Lionsgate // 1993 // 544 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // September 29th, 2010
"Math: two plus two is always four. Science: the earth always goes
around the sun. History: Lincoln always gets shot in the head."
-- Cory Matthews, "Killer Bee"
Listen. I'll admit it. There was a time in the mid-to-late '90s when the sitcom Boy Meets World first went into syndication and was on TV a lot, and it was during this time that I saw way more Boy Meets World than someone in his early 20s otherwise might. During that time, I came to really like Boy Meets World. It's a better-than-average teenage sitcom that began as a formulaic but sort of smart show about kids that eventually evolved into a absurdist and funny show that got a great deal of mileage out of the chemistry between the members of its talented ensemble cast. Plus, I'm a sucker for stories about high school and first love. I've been known to genuinely enjoy (and possibly memorize) Saved by the Bell. Boy Meets World isn't nearly as cheesy or goofy or bad as SBtB. If there was any show I would compare it to, it's Scrubs. I guess it's no mistake that Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence was a writer on the first season of Boy Meets World.
The series follows the exploits of young Cory Matthews (Ben Savage, Little Monsters), a sixth grader navigating classes, family life and discovering girls for the first time. Helping him along the way are his best friend Shawn (Rider Strong, Cabin Fever), his brother Eric (Will Friedle, National Lampoon's Gold Diggers), his would-be girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel, National Lampoon's Dorm Daze) and Mr. Feeny (William Daniels, The Graduate), his next-door neighbor and trusted teacher.
The episodes that make up Boy Meets World: The Complete First Season are:
"On the Fence"
"Father Knows Less"
"Cory's Alternative Friends"
"Boys II Mensa"
"Grandma Was a Rolling Stone"
"Santa's Little Helper"
"The Father/Son Game"
"Once in Love with Amy"
"She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not"
"The B-Team for Life"
"It's a Wonderful Night"
"The Play's the Thing"
"Boy Meets Girl"
"I Dream of Feeny"
Like a lot of sitcoms that would eventually go on to be pretty good, Boy Meets World is still finding its footing in its first season. It doesn't help matters much that its protagonist is so young in season one, making the show geared towards kids more than it would be in future seasons (it was always a series mostly for teenagers, but became more relatable when it began to focus on the characters' romantic exploits). Many of the episodes in the first season aren't really about relationships at all, actually; they tend to focus on things like class projects and life lessons learned. Because the boy is still meeting the world. Still, even for a show pitched at pre-teens and families, Boy Meets World demonstrates more intelligence that a lot of sitcoms of its type, and the lessons don't all come easily. That's not to suggest that Boy Meets World is ever particularly gritty or hard-hitting (it most definitely isn't), but it tends to deal with issues in as frank and mature a way as a TGIF sitcom aimed at pre-teens probably can.
A lot of that has to do with William Daniels as Cory's sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Feeny. Though the character often exists as a too-easy plot device -- the stuffy elder imparting wisdom both in and out of the classroom (he lives next door to the Matthews and spends an inordinate amount of time in his garden, so there are a lot of over-the-fence heart to hearts), it's written and performed better than it has any right to be. Feeny is no Mr. Belding. Daniels isn't afraid to make Feeny, to put it gently, a bit of a dick: he's uptight and difficult, though (not surprisingly) always has the best interests of his students at heart. Still, he's a well-done character, and his relationship with Cory actually feels as special as it's meant to. Their dynamic is most of what drives the first season of the show (subsequent seasons would lean more heavily on Cory's relationship with his best friend or his girlfriend), and it works.
If you're already got the 2004 Buena Vista set, there's no need to even consider Lionsgate's release of Boy Meets World: The Complete First Season. It's the exact same set, except that it comes in slimmer packaging (and has a lower price point; you can pick this on up for around $10 new, using DVD Verdict's Amazon link, of course). The 22 first season episodes are spread out across three discs and presented in their original full frame broadcast format. The image quality is ok -- this is, after all, a sitcom shot on video that's nearly 20 years old, and it looks it. The 2.0 stereo soundtrack delivers the dialogue clearly in the front center channel and nothing more, and Lionsgate has seen fit to include optional English subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing. I always like that.
The supplementary section is just as meager as it was on the 2004 release (again, this is the exact same thing). You'll get a couple of commentaries from the grown-up stars (Savage, Friedle, Fishel, Strong and series creator Michael Jacobs). There's not a ton of information here, but it's fun to hear the cast's camaraderie as they reminisce about being kids and having to grow up on TV every week Plus, you'll get to hear interesting trivia like the fact that Fishel wasn't originally cast as Topanga; the original actress wasn't working out, so Fishel was plucked from her role as a bit player one day before shooting as her new character -- one she would then play for seven years. Also included is a bonus episode from Season Four, "Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow," apparently just to make fans of the show know what they're missing by not having any future seasons out on DVD.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 544 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Bonus Episode