The dog days of summer are on us, and while the Olympics and Shark Week have us glued to our TV sets, secondary viewing options are slim pickings. And so let us step inside the Wayback machine, travel to the pleasant days of yesteryear, and dust off a TGIF classic.
Today we look at the season three set of “Boy Meets World,” which originally aired 1995-1996. With twenty-two episodes over three discs, season three of “Boy Meets World,” in many ways, represents the golden era of the beloved 90’s comedy, with the characters floating between the irreverently written episodes covering sixth and seventh grade, and the often over-the-top college years.
The third season contains one classic episode after another (“Hometown Hero,” “New Friends and Old”), a host of famous scenes (Cory and Shawn brawling in the halls of John Adams), and plot arcs even diehards might fuzzy on—when did Topanga and Cory start dating, anyway? That would be season opener “My Best Friend’s Girl,” where Shawn takes Topanga on a date in order to spur his timid friend into action; I vaguely remember Jonathan Turner having his own Cory-esque sidekick (Cory is clearly Shawn’s sidekick)—look no further than season three my friend, where Alex Desert appears in almost every episode as the cool and quick Eli Williams (although even he can’t best the omnipotent Feeny), before vanishing from the season four cast.
There is a buoyant confidence to season three’s energy from start to finish, the mark of a show with its creative legs fully underneath. In “Truth and Consequence” Cory and Shawn inadvertently get janitor Bud fired and suffer the scorn of their peers (oddly enough, it is one of several episodes revolving around video cameras and Cory’s oft-forgot journalistic aspirations). While a Halloween special is sadly absent from the set, the New Year’s Eve-themed “Train of Fools” is a bottle episode for the ages, and the 50’s flashback “I Was a Teenage Spy”—though scrubbed of Salem the cat’s memorable cameo—is one of the series’ goofiest successes.
Cory and Topanga’s aforementioned bliss is spoiled only six hours into the season, an episode in which Cory memorably another high school’s dance as Shawn Hunter, only to find Topanga there pretending to be a foreign exchange student. This opens the door for a number of one-off romances for Cory. Season three is not short on girls (or intense make out scenes), and the best are all here: Missy Robinson, Veronica Watson, Dana Pruitt (TV’s Aleks Mack) and—most delicious of all—the charming Desiree Emmeline Hollanger Beaumont (though she prefers Puddin’).
“Boy Meets World” offers a breath of fresh air in this age of children’s shows centering on either magic, fame, or some combination of the two. BMW hits its fair share of sappy territory, but never shies away from the honest pressures of adolescence, like in “The Double Lie,” where Shawn attempts to bring a girl back to the apartment while Mr. Turner is out of town.
Perhaps the most classic episode of the season is “Rave On,” where the Matthews brothers attempt to throw a rave (fairly exotic territory for John Adam’s High) and their parent’s wedding anniversary simultaneously, an event which sees—in addition to a Monkees reunion—Cory and Eric working together, always a safe pairing when entertainment is concerned.
Eric Matthews, like the show, is at his peak here. He still pulls girls, has great hair, and has an acceptable amount of body fat; but the idiocy—which begins as a lack of common sense and evolves into full on dementia—has taken firm root, rendering his various attempts to get into college equally heart-wrenching and hilarious. Eric’s best moment of all is, of course, his fifteen hour long game of pool with Frankie the Enforcer.
Cory Matthews, on the other hand, proves a poor protagonist for a show that managed seven highly-rated seasons. In retrospect we appreciate what a moody, self-obsessed and excessively morally-obligated character he is, displaying behavior that at times suggests autism (at least once per episode Cory confronts someone in public, ignorant to their obvious signs of discomfort. Ben Savages comedic performance is generally spot-on, but the corny, altruistic plotlines he is shoehorned into rarely provide much room to maneuver. A particularly endearing sequence has Cory searching for his lost mitten in Mr. Turner’s apartment, only to find it to have been stuck to his jacket the whole time. “Got to love Velcro,” he exults.
The final three episodes of the season work in tandem, beginning with Jonathan Turner’s ill-fated attempt to adopt Shawn (Anthony Tyler
Quinn probably wishes that had worked out, as he appears only briefly in six further episodes before disappearing for good). After that Cory and Shawn, and what had to have been the TV event of the week, fly to Disney World so Cory can (AT LAST!) win Topanga back. They see all the sights, swim with sharks, sleep in one of the logs on top of Splash Mountain and kiss in front of The Living Seas. In the season finale Cory and Eric commit to getting to know one another better over the course of a summer-long road trip. How does that turn out? You’ll have to pick up the season four set to find out.
If anything, enjoy “Boy Meets World” as a glimpse into the world of 90’s fashion, which was all about layer, not buttoning any of the buttons on collared shirts, and thirty-pound Christmas sweater backed by bulletproof turtle necks. Good times.