Boy Meets World, the coming-of-age series of our childhood and adolescence, reaches its 20th anniversary this September since it first debuted to the “world.” In honor of this special occasion, I thought we should look back at this ABC series, produced by Disney’s formerly-named Touchstone Television, to recognize some of its best episodes. Now we all have our favorites, each for different reasons.
This serves as the first edition of a two-part Disney In Depth that reflects on my 20 favorites with a clip from each episode – in no particular order, only listed from the series’ beginning to end – and why each possesses a special gift.
Teacher’s Bet (Season 1)
Cory (Ben Savage) and Mr. Feeney (William Daniels) reverse classroom roles in a bet that gives Cory the chance to appreciate the challenges of teaching his class of pre-teens. The show was always known for its poignancy and ability to push life lessons in a non-heavy-handed manner. This episode first demonstrated its skill in delivering such keen intellect to young viewers. I wanted to share this clip, played toward the end of the episode, when Cory realizes how hard it can be for an instructor to deliver a concept. But he manages to accomplish this in a real, smart and thought-provoking way. Don’t you just want to stand up and cheer for this kid?
Santa’s Little Helper (Season 1)
This Christmas-themed episode centers on Cory understanding how much he possesses in contrast to Shawn (Rider Strong) after Shawn’s father loses his job. The more dramatic elements of this show entirely counter the silliness of Cory’s sister Morgan experiencing trauma after she “meets” Santa Claus, who suffers a heart attack. The Matthews aim to make Morgan comfortable with the holiday figure by enlisting Mr. Feeney to impersonate the character. Daniels shares some great lines to explain why he was feeling sick earlier, including “Mrs. Claus merely undercooked my figgy pudding.” Nice delivery, Daniels!
This episode holds two equally-interesting storylines. The former and more prominent one finds Cory and Shawn sneaking into Mr. Feeney’s cabin, discovering more about their aloof teacher after they are stuck to spend the night there once Feeney catches them. The teenage pair gains a greater respect for Feeney after they read and temporarily lose his treasured diary. As many episodes of World feature both a dramatic and silly plot, the second spotlights Cory’s older brother Eric (Will Friedle) becoming a billiards competitor in order to impress a girl. Of course Eric fails to perform as well as he boasts he can play, but he wins over laughter. The last moment is priceless.
The Happiest Show on Earth (Season 3)
The Walt Disney World episode! Most ABC TGIF programming – that’s Friday night comedy shows for those of you who did not grow up in the ’90s – filmed at least one show in the Florida theme parks, and World headed down to the other “World” when Cory flies many hundreds of miles to win back Topanga (Danielle Fishel). The two have grown apart, and after Topanga wins a contest to spend a week at Walt Disney World, Cory and Shawn follow her there. Though Topanga mistakenly believes Cory wants to woo another girl, she soon realizes her mistake after Cory’s repeated attempts to show her how much he cares for her. Splash Mountain and The Living Seas are among the more landmark locations in the episode, but it is the conclusion in the clip below – set outside Spaceship Earth – that nails the episode’s beauty.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow (Season 4)
Topanga tries to prove a point to Cory that looks aren’t everything, but after she makes the drastic decision to cut her lovely locks, she questions her motives. Does surface beauty really matter? The issue of self-consciousness dominates this episode that does not feel vain nor generic. Cory and Topanga learn about image through some hilarious situations, but what I find most amusing are the gasps from the audience when Topanga initially trims her hair. Jump to 2:29 of this clip for that funny reaction.
B & B’s B “˜N’ B (Season 4)
Shawn applies economics through some drastic, though relatively harmless methods. After Mr. Feeney heads out of town, Shawn enlists Cory and Topanga to help him transform Feeney’s abode into a bed and breakfast. Needless to say the perturbed teacher does not appreciate this tactic, and when he returns home, he attempts to remove everybody from the rooms. Feeney struggles to kick out one couple in his bedroom, who he suspects is a lovestruck young pair celebrating a honeymoon. But that proves untrue, as Feeney finds in this laugh-inducing clip. “I was young once,” Feeney declares. After Feeney sees the elderly couple who come out, he grasps that he is still young.
Chick Like Me (Season 4)
Cory and Shawn practice the concepts of John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me when they choose to dress up as women to better understand how females are treated by their male counterparts. This experience gives the guys the opportunity to know how girls think and the difficulties they face on a daily basis. Watching Cory and Shawn in drag, so to speak, is not only extremely amusing, but also touching. Shawn sees how some guys try to take advantage of girls, and Cory views how to act in a more dignified manner with Topanga. This clip shows Cory’s father’s reaction to finding out how the boys have spent their day in school.
Quiz Show (Season 4)
Cory, Topanga, and Shawn compete on a dull academic game show for high school students, but in the process change its dynamic after inserting a contemporary and cool touch. Now the game is wacky and lacks the prestige it once held, and the three have self-absorbed attitudes. “The show has turned into a circus, and you three are driving the tiny car,” Feeney says in class. Daniels gives an Emmy-worthy scene in this brilliant scene where he discusses how individuals are utilizing technology for the worse. Give it up to Feeney!
Cult Fiction (Season 4)
World never tip-toed around social issues, be it drinking, sex, or illness. This fantastic episode harkens back to Shawn facing difficulty with his broken roots, turning to a cult for a sense of community. At this time, his professor Jonathan Turner, a man he looked up to for years, suffers a terrible motorcycle accident. The tension culminates in the hospital, where Shawn’s father figures (Alan Matthews and Mr. Feeney) stand up to Mr. Mac, the cult leader. What a powerful scene. Shawn tries to run away from his issues, the truth, and everything hitting him at once, but the gravity of Jonathan’s situation pulls him back to being level-headed once again.
What are some of your favorite Boy Meets World episodes or moments? What do you think of my choices? Share your thoughts!
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Check out next week’s Disney In Depth for my 10 other favorite episodes, which aired during the comedy’s fifth, sixth and seventh seasons, and follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth!