STUDIO: Lionsgate
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 528 minutes

The Pitch

The perils of early adolescence as seen through the eyes of 15 year-old Cory Matthews and his friends.

The Humans

Ben Savage, Will Friedle, Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, William Daniels

The Hollow Man goes back to high school

The Nutshell

We follow 15 year old Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and his girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel), friend Shawn (Rider Strong), and brother Eric (Will Friedle) as they experience life in suburban Philadelphia, whether it be Cory and his continued love for Topanga, Shawn’s broken home in a trailer park, or Eric dealing with the fact that he scored too low on his SATs to get into college.  And of course there’s reliable old Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) offering his sagely advice to any character that calls upon him.

Yoplait's Yogurt Pimp ad campaign during the 90s never really got off the ground

The Lowdown

This show came to life during a time when sitcoms were a dime a dozen and were what tv was all about.  You had your garden variety family sitcoms and they weren’t always families you could relate to, but maybe they made you laugh a little bit.  People are not always fond of the contrived situations that sitcoms (well, it is a “situation” comedy) produce.  It sometimes feels very hollow, and even more staged than it was supposed to feel.  We even have the classic “characters have to be in two places at once” situation that we were so accustomed to in tv of this type.  Basically, Cory is supposed to attend Topanga’s sweet 16 party and at the same time go to a wrestling match to help another character connect with his dad, who just happens to be Vader, a WWF wrestler at the time.  He made several appearances on the show at various times as this character’s dad.  So of course we’re supposed to believe that Cory and Shawn are simultaneously traversing downtown Philadelphia between the Spectrum (where the match is being held) and some random location that Topanga is having her party.  They go back and forth something like 6 times, always fooling Topanga who thinks they never left.  I realize that sometimes you have to suspend disbelief, but every time I see this scenario pop up in a sitcom I have to cringe more than a little bit.   This show is rife with plenty of those annoyances, especially when a character is mentioned, and then that character miraculously walks into the room.  It doesn’t kill any possible enjoyment of a show that you know is fictional in the first place, but it’s still ridiculous, and it’s something my 27 year-old self notices a lot more than my 10 year-old self would have.

For the most part, though, it’s refreshing to watch a sitcom that was actually taped in front of a live studio audience.  Very few, if any sitcoms today are still taped before a live audience.   A laugh track is the devil’s tool, and thankfully some of the best comedies on tv today do not need to rely on one.  Although whether it’s a live audience or just canned laughter,  you never forget how annoying it is when two characters kiss and the audience goes “Wooooooooooooooooo!!!” every single time.

The season deals with various issues.  Shawn lives in a trailer park and has to deal with his mom leaving him and his dad.  And Shawn’s dad getting a job as the school janitor, and unintentionally embarassing Shawn, doesn’t help matters.  Eric couldn’t get into college because of his poor SAT scores, and is constantly urged by other people to keep trying, even though he’s happy just the way things are.  Cory continues to be awkward and paranoid, and continues to leech advice from Mr. Feeny at every turn as he copes with growing up.  It’s nothing new for the series, but it finds ways to be fresh, especially during a subplot involving Cory and Topanga exploring the possibility of having sex for the first time.  As you can imagine,  “Woooooooooooooooo!!” ensues.

"You're not the first boy to tell me I look like a Real Doll"

The good thing about this show, and many shows of its time, is the sometimes serious issues being worked into the storyline.  It’s not seen too often today, and for some strange reason it was important during the 70s, 80s, and 90s to put a message across in a half-hour sitcom.  One of the episodes in this season involves one of Shawn’s friends being abused by her dad, and him having to hide her in Cory’s house.  The boys then decide whether to be responsible enough to involve the police, and it’s all neatly wrapped up at the end.  It was far from realistic in its handling, but enough to teach kids a lesson the night before they watch their saturday morning cartoons.  And even though that’s all it was meant to be, it’s nice to remember a time when that stuff actually mattered.

I grew up in the 90s.  I remember looking forward to Friday nights and TGIF.  Back then, at least in the early 90s, Friday was probably the biggest night on TV.  It’s interesting to see how much things have changed from then until now, as today Friday is where most tv shows go to die.  I have fond memories of those shows, even if most of them do not hold up very well today.  Boy Meets World still holds up as a fun show, in my opinion, and while season 4 isn’t the show at its very best, it’s still pretty solid and worth checking out, if only for nostalgia.  Nostalgia isn’t always enough to make something good, and the season did have its faults. But sitcoms like these were at the very least a reason to sit down with the family on a Friday night, and what’s so bad about that when it’s so rarely seen today?  Would people even let their Twitter or Facebook accounts rest long enough to spend quality time with loved ones?  I surely hope so.

A myriad of things halted Bond 23's development, but nothing worse than the budget-squeezing on-location African serengeti chase scenes

The Package

Well, you can skip chapters!  That’s a special feature, right?


Out of a Possible 5 Stars