Sometimes, every once in a while, if you’re really lucky, something comes around that totally shocks you, that stops you dead in your tracks, that is so surprising and wonderful and unexpected that it can’t possibly be true. For us, that was the news that The Disney Channel is developing a Boy Meets World spin-off. It’s so exciting and bizarre and unlikely that it’s still hard to believe.
Earlier in the week we were treated to a similar experience, the breaking of news that would change the state of the world of which we know. That development, of course, was the announcement that not only had Disney purchased Lucasfilm, but they were planning to produce Episodes Seven, Eight and Nine. We still recall vividly when, at eight-year-old, our brother’s friend told us that not only had George Lucas created the greatest movie franchise and fictional universe known to man, but he was planning to expand the galaxy far, far away with three prequels and three sequels, making the Star Wars we knew just middle chapter of the grand epic. This changed everything, altering our view of what the future would be like. And for years we held onto the idea, this promise of the sequels, even when the prequels failed to live up to their predecessors, especially since the prequels failed to live up to their predecessors. But, at some point, you have to let go, and we chalked up the talk of sequels to the same gossip that had us believing for years in the eventual existence of Spaceballs 3: the Search for Part 2. So when out of the blue, out of the literal darkness in post-Sandy New York, came the news that, after all these years my brother’s friend was right, the future we envisioned will finally come to pass, we were absolutely astounded.
And even that revelation paled in comparison to the announcement of new life for Boy Meets World.
When we first saw the news about Star Wars we did a spit-take. But when we read about Boy Meets World we were just stunned, our jaw muscles far too frozen to form our lips into something resembling a spout. No, we were just plain slack-jawed, and we had to read the post several times over, slowly, sounding out words in our head, to make sure we had got the news right.
Because things like this just don’t happen. When Family Guy came back from the dead it was certainly improbable, a feat pretty much unheard of in a pre-DVD world. But that was a cult classic with appeal to young tastemakers, the kind of show that engenders online petitions and unified cries for resurrection. Likewise for Arrested Development, a show that was a critical darling but perpetually on the brink of cancellation, that was being mourned before it was officially over, and whose revival was whispered about and wished for and demanded the moment it ended. On the contrary, Boy Meets World was a show that enjoyed a long, fairly successful run, never dominating the Nielsen ratings, never a TGIF-supernova like Full House or Family Matters, and it was a series that went out with not much fanfare, a sweet, appropriate goodbye to its many, but not too many, loyal, adoring fans. But there was no clamor for a continuation to the story. Shows like that don’t get second acts, just like people aren’t buying John Stockton jerseys. More than anything, this news about a Boy Meets World spin-off is just so incredibly random, so sudden and so out of the ordinary. Truthfully, when we our saw our friend’s Facebook post with a link to the story we immediately checked the date, thinking it was some kind November fool’s joke. But we couldn’t figure out any reason why someone would make this up on November 2nd, or any day. So, slowly, we resigned ourselves to the fact that this was real. We never dreamed it could happen, purely because we didn’t know that it was even on the table. And that’s why it’s so invigorating.
But Boy Meets World has, rightly so, found new life in syndication, as legions of fans, new and old, have discovered the delightful quirkiness and silliness – some may say out-and-out absurdity – that balanced the shows ever-present sentimentality. And, really, especially in its later years, it was a weird, kinda subversive show in innocuous TGIF clothing (see here). With that in mind, it’s no wonder that BMW gained a new life and new acolytes in retirement. But a comeback, even in spin-off form, was more than unlikely. It was unthinkable. Because why would you ever think it?
[Also, we can’t help but notice that it was only two weeks ago that we suggested a Morgan Matthews Halloween costume and now there’s talk of a Boy Meets World spin-off focusing on a female protagonist. Coincidence? Probably.
Btw, the first Morgan, Lily Nicksay, is already angling for a part in the reboot. Perhaps she was motivated after being spurned by our Halloween Costume Idea series.]
We can talk for hours about how improbable this is, but now let’s look forward. Without getting too far ahead of ourselves – nothing is imminent yet – there are two big questions. First, Will Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel reprise their roles as soul mates Cory and Topanga? We have to, HAVE to, assume that if the spin-off does move forward that these two will return. If not, then really what’s the point? It would be a disservice to the show and an insult to the fans and would be sacrificing the very essence of what they’re trying to recapture. It would be a waste of people’s valuable time and energy and a gross misuse of the Boy Meets World brand. And with end of The Dish last year we know that Fishel’s free. As for Savage, last we heard he was hanging out by himself at the Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles, hovering by the bathroom and double-fisting, so his schedule is probably clear. They’re at a point in their careers where they strayed from the farm, spent sometime in the big city, and now it’s time to go home. With creator Michael Jacobs aboard, it’s the whole family back together again (plus a new member).
The second question is which version of Boy Meets World will the revamp feature? The young Cory/elementary school era, the Mr. Turner middle/high school era, or the college kids fighting off sexual urges/Eric may be seriously demented era? Mr. Feeny the teacher, Mr. Feeny the principal or Mr. Feeny the professor? Corey the precocious pre-adolescent, the gawky insecure teenager, or the neurotic, nebbishy Jew? Our gut tells us that the spin-off would hew closer to the last stage, the college years, when the show was simultaneously at its most outlandish while incorporating very real and mature issues like teenage marriage. Plus, as we mentioned, that was then when Eric Matthews was at his dumbest, and the kids seem to love that.
Certainly, there’s a lot of trepidation here. The phrase “you can’t go home again” exists for a reason. Most times when you try to recapture old glory, past success, you fail, often spectacularly. There’s the very real risk here of tarnishing the Boy Meets World legacy (yes, we just said “Boy Meets World legacy” in a totally genuine, non-pejorative way), but now that they’re considering the reboot, it feels kinda right. The arc of the seven seasons of BMW, while it was an undulating curve that found some characters come and go and others come and go and come back, was the journey of Cory Matthews and the life he was beginning with Topanga Lawrence. When we watched the show in syndication we didn’t remember things getting so serious between Cory and Topanga, and were quite surprised that they were allowed to get hitched, not to mention how blatant it was that Cory was DTF. But now it feels like the show was condensing the narrative, telescoping their story to fit within that narrow seven season window. It was important to Michael Jacobs that we know that Cory and Topanga do end up together, that their journey ends as adults sharing a life. Indeed, Cory often claims that he and Topanga are meant to be together, that the universe ordained it. From the very beginning.
And if they were meant to be together from the very beginning, it only makes sense that their story didn’t actually end when they said goodbye to Mr. Feeny and moved to New York City. No, they moved on together and eventually settled down and had a child who will learn about the world the same way her parents did. But, we think – if the show wants to recapture the magic – it will and should be just as much about Cory and Topanga as parents as it is about their daughter. It may be titled Girl Meets World, but really it’ll be Man Continues to Meet the World. Because, really, the journey never ends.
If they didn’t learn that from Mr. Feeny, they learned nothing.
Class dismissed. And soon – hopefully – back in session.