Being the first episode, they had to introduce everyone. If you watched the original Boy Meets World, you know the parents, Corey and Topanga, played by Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel. They are now all grown up with a 13 year old daughter, Riley and younger son, Auggie, played by Rowan Blanchard and August Maturo.
Corey is Riley's history teacher, and he has obviously been inspired by his mentor Mr. Feeny. In fact, they aren't even trying to pretend that the new characters aren't based on characters from the original. Riley seems to be a good combination of Corey and Topanga, but so far leans more toward the Corey side. Her best friend Maya, played by Sabrina Carpenter, is a character-type of Corey's best friend Shawn.
A few special things in Girl Meets World that related to the original:
- They kept the paper airplane in the credits.
- Riley attends John Quincy Adams Middle School. In Boy Meets World the school they attended was John Adams High.
- There will be special appearances from other original cast members, including Rider Strong (Shawn), Betsy Randle (Cory’s mother, Amy), William Russ (Cory’s father, Alan), Lee Norris (Minkus), and Danny McNulty (Harley Keiner). A quick moment with William Daniels (Mr. Feeny) at the end of the first episode (I hope we get to see more of him in future episodes) started out the promised visits from original cast members. Will Friedle (Cory's brother, Eric) will not appear in the first season, but Michael Jacobs has left the door open for any original characters to return, so there is hope he will visit in future seasons.
Girl Meets World Episode One RecapThe theme of this first episode seemed to be a very heavy-handed message of "this is Riley's turn to meet the world." They said it in about one hundred different ways. Hopefully this won't be a trend that continues to repeat itself in future episodes. There is no reason to work the title of the show in over and over again each episode (I know that worked in Good Luck Charlie, but it will just quickly become annoying in this show).
The episode starts with Riley and Maya trying to sneak out of Riley's room to ride the subway. Corey catches them, and tells her she will be living in his world until she goes out and makes it hers, and Topanga joins them to reassure Riley they will always be there for her.
The opening was a bit awkward, making me feel like I had walked in on the middle of something. But I got to see Corey and Topanga, so I wasn't too upset.
After the credits, we are taken to the subway where Maya is going to show Riley how to ride, even though she isn't supposed to be there. This is when we learn that Riley's new goal is to become just like Maya. We are also introduced to Lucas (the new Topanga character) whom Riley begins crushing on immediately. Maya proves herself to be confident in the world of flirting and talking to boys, and pushes Riley to give it a try - literally pushing her into his lap. Riley proves to be much more awkward than Maya. At this point, Jackée Harry enters as a subway passenger (and we all have Sister Sister flashbacks).
At school we learn that Corey is Riley and Maya's history teacher. We are also introduced to Farkle, who might possibly be the most annoying character on tv. Farkle (who likes to refer to himself in third person), is in love with both Riley and Maya. For some reason, Corey entertains this subject by letting Farkle take over the class to explain how he can love equally two girls who are so completely different.
I was not convinced of anything other than Farkle's extreme ability to be annoying, prompting me to tweet (What, you didn't live tweet the premier of Girl Meets World?):
This Farkle kid is going to need to change schools so I can keep watching #GirlMeetsWorld.
— Tracie Nall (@fromtracie) June 28, 2014
In classic Boy Meets World fashion, it is now time to introduce the classroom subplot that will inform the lesson being taught in the episode. The subject is the Civil War, and Corey tells the class, "History shows that bad things happen when you don't know who you are," he then gives them a homework assignment to write a three page essay on anything they believe so strongly in they would fight for it. This felt like a classic Feeny assignment.
Maya knows what she is willing to fight for - no homework. She makes her point by leading a chant of "No homework! More freedom!" and staging a class walkout, pausing long enough to tell Riley this is her chance to choose who she is going to be.
As Riley stands up to join the walkout, Corey tries to stop her. She tells him she wants to be like Maya, because Maya is cool, has a wild side, and does what she wants. Corey responds that Riley is like him, prompting her to ask, "Would you chant 'No homework! More Freedom!' and walk out?"
(I feel qualified, with my many viewings of every episode of Boy Meets World, to answer this question - he absolutely would have done that when he was Riley's age in season one of Boy Meets World. There is no question.)
We find ourselves back at the Matthews' house. Riley and Corey come in the door, both looking for sympathy from Topanga. As the situation is explained, Riley asks if they thought she was one of those girls who follows all the rules and doesn't get in trouble. To which Corey replies, "I was hoping." Riley stalks off to her room, leaving us with our first Corey and Topanga scene of the show.
