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MSRP: $12.49, $12.99, $12.99
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 525, 506 & 491 minutes
- S1: Bonus episode, audio commentaries
- S2: Video commnetary, audio commentaries
- S3: Trivia Quiz
It’s The Wonder Years. Oh, sorry, it wishes it were The Wonder Years.
Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle, Eric Matthews, William Daniels, George Feeny, Betsy Randle, Amy Matthews, William Russ
The show centers on Cory Matthews, an average American boy growing up in Philadelphia, his family and friends.
“So, Daniels, how often did Hasselhoff have sex in you anyway?”
No matter how many sitcom season sets I do for this site (and there have been plenty), I find myself repeating many of the same comments about them. I severely dislike laugh tracks. I loathe family sitcoms that taught life lessons. I hate the inane sitcom situations in which the main characters frequently found themselves. Typically, I’m not a fan of sitcom kid actors because they’re just oh so cute. Shows shot on tape usually end up looking way older than they might actually be. And nostalgia will only carry some sitcoms so far. So checking out Boy Meets World, which I didn’t catch during its TV run, thus immediately eliminating the nostalgia part of the equation, I’m finding that it essentially hits every one of the above items on my “dislike sitcoms” checklist.
“It’s a note from my brother, Fred. He’s asking if one of us can get him onto the lot…”
The set up is simple enough. Ben Savage’s Cory Matthews is a kid growing up in Philly, going through most of the stuff that a typical kid does. We see him generally in two places: school and home. At school, he banters and gets into trouble with his best friend, Shawn Hunter (Strong). His main nemesis is Mr. Feeny (Daniels), whom he frequently annoys with his shenanigans; and the girl of his dreams is the eccentric Topanga (Fishel). At home, it’s usually more of the same with Mom (Randle), Dad (Russ), big brother, Eric (Friedle) and baby sis, Morgan (Nicksay, in later seasons, Lindsay Ridgeway). Wholesome family values are mixed in with hijinks and shenanigans, cautionary life lessons like “stay away from drugs”, “fighting is bad”, etc. are espoused. Add in the laugh track and the typical sitcom formula is satisfied. Savage, Strong, Fishel, Friedle and the other kids grew up quite fast on the show (the change from Season 1 to Season 3 is startling), and considering that the show was on for seven seasons, its fans grew right up with them.
“Yeah, it’s great. The writers wrote me a set of boobs…”
While there’s virtually nothing original about the show whatsoever, I can’t completely dismiss some of the charm that Savage and some of his castmates shared. I’m sure that there were more than a few adolescent kids in the mid-90s who fell in love with Topanga. Aside from that though, the show is strictly middle of the road, safe, Wonder Bread sitcom boilerplate. It’s little more than an amalgam of shows like Saved By the Bell, Family Matters, Charles in Charge and the like. If you didn’t watch the show and started to catch it now, you’d definitely notice some of the ’90s hallmarks, like the clothes and the hair. Anthony Tyler Quinn’s Mr. Turner was probably rocking the 2nd Place sitcom mullet of the ’90s, but Stamos still holds the throne.
Personally, I thought Savage was a little too young to do a coming out of the closet episode…
Season 1 introduces Cory and Shawn in 6th Grade, where they continually butt heads with older teacher, Mr. Feeney. Topanga is also present, although not yet a series regular. The pilot finds Cory in detention after trying to listen to a Phillies game in Mr. Feeney’s class; and dealing with his older brother taking a girl to the game rather than him. Later episodes concern Cory obsessing over getting a high-powered water gun; falling asleep in class after staying up late to catch a Phillies game; Cory changing his hairstyle because he doesn’t like his curly hair (and sporting a series of bad wigs); and later regretting wanting Mr. Feeney to get sick so he can avoid a test and then Feeney ending up in the hospital.
Season 2 saw the addition of Mr. Turner and the kids starting high school in the 7th Grade, and Shawn becoming popular at school while Cory doesn’t. Shawn’s mother also leaves him and his father goes off to find her (I’m sure that kind of thing happens all the time), leaving Shawn to move in with Turner. And Cory starts dating Topanga. Season 3 saw Cory and Topanga going steady, then later having a rough patch over cooties and later breaking up, before getting back together after Cory follows her to Disney World to get her back.
Winner, 1994 NAMBLA Best Actor in a Guest Starring Role…
Fans of the show will probably defend it vociferously, but there’s really nothing here to distinguish it from the million other sitcoms of the day. It was a solid mid-30s to mid-50s in the Nielsens for most of its seven-year run. It wasn’t as funny as Fresh Prince of Bel Air, but was far less stupid than Family Matters and Full House and didn’t have the craziness of Home Improvement. There was also no definitively weird character like Urkel or Screech. It’s simply run-of-the-mill, laugh-tracked, hackneyed sitcom fodder that’s very forgettable.
“Do the shades put me over Stamos for Coolest TV Mullet?”
“Biggest TV Douchebag maybe…”
Disney released these same three seasons back in 2004, but didn’t bother with the last four due to lackluster sales. Research indicates that these are exactly the same, content-wise, save for the slimmer packaging. The show was shot on tape and TV standard, which is an immediate strike against it in the look department, although the transfer is fine. Audio is typical 2.0 Dolby and is also fine, with hearing impaired English subtitles. Season 1 had a bonus episode: “Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow”, and audio commentaries on a few episodes with Savage, Strong, Friedle, Fishel, and creator Michael Jacobs. Season 2 has a video commentary on the episode, “Fear Strikes Out”, plus five audio commentaries. Season 3 has a Pop Quiz: The World According to Boy, which is a series of trivia questions that, successfully answered will allow you to graduate from John Adams High School. Whoopee.
Season 2: 5.5 out of 10
Season 3: 5.0 out of 10