest of the cast, they didn't make an appearance on today's episode and their future is still unknown on this show. But it was incredible to see them there supporting their friends... and I may or may not have reacted like a 12-year-old as soon as I saw them. I might've gone into a fit of inner hysteria when Ben and Will hugged LIKE THE BROTHERS THEY WILL ALWAYS BE. (And bonus Maitland Ward showed up about halfway through filming!)
They filmed six scenes in front of an audience with large portions of the episode pre-filmed for us to watch. I imagine that the short filming schedule (about three hours) has a lot to do with union rules for the child actors on set. I'm used to such long filming schedules -- Will and Grace, I Hate My Teenage Daughter -- that I wasn't prepared for it to end so soon! But what I did saw was satisfying.
The majority of the episode revolved around the two kids. Cory and Topanga have another child, a son, played by an adorable, rambunctious, and talented 6-year-old who held his own among the teenagers and adults he performed with. It really hammered home that Cory and Topanga had been married for years and this was their new normal. As an older fan, it takes a bit of getting used to. For example. Feeny's no longer next door. They're living in a really nice apartment in New York. They take the subway! It's a different world with new challenges for their kids.
Ben Savage slips back into the role of Cory Matthews with plenty of ease. You look at him and you see Cory. You see Cory's mannerisms, his unique facial expressions, and the way he delivers a joke. Danielle's a little less goofy as Topanga and a lot more grown up and admittedly, it's a bit jarring, at first. Again, I feel like it's just because I'm faced with my own age slapping me right in the face. I'm no longer watching them as kids and I'm no longer a kid. Right? Jarring. But the family works well together. Cory and Topanga are parental and they're just the parents you always thought they'd grow up to be. They're very much the people you imagined they'd grow up to be.
For me, it works so far. The audience sitcom format still has its disadvantages. There will be a lot of canned audience laughter that I hope will work for this show. But it's no reason to turn away. The cast are talented, the show is well-written and tries not to be too heavy handed in terms of life lessons, and I genuinely laughed out loud several times. You know, that gives it the seal of approval, obviously.
I told myself I was only going to go see it once and that'll be it. But seeing Cory and Topanga again and seeing them as adults raising their children? I think I'm already jonesin' for visit number two.