Friday, June 6, 2014

A Modern Classic (?): Boy Meets World (1993)

While Fred Savage was growing up in front of our eyes on The Wonder Years, little brother Ben landed his own series, and will be back in your living room later this month.

Boy Meets World lasted 7 seasons (1993-2000), most of it spent on Fridays as part of ABC's TGIF block. The Boy in the title was Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), who faced up to the usual issues with growing up. What actually made the show work was that it wasn't a star vehicle, but rather, like the other shows in the block, an ensemble comedy.

The series also marked the return of William Daniels (ex-Knight Rider, St. Elsewhere), whose character of Mr. Feeny, the school principal, was also Cory's next door neighbor. The series also introduced viewers to the likes of Will Friedle, Ethan Suplee (later of My Name is Earl), and Danielle Fishel. As time wore on the storylines focused more on Cory's relationship with Topanga (Fishel), culminating in the two getting married in the series finale.

That leads to the sequel, Girl Meets World, launching later this month on Disney Channel, which was home to reruns of Boy for a few years before the rights moved to MTV2, where it currently airs weekdays in a lunch hour block with Saved by the Bell. Most of the cast will return, and Disney is putting out the full court hype press.

One of the more surreal, if not also absurd, plots on Boy involved pro wrestler Vader (Leon White), who appeared in two episodes. Seems that in this series' universe, Vader was a former student of Feeny's whose bullying ways were passed on to his son (Suplee). As you'll see, Cory finds himself in a handicap match vs. Vader & son, plus 1, until Feeny steps in........

At the time, Vader was with the then-World Wrestling Federation, after winning a couple of World titles with WCW. Have to believe Vader helped put together the wrestling sequence himself, working with 4 actors during the short match.

In a follow-up episode, Cory was split between a Sweet 16 dance with Topanga and accompanying his former tormentor to a show to see Vader wrestle. Vader would not return after that.

It fit with the block alright. Whimsical, often with life lessons to be taught.

Rating: B+.

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