One thing every person out there has in common is they had to grow up. There isn’t a person alive who didn’t go through the process of getting older – going through puberty, the early awkward years of dating, and adjusting to new larger and scarier schools. Any sitcom has a built in audience if it can capture the feel of those “Wonder Years”… oh, wait – wrong show. This one stars that other Savage kid as “Boy Meets World”. Corey Matthews (Ben Savage) is the modern day Beaver Cleaver. Think about it – he’s got nearly perfect parents, an older brother who doles out advice but gets both him and Corey in trouble thanks to his friends and schemes, and he’s in the spotlight with his teachers despite being a bit of a nerd with the other kids. If it wasn’t for having a sister, they’d almost be a perfect match. Unlike the Beav though, Corey is a much deeper character, a boy trying to find his place in the high school world… a feeling just about anyone out there can connect with.
The second season of “Boy Meets World” changes Corey’s world a bit, as he makes the transition to high school - high school that starts in 7th grade, but High School nonetheless. Although braniac Minkus is no longer around, Corey still has his friends Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel), as well as his former teacher/next door neighbor George Feeny (William Daniels) who is now acting principal at Corey’s new school. Of course, as typically occurs when students move to high school, new faces appear as well, in this case in the form of the new English teacher Jonathan Turner (Anthony Tyler Quinn) and school bullies Harley Keiner (Danny McNulty), Joey Epstein (Blake Soper) and Frankie Stechino (Ethan Suplee).
With the location changes and additions to the cast, some of the existing characters start to change as well. Corey’s brother Eric (Will Friedle) becomes more of a protector older brother, rather than an antagonistic older brother. He also takes a few steps toward the idiot he becomes in later seasons. Topanga leaves behind most of her strange hippy-dippy ways behind, as she becomes the young lady Corey will eventually have a relationship with. Mostly though, Corey just goes through the changes that happen as you start to grow up – noticing girls, trying to find where you fit in in the high school circle of life, and transforming into a werewolf… er, undergoing puberty. The nice thing about the show is it manages to tackle sensitive subjects like puberty without turning every episode into a “very special episode of ‘Boy Meets World’”.
While “Boy Meets World” may not exactly be Shakespeare, there’s a certain guilty pleasure in watching the show that makes me tune into it any time I come across it while channel surfing. Maybe it’s the way the show manages to connect with my memories of high school and conveys the awkwardness of teenage life, or the intelligent consistency with the writing, which takes on problematic subjects without becoming an after-school special. Whatever the reason, it’s good to have the show on DVD now, where I can watch the episodes at any time, rather than being subject to the mercy of The Disney Channel’s programming schedule. I’ve always said having no extras is better than having bad extras, a lesson “Boy Meets World” could stand to learn. What the second season release has isn’t much, and what is here is pretty terrible.
Each disc has one or two episodes that have a commentary track from one of two combinations of people. The first group is made up of Will Friedle and Rider Strong and the second one is Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel, with producer Michael Jacobs chiming in on both commentaries.
The problem is, none of the commentaries are very interesting. Regardless of the group, the main topic of conversation seems to be the clothing everyone wears and how horrible it is. While you can’t blame the cast for ragging on the choice of layered t-shirts, vests, collared shirts, and sweaters, you’d think the show would hold more fond memories considering it’s been ten years since it was filmed. Friedle and Strong try their best to add some insight here and there, but Savage and Fishel have to be reminded every so often that it’s okay to talk while the episode is going on.
For one episode, the commentary contains a picture-in-picture video commentary – basically a video recording of Strong and Friedle recording their commentary. Since the commentary itself isn’t that interesting, there’s no real reason to watch it being recorded other than to see how much the cast has changed in the last ten years.
The sad thing about this is the disc’s producers pick the right episodes to have a commentary on. The first and last episodes of the season bookend the storylines of the season really well, and the episode where Corey starts puberty is excellently told, as he fears he’s transforming into a werewolf. However instead of any comments on how these story ideas came about, or how the cast dealt with subjects that were probably close to their lives, we get clothing, clothing, clothing. Those few commentary tracks are the only extras on the set, which, while is more than standard fare for television sets on DVD, mean they might as well have included no extras whatsoever.
The show itself is still a great treat to have on DVD. While season two really doesn’t have a lot that carries over from episode to episode, it’s still fun to watch several episodes back-to-back. As I said, the show is a guilty pleasure – one that I’m happy to have in my collection.
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