Cast: Ben Savage, Rowan Blanchard, Sabrina Carpenter, Danielle Fishel, Corey Fogelmanis, August Maturo, Peyton Meyer
Release Date: June 27th, 2014
In episode five of season 2 of Boy Meets World, sildenafil Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) is invited to a “cool” party and the teenager opts to attend, buy leaving his best friend Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) alone for the evening. Cory, dosage surprised that the popular Shawn wasn’t invited, arrives at the event and discovers— to his dismay— the reason for his invitation. A similar situation occurs to Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard) in the sequel-like new Disney series, Girl Meets World.
It’s, of course, not a surprise that the new show copies from the original program (both of which were created by Michael Jacobs). What is a surprise is how neatly this show follows the original’s template but feels fresh and funny.
When Boy Meets World ended, Cory and his wife Topanga (Danielle Fishel) were married and heading to New York so that she could attend law school. Girl Meets World follows their daughter Riley as she, as Cory once did, “meets the world.”
The pilot’s opening scene clumsily alludes to that idea as Cory encourages his daughter to build her own unique world. It’s a not-so-subtle conversation that quickly opens the door for this series to get underway. Riley is the Matthews’ older child while Auggie (August Maturo) is their young son. Like on the original series, the “good” main character has a more rebellious best friend who, in this case, is Maya (Sabrina Carpenter), a girl whose tough experiences and rough home life mirrors Shawn’s own life.
For fans of the original series, many of the characters and some of the plotlines feel oddly familiar but the formula still works nearly fifteen years since the original went off the air. Cory is now a teacher—taking up the role that Mr. Feeny so memorably played— and the middle school classroom where much of the action occurs feels like a major character on the show. It’s in this room where Riley often interacts with the memorably dorky Farkle (Corey Fogelmanis) and Lucas (Peyton Meyer), the boy that Riley has a crush on.
An entire column could be written about how many similarities exist between this program and the original. Cory is now a teacher at the John Quincy Adams middle school, a reference to the fact that he was once a student at the John Adams middle school. Love interest Lucas doesn’t appear in all of the early episodes as love interest Topanga didn’t appear in all of the early episodes of the original. One of the characters opts to protest the class. There are so many examples that fans of the original series will be hard-pressed to keep up.
But the main question is “does the series work on its own or will it falter under the weight of the original program (something that shows like Friends-sequel Joey and the Brady follow-up Brady Brides once did)?”
The answer is obvious.
With strong scripts and fresh-faced characters, Girl Meets World delivers on its promise. It is funny, charming and smartly cognizant of viewer’s high expectations. Young people will likely watch the show and enjoy it as a cute family program while older kids, like myself, will likely enjoy it as a strong follow-up to the original series. Admittedly, the first episode can be a bit clunky but future episodes (four were available for review) improve upon the premise and help build a strong vehicle for the able cast.
The two standouts in the series so far are Savage, as eager and charismatic as he ever was, and Farkle, whose enthusiasm is unrivaled. Topanga has less of a role in the earlier episodes but it seems to be building in the later ones. In the eleventh episode, she even shows that she may have changed into a big shot attorney but she remains the great character we always remember her as being. Other memorable characters from the original are scheduled to return (one beloved one even has a cameo in the premiere) but for the time being, Girl Meets World is standing on its own two feet and showing that quality programs never go out of style.
Review by: John Hanlon