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Boy Meets World
The Complete First Season

review by Zach B.

 

 

 

Rated: TV-G

Running Time: 525 Minutes

Starring: Ben Savage, William Daniels, Will Friedle, Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, Betsy Randle, William Russ

 

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $49.99

Features: Audio Commentaries with Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Will Friedle, Matthew Lawrence and Creator Michael Jacobs, Bonus Episode, Sneak Peeks. DVD-ROM: Register Your DVD

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections, Scene Index (6 scenes per episode), 3-Disc Set

Released: August 24th, 2004

 

 

A mainstay on ABC's T.G.I.F. line-up since its debut in 1993 (and up until its demise in 2000), "Boy Meets World" has come under the radar and has proven to be one of the more popular sitcoms of the 1990s. The show followed Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), an everyday student who pretty much had an everyday life: Cory had a troubled but loyal best friend in Shawn (Rider Strong), a standard but ultimately meaningful bond with his older brother Eric (Will Friedle), a little sister and encouraging parents to boot. Adding things to the mix was the growing relationship between Cory and classmate Topanga (Danielle Fishel) and Cory's teacher Mr. Feeny (William Daniels) who happened to live right next door to him. Feeny always seemed to have it in for Cory in class, but Cory's relationship with his teacher was always a bit more complex in that at times outside the classroom, Fenny could talk to his student and life-long neighbor as a mentor. Much of the show focused on the well-meaning Cory trying to do the right thing, and discovering the lessons of the real world - often the hard way (hence the boy discovering, or meeting, the world).

In my opinion, the show was initially a one-note concept - the early promos pitched the show about what it'd be like if your teacher was your neighbor. But thankfully, "Boy Meets World" transformed into something much more meaningful than that. The show's heart was always in the right place, and this was essentially another perfect family show since it offered important lessons for the kids, and it wasn't dumbed down for adults. The show always offered lessons that families could discuss, which is an incredibly rare thing for a show these days to have. Essentially, this was a series that people could relate to be it the characters or what they were experiencing. Essentially, the show was about the real world and about having morals. While it's true nearly every sitcom ends with some lesson learned (with the standard audience "aww"), "Boy Meets World" is different in that it rings true and is by no means phony - this is a show that was honest and never preached to its audience. The writing was pretty sharp to begin with, but would get sharper - especially as the characters developed romantic relationships, had family issues and futures to contemplate. I have to say that "Boy Meets World" is one of the most realistic situation comedies I've seen, and that's a strong reason why it worked so well. (Okay, so I'm a sucker for morals and life lessons.)

What also helped to make show work so well were the actors. I found Savage (kid brother to Fred) a little annoying in the first season, but he quickly growed into his role and well. Savage was able to bring real sensibilites with the right enthusiasm to his character as a good-hearted, if average boy. Will Friedle was pretty perfect as the somewhat obnoxious, girl-crazy older brother with smaller ambitions and Rider Strong captured the anger, angst and rebellious streak as Shawn, the kid with the troubled home life. Danielle Fishel was originally supposed to be on the show once as the weird/nerdy egghead Topanga (she'd get more normal as the seasons went by), but I guess the producers realized how great and natural she was to make her a regular cast member, while William Russ and Betsy Randle were fine as Cory's parents. And of course, William Daniels (AKA K.I.T.T.) was genius casting as Mr. Feeny (my favorite character) - Daniels brought the right amount of elegance, knowledge and understanding to the role, with a real sense of passion. Daniels had the right expressions and center voice for the show, which is why there should be no qualms from anyone when it comes to buying into his character. Didn't anyone at the Academy ever think of nominating him for any Emmy for this show?

I've seen my fair share of "Boy Meets World" episodes, and I think I like the first season the least. This is more than acceptable though, since most first seasons are where shows are discovering their voices and testing their grounds. The second season would bring a radical transformation - the show's characters moved into high school (it was a random creative changed, but it paid off greatly). Still, even if this season isn't perfect, it's still quite entertaining and the show's ultimate potential definitely shows. The series' humor is a bit more juvenile when compared to future seasons (and isn't all that funny, but rather more obvious), and a lot of the characters are mainly played for laughs and aren't always explored in-depth. There are some stand-out episodes here though: the pilot perfectly sets up the series, while "Father Knows Less" and "The Fugitive" offer fine morality lessons.

So whether you've caught the show in syndication or on cable, feeling nostalgic or are just plain curious, "Boy Meets World" is a family-friendly and pretty endearing sitcom. Even better, the show has aged well and what the show tried to teach will be pretty timeless. In a day and age where nearly every show gets released on DVD, it's nice to see a quality one come out and get the attention it deserves. Have fun with this one, folks.

 

The show is presented in how it was shot and broadcasted on TV - 1.33:1 full screen. These episodes look pretty good - detail is nice, color saturation is pretty strong and the fleshtones look spot-on. The episodes are mainly sharp, but they're not without their flaws: noise and edge halos are rather apparent, and probably due to the squeezing of several episodes on a single disc, I noticed some artifacting here and there. No matter though

 

"Boy Meets World" is given the English Dolby Surround treatment, but there isn't too much to say about them. For a sitcom, these are suitable tracks. The dialogue comes in very clear and is easy to hear, and there are directional effects when it comes to the more boisterous noises (such as when Cory or Shawn do something they shouldn't be doing), the show's musical score and laugh tracks. In short, these are basic but crisp tracks that are just fine. English closed captions are also included.

 

Originally supposed to be a bit more packed, at the last minute it seems supplements for the first season of the show were minimalized (maybe the other announced features - such as outtakes and a featurettes will appear on future sets?). No matter, at least there are four Audio Commentaries with Ben Savage, Rider Strong, Will Friedle, Matthew Lawrence and Creator Michael Jacobs (Lawrence, a cast member from later seasons, shows up for two tracks). The episodes commented on are "Cory's Alternative Friends," "Class Pre-Union," "Boy Meets Girl" and "Hair Today Goon Tomorrow" (the last of which is a Bonus Episode from the show's fourth season). These are all really nice tracks - and it's the closest thing to a reunion of the show. Everyone seems to have a good time here, as they talk about stories from the set, mock certain looks from the era of the early 90s and best of all touch upon why they think the show is important and why the particular episodes they're viewing are important (when it comes to this, Jacob certainly says pretty insightful things). Everyone here clearly gets along well, and it's pretty obvious they all had a great time making this series.

Also on the first disc is a DVD-ROM option to register the set and your standard Disney Sneak Peeks. There's also a flap inside the set with a short but sweet written note from Michael Jacobs.

 

"Boy Meets World" would evolve greatly and become a bit more mature in future seasons, but the first batch of episodes still retain the show's overall ideals and remain solid. There aren't many extras, but fans of the show should be thrilled the series has made it to DVD. The episodes look and sound good too, so if you're a fan, the set is worth looking into.