"Let's get married. Let's have a kid. Let's have another kid." Topanga mocks to Corey. "Well, you listened to me you big stupid." Cory answers, and a cute little hug follows.
(Every 90's kid say it with me, "Awwwww! Corey and Topanga forever!!")
We get a glimpse of Corey and Topanga's younger child, Auggie in the next scene. He sits with Riley on her window seat, as she talks to herself, asking questions about who she is going to be. Auggie asks a few questions of his own, "Do bears know how to smile? Why is cake always so delicious? Will my drawings ever get better?" When Riley asks if he is making fun of her, he says something about being just like her because they are twins, and then runs out of the room calling for his mom when Riley tells him they aren't. It felt a lot like an early Boy Meets World Morgan (Corey's little sister) moment.
The next day at school, it is time for lunch. There is an annoying interaction when Farkle sits down with Maya and Riley that I am going to pretend never happened (isn't it time for him to transfer schools yet?). After Farkle leaves, Lucas joins them. He is clearly much more confident in boy/girl interactions than Riley. This must be apparent to Corey as well, because he shows up to be the super protective father we all imagined him to become. Telling Riley, "Father's don't see anything as innocent," he asks Lucas what part of Texas is closest to Mexico. "That would be El Paso, sir," Lucas replies. "Great! Let's go now," Corey answers, pulling Lucas' chair away from Riley's table.
Lunch is now over, and it is time to walk to class. Maya is sure that Riley still did the homework, even though she participated in the walkout the previous day. Riley admits that she did it, and she liked it. She also did Maya's homework. Maya says, "Don't save me. Let me be me." I am guessing we are getting a hint of the Topanga side of Riley here, not only has she always been the good kid who doesn't get into trouble, she also enjoys doing her homework.
Lucas still shows up for class in the next scene, prompting Corey to notice and say, "You are a good looking guy." Yes, Corey is still Corey all these years later.
And now it is time for everyone to present their homework.
Corey tells the class he wants to see what people believe in strongly enough to fight for, and asks Maya to share first. She announces that she did not do her homework, and Riley also says she didn't do hers because she is now the same as Maya (even though the audience knows she did do it, because of the conversation on the way to class). Maya asks everyone who did their homework to pull it out, and starts collecting all the papers. Farkle runs out of the room and comes back carrying a diorama with sparklers.
Maya grabs one of Farkle's sparklers and stands on the desk, trying to light everyone's homework on fire. Corey saves the papers, and she only succeeds in setting off the fire alarm and sprinklers. As the class is running out of the room, we see Lucas holding his jacket over his head and sharing it with Riley. He asks Riley why she didn't stop her friend, and tells her she is better than that. (I like this Lucas guy. He is a good new-Topanga.)
Corey gives Maya detention. Riley asserts that she deserves detention, too, but Corey disagrees. At this point, Farkle is climbing on Corey's back and shoulders like an idiot-ape (ugh, Farkle). They walk into the hallway, and after Corey sends Farkle away, it is time for the big conversation.
Riley tells Corey she wants to stand by her girl, to which he replies, "You missed the moment to stand by your girl. you were so busy being her you forgot the most important thing you could do was be you." and sends her on her way. He then turns to Maya, "I always believed a friend helps another friend out of trouble, not into it." (YES! This is the Cory Matthews we know and love. The Corey Matthews who told Shawn to come back to his side of the line after the firework in the mailbox incident.)
Maya responds, "I'm sorry." and Cory says, "I am too, because you go too far." And then Maya drops the bomb (not a real bomb, even Shawn wasn't that hard core), and tells Corey, "There is no one at home to help me with my homework."
At this point I was a little disappointed there wasn't more to this conversation. I feel like Boy Meets World would have had Feeny or Mr. Turner offering some kind of help. Instead, we are sent back to the subway where Maya tries to preemptively "break up" with Riley, because she is sure Corey is going to tear them apart when Riley gets home. Maya wants Riley to know she won't blame her when they can't be friends anymore.
With occasional interruptions from Jackée, who is riding the subway with them again, Maya says, "I go too far, and I don't think that is going to stop. I'm bad for you." and as they reach Riley's stop, she pushes her off the subway reasserting, "It is time for you to get off, you don't go as far as me." Jackée says, "You do not push your best friend off the train," but Maya ignores her.
Riley stands on the platform watching the doors close, but she isn't going to give up on Maya that easily. Prying the doors open, Riley comes back on the subway saying, "I'm not you. You are not allowed to abandon our friendship. I would not let you do that."
"I'm not good for you." Maya argues.
"You don't decide that," Riley responds, "If this is my world, the first person I want in it is you."
"You are gonna save me now, aren't you?"
We next see the girls as they arrive at the Matthews' home. Riley brings Maya over to her parents and tells them, "There is no way I'm going to let you break up my friendship with Maya. You said you want me to make the world my own and do my homework. Well, I'm doing it right now. This is worth fighting for. This is my best friend. She is going to get me in trouble, and I'm going to get us out of it. And I did. Look at us here. My civil war is over." We don't see a response from Corey or Topanga. I with they would have included just a couple of sentences from Corey addressing the girl's belief he was going to break apart their friendship (because I can't believe that Corey-best-friend-of-Shawn-Hunter was going to do that), but instead, we are taken back to the subway. This time the entire Matthews family is there, as well as Maya, Farkle, and Lucas. They move Farkle and Lucas off with a quick joke, and all attention is on Riley.
Corey makes a grand announcement to everyone, "We are here today to celebrate Riley being Riley," and gives her a subway card as Topanga says Riley showed them she was ready, and Cory finishes with, "Riley, I already met the world. It's your turn." (I told you there were a lot of references to meeting the world in this episode. I skated over quite a few of them for you.)
Riley and Maya get on the train, discussing that Riley is supposed to be home by 5. When they return, The Matthews are waiting for them. Topanga refers back to her promise at the beginning of the episode saying, "We told you we were always going to be there for you."
Then, the best part of the whole episode happens.
Cory says, "It’s not so easy handing over the world without making sure everything’s going to be okay." He turns around, and sees Feeny standing behind him, and Feeny says, "Well done, Mr. Matthews."
(And then everyone watching at home screamed, and possibly cried just a little. I know I wasn't the only one, so don't even pretend you weren't excited.)
Feeny disappears, and Corey is left looking at the poster where he was leaning. It is a picture of Feeny that says, "It's cool to stay in school."
This was the perfect ending for the first episode.
My thoughts on the first episode of Girl Meets WorldIt isn't Boy Meets World. No matter how much I want it to be, it isn't. But it isn't just another Disney Channel show, either. I think it has real potential. Michael Jacobs' influence was all over this episode. Even as I saw the signs of Disney Channel in it (hello ridiculously expensive clothes on young teenagers and overdone laugh track), I could see the lessons and heartwarming feelings working hard to break through. I hope there is more of this in upcoming episodes.
Unfortunately, my dreams of Farkle leaving aren't going to be realized anytime in the first season. A quick preview of upcoming episodes airing after the premiere revealed him to be Minkus' son. While I appreciate Minkus being recognized, the way I appreciated his quick reappearance in the high school graduation episode of Boy Meets World, I am not a fan of Farkle. His character is not hitting the mark the way Minkus did, and unless there are changes coming, he is going to be the weak link.
It is hard to judge a show on the first episode. There was not nearly enough Topanga in it. I am hoping her role is expanded as the series continues. I know the show will center around Riley and Maya, but (especially in the early years) Boy Meets World always had a strong parental presence that I hope will be repeated in Girl Meets World.
There was a lesson in this episode, like so many episodes of Boy Meets World. I feel like it wasn't quite strong enough. Five extra minutes of screentime probably would have been enough to drive home the point that Riley is better when she is being Riley instead of trying to become someone else. And like I said above, I would have liked to see a response from Corey and Topanga when Riley brought Maya home to say she was going to fight for their friendship, as well as in the moment when Maya discloses to Corey that she doesn't have anyone at home to help her with homework. Hopefully future episodes will be able to spend that extra time on bringing these points home since they won't also be tasked with introducing characters.
Am I going to watch future episodes? Absolutely! Boy Meets World was on for seven years. The characters and storylines were given a chance to grow, and I want to give the same chance to Girl Meets World. It is not going to be the same show, but if they do it right, it can be something special of its very own. I will say that Katarina has long been a fan of BMW, and she enjoyed this first episode of GMW. I know I'm not exactly their target audience - I just hope they can find a balance where both kids and parents can enjoy it the way Boy Meets World did.
Did you watch the first episode of Girl Meets World? I want to know what you thought of it. Or what you thought of Boy Meets World. Or any tips you have to help me have Topanga-like hair